Nursing Roadblocks

Thrush & Too Little Milk


Thrush is a yeast infection on your breast. If you've ever had one in another area, you know how uncomfortable it can be.

"Between feedings, my nipples felt like they had a painful itchiness to them, almost like sunburn," says Ellen Rubin, of Pittsburgh, who developed the infection three weeks after her baby was born. Thrush can also cause stabbing, shooting pains and a red rash.

And chances are, if you have it on your breast, your baby has it in his mouth. Your doctor will treat both of you with an antifungal medication that you apply to your nipple and drop in your baby's mouth. You can continue nursing, but it's important that both of you get treated or you may wind up swapping the fungus back and forth.

Not Enough Milk

Women frequently feel that their babies are not getting enough milk, according to Lawrence Gartner, MD, chair of the executive committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) section on breastfeeding. Fortunately, the fear of low milk supply is largely unfounded.

"The key is information and support," says Dr. Gartner. "It's important to know how breastfeeding works," he says. Breast milk is all about supply and demand; in the beginning, a baby may need to nurse every two hours for the mother to build up a good milk supply. He advises approximately 10 feedings per day for the first few weeks, then approximately eight feedings per day for the next three months; time-consuming, but necessary.

The rare woman who isn't producing enough milk is clued in if her infant isn't gaining sufficiently. If you're one of them, your pediatrician will monitor your baby carefully and may suggest formula supplementation while you increase your milk supply. Increasing the frequency of feeding, as well as pumping in between feedings, can step up your supply. Your diet plays a big role in how much milk you produce, too; drink as much water as you can, and continue to take in about 300 to 500 extra calories a day to provide your body with the fuel it needs to make milk for your baby.

The AAP recommends that mothers exclusively nurse their babies for the first six months of life. And with the right kind of information and support, just about any mother who wants to breastfeed can do exactly that.

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