Breast is best. Breastfeeding has numerous health benefits including boosting the baby’s immunity and decreasing the likelihood of infections and diseases. It even has emotional and physical benefits for the mother. With all its benefits, it also has a few side effects that would be good for nursing moms to know. Here are some of the most common side effects of breastfeeding.
One of the most common complaints by breastfeeding women is the seemingly constant hunger. This is because the body burns 500 to 800 calories per day just nursing the baby which means the mother has to eat at least 500 calories more each day. This is more than they ate while pregnant. Those who fail to eat more find themselves increasingly hungry with a diminished supply of milk. Getting rid of this side effect is easy, just eat. Add a few healthy snacks instead of an extra meal and that will get the job done.
You spend the time breastfeeding the baby hunched over. Your head alone weighs about 10 pounds so being in the wrong position can strain your neck and back. While it’s tempting to watch your baby suckle, the best thing for your neck and back is to sit in an upright position. It’s also best to find a way to elevate your child so they’re closer to you. One way to do this is to use extra pillows on your lap. This prevents you from bending and has the added benefit of reducing the weight you have to hold.
Painful, cracked nipples
Nipples can get hurt as you and your baby adjust to breastfeeding. Cracked nipples are often caused by problems with the baby’s latch, not finding the optimal position, and not finding the ideal technique. Emollient creams that hydrate and heal the skin and oils like coconut oil soften the skin and reduce cracking.
Nipples are full of nerve endings and have sensitive skin that has not been exposed prior to breastfeeding and regardless of how small and delicate they look, it is surprising just how strong babies’ little mouths are. The good news is the body helps prepare the nipples by making them stretchy and stronger. The discomfort should start to go away within a week or two, if it doesn’t there may be a problem and you should speak to a lactation consultant or medical professional.
When breastfeeding, the baby can bruise you with bruising being fairly common as you both figure out this new nursing thing. If the baby is squeezing or pinching your breasts as they feed, consider covering their hands with mittens or socks.
When you miss a feeding, milk can build up in your breasts leaving them hard, swollen, and sore. Your nipples can even flatten making it more difficult for your baby to feed. Engorgement is also coming 2 to 5 days after the delivery when more milk comes in. One way to relieve this is by expressing or pumping milk to relieve the pressure.
The breasts may have a pins-and-needles feeling just before the milk starts flowing. This is because a rise in the hormone oxytocin opens the milk ducts, starting the flow. The feeling may tingle, be enjoyable, or relax you.
Breastfeeding mothers experience more severe symptoms of carpal tunnel than non-lactating moms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand, more commonly at the base of the palm.
Breastfeeding mothers can feel agitated and angry and feel like they can no longer physically sit there and breastfeed. They can have the urge to run away and even be disgusted by breastfeeding. This is because breastfeeding triggers a range of intense emotions including negative ones like an aversion to breastfeeding. Nursing women often experience guilt because of this but should be reminded that it’s totally normal and there’s nothing wrong with them.
Sometimes breastfeeding women get an infection in one or both of their breasts. This “lactation mastitis” usually happens in the first 2 to 4 months after childbirth. Mastitis often presents with pain, swelling, warmth, and redness in the breast and can be treated using antibiotics.
When breastfeeding, the body produces a wide range of hormones including oxytocin. Oxytocin plays a part in helping the uterus shrink down to its pre-pregnancy size and as it shrinks it may cramp. Cramping is normal and is a sign that your body is doing what it should.
Clogged milk ducts
Sometimes breast gets clogged in the ducts for breastfeeding women. When this happens, a hard, painful lump may pop up in the breast. It’s important to treat clogged milk ducts as soon as possible to prevent infection. There are different ways of unclogging a milk duct, with one of the best being breastfeeding the baby and using them to clear the blockage. Health: Clogged Milk Ducts – Symptoms, Prevention, And Treatment
Nursing women may lose a small percentage of their bone mass increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This can be addressed by exercising and eating foods rich in calcium including vegetables. They can even consider taking supplements under the guidance of a health care provider. Most women will regain their bone mass over time after the child has stopped breastfeeding.
Fungal infections known as yeast or thrush can be passed back and forth between mother and baby while breastfeeding. The risk of fungal infection increases when the woman has sore or cracked nipples or chronic illnesses such as HIV, diabetes, or is using antibiotics or steroids.
Signs of fungal infection to be on the lookout for include sudden soreness or itchiness, changes in appearance including flakiness, shininess, or blistering. The baby may also have white spots in its mouth. Treatment includes antifungal medication for the mother and the baby. It may also include antifungal cream to spread on the breast. It’s also important to clean and sanitize everything the mother and baby come into contact with including pacifiers, bottle nipples, breast pads, and pump parts.
Some good news
It’s not all doom and gloom. Breastfeeding has some beneficial effects on the body including faster recovery from childbirth, reduced postpartum bleeding, less risk for illnesses like breast and ovarian cancer as well as a decreased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. While nursing, the body releases hormones that help the mother feel more relaxed and bonded with the baby.
Parenting: Breastfeeding hacks for new mums
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Health: Clogged Milk Ducts – Symptoms, Prevention, And Treatment
Parenting: Things That Affect The Taste Of Breast Milk
Health And Parenting: Benefits Of Breast Milk Banks