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Breastfeeding Norfolk Blog

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Getting help when breastfeeding isn't going well

Nikki Adlam

When breastfeeding babies don’t seem to be growing as they should be, when mums’ nipples are so sore or even grazed and damaged, and when mums have repeated bouts of the dreaded mastitis or their breasts feel full all the time; this can all be helped, and even fixed. The key to making all the above better is to understand what’s happening, and in time for the fixing to happen. If you know a mum who is going through any of this difficult stuff, then do talk with her about asking why this is happening. Very often the solution will be found in giving formula which of course is fine if this was intended. Not so fine if this is the complete opposite of what feeding means to the parents; mums especially. Our friends Positioning and Attachment can be the answer to so many difficulties; remember that where the baby’s starting position is at the mum’s breast will dictate where the landing happens! Babies need to be able to tilt their heads back so then those little mouths can open well. Mums then need to aim their baby’s lower lip to cover their breast well to get the deep attachment needed with the baby’s chin indenting her breast and nose entirely free of her breast. This will mean that the end of the mum’s nipple will be stabilised and held by her baby’s tongue in the “safe area” directly back from the roof of the mouth; the junction of the hard and soft palate. From there deep jaw movements are seen and easy swallowing follows. When mums’ nipples are very sore and even worse, shallow attachment of her baby is usually the cause and usually not complicated to improve over a short time. Likewise, repeated blocked ducts / mastitis and even early issues with babies’ weight gain, or babies that need to be fed “all the time”.  If a mum thinks her baby may have a tight frenulum or tongue-tie, then she can ask her midwife or health visitor to assess for this, but even breastfeeding a baby with tongue-tie can sometimes be improved with attention to positioning and attachment, especially if a division seems wrong to parents.  So, to complete the circle; when breastfeeding is hard, getting a reason for why this is, and then getting support quickly to make it better is essential. It’s not often too late to make a difference but getting to the heart of the situation early makes it easier, and mums less unhappy.

The free of charge Thursday morning West Pottergate Breastfeeding Support Centre drop-in at West Pottergate Health Centre, NR2 4BX from 10.00-12.00. Private appointments in mums’ homes are also available.

To get in touch. See the Breastfeeding Norfolk website to see the details or use messaging.

With all good wishes from Jan