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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Why are my nipples sore?
The commonest known cause of sore nipples is poor fixing. If you have never breast-fed before, it is important that an expert is involved in guiding you at the outset. Many well­ intentioned breast-feeding plans are thwarted early on because of lack of or poor guidance. As a result, the baby is perpetually hungry and fretful and the mother is tired and frustrated. The end result is quite often resignation and resorting to the bottle.

If you are unsure about your feeding technique, it is important to contact the health visitor, community midwife or even the GP and the appropriate help will be arranged for you. If you are still in hospital, there are usually dedicated breast-feeding counselors and one will always be there to give help and guidance if and when required.

There are, of course, other less common causes of sore nipples, such as infection (usually thrush) and mastitis. Nipple stretching, which may happen if baby is repeatedly pulled off the breast while feeding, can also cause soreness. In the case of the latter all that is needed is to correct the feeding technique.

My baby seems to be feeding every couple of hours. Why is this?
It is important to remember that the best breast-feeding strategy is to feed your baby on demand. This will harmonize need and supply. Trying to regiment feeding times is counter­productive and will only result in a hungrier and more restless baby. The feeding patterns of different babies vary quite widely and it is misleading to compare your baby with someone else's or even your previous baby.

Generally, most babies will feed very frequently in the first few weeks. This should be considered as perfectly normal. With time, the frequency of feeding inevitably decreases. Every few weeks, there may be increases in the frequency of feeding for a day or so. This is believed to be prompted by what are known as growth spurts. Many women are alarmed when these episodes occur out of the blue, thinking the milk supply is drying up. All you need to do when this happens is to adjust your own eating and water intake to respond to your baby's needs. Remember that this will last only a day or two at a time.

My baby is always hungry. Will giving a bottle help?
Breast-milk provides all the food and fluid needs of your baby for at least four months. Giving a bottle will only have the effect of reducing your own milk supply and help thwart your efforts to feed your baby.

The baby may seem to be demanding feeds very frequently but this will change with passing weeks and the baby will establish a pattern.

There are simple ways of assessing whether your baby is getting enough and frequency of feeds is not one of them. If the baby appears contented after feeds, if there are plenty of wet nappies and stools are passed regularly and if the baby is gaining weight, then that is solid evidence that your baby is getting enough food and fluids and there is no need to worry.

Will giving a bottle stop my baby having colic?
If the baby is fretful, windy and appears to be in some discomfort as well as passing watery stools, there could be a whole range of causes. The bottle is not the answer. If the problem is persisting for the whole day, it may be wise to seek expert help so the cause can be investigated and established.

Episodes of colic in an occasional evening are not uncommon but even these are not solved by giving the bottle. There are no specific remedial measures and all you may have to do is to ensure the baby is as comfortable as possible and it will soon pass.