Common Breastfeeding Problems—Solved

Woman breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a natural process so it should be easy, right? But just like learning how to ride a bike, you need to learn how to breastfeed (and so does baby, by the way).

Your baby can start to breastfeed from the very first moments after birth; holding him close to you, skin-to-skin, helps you begin your relationship with each other, keeping him warm and stimulating his senses at the same time.

Many babies will seek the nipple, attaching to your breast (this is also called ‘latching on’) and start to suck and swallow at this time.

Get off to a good start in the days that follow by keeping your baby close and continuing to breastfeed whenever your baby shows feeding cues, such as mouth movements, hand movements, turning his head, opening his eyes, showing agitation and alertness.

Feeding should be comfortable for both of you, and it should become increasingly easy for your baby to latch on without a fuss or struggle.

Common Breastfeeding Problems—Solved

Sore nipples

An unfamiliar feeling of tingling, or pressure, without actual pain, is normal when you first start to breastfeed. But if breastfeeding hurts your nipples, then the most likely reason is that you and your baby need to change the way he latches on.

Benign breast lumpiness

This is the presence of lumps in the breast caused by the swelling of milk-producing glands. Non-infectious inflammation, or swelling of the breasts, may occur before a full-blown infection. Symptoms include long-lasting tenderness, swelling, redness, heat in the breast, decreased milk production. The mother should empty the breast regularly and use heat compresses on the breast.

Infection (Mastitis)

Breast infections are most common in women who are breastfeeding. Ducts can become blocked and bacterial infection sets in. Signs of oncoming breast infection include reddening, warm, tender and lumpy breasts. The mother may experience fever (rise in body temperature). Breastfeeding mothers also may feel feverish and ill. Infections can be treated with adequate rest, warm compresses, antibiotics, breast support, and continued breastfeeding.

Inverted nipples

Some women have breast nipples that are drawn inwards (or inverted). This is a serious condition for these women, since a baby may not be able to grasp the areola to get milk. This condition usually clears up on its own during pregnancy, as breasts get larger. The other option is to use breast cups in the brassieres. The nipples will protrude through the hole in the cup and this helps the nipples to protrude through.

Cracked or sore nipples

Cracked or sore nipples are mostly the results of the baby not being positioned correctly during breastfeeding. The baby’s lips and gums should be on the areola and not just the nipple. Never pull the breast to stop the baby from breastfeeding. To remove the baby from the breast, press down the baby’s chin or cheek. To treat cracked nipples after breastfeeding, put some of the mother’s milk on the nipples and allow it to dry. Clean the breast before breastfeeding again. The nipples can also be exposed to direct sunlight for about 10-15 minutes. The nipples should be washed with water and no soap and dried.

Breast engorgement

Breast engorgement is a common problem for breastfeeding, mothers. Engorgement is the condition in which the milk glands don’t completely empty. The symptoms include Tender and very swollen breasts, fever, and pain. These problems can be managed by Expressing some milk before breastfeeding, compresses with warm water, use of cold compresses, using different feeding positions, frequent breastfeeding with the baby in the right position, and massaging the breasts. If the condition persists the mother should seek medical help.


It is a yeast infection that causes white patches that look like milk coating in the mouth of the baby. Medicine can be given by a clinician to clear the thrush.

Inadequate milk supply

Some mothers experience a short supply of milk but this should not be the case. Factors such as fatigue, smoking, and contraceptives can be the cause of inadequate milk. Frequent nursing will keep the milk flowing.

Babies with cleft lip and palate

Babies with deformities of the mouth such as cleft lip or palate will have problems nursing. The mother can express the milk and give it using spoons and cups. The baby with a cleft lip or palate presents a very special need and the mother may need to be assisted by medical personnel.
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