Melanie Kissell



Why Do Babies Cry?

Babies cry for th same reason grown-ups talk:  they want to communicate!  Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for new parents to figure out the meaning of their baby’s cries.  As you become more experienced in parenting, you’ll learn to recognize your baby’s different cries and even get a sense of what baby is trying to tell you.

Learning to speak “Baby”:  Different Kinds of Infant Cries

I’m hungry

A cry that starts slowly and builds to a loud rhythm may mean hunger, especially it it’s been more than 2 hours since the last feeding.

I’m lonely or bored

Coos and gurgles often will turn to a wail if baby want s or needs some personal attention.

I’m tired or uncomfortable

If you’re hearing cries that are whiny, nasal, and continuous, chances are that baby is overtired, too warm , too cold, or otherwise uncomfortable.

I’m in pain

A cry beginning as a loud, high-pitched scream and followed by silence and short gasps calls for immediate attention.  Examine your baby from top to bottom.  If you can’t find the source of baby’s crying or pain and the baby continues to cry, call your pediatrician immediately.

I just need to cry

Sometimes babies just need to release pent up energy by crying, especially at the end of the day.

I’m cranky

Some babies are just generally fussy.  Irritable crying varies in duration and occurs randomly.

I have gas

Gas is very common in infants, affecting more than 3 out of 4 newborns.  Gas bubbles can cause discomfort, leading to crankiness and crying.  If you suspect gas, try burping your baby and/or giving your baby an anti-gas medicine formulated specifically for infants, such as Infants’ Mylicon Drops (use as directed).  If symptoms persist or you’re in doubt, talk to your pediatrician.

What Problems May Occur When Breastfeeding?

* Decreased nipple blood supply: This can cause you to have pain and blanching (becoming pale) of your nipples while breastfeeding.  Decrease the amount of caffeine you drink, such as in coffee, tea, and soda, to help prevent nipple blanching.  Do not smoke and avoid being in cold areas.  Certain medicines may make your blood vessels get narrow and decrease blood flow to the nipples.  Always ask your caregiver before using any medicine. Let him know when you have nipple blanching.

* Engorgement: Although it is normal for your breasts to fill with milk, they can become too full.  Breast engorgement is a condition where your breasts are painful and very swollen from too much milk inside.  Breastfeeding your baby often will help empty the milk and prevent engorgement.  If your baby cannot empty your breast milk, you can express milk from your breasts by hand or with a breast pump.  Ask your caregiver for more information about breast fullness verses breast engorgement. Tell your caregiver if you want more information on expressing breast milk.

* Leaking breasts:
Your breasts may leak when they are full of milk and not emptied often.  You may see milk dripping from your nipples.  This is normal.  To stop this, cross your arms over your chest and press them lightly over your nipples.  You can also wear nursing pads inside your bra to soak up the milk.  Wear several layers of clothing, and avoid wearing solid colored shirts.  Doing these things may make the leaking milk harder to see on your clothes.

* Nipple pain:
You can get sore nipples when you first start breastfeeding.  This should get better as your body gets used to breastfeeding.  You can get sore, cracked, or bleeding nipples if your baby is not latched-on in a good position.  To prevent this, you need to be careful when positioning your baby to feed.  Make sure your baby has a mouthful of your breast when he feeds.  To latch-on well, his lips and gums should be on your areola and not just on your nipple.  Help your baby to latch-on and come off your breast without sucking to prevent injuring your nipple.  Ask your caregiver for more information about nipple soreness.


* Plugged milk ducts: Milk ducts are pathways where milk flows from milk producing areas in your breast down to your nipple.  Things that can block your milk ducts include milk that gets thicker, scar tissue, or something pressing on them.  The blockage can decrease or stop the flow of your breast milk in one part of your breast.  It can make your milk build up inside and cause your breast to swell.  Plugged ducts can lead to getting a breast abscess (area of infection in your breast) or mastitis.  Always empty your breasts completely and do not let long periods of time pass between breastfeedings.  Breastfeeding often will help prevent you from getting plugged ducts again or getting a breast infection.  Ask your caregiver for more information about breastfeeding and plugged ducts.

Melanie Kissell


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