5 Natural Remedies for Common Breastfeeding Issues

breastfeeding, natural remedies, health, breastmilk, supply, breast health

1. Engorgement/high milk supply

If you’re suffering from engorged breasts, you may be producing more milk than your baby needs. Ironically, engorgement can make it difficult for baby to get a good latch and relieve your pain. Ease the pressure with a warm compress, heating pad, or hot shower, and hand express or pump some milk to take the edge off. Doing this prior to nursing will make it easier for baby to get a good latch.

In the longer term, adopt nursing practices to help get your supply under control. Use “block feeding” or feeding on the same side for several feedings in a row (ideally, until that side is emptied) before switching to the other breast. This practice helps “teach” your body how much milk is really needed, but it does take some time for your supply to adjust.

If you’re taking supplements or eating foods to increase your milk supply, you may want to cut back or even stop temporarily until your supply has reduced to an adequate level. On the other hand, you may want to take advantage of your high supply and pump extra milk to freeze for later feedings or donate to a baby in need.

If your supply remains very high for more than a week or two or it interferes with your baby’s feedings, talk to a certified lactation consultant for advice on how to proceed.

RELATED | HOW TO: Make Organic Lactation Cookies to Help Increase Your Breast Milk Production

breastfeeding, natural remedies, health, breastmilk, supply, breast health

2. Thrush

Thrush is a skin infection caused by the same fungus (candida) that causes yeast infections. It’s common in baby’s mouth but can also appear on mom’s nipples. When you’re nursing, it’s easy to pass the infection back and forth between mom and baby, and it can make it seem difficult to kill. Thrush usually doesn’t cause any discomfort for baby, but it may lead to some sensitivity or pain for mom.

Oral thrush in babies often clears up without any medical treatment, but if mom’s system has a yeast overgrowth, it can come back. Wash bottle nipples and pacifiers in hot water and allow them to air dry. Let your nipples air dry after nursing, and apply a natural nipple ointment for relief. If you use nursing pads to catch leaks, change them frequently.

Gentian violet is also an effective natural remedy. Painted on the nipple with a cotton swab before and after nursing, it treats mom and baby at the same time.

The easiest way to combat yeast overgrowth is to revise your diet. Avoid sugar, alcohol, and wheat products. Increase your Vitamin C intake and add extra probiotics, either in supplement form or via fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.

If the symptoms worsen or baby starts refusing to nurse, consult with your health care provider. A more serious infection may require medicine.

breastfeeding, natural remedies, health, breastmilk, supply, breast health

3. Plugged Ducts

Occasionally, a milk duct can become clogged and create a hard lump that feels tender or hot. It’ll be most sensitive prior to a feeding and should feel less tender after a feeding. Plugged ducts come on gradually and typically only affect one breast, although it’s possible to have multiple plugged ducts at the same time.

Alternating the application of hot and cold compresses will help relieve the pain of a plugged duct. In order to clear the plug itself, you will need to vigorously massage the area of the clog. It may be painful, but it’s an effective way to break up the clog and get things moving again. Frequent nursing, especially “dangle nursing,” will also help. Dangle nursing describes a nursing position in which baby is lying down and mom “dangles” her breast over baby while nursing, so that gravity can assist in clearing the duct.

Eating nutritious foods and increasing your water intake will help your system recover more quickly as well.

It’s time to see a lactation specialist or doctor if a plugged duct persists for more than a week, is unable to be cleared using the techniques mentioned above, or is accompanied by a fever or other symptoms.

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