3 common breastfeeding challenges solved

July 30, 2023

breastfeeding challenges

MakatiMed addresses mothers’ woes

From your mother to her mother and her mother’s mother too, generations of women have been told that breastmilk is the best food to give to a baby. “Safe, clean, natural, and free, breastmilk contains the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, plus essential vitamins, minerals, and antibodies needed for your baby’s development and protection against diseases,” says Patricia Florestine Kho, MD, from the Obstetrics and Gynecology department of the top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed). 

Breastfeeding’s benefits also go a long, long way—for infants and their mothers. Kids who were breastfed are less likely to be obese, diabetic, and asthmatic, or experience ailments like ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and upset tummy. They also grow up smarter, as evidenced by their high scores on intelligence tests. As for moms, breastfeeding lowers their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and breast and ovarian cancers. And because it burns calories, breastfeeding contributes to post-pregnancy weight loss. 

Yet for all its advantages and the numerous laws in place to encourage breastfeeding, the exclusive breastfeeding rate in the Philippines is a mere 34%, according to a report by the University of the Philippines. 

“Mothers will tell you that breastfeeding hurts or that they can’t produce milk,” says Dr. Kho. “Others say they are too exhausted to breastfeed after a long day at work.” 

Still, breastfeeding advocates are not giving up, and with government support through the promotion of breastfeeding programs and maternity protection in the workplace, plus the expertise of breastfeeding counselors within reach, they hope to bring the number up to at least 50% by 2025. That is the goal set by the World Health Assembly. 

For its part, MakatiMed encourages the practice of this most natural, nutritious, and beneficial means to nourish your infant by offering solutions to mothers’ most common breastfeeding challenges. 

“I don’t produce enough breastmilk.” Polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes, and thyroid or hormonal problems have been known to interfere with the production of breastmilk, as do stress, dehydration, weight loss, obesity, and certain medications (contraceptives, cold medicine). 

Otherwise, health experts describe the production of breastmilk as a matter of supply and demand. “The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you produce,” Dr. Kho explains. “Try breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, or at least eight (8) times a day. This way you empty your breasts to encourage milk production and sustain lactation. Nurse baby from one breast to the other and compress your breast as baby suckles to facilitate milk flow.” 

“Breastfeeding hurts.” Nursing a baby may be a unique bonding experience between mother and child, but when your nipples end up painful, sore, and cracked, the last thing you want is to spend time with your little one. “Consult your doctor or a lactation specialist on the proper way for your baby to latch,” Dr. Kho advises. “Inverted or flat nipples may pose challenges in breastfeeding and can lead to breast pain, and these health experts can advise you on how to ease the pain.” 

To relieve sore nipples, gently massage the sensitive area and place a warm heating pad or washcloth on your breast before feeding. Put a cool compress over it after feeding. “Also, find a place and position where breastfeeding is comfortable for you and baby,” adds Dr. Kho. Use pillows and footstools for extra support.” 

“I’m tired.” After a long day at work or managing your household, you deserve some “me” time. “It’s perfectly normal for moms to want to check out temporarily from parenting duties to rest and recharge,” says Dr. Kho. “But they can still feed the baby on time by pumping or hand expressing their breastmilk then storing what they collected until it’s time to feed.” 

According to the MakatiMed health expert, breastmilk lasts up to eight hours at room temperature, from 1-8 days at 2°C-4°C in the fridge, and for three months inside a 2-door freezer. 

“While you are producing breastmilk, take advantage of its many health benefits for your baby,” is Dr. Kho’s message to moms. “We only want what’s best for our children, and they have everything to gain from nature’s ‘perfect food.’” 

For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email mmc@makatimed.net.ph, or visit www.makatimed.net.ph. Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.