What are cracked nipples?
Some mothers experience something called cracked nipples when they breastfeed. Symptoms include pain when feeding, bleeding from your nipples and cracks in the skin. These problems are normally a result of your baby not latching on properly.
If you are living with HIV and breastfeeding it's important that you speak to a healthcare worker as soon as possible about any problems with your nipples, especially if they are bleeding. This is because injured nipples can increase the likelihood of passing on HIV to your baby. They will advise you on how to feed safely and help you position your baby to avoid future problems. Remember breastfeeding should not hurt.
You should also be wary of mastitis, a condition when your breasts become inflamed. You might notice them being red, hot and painful. This is also something you should speak to a healthcare professional about as it can also increase HIV risk.
Why should I avoid giving my baby soft foods at first?
For at least the first six months you're advised to exclusively breastfeed. This is because a baby's stomach is particularly sensitive in these first few months. Giving the baby some breastmilk alongside other foods can irritate your child's stomach. If your baby's stomach is irritated they are more vulnerable to HIV. If you or your baby has diarrhoea or vomiting you should speak to a healthcare worker, as this can be a sign of irritated stomachs.
Although your baby should not have any other foods, you are fine to give them any medicines they've been prescribed.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding gives your children a great start in life. So long as you adhere to your antiretroviral treatment, breastfeeding is the safest and best option for your child.
The benefits of breastfeeding can last long into a child's life, with positive impacts on both mother and baby. Some of the most important benefits are:
1. Breastfeeding provides mothers and their babies with an opportunity to bond. During feeding mother and baby interact with each other and skin to skin contact can make them feel closer.
2. Breastfeeding allows mothers to share their antibodies with their babies. These are important for fighting infections and can protect your baby from getting sick.
3. A mother's milk is full of the nutrients and water that babies need to grow. Breastfeeding protects young infants from the dangers of malnutrition and gives them the energy and vitamins they need.
4. Breastfeeding protects young babies from the dangers of unclean water, which can cause diarrhoea and other health problems, which can be fatal.
5. Breastfeeding is good for the mother's health. It lowers women's risk of developing certain diseases later in life, including ovarian and breast cancers.