Thrive Breastfeeding Holistic Health Newborn & Infant

Natural Remedies for Common Breastfeeding Complications

Mother breast feeding her infant studio shot
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Written by Jolene Brighten

Breastfeeding can be a challenge at times, especially if you are a first time mom. I’m going to let you in on a secret: most mothers experience some discomfort or breastfeeding complication at least once during their breastfeeding journey.

That’s right, you’re not alone.

Most women can relate to feeling insecure, discouraged, and even guilty when breastfeeding doesn’t go perfectly. And when a problem arises, your confidence can be completely undermined. Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally and doesn’t always go perfectly. Yes, take a breath and repeat that. It isn’t something you should “just know how to do” and breastfeeding, like being a mother, isn’t perfect.

If you are experiencing difficulty breastfeeding it does not mean you should just give up on breastfeeding. In fact, most breastfeeding-related issues get better with more nursing!

When you face a struggle, you need tools and you need allies.

Sore Nipples

• Apply a cream or ointment containing lanolin, calendula, comfrey, and/or vitamin E.

• Vitamin E can be applied directly to the nipple to encourage healing of the tissue.

• A cool cabbage leaf applied to the nipple can help reduce discomfort.

• Warm salt water soaks. Create a warm saline solution by stirring 1-2 tsp of salt in a warm glass of water. Lean over the glass and soak the affected nipple(s) for about 1 minute.

• If the discomfort persists, meet with a lactation consultant to ensure proper latch.

Cracked Nipples

• Apply lanolin-based creams between feedings.

• If the problem persists, consider meeting with a lactation consultant to ensure proper latch and check baby’s mouth for signs of thrush.

Engorgement

• Empty breast frequently by nursing on demand.

• Apply a cool cabbage leaf to ease discomfort.

• Hand express to soften breast, which will make it easier for your

baby to feed and helps you avoid nipple soreness.

• Apply a cold pack between feedings for temporary relief. Do not

apply a cold pack for longer than 20 minutes.

Blocked Duct

• Breastfeed with baby’s lower lip in line with the duct that is blocked.

• Massage the breast from the outside toward the nipple. Press gently to avoid damage to the duct. Massaging the breast in a warm shower can help relieve the block.

• Apply heat for no more than 20 minutes to the area once every hour.

• Apply a potato poultice.

• Consider using a pump to help empty the breast completely.

• Lecithin: 1200 mg 3-4 times daily. After about 2 weeks free from blocked ducts, reduce the dose to 3 times daily. Slowly wean yourself from the lecithin by reducing the dose by one capsule each week following the first reduction.

Mastitis

• Seek medical attention if you have a fever and your breast is swollen, red and hot. Mastitis can quickly turn into a breast abscess so it is best to have the infection evaluated by a medical professional.

• Nurse as often as possible. Massage the breast toward the nipple while baby is nursing.

• Rest and get help around the house. This is an active infection and as such, you should be resting as much as possible.

• Apply a potato poultice, alternating with ice every 15 minutes.

• Castor oil massage to the breast and armpit will help increase circulation and lymphatic flow. Do not allow castor oil to get into baby’s mouth.

• Homeopathic remedies should be used at the first sign of symptoms and taken 15 minutes away from food and beverages. Please see the list of homeopathics for mastitis.

• Hydrotherapy can help you clear the infection faster. In the shower, allow the warm water to run over the breast for 1 minute. Turn the water to cool/cold and allow the water to run over the breast for 30 seconds. Repeat, alternating warm and cold for 3 cycles total.

• Echinacea Tincture: As directed on the bottle 3-4 times daily.

• Garlic: 2-3 raw cloves daily.

• Vitamin C: 1,000 mg 3-5 times daily. This can cause loose stools. Reduce the dose if this occurs and be sure to space out the dosing.

About the author

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Jolene Brighten