Did you know that breast shields ( flanges) come in different sizes? Many mummy experience inefficient pumping session, and the reason is usually because of wrong breast shield size. Many breast pumps ship with size 27mm or 28mm in Singapore; however, that doesn’t mean that everyone will fit that size (we don’t all wear the same sized shoes, after all). There are breast shields on the market ranging in size from 15mm to 36mm!
Follow this simple guide to determine your breast shield size but first thing first
Pump for 5 minutes, and then measure
It’s a common misunderstanding to measure your nipple before you start pumping, but you actually have to measure the nipple after you pump. The reason is simple. The nipple swells while pumping, and since the rate of swelling varies between women, it’s important to take this swollen measurement to select a comfortable shield size. Grab the shield that came with your pump, assemble it to the milk collection kit and then pump on a low setting for 5 minutes, so the nipple swells. You might even express milk while doing this (if this is your first time pumping, be sure to use the lowest vacuum setting to avoid any pain or discomfort).
Measure the diameter of the nipple at the base of the nipple
After your nipple has swollen, measure the diameter of the nipple at the base of the nipple. Be careful not to include any areola in the measurement. Gently lay a ruler onto the areola next to the base of the nipple so the measurement lines are visible when looking straight at the breast. This can be tricky so some women find that doing it in front of a mirror or using a smart phone in selfie mode is helpful.
Select a shield size 2-3mm larger than your nipple diameter
To allow the nipple to move freely within the flange while pumping and to avoid any pain or discomfort (or worse – blisters!) from rubbing, select a shield size that is 2-3mm larger than the diameter of your nipple. For example, if your nipple measures at 18mm, you would want to try the 20mm shield. It’s important not to go too large either because excess areola can be drawn into the flange, causing discomfort, pain, or even constriction of milk flow.
Signs your breast shield may be too small
- Painful rubbing of nipple in flange.
- Nipple not moving freely inside of flange.
- Redness of the nipple.
- Whiteness of the nipple and/or a white ring around the base of the nipple.
- Little milk is being expressed.
- General discomfort while pumping.
Signs your breast shield may be too large
- Excess areola is drawn into the flange or even up and around the nipple. Note that a small amount of areola may enter the flange for some women; however, it should never be uncomfortable or painful.
- Sensation of pulling and/or pulling pain.
- Nipple is pulled to the end of the flange.
- Shield falls from the breast while pumping.
- Little milk is being expressed.
- General discomfort while pumping.
Size that is just nice
- A properly sized breast shield should be very comfortable.
- You should barely be able to feel it while pumping.
- Just a gentle tugging sensation on the nipple and nowhere else.
- You should not see any excess areola being drawn into the flange
- Should not feel a pulling sensation or pain while using your breast pump.
- After your pumping session, your nipple should be free of any redness or whiteness.
- Pumping should be pain-free
Additional factors impacting breast shield size
Although the above instructions provide a good indication of the size of breast shield you will need, there are few things to consider:
- Every woman’s body responds differently to pumping. It is possible your measurements before pumping might change during pumping, therefore we suggest taking measurements of the swollen nipple 5 minutes after pumping.
- Your measurements might be different throughout the day. For example, you might be fuller in the morning after going a few hours without pumping and/or feeding at night, warranting a larger size. You might also be smaller in the evening after consistent pumping or feeding throughout the day.
- You might be larger at the beginning of a pumping session, and smaller after some milk has been expressed.
- Your measurements might change after your milk supply is well-established (about 10 weeks postpartum).
- One breast may need a different sized breast shield than the other.
However, you should not follow this guideline blindly because the info graphic merely relies on nipple diameter only. In addition to nipple diameter, you should also consider the following factors:
- Check how your nipple moves while pumping.
The nipple should move freely and it should not rub the side wall of the flange. You may see a little bit of areola gets pulled, but not the whole areola. And your nipple should not hit the back wall of the breast shield.
Even if you think you already choose the best breast shield size, but you feel uncomfortable / painful while pumping, that means something is not right. Try to size up or down. Nipple redness / or sore feeling after pumping is also an alarm that you may need to choose different breast shield size.
- Effectiveness of pumping
If you feel you breast is not emptied after pumping, you may suspect that you don’t use the correct breast shield size (note: various factors can affect this, breast shield size is just one of possible reason).
- Breast tissue / elasticity
Some women has a very elastic tissue so that the skin will get pulled easier. In this case, it is possible that pumping makes nipple get elongated so much until it hits the back wall of the flange. For this case, using breast shield with longer ‘tunnel’, or using smaller insert in bigger breast shield may help.
We also found Nipple Ruler by pumpables.co
Simply print it out, fold along the line, and carefully cut out the circles.
The nipple ruler works on both US Letter and A4 paper sizes. Make sure you select “full size” or “100%” in your print menu (don’t “scale to fit”). You can also print it on larger sizes like US Legal or A7, but you might have to trim off the extra
At the end of your pumping session, use the circles to measure the diameter of your nipple at the base. You should select a size that is snug, but not constricting, around your nipple.
Here’s another Nipple Ruler we found from MayMom
If you have more questions or need further help with breast shield sizing, reach out to a Certified Lactation Consultant. In the long run, it’s worth taking the time to determine the breast shield size that’s right for you. You’ll benefit by maximising your pumping sessions so you can get back to what matters most – the little one you’re pumping for!
Everything you need to know about breastfeeding your newborn, in one article! This article is organised into weeks, to make it easier for new mummies!
The First Week
How often should the baby be nursing?
Frequent nursing encourages a good milk supply and reduces engorgement. Aim for nursing at least 8 – 12 times per day (24 hours). You CAN’T nurse too often–you CAN nurse too little.
Go on-demand feeding. Nurse at the first signs of hunger (stirring, rooting, hands in mouth)–don’t wait until the baby is crying. Allow the baby unlimited time at the breast when sucking actively, then offer the second breast. Some newborns are excessively sleepy at first–wake baby to nurse if 2 hours (during the day) or 4 hours (at night) have passed without nursing.
Is the baby getting enough milk?
Weight gain: Normal newborns may lose up to 7% of birth weight in the first few days. After mom’s milk comes in, if you are breastfeeding your newborn, they should gain about 170 g/week. Take baby for a weight check at the end of the first week or the beginning of the second week. Consult with the baby’s doctor if the baby is not gaining as expected.
Dirty diapers: In the early days, the baby typically has one dirty diaper for each day of life (1 on day one, 2 on day two…). After day 4, stools should be yellow and the baby should have at least 3-4 stools daily that are the size of about2.5 cm or larger. Some babies stool every time they nurse, or even more often–this is normal, too. The normal stool of a breastfed baby is loose (soft to runny) and may be seedy or curdy.
Wet diapers: In the early days, the baby typically has one wet diaper for each day of life (1 on day one, 2 on day two…). Once mom’s milk comes in, expect 5-6+ wet diapers every 24 hours. To feel what a sufficiently wet diaper is like, pour 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of water into a clean diaper. A piece of tissue in a disposable diaper will help you determine if the diaper is wet.
Your milk should start to “come in” (increase in quantity and change from colostrum to mature milk) between days 2 and 5. To minimize engorgement: nurse often, don’t skip feedings (even at night), ensure good latch/positioning, and let your baby finish the first breast before offering the other side.
Call your doctor if your baby has:
- no wet or dirty diapers
- dark coloured urine after day 3 (should be pale yellow to clear)
- dark coloured stools after day 4 (should be mustard yellow, with no meconium)
- fewer wet/soiled diapers or nurses less frequently than the goals listed here
- or if you have symptoms of mastitis (sore breast with fever, chills, flu-like aching)
Get Singapore Lactation Bakes’s Cookies 1-2 weeks in advance and put them in your hospital bag. Skin to skin and latch baby immediately after birth and you may start having the lactation cookies. 10-12 cookies per day promote more letdowns or fuller breasts. Pump or latch baby immediately when you feel the let downs or fuller breast to encourage more milk production.
Weeks Two through Six
How often should the baby be nursing?
Frequent nursing in the early weeks is important for establishing a good milk supply. You should be breastfeeding your newborn 8 – 12+ times per day (24 hours). You CAN’T nurse too often—you CAN nurse too little.
Nurse at the first signs of hunger (stirring, rooting, hands in mouth) and don’t wait until the baby is crying. Allow the baby unlimited time at the breast when sucking actively, then offer the second breast. Some newborns are excessively sleepy, wake the baby to nurse every 2 hours during the day or 4 hours during the night if the baby doesn’t wake up to nurse. Once the baby has established a good weight gain pattern, you can stop waking the baby and nurse on the baby’s cues alone.
The following things are normal:
- Frequent and/or long feedings.
- Varying nursing patterns from day today.
- Cluster nursing (very frequent to constant nursing) for several hours—usually evenings—each day. This may coincide with the normal “fussy time” that most babies have in the early months.
- Growth spurts, where baby nurses more often than usual for several days and may act very fussy. Common growth spurt times in the early weeks are the first few days at home, 7 – 10 days, 2 – 3 weeks and 4 – 6 weeks.
Is the baby getting enough milk?
Weight gain: When breastfeeding your newborn, they should gain 6 ounces/week (170 grams/week). Consult with the baby’s doctor and your lactation consultant if the baby is not gaining as expected.
Dirty diapers: Expect 3-4+ stools daily that are the size of about 2.5 cm or larger. Some babies stool every time or even more often when they nurse this is normal. The normal stool of a breastfed baby is yellow and loose (soft to runny) and may be seedy or curdy. After 4 – 6 weeks, some babies stool less frequently, with stools as infrequent as once every 7-10 days. As long as the baby is gaining weight well, this is normal.
Wet diapers: Expect 5-6+ wet diapers every 24 hours. To feel what a sufficiently wet diaper is like, pour 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of water into a clean diaper. A piece of tissue in a disposable diaper will help you determine if the diaper is wet. After 6 weeks, wet diapers may drop to 4-5/day but the amount of urine will increase to 4-6+ tablespoons (60-90+ mL) as the baby’s bladder capacity grows.
Some moms worry about milk supply. As long as the baby is gaining well on mom’s milk alone, then milk supply is good. Between weight checks, a sufficient number of wet and dirty diapers will indicate that baby is getting enough milk.
Boosting Milk supply
Take cookies, muffins, herbs (called ‘galactagogues’) to stimulate the hormones that govern their milk supply. Eat food that boosts milk will help too. You may need to do some trial and error as everyone’s body reacts differently to food.
Kelly mom https://kellymom.com/hot-topics/newborn-nursing/
When you’re a breastfeeding mom who has a milk supply that is naturally on the lower side, the already-existing stress can escalate really quickly, and for completely justifiable reasons.
Here’s the thing about stress and breastfeeding: Stress is Number 1 Milk Killer.
Stress can make it harder to produce breastmilk, so when you’re supply is already lo. letting something like stress interfere isn’t really an option.
These tips have helped me reduce breastfeeding stress and successfully breastfeed all of my daughters, even with a naturally low breastmilk supply.
1. Set Small Goals As You Go (and Celebrate Meeting Each One)
My big picture breastfeeding goal with all of my daughters was to nurse them for one year without supplementing with formula.
But let me be honest here, real quick. On night two of being home from the hospital with a newborn, sore nipples, and a low milk supply. Nothing seems further away than that one year mark. It feels completely unattainable. Entirely hopeless.
So how do you combat that overwhelming feeling that you will be a breastfeeding mama for all eternity? Set a smaller goal and allow yourself some happiness (and maybe some kind of treat ( Like Our Lactation Cookie Cups) when you meet it.
Whether it be making it through another month, another week, another day, or another nursing session. Set small goals as you need them, one step at a time
2. Build a Freezer Stash (Even if It’s a Small One)
Building a freezer stash of extra breastmilk when you’re already struggling may seem like a completely impossible task.
I was barely able to build a freezer supply when nursing my first daughter, but with my second daughter I did it and for my Third, my freezer was bursting!
There are a few key steps and strategies that really worked for me and helped me build up a freezer supply before my maternity leave ended.
3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Moms
If you’re the only mom you know who has a naturally low breastmilk supply, having conversations about breastfeeding can be really stressful and disheartening.
I can’t count how many times I’ve patiently listened to other breastfeeding moms talk about how they ” how they “can’t stop leaking milk everywhere because there is just so much”, or how they “have hundreds of ml stored in the freezer” (and their baby is still a newborn), or how they are going to “donate extra milk to babies in need because they just won’t go through it fast enough”.
On one hand, I’m genuinely happy for moms who have breastfeeding experiences like those, and don’t resent them one bit. And I mean that from the very bottom of my heart. Breastfeeding isn’t easy for anyone, even those moms with naturally higher milk supplies, so those mamas are WORKING to feed those littles and build those supplies. I’m in now way trying to imply that they “have it easy”—because they don’t.
But here’s what happens when I, a mom with a naturally low milk supply, hear those stories: I start to wonder if I’m inadequate. If there’s something wrong with me. If I’m not trying hard enough. If I’m failing my baby. If I’m less of a woman than those other moms. If I’m not good enough.
It genuinely has nothing to do with the other moms and everything to do with how I view myself and my own insecurities (like almost everything in women-to-women competition is when you dig down to the root of it).
To combat this, remind yourself that not all breastmilk supplies are created equal. There’s no point in competing with other moms. Focus on your supply, on your baby, on your experience, and know that if you get up in the morning and feed your baby—however you choose to do it—that you are enough.
4. Know When to Walk Away From a Conversation
There are plenty of folks out there who won’t accept that having a naturally low breastmilk supply is a thing.
They will make you feel like you simply aren’t trying hard enough; that you aren’t doing enough to accomplish your breastfeeding goals. That you haven’t downed enough fenugreek, or aren’t using the right medical-grade breastpump, or aren’t nursing enough times during the day—because, in case you haven’t heard—breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand system! Is your mind completely blown right now? Probably not, because…of course you’ve heard that.
All breastfeeding moms have heard the same advice. Over and over. The breastfeeding info typically starts at your prenatal appointments and is slammed in your face at every possible opportunity pretty much until your child looks a little too old to be of breastfeeding age.
And if you are one of the lucky few who hasn’t had to endure this cycle in person, my guess would be that if you’re a breastfeeding mama with a naturally low milk supply. you found all of the same advise through your own research immediately after realising you had a naturally low milk supply.
Because that same advice is everywhere. And the truth? Most breastfeeding advice-givers don’t help the situation at all.
Yes, it’s true that breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. Yes, there are some things that can help. But it’s also true that some women start off with less milk than others, and that there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can’t nurse and/or pump during every single one of them and do the million other things that being a parent requires of you and stay sane.
If you’re having a conversation with someone who just doesn’t quite understand the low-supply struggle, don’t be afraid to politely shift or end the conversation. You have enough on your plate, mama. And, to be honest, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Never allow yourself to be overwhelmed because you feel like you do.
5. Don’t Spend Tons of Money on Breastmilk-Boosting Products
When you start your breastfeeding journey and realise your milk supply is low, it can be tempting to throw money at every product that may be rumored to boost breastmilk supplies in hopes of upping your milk production. Don’t do this.
If you buy everything at once, and use everything at once, you’ll have absolutely no idea what is actually helping and what isn’t. This means you could end up spending a ton of cash on products that aren’t actually doing anything.
When you’re trying a breastmilk booster (always clear it with a medical professional before you do), it’s best to try one at a time. Give each product at least a week and see if you notice any change in production. If you do—great! You’ve found a booster that works for your body. If not—no worries! On to the next booster to try. Our minimum order of cookies is 600g this is about a week’s supply and it gives you a good indication to know if our bakes works for you.
6. Meditate Every Single Day
This sounds like complete hippy nonsense. I know. I get it. But meditation can actually boost breastmilk production because it helps reduce stress.
Stress is no friend to anyone, but breastfeeding moms have more reasons to try to keep stress at bay than most people do, because high levels of stress can actually decrease milk production.
Yep. That’s a real thing. (As if us mamas with a naturally low milk supply didn’t have enough to worry about already. *sigh*)
Meditating can be as simple as closing your eyes for 60 seconds and breathing in and out, slowly and calmly. It’s so hard for moms to find time for yourself, but out of the 1440 minutes that happen every day, you deserve to set aside at least 1 for a little meditation.
7. Don’t Obsess Over Your Baby’s Weight
When you’re breastfeeding, especially in those early months when your babe hasn’t started solid foods and is onlydrinking breastmilk, it can feel like the entire health and well-being of your baby is dependent on your ability to produce breastmilk. The weight of that responsibility is huge.
Now factor in a naturally low milk supply and the stress factor is upped by about a thousand.
It can become so easy to start obsessing over whether or not your baby is doing okay food-wise, and the easiest way for us mamas to gauge success on? How much your baby weighs and how rapidly weight gain is occurring.
If you have genuine concerns, always address them with your doctor. If your doctor has concerns and gives you advice to keep your baby healthy, always follow the advice, or seek advise from a different medical professional. (I’m not a medical professional.)
But, if your doctor has no concerns and everything seems on track—stop overly-obsessing about your baby’s weight.
Yes, if you have a naturally low milk supply, there’s a chance that your baby may not be in the 98th percentile for weight out of all the babies. That’s actually very likely to be the case. But guys? Not all babies can be in the 98th percentile because then it wouldn’t technically be a 98th percentile. It would just be “the weight that all babies weigh”, which is silly and also not a thing.
Babies come in all shapes and sizes and grow at all different rates, and that’s perfectly okay.
8. Choose Nursing Over Pumping When You Can
This one is obviously for mamas who aren’t exclusively pumping or exclusively nursing, so if that’s you, feel free to skip on over this one.
But for anyone who does a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B, this is one of the best de-stressers there is for all breastfeeding mamas: nurse that baby.
Being close to that little love bug that you are working so hard to feed is a great way to remind yourself of exactly why you’re going through all of this madness in the first place.
That skin-to-skin contact combined with the fantastic baby smell can work wonders for your stress levels. Plus, you’re not watching milk being slowly pumped out drop-by-drop and obsessing over how few drops there are. (Which is seriously, seriously stressful.)
I really hope the above tips helps and don’t be afraid to seek help when you really feel overwhelmed. Talk to your husbands, friends or a Lactation Counsellor if you feel that you cannot cope with the stress.
We are all here for you so relax, Eat SLB . Breastfeed . Repeat
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Because many mothers face a few challenges along the way, we’ve uncovered 14 breastfeeding problems you might encounter, plus solutions to help you fix your breastfeeding relationship with your babe. If these ideas don’t work for you be sure to seek out expert help from a lactation consultant, a public health nurse, your midwife or your doctor.
PROBLEM 1: LATCHING PAIN
It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
- Try to achieve an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above.
- To reposition him, place your index finger inside baby’s mouth to take him off your breast. Tickle his chin or wait until he yawns so his mouth is wide open and seize your opportunity.
- When he is correctly positioned, his chin and nose touch your breast, his lips splay out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
- If baby’s position is correct and latching on still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Make sure to wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Lanolin-based creams are good for applying between feedings.
PROBLEM 2: CRACKED NIPPLES
Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush, dry skin, pumping improperly, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood, while kind of gross, won’t harm baby.
- Check baby’s positioning — the bottom part of your areola underneath your nipple should be in baby’s mouth.
- try breastfeeding more frequently, and at shorter intervals. The less hungry baby is, the softer his sucking will be.
- As tempting as it is to treat your cracked nipples with anything you can find in your medicine cabinet, soaps, alcohol, lotions, and perfumes are no good — clean water is all you need to wash with.
- Try letting some milk stay on your nipples to air dry after feeding (the milk actually helps heal them).
- You can also try taking a mild painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen 30 minutes before nursing.
- If all this fails, try an over-the-counter lanolin cream, specially made for nursing mothers and use plastic hard breast shells inside your bra.
PROBLEM 3: CLOGGED/PLUGGED DUCTS
Ducts clog because your milk isn’t draining completely. You may notice a hard lump on your breast or soreness to the touch and even some redness. If you start feeling feverish and achy, that’s a sign of infection and you should see your doctor. Most importantly try not to have long stretches in between feedings — milk needs to be expressed often. A nursing bra that is too tight can also cause clogged ducts. Stress (something all new mommies have an over abundance of) can also affect your milk flow.
- Do your best to get adequate rest (you should recruit your partner to pick up some slack when possible)
- try applying warm compresses to your breasts and massage them to stimulate milk movement.
- Clogged ducts are not harmful to your baby because breastmilk has natural antibiotics. That said, there’s no reason why you have to suffer. Breastfeeding should be enjoyable for mom and baby.
PROBLEM 4: ENGORGEMENT/HIGH MILK SUPPLY
Engorgement makes it difficult for baby to latch on to the breast because it’s hard and un-conforming to his mouth.
- Try hand-expressing a little before feeding to get the milk flowing and soften the breast, making it easier for baby to latch and access milk. Of course, the more you nurse, the less likely your breasts are to get engorged.
PROBLEM 5: MASTITIS
Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts marked by flu-like symptoms such as fever and pain in your breasts. It’s common within the first few weeks after birth (though it can also happen during weaning) and is caused by cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement.
- The only sufficient way to treat the infection is with antibiotics, hot compresses, and most importantly, frequent emptying.
- Use hands-on pumping, making sure the red firm areas of the breast and the periphery are softened.
- It’s safe and actually recommended that you continue breastfeeding when you have mastitis. Take paracetamol or ibuprofen (not aspirin) to relieve the pain, as instructed on the packet or by a pharmacist.
- Keep breastfeeding or pumping frequently. Your milk is still safe for your baby to drink. Flowing milk will help clear any blockage and prevent further painful build-up. Stopping suddenly could exacerbate symptoms.
- You may need to express any leftover milk after feeds.
- Offer your baby the affected breast first. This may help your baby to drain it adequately. If this is too painful, start on the non-affected side to get the milk flowing, then switch.
- Rest, drink and eat well. Make sure you’re having plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods.
- Massage the area in a warm bath or shower, or compress with a warm flannel or heat pack to help release the blockage and ease symptoms before feeding or expressing. Use a cool pack after feeds to reduce inflammation.
PROBLEM 6: THRUSH
Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can also spread to your breasts. It causes incessant itchiness, soreness, and sometimes a rash.
- Your doctor will need to give you antifungal medication to put on your nipple and in baby’s mouth — if you’re not both treated at the same time, you can give each other the fungi and prolong healing.
PROBLEM 7: LOW MILK SUPPLY
Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand process. If your doctor is concerned about baby’s weight gain, and he is being plotted on the World Health Organization curves designed for breastfeeding babies, this may be the problem.
- Lactation Cookies or Lactation Muffins by Singapore Lactation Bakes will help you with more let downs. Combined with frequent nursing and hands-on pumping during the day can help increase milk supply.
- Pump or latch when you are having let downs or when fuller breast after having the SLB lactation cookies or SLB lactation muffins helps to tune your body to make more milk.
PROBLEM 8: BABY SLEEPING AT BREAST
Baby is sleepy in the first couple of months after birth (hey, he’s been through a lot) so falling asleep while nursing is common. All that bonding makes baby relaxed!
- Milk flow is fastest after your first let-down, so if you want to increase efficiency, start off at the fuller breast, then switch to the other breast sooner, rather than later.
- When you notice baby’s sucking slowing down and his eyes closing, remove him from your breast and try to stimulate him by burping, tickling his feet, or gently talking to him while rubbing his back, and then switch breasts.
- As baby gets older he’ll be able to stay awake longer, so don’t fret.
PROBLEM 9: INVERTED/FLAT NIPPLES
You can tell if you have flat or inverted nipples by doing a simple squeeze test: Gently grab your areola with your thumb and index finger — if your nipple retracts rather than protrudes, you’ve got a problem, Houston. Not really. But breastfeeding will be more challenging.
- Use a pump to get the milk flowing before placing baby at your nipple and use breast shells between feeds.
- Once you feel like your milk supply is adequate, try using nipple shields if baby still has problems latching.
PROBLEM 10: PAINFUL/OVERACTIVE LET DOWN
Your breast is like a machine — when you let down, all the milk-producing engines constrict to move the milk forward and out of your nipple. Sometimes the working of these inner parts can hurt, especially when in overdrive. Some mothers feel a prickly pins-and-needles sensation and others just get an achy feeling.
- If this feeling of pins and needles goes beyond a mere tingling and feels more like a hundred little daggers poking your breasts, you need to check for a breast infection (yeast or bacteria). Sometimes this pain develops when you have an excessive amount of milk.
- Try feeding baby longer on one particular breast and switching to the other only if you need to.
- If the result is an infection (fever, aches, and chills may be present), you’ll need to get antibiotics from your doctor.
- No matter how unpleasant it is for you, it’s still safe for baby to nurse.
PROBLEM 11: BABY WON’T LATCH
- Skin to skin is the way to go,”. It’s like a magical cure for the non-latching baby (and helps with other issues too).
- Get naked from the waist up, strip baby down to just a diaper, and get yourself comfortable in a semi-reclining position with baby on your chest.
- When your baby is ready, he’ll scoot down to the breast and latch on. (You many need to provide your baby with expressed milk in a cup or syringe until he figures it out, and pumping or hand-expressing during this time will also help build up your milk supply.)
PROBLEM 12: BABY IS CONSTANTLY NURSING
- This may just be a perfectly normal baby. Babies have small stomachs and they really do need filling up frequently.
- Imagine if you were asked to double your weight in the next six months, as an average baby will do. What would you have to do?
- You’d eat a lot.” Some mothers also have less storage capacity in their breasts, so while they produce plenty of milk over 24 hours, the baby needs to eat frequently (it’s called cluster feeding) to get enough.
- If the baby is otherwise gaining well, having at least two or three poppy diapers each day and your nipples are not sore, frequent feedings may just be the norm for your baby. If baby is not gaining well, speak to your paediatrician or family doctor.
PROBLEM 13: BREAST NO LONGER FEEL FULL
- This usually happens somewhere from six to ten weeks and mothers are often concerned that their milk production has faltered for some reason.
- In most cases it’s actually good news, It means your breasts have adjusted to meet the actual appetite of your baby.
- Instead of filling up between feedings, the milk doesn’t start to flow until the baby is nursing.
- Just keep an eye on your baby’s weight gain and diaper contents to be sure everything is going well.
PROBLEM 14: Ouch! BABY IS BITTING OUR NIPPLES
- Most babies will try out their gums or teeth at some time
- Try pulling the baby in close so that your breast blocks his nose and he has to let go to breathe, rather than trying to pull back which can make him clamp down harder.
- If you’re alert when the baby is nursing, you may be able to catch the moment when he pulls his tongue back in order to bite down.
- Be ready to stick a finger in the corner of his mouth and prevent him from chomping on you. Be gentle —he doesn’t mean to hurt you!
So there you have some quick breastfeeding problem-solvers that may help you past some of the common breastfeeding challenges. Still having problems? Don’t hesitate to seek out more assistance from some of the lactation experts in your community, who can tailor their advice to your situation.
Support Breastfeeding Wife
As our society progresses, we are moving into an era where daddies are also getting super hands on and more daddies are showing support breastfeeding wife. More and more daddies are rolling up their sleeves changing diaper, feeding milk and bathing babies.
In SLB, we notice that here is an increase trend of daddy supporting their wives in their decision in breastfeeding. Some daddies even came by our store to pick up the bakes while others surprise their wives with the gift set!
Should your better half decide she wants to nurse your baby, she’s going to need a lot of support. It’s one of the hardest things she will ever do as a mum.
Since you are reading this ( coming this far into researching for your wife ), kudos to you!
You can show your support to your wife and make this breastfeeding journey a lot easier for her by the tips shown in the picture.
I Walked up the snow-covered steps of a quaint bungalow, excited to meet a two-month-old little boy and his mama. She had sent me an email a few days prior; all it said was, “I need help with my baby, he’s crying all the time. Can you do anything?” This is common story in my inbox. I replied I could be there Wednesday.
I knocked on her door, and a beautiful thirty-something woman answered, bouncing a bundle. We sat down on her couch and started to chat. She said he’d been born on his due date, a beautiful delivery, and she was back at home 24 hours later. Breastfeeding hurt in the hospital, but she was told that was “normal” and it would get better. A week later, still trying to “push through”, she couldn’t take it any longer, and went to her local breastfeeding clinic. Her little man had a tongue tie, they said, a common reason for breastfeeding pain. The physician clipped the tongue tie in the office and sent her home with instructions on how to move forward. She continued “pushing on” and did feel some relief, but continued to struggle with supply and latch issues. She was back and forth between clinics and private consultants, as she was desperate to breastfeed. She had dreamed of nursing her baby, like many moms, and the journey had consumed their household. She could not get a comfortable latch no matter what she tried or whose help she enlisted. She was consumed with trying and not giving up. I watched this woman become more teary and shaky as her story progressed. She told me he was gaining weight, but was very fussy and cried at the breast and throughout most of the day and night. Her husband had taken the day off work to be home for our appointment and he sat quietly with his arm around his wife and babe.
I first told her she was doing a beautiful job with her son. I told her the best part of my morning so far was getting to witness the way she looked at him and that I could hear the efforts she had been putting in to try to establish pain-free breastfeeding and an ample supply. I acknowledged that her path sounded full of challenges and I asked her simply, “How are you feeling?”
She broke down. Sobbing in her living room, she told me that breastfeeding was a number one priority for her, and she had read all the books and had sought out so much help and support, but that she just couldn’t do it anymore. She went on to tell me that the stress of nursing had taken all the joy out of becoming parents and it was all both her and her husband could think about. I could see that this woman was full of anxiety and had some real red flags of depression. She shared that she cried alongside her baby throughout most of the day, and was starting to wonder how she was going to keep going. She wasn’t leaving the house and spent all day feeding and pumping.
“Do you want to keep breastfeeding?” I asked her. Both her and her husband looked at me in silence. I realized in this moment what this woman needed from me, a registered nurse and lactation consultant. She needed permission. I told her that the most important thing was that her baby felt loved and that as a mom she had the ability to nurture and care for her baby. I told her flat out, “It is okay to stop and give him a bottle of formula.”
She and her husband hugged and both started to cry. Minutes later, they said, “Thank you, we needed to hear that.”
This is such a controversial topic. #Fedisbest is flooding the internet, and there are so many varying opinions. As a lactation consultant, I am an advocate for breastfeeding, and will go the distance with any family to ensure it happens. But it is not up to anyone but that mother to decide when she has reached her limit. A mama’s mental health trumps breastfeeding. Every time. Breastmilk does not care for, nurture and bond with the baby. A mother does. I am not arguing the health benefits of breastfeeding. Those are known facts. I am talking about the part that just isn’t talked about enough: a mom’s mental health.
Last year, for a few days anyway, the whole country was talking about it. Suffering from postpartum depression, Vancouver mother Florence Leung ended her life two months after her baby was born. On her memorial Facebook page, her husband recently wrote the following:
“To all the new moms experiencing low mood or anxiety, please seek help and talk about your feelings. You are not alone. You are not a bad mother. Do not EVER feel bad or guilty about not being able to exclusively breastfeed.”
As you can guess, despite being an advocate for breastfeeding, I agree completely. Somewhere along the way, our well intentioned, health-benefit focused campaigns on breastfeeding have fueled the message of guilt, shame and pressure on moms that are struggling and it is time for that to change.
I recently received a card and photo in the mail from the mom who gave up breastfeeding after our visit. It was her guy’s one-year birthday. In the picture, I saw a healthy, thriving family. The note said that the day I gave her permission to stop breastfeeding was the day she felt a shift. The tears stopped. She started enjoying the little moments with her boy and their bond grew. She said she still has moments when she feels sad that she and her son missed out on the nursing experience, but she knows that stopping is what her family needed.
We need to stop arguing about what is better. Breastfeeding, formula, bottles, pumping. It isn’t something that is up to “us.” It is not social media’s business, your neighbour’s, your mother’s, or the business of that mom group you belong to. It is yours exclusively.
As much as I like #fedisbest, I think it should evolve into new movement: #momsmentalhealthmatters. A healthy mom is necessary for a healthy, thriving baby—and that is what matters.
Carrie Bruno is a registered nurse, lactation consultant and sleep coach who runs The Mama Coach in Calgary, Alberta. Some details of this story have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
What is relactation?
Relactation is how a woman can re-establish breastfeeding after a period of very little or no breastfeeding. She may have not breastfed for several days, weeks, months or years. Or even a new mummy who has just adopted a new baby and has never breastfed before called induced lactation. This is to induce lactation artificially typically for adoption.
Who would do it?
Mummies who have stopped breastfeeding earlier than they wanted or changed their minds.
Your baby might have been weaned from the breast, but since developed an intolerance to formula.
Mummies who might have been separated from your baby or your baby might have been ill.
Mummies who may have adopted a baby and want to re-start your milk supply to breastfeed him/her. A woman could also breastfeed an adopted baby if she has never breastfed previously or has never been pregnant – this is called ‘induced lactation’.
You may want to help a sick friend or relative by breastfeeding her baby.
How likely is the mummy to succeed?
There isn’t a lot of research on relactation, but the studies that have been done suggest that, with proper support, most mothers can partially or fully relactate.
Some mummies were very fortunate. They can go from expressing a couple of drops of breast milk to a full supply AND get their baby back to the breast. It can range from a month to 4 months for some, but with lots of determination and effort, it is well worth it.
How is it possible?
Nature is a very clever thing. Breast stimulation alone sends important hormonal signals to switch milk production back on. It is a common misconception that once a woman’s milk has ‘dried up’, she can no longer breastfeed. However, this isn’t the case! Grandmothers have been known to relactate to feed their grandchildren!
How do mummies do it?
Learning the basics of breastfeeding is a great place to start. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis, so the more the baby feeds and the breast is stimulated, the more milk the mother produces.
Learn how to recognise if your baby is getting enough milk. Is he producing six wet nappies in 24 hours and if under five weeks, is he pooping three or more times a day? Is he gaining weight?
If the baby will latch onto the breast:
Try to put the baby to the breast as often as possible (every 2-3 hours at least). Even before any milk is being produced, nipple stimulation will release the hormone prolactin which encourages the growth of breast tissue.
Learn how to recognise a good latch. A baby that latches on effectively will stimulate your supply in a way that a baby latching on poorly won’t. Has the baby got a nice wide-open mouth? Is it pain-free? If breastfeeding feels uncomfortable, do get support.
Ways of stimulating your milk supply whether or not the baby will latch on:
- Skin to skin time: Even if the baby isn’t feeding, have skin-to-skin time. Keep the baby on or close to your body as much as possible. This will stimulate the release of hormones needed for milk production and encourage the baby to feed. You could try wearing the baby in a sling. You can bottle-feed skin-to-skin and near the breast
- Good Grade Pump: Use a pump or hand express for 10-15 minutes on each breast several times a day. Ideally, at least eight times in 24 hours. Don’t worry about how much (or little!) milk you can express. The nipple stimulation itself will be stimulating your body to produce more milk for the future. Some mums choose to hire hospital-grade double electric breast pumps but this may not be necessary. If you are pumping frequently, remember that you don’t need to wash and sterilise the pump each time. You can store the pump in the fridge in a plastic bag between sessions and just wash it thoroughly once a day.
- Supply and demand: You may get milk immediately, but if you don’t … don’t give up! The volume of milk will increase when the baby starts to feed directly from the breast and as time goes by. It may only take some women a few days to develop their supply. Others pump for several weeks before they see a significant increase in their supply. Everyone responds differently to the process of relactation so it’s very difficult to give a definite timeframe. If a baby will latch, you could also express directly after and /or between feedings. Expressing when the breast is emptier sends particularly valuable signals to the breasts to produce more milk. You may be able to find some time in the day when you ‘cluster pump’ and pump for ten minutes, break for 5, pump for another ten and repeat that a few times. Pumping should be pain-free. If your baby is happy to latch on and stay on the breast, it may not be necessary for you to pump at all. Power pumping is a good way to increase milk supply.
- Hydrate: Don’t forget to drink lots of water and have enough rest. A good well-rested machine then can produce a good product right?
- Lactation Supplements: Take cookies, muffins, herbs or even medication (called ‘galactagogues’) to stimulate the hormones that govern their milk supply. Eat food that boosts milk will help too. By finding your milk booster, you will need to trial and error as the different body reacts differently to different food.
Continuing to feed other kinds of milk
It is likely that while you are building up your milk supply and getting the baby used to feed at the breast, you will also be feeding the baby formula. If you are using a bottle, you may want to consider using a technique called ‘baby-led bottle feeding’ (sometimes known as ‘paced bottle feeding’) which may help your baby transition to the breast. This slows the flow down and requires your baby to work a little harder.
Helping the baby to accept the breast
The baby may become frustrated by feeding from an empty breast at first, so you could try hand expressing enough (or pumping just for a moment) to trigger milk flow before putting the baby to the breast.
You want the baby to associate pleasure with being at the breast, so anything you can do to avoid making breastfeeding a battleground will be useful. It’s better not to ‘force’ the baby into a breastfeeding position but to gently enjoy time skin-to-skin and present opportunities. You could hand express some drips of milk or trickle milk into the baby’s mouth.
A baby may prefer to breastfeed when they are not desperately hungry or at certain times of the day. Especially when your baby is younger, spending time holding the baby tummy-down on your semi-reclined body will trigger innate feeding behaviour.
You could consider the use of a nursing supplement. This delivers milk from a bottle through a fine plastic tube that enters the baby’s mouth along with your nipple. This may help stop any frustration the baby might show at the breast and ensure that your breasts are stimulated to produce milk further.
A baby that is very accustomed to the bottle may accept the breast using a nipple shield but this is best done with the support of a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant.
Things to consider:
Why did you stop breastfeeding in the first place? You might want to consider talking with a breastfeeding counsellor, lactation consultant or peer supporter before embarking on your journey to give it another go.
There may be changes in your body. There may be a change in your menstrual pattern as the baby nursing will affect your ovulation. Your breast may physically change in appearance too, the areola may be darker or the breast may be tender or feel full. Due to the hormone changes, you may feel emotionally different. Support is a great help if you are feeling any of these feelings but it is normally a sign that your body is starting to produce milk again.
Remember that if your baby will latch but you are not able to return to a full milk supply, they will still receive important benefits. And if you work hard to increase your supply but your baby is reluctant to latch, they can receive this expressed milk. That is still a valuable achievement.
Relactation may be difficult and time-consuming at times, but it IS possible. With the right support, information and dedication, relactation works for women every day and produces happy and valuable results. Confidence and self-belief will help you on your journey.