Breastfeeding tips for nursing mothers with medical illnesses

Woman breastfeeding

If due to these or other medical conditions you are unable to breastfeed your baby, experts suggest the following five-point checklist:

Get your medical problem diagnosed: 

If your baby is rejecting your milk or you are unable to express, you must seek immediate medical attention. This could be due to several reasons, including what you eat, your lifestyle cycle or major medical problems such as HIV. Here, the virus can pass onto the child via mother’s milk. In addition, if the mother is taking antiretroviral medications for HIV, she should avoid breastfeeding. Another point is if the child is born preterm. Usually, preterm babies (if the weight is less than 2 kilos) cannot latch on to consume mother’s milk. Ideally, they should turn at least 30 weeks before they are able to do so successfully. Also, if the mother has an abscess, it may interrupt the feeding cycle but can be solved with manual expression. Another check is to look for active tuberculosis. It requires isolation of the mother until completion of the treatment and mother is no longer contagious.

Identify common breastfeeding challenges: 

Many mothers face challenges such as sore nipples, low milk supply, oversupply of milk, engorgement, plugged ducts, breast infection (mastitis), fungal infections, inverted, large or flat nipples. “Certain chemotherapeutic, psychotherapeutic or other drugs may also restrict breastfeeding, therefore, medical intervention is advised," says Dr. Anita Sharma, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, Fortis Mammamia, Delhi. Therefore, experts suggest that nursing mothers can resume breastfeeding once these challenges have completely been overcome.

Identify why there is a 'Nursing strike': 

Your baby has been breastfeeding for well over four months, but suddenly refuses the breast. It means that the baby is trying to let you know that something is wrong. It could be because of a medical problem you have or perhaps the baby is suffering from teething pain, a fungal infection like thrush, or a cold sore, ear infection, pain from a certain breastfeeding position, a cold or stuffy nose, or a response to reduced milk supply. In such a case, you can try breastfeeding the same time as before. Keep track of baby's diaper activities so you know when he needs milk. Most importantly, try different breastfeeding positions in a soothing and quiet environment.

Check if the baby has contracted your medical problem:

Certain medical conditions can make it difficult for the baby to latch on. More so, if the baby is premature. These medical problems could be jaundice, reflux disease, cleft lip or low birth weight. Sometimes, the mother's infections are also passed on to the child during breastfeeding. Mothers are, therefore, usually advised to comfort their children with their touch and consult the doctor on proper latching positions and medications.

Eat healthily and exercise regularly: 

This has been said maybe more time than you remember, but it is so important that it must be said again. A breastfeeding mother must take good care of her health in order to initiate health for her baby. “Its one the tried and tested breastfeeding tips. Try to eat healthily and sustain a lifestyle that includes regular exercise and consumption of a good amount of liquids,” says Dr. Misra.

So in case, you have been asked to stop nursing, keep these important breastfeeding tips in mind. However, do remember that breastfeeding is an important part of your baby's growth and you must look for an alternative if you are unable to engage in it yourself.

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