Weeks 3 & 4

For those breastfeeding, you might still be experiencing some trial-and-error difficulty. The beginning of breastfeeding can definitely be trying, but take comfort in knowing that the kinks are almost always ironed out by your six-week mark. If you’re having serious problems, call a local lactation consultant or support group for advice and encouragement.

Here are common issues you might be dealing with at the three- or four-week mark, including how to supplement or switch to formula. For general information (including what to eat and what to avoid), read our formula and breastfeeding advice from week two.

Breastfeeding Problems:

  • If your nipples are still sore, tender or cracked, first make sure that you’re properly latching and unlatching the baby. You should also try switching breastfeeding positions so that different parts of your nipple are being used.
  • Not producing enough milk is rare, but there are some measures you can take if this is a problem.
  • Producing too much milk can be frustrating and uncomfortable, and may require some work to slow your production.
  • If one breast becomes bigger than the other, follow our advice to help even out the situation.
  • If you’re feeling soreness, warmth, swelling or hardness in the breast – often with flu-like symptoms – you are probably suffering from mastisis.
  • If you feel a hard, tender lump in your breast, often marked by a red streak on your skin, you probably have a clogged milk duct. Make sure you treat this as soon as possible to prevent a more serious breast infection.

Switching to Formula

Some women have certain health or lifestyle circumstances that make breastfeeding next to impossible, so making the switch to formula shouldn’t be a guilt-ridden decision. Just do whatever is most beneficial for you and your family.

How to Reduce Milk Supply:

Opting out of breastfeeding will definitely cause another round of engorgement until your body gets the message to stop producing milk. In the meantime:

  • Use cold compresses to relieve the discomfort, such as with cold cabbage leaves or cold pack inserts for your bra.
  • Do not pump to relieve the engorgement. Remember, your body will continue to make the same amount of milk that your body is using.
  • Wear a well-supportive bra that isn’t too tight. You’ll want to keep the circulation flowing to prevent clogging your milk ducts and getting a painful breast infection.
  • If you have significant swelling, treat with ice for 15 minutes, three or four times a day. Also ask your doctor about an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Supplementing With Formula

Whether you have a medical complication or simply need a break from exclusive breastfeeding, formula is a safe alternative for your little one.

  • While it’s true that breastfeeding less often will produce less milk, you still have a shot at maintaining a healthy milk supply by nursing a few times a day.
  • However, if supplementing is more of a choice than a necessity, know that most lactation consultants recommend waiting until the baby is a month old to prevent your milk supply from being compromised.
  • A little breast milk is better than nothing: Although formula will provide your baby with necessary nutrients, he or she will also receive your germ-fighting antibodies every time you breastfeed.
  • Allow someone else (like Dad or Grandma) to give your baby bottles while during the transition. If he or she can smell your breast milk, it’s more likely that the bottle will be rejected.
  • Start feeding your baby a bottle when he or she is hungry but not yet frantic.
  • Expect a change in bowel movements and eating habits because the consistency of formula keeps babies more full.

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