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Carnival of Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding Problems

Welcome once again to the Carnival of Breastfeeding. This month's topic is breastfeeding problems and, as you would expect, all the posts deal with problems breastfeeding mothers have encountered and how they dealt with them! In addition they also look at the online support they found useful.

Posts will be added as they become available and links will appear at the bottom of the page.

So, without further ado, here's mine:

Breastfeeding Mum Becomes Breastfeeding Mums!

Breastfeeding Problems... I've had one or two!

Way back 8 years ago, when I first began breastfeeding, my initial problem was simply sheer embarrassment. After my daughter's birth I remember feeling terribly shy as I asked my midwife if I could breastfeed my baby and later, when I was experiencing some problems latching my newborn daughter on, I recall feeling very apologetic as I was forced to ask for assistance again. It didn't really help much that the midwife at this point shoved my daughter into my chest and stuffed my nipple into her mouth! After that, I didn't dare bring up the subject during my lengthy stay with any of the staff on the maternity ward!

Looking back, it's no wonder I went on to develop extremely sore nipples which bled and blistered during every excrutiating feed. Result: I dreaded each breastfeed and clenched my teeth in anticipation of the pain I believed to be a normal part of breastfeeding! This continued until the burning sensation of the letdown passed and the milk began flow.

When I eventually confided to my fantastic health-visitor, Betty, that breastfeeding was very difficult and painful she helpfully observed me feeding my daughter, helped me correct the position I had adopted and suggested I rub a little milk around the sore areas after each feed; her advice made all the difference and worked wonderfully, meaning I never needed to use any shop bought ointments to sooth or heal myself.

In later weeks, as my daughter struggled to keep pace with my copious milk supply, I suffered badly with engorgement, and because my positioning still wasn't perfect, this in turn led to blocked ducts and eventually mastitis.

In those days I regret to say I never realised that there was such a thing as online breastfeeding advice and instead tried to find out what was wrong by reaching for my pregnancy books... believe it or not, I didn't even have any breastfeeding books at all at that point in my life.

Mastitis was by far the most difficult problem I encountered and not only did I get it once, but it recurred at least five times, each time requiring antibiotic treatment which thankfully sorted things out; unfortunately the treatment also meant my daughter suffered dreadful nappy rash requiring steroid creams.

It saddens me to think back on my experience as a first time breastfeeding mother. Because I was so adamant to breastfeed I was determined that nothing would get in my way... but how many of my peers gave up in the first few crucial days and weeks because of a lack of breastfeeding support?

From speaking to breastfeeding support workers locally, I know the problem is ongoing and possibly even worsening because staff on maternity wards simply don't have the time to spend with breastfeeding mothers. They also don't have the training to know how to deal with problems and often the only people there to give a hand are voluntary mothers who have breastfed their own babies and, like me, want to help.

In my case, as for many other mothers I'm sure, the solution was all too easy. If only someone at the very beginning had spent just five minutes of their time explaining to me how important it was to get the baby positioned correctly and showing me how to achieve this, then I'm sure it would have saved me many of the problems I had to endure, not to mention saving the health service the cost of my doctor's appointments and prescription charges. In fact if this had been, and was currently the case, I have no doubt it would prevent many breastfeeding mothers from quitting altogether!

It was largely down to my own experiences with finding breastfeeding difficult that I decided to start my own breastfeeding website, BreastfeedingMums.com, in order to help other mothers learn more about why they should consider breastfeeding, how to breastfeed, how to deal with any breastfeeding problems as they arose and how to avoid them in the future. And it was only at that point, by then 2 babies later for me, that I actually became aware of other breastfeeding websites, although my site was different in that it dealt with breastfeeding from a breastfeeding mother's perspective.

To be honest, although it was too late for me personally by then to really make much use of the information available online, it wasn't too late for me to research what was available and write my own articles. I was also fortunate to discover that Dr Jack Newman, a world renowned breastfeeding expert, had made many of his own breastfeeding articles available for reprint and so I was able to incorporate these into my website.

Having taken a career break from teaching, I was itching to teach again and teaching breastfeeding seemed the obvious choice!

Breastfeeding Mums has been a great way for me to introduce the topic of breastfeeding to both expectant and breastfeeding mothers I meet at breastfeeding support and parent and toddler groups and I have some great friends also spreading the word about my site in local hospitals and giving out my card to breastfeeding family and friends. In addition, I have received many emails of thanks from mothers around the world who have found my advice helpful - something I could never have anticipated when I began my own journey 8 years ago!

Although I'm not a breastfeeding counsellor (I may train once all my own children are at school!) I am a fully qualified breastfeeding mum and many breastfeeding mothers relate to me by that fact alone!

Breastfeeding is truly one of the most special things that I have ever done in my life and I hope my website will help other new mothers to look back on their own breastfeeding experiences and say the same!

By the way, just before I finish, I must point out that during the time I was breastfeeding my son, on one memorable occasion I fell in the shower breaking some ribs. I was prescribed pain relieving medication which I was worried about taking whilst breastfeeding and it was Tanya at Motherwear Blog who I turned to for advice. She very kindly consulted Dr Thomas Hale's Medications and Mothers' Milk and was able to reassure me that the drug was fine and perfectly safe. It was also around this time that I found out about LactMed, a fabulous online resource where you can check out any  medications you may be taking and see whether they are safe and suitable when you are breastfeeding.

Visit Breastfeeding Mums Forums to chat about breastfeeding and share your breastfeeding stories.

Don't forget to visit the following bloggers to read their stories (more to follow!):

Speech Act writes about plugged ducts and blebs

Half Pint Pixie writes about oversupply, blebs, plugged ducts and mastitis

Nurturing Notes writes about thrush

Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog writes about tongue ties and breastfeeding

Mamas Magic writes about supplementing after birth complications

Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go writes about milk supply and the mini Pill

Hobo Mama writes about finger feeding and baby hickeys

Breastfeeding 123 writes about using gentian violet and grapefruit seed extract as thrush remedies

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