Before knowing about the issues faced during breast feeding let us know some basics behind the breast feeding as well as the milk production in the breasts after the child’s birth. Milk production is a response to special hormones that are produced at the end of pregnancy. The start of milk production in the breasts coincides with the birth of the baby. Early milk is a thin white fluid that differs in composition from normal breast milk that is secreted later. Production of milk not during pregnancy is sometimes caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland. Treatment consists of surgical removal of the tumor. Changes in the breasts occur in different stages of the menstrual cycle. Before menstruation, the breasts may feel “tight” and congested; some pain may be experienced, often accompanied by a tingling sensation in the nipples. These changes settle down as soon as the menstrual period begins. However, changes in the breasts, such as thickening and lumps, may mean breast cancer and need to be reported to a physician immediately. Regular, monthly self-examination of the breast can detect cancer early. Differences in breast size and shape are largely due to inherited factors. Being overweight increases the size of the breasts with extra fatty tissue.
Know about breast feeding before the child’s birth
It is always useful to know before the baby’s birth how to press out milk from the breasts. Have a sterilized cup ready. Wash your hands and make sure they are warm. Sit comfortably at a low table with the cup on the table just under your breast. Massage the whole breast with both hands. Then, with thumb and forefinger of one hand, squeeze the milk reservoir deep behind the areola. Slide thumb and forefinger through ninety degrees round the areola and squeeze again, making sure that all the milk sacs are emptied. Meanwhile, with the other hand, massage the breast gently from top, side, and bottom toward the areola. In the hospital, a hand pump may be supplied with instructions on how to use it. Some hospitals use electric pumps. An experienced nurse can provide useful suggestions on the use of the breast pump after the birth of the baby.
Engorgement may occur at the beginning of the milk-producing cycle. The milk-making cells enlarge following hormonal stimulus and an increase in the blood supply. The process lasts for two to three days and in many women causes the breasts to swell painfully. Cold compresses and a mild painkiller should relieve the condition. Nurse the baby frequently, applying warm compresses before feeding. Put a little oil on the breast and express gently. In case if you saw some blood in breast milk consult the physician if a hard area persists in the breast after nursing and massaging; when a red, painful area, like a boil in the early stages, appears; or if your temperature rises suddenly and you start shivering. Physicians do not agree on whether a nursing mother taking antibiotics should continue to breast-feed. Each situation is different so it would be wise to follow your physician’s instructions.