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DNA India
27 July 2010

While breastfeeding is said to be one of the most natural of acts, many new mothers struggling to get comfortable with it may not agree. During the run–up to World Breastfeeding Week (August 1–August 7) Dr Shoiba Saldana, gynaecologist and counselor, Acura Hospital, speaks to DNA about some of the common problems faced by new mothers when they begin breastfeeding and offers tips to deal with them.

What are some of the common breastfeeding problems?
The commonest problem, especially for first–time moms, is too many people giving conflicting advice! Breastfeeding is a very natural process but each mother and child duo has a different equation. When we understand the process then the problems of late milk formation, inadequate milk formation, poor latching, irregular feeding, all become manageable.

Should moms see specialised lactation consultants?
If there are any problems in breast–feeding, it is best to get help early as small issues can get compounded by the mother’s anxiety for her baby’s health.

Can a mother switch between breast and bottle?
The method by which a baby suckles to get the maximum milk without causing pain or cracks in the mother’s nipples is very different from sucking on a bottle nipple even if it is ‘specially designed’. The baby gets confused about how to feed and starts causing cracks in the mother’s nipples, which leads to mastitis and abscesses.

If a mom is on medication should she still breastfeed?
The general rule is to avoid medicines during pregnancy and nursing. However, for most problems a mother may face such asinfections, hormone deficiencies, post–partum depression and unexpected surgeries, there are sufficient medicines safe for the baby, which can be administered to the mother without stopping breast feeding.

Do aids such as breast pumps, nipple shields work ?
Nipple shields are not helpful as they confuse the baby during latching on. They also cause the breast to produce less milk and so the baby ends up on supplementary feeds any way. Breast pumps are effective ways of emptying the breast to feed a baby who is unable to latch on or if the mother needs to be away from the baby. However, the quality of the breast pump is very important as a poor quality pump can damage the nipple and make the mother feel that her milk formation is inadequate.

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