Having breastfeeding problems or a challenging situation that may require extra care to breastfeed? Then here are some helpful breastfeeding tips for you! Problems can happen to all of us. Sometimes we encounter circumstances or challenges that need a little extra care.
As wonderful as it can be, difficulties or challenges are not totally uncommon but we don’t want you to give up! While the first days/months of breastfeeding can have its challenges, it really is what is best for your baby and for you as well!
The best thing to do in these cases is find a supportive friend or lactation consultant that can help you through the hard times. The benefits of nursing your children far outweigh the challenges that we mommies sometimes face in the process.
We have put together some resources that may help.
Common Issues, Complications and Breastfeeding Problems:
Here are some common issues that mother’s might face and some suggestions on how to deal with them.
Medical Issues for Moms:
- Plugged or Clogged Milk Duct
- Breast Infection Symptoms
- Breast Engorgement
- Milk Blister (usually a white spot on your nipple)
- Tuberous Breasts
- Leaking Breasts
- Can you breastfeed with inverted nipples?
- Do Nipple Piercings Affect Breastfeeding? What New Moms Should Know
- Skincare Issues
- Stretch Mark Removal Options
- Finding Birth control while Breastfeeding
- Best Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding Moms with Sore Nipples
- Do You Need a Wet Nurse?
Milk Supply Issues:
- Too Much Milk (Oversupply)
- Drop in Supply
- What if I Need a Wet Nurse?
- Adoptive Moms Can Produce Milk too!
- Blood in Breast Milk When Pumping or Feeding? Causes and Treatments
- Breast Milk Color – What Is Normal? Why Does It Change?
Stages of Development:
- Surviving Growth Spurts
- Nipple Confusion
- Nursing Strikes (No…it is NOT your baby trying to wean!)
- Stop Baby from Biting while Breastfeeding
- Infant Separation Anxiety in Breastfed Babies: What to Do
- Getting your baby to take a bottle once in a while!
- Getting Baby to Sleep through the Night (FINALLY get a good night’s sleep!)
- Getting your milk back! – Yes you often can!
- Is it Time to Start Solid Food?
- Baby Led Weaning – How to know when
- What Kind of Nursing Schedule is Normal?
Medical Issues for Babies:
- Infant Acid Reflux
- Lactose Intolerance?
- Spitting Up and Acid Reflux
- Surviving Colic
- How to know if your baby needs supplements of vitamin D
- Breastmilk Jaundice & Your Newborn – What Every Mother Should Know
- Handling Criticism
- Find a Breastfeeding Bra That Fits
- Using a Nipple Shield – How, When And Which Ones Are Best
- Finding Plus Size Breastfeeding Bras
- Tips and Tricks to Calm a Fussy Baby
- Tips for Breastfeeding in Public
10 Ways to Avoid the Most Common Breastfeeding Problems
Sometimes you can avoid the issues before they even begin!
Every new mother needs a troubleshooting guide for breastfeeding dilemmas. From establishing a strong milk supply to healing sore nipples and ensuring the baby is latched properly, there are so many issues that most women aren’t warned about in advanced. If you have questions about breastfeeding or just want to prepare before your little one is snuggled up to your breast, this guide will help you avoid some of the most common breastfeeding problems.
Problem # 1 — Your nipples are sore and tender.
This is often a problem for new mothers with hungry babies feeding every two or three hours. You may not be able to avoid it completely, but the soreness should pass as your breasts adjust to feeding and your baby masters the latch. It’s important to distinguish nipples that are sore and a bit tender while adjusting to breastfeeding from sharp pain during breastfeeding.
If your nipples are just sore and tender between feedings, try massaging them lighting with a bit of breast milk on your fingers. That milk is healing for your nipples as well as your baby, and the warmth is soothing for some women. You can also use nipple lotions and creams designed to heal soreness as well as cracked skin. Motherlove Nipple Cream and Cora Organic Nipple Balm are two good options.
If your nipples hurt during breastfeeding or you’re experiencing more pain than soreness, check your baby’s latch. An improper latch can hurt your nipples while making feeding more difficult and possibly unproductive for your baby. Make sure that your baby is opening wide and latching around your areola rather than just on the nipple. If you pull down your baby’s lower lip during a feeing, you should see his tongue. You can see a doctor or lactation consultant if you need further help with latch issues.
Problem #2. Your nipples are flat or inverted.
Many women worry that their flat or inverted nipples will make it difficult or impossible to breastfeed. Some women find that they have flat nipples even though they don’t appear flat when looking at them. If you gently pinch your fingers around your areola about an inch below the nipple, you should see it pucker up and point out. If it doesn’t then you may have flat nipples. If the nipple seems to cave in rather than perking up, your nipples are inverted.
Another test is to expose your nipples to cold and see if they point outwards. If they do, then flat or inverted nipples probably aren’t a problem. The good news is that most women with flat or inverted nipples breastfeed without problems. The baby latches around the areola rather than the nipple, so what matters most is that the nipples are free of obstruction and allow the milk to flow our properly.
If you’re still concerned that your nipples are causing a breastfeeding problem, breast shields may help. They cover the nipples and offer an artificial nipple that can help with short-term latch problems. You can also meet with a lactation consultant. One meeting is often enough to inspect your nipples and the baby’s latch to identify problems and discuss solutions.
Problem #3. You’re not producing enough breast milk to meet your baby’s needs.
This is a big concern for many new mothers, but worries are often resolved once the milk fully drops. That should happen within the first week of a baby’s life, but in the meantime, you will produce only small amounts of colostrum. This thick, highly nutritious milk is just what your baby needs after birth. Your baby has a small stomach that can’t hold a high volume of milk, so taking in small amounts of colostrum every couple of hours is adequate.
If your milk has dropped and you still aren’t producing enough to keep your baby satisfied, invest in a good breast pump. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand business, so more demand should result in a more substantial supply of milk. Start by making sure that your baby is emptying your breasts at each feeding. If your little one is too sleepy to stay awake, try removing his clothing, stroking his cheeks, talking to him in an excited voice or gently wiping a slightly cool, wet cloth on his cheeks and forehead.
If your baby leaves small amounts of milk in each breast or can’t drain both breasts fully during a feeding, you can pump right after the breastfeeding session ends. This is a good way to empty the breasts while creating a breast milk stash in your freezer for emergency use. Sometimes expressing the remaining milk with your fingers is adequate to stimulate greater production.
If you seem to run out of milk before your baby is satisfied, then pumping between feedings can increase demand signals to hopefully increase your supply. Make sure that your pumping sessions are timed so that your breasts can replenish the milk before your baby’s next feeding. Pumping shouldn’t take the place of a breastfeeding session, so start a freezer stash with that pumped milk rather than feeding it right away.
Regular breastfeeding sessions are key to preventing this problem, but you may also consume lactation teas, cookies, drink mixes and other edibles as a preventative measure. These products aren’t full-proof solutions, and they aren’t guaranteed to keep your milk supply strong. They may still help, and warm tea is relaxing during the exhausting days of early breastfeeding.
Problem #4. Artificial nipples have confused your baby.
Nipple confusion can occur when babies are offered pacifiers, bottles and other artificial nipples in addition to their mother’s breast. These nipples are all different and require a different latch and suckling motion, which can frustrate or confuse some babies. In some cases, a baby will prefer the bottle or pacifier to the breast.
You can prevent nipple confusion by not offering artificial nipples. At least wait until your baby has mastered breastfeeding and is old enough to differentiate the comfort of a pacifier and the nourishment of breastfeeding.
Problem #5. Breastfeeding takes up so much time that you struggle to care for older children or tend to other responsibilities.
This is a problem for some women with busy lives. Breastfeeding on demand requires you to hit the pause button on life every two or three hours, and you still have to change diapers and spend time cuddling and communicating with your baby. If you need your hands to get other things done, a hands-free, double breast pump is your best friend. You can pump while remaining productive, and then you can use the collected breast milk to bottle feed the baby later.
Exclusive breastfeeding is great for your baby, but it is the most time-consuming approach. You can experiment with pillows and varying breastfeeding positions that keep your hands free. Just make sure that your baby is in a secure position while our hands are busy. You do miss out on the eye contact and cuddling that would otherwise happen during a feeding session.
If you just don’t have time to breastfeed exclusively, then the double pump and a bottle will prevent wasted time. You can allow other family members or hired caregivers to feed with a bottle, and you can still enjoy breastfeeding when it suits your schedule.
Problem #6. It’s almost time to return to work, but you don’t want to stop breastfeeding.
Investing in a high-quality electric, double breast pump is the solution to back-to-work obstacles. If your baby has time to master breastfeeding and adjust to bottle feeding at least a couple weeks before the change, you should have no problems pumping at work and breastfeeding while at home. Think of it as getting the best of both worlds while keeping your baby’s tummy full of nutritious breast milk even when you’re away.
You may need milk-saving breast shields or cloth bra liners to protect against leaky breasts. You can prevent leaking and engorgement by scheduling your pumping sessions properly and completely emptying your breasts each time. That will also keep the physical demand for milk high so that you don’t experience a slowdown in milk production when your schedule shifts.
Problem #7. Your breasts are uncomfortably hard and overfilled.
Breast engorgement happens when your breasts are so full of milk that they become hard and extremely tender. Your baby may also struggle to latch onto your breast and express milk when your breasts are overfilled and too firm. The best preventative measure is to ensure that your baby feeds at least eight times in a 24-hour period and drains both breasts during each feeding.
If you still have problems with engorgement, the best solution is to express more milk more often, starting with simple hand expression when you first notice your breasts getting too firm.
A quick pumping session or hand expression can relieve the pressure before you become seriously engorged, but your baby is the best solution to this problem. Some babies need to feed more often to stop engorgement from happening. If your baby just can’t keep up with your milk production, add a pumping session or two to relieve the pressure and keep your breasts comfortable.
Problem #8. Your baby spits up excessively after eating.
It’s natural for babies to spit up, especially when you burp them right after a feeding. If your baby is gaining weight at a healthy rate and seems content between feedings, then it’s probably not a problem. You should keep a burp rag close at hand, protecting your clothing and furniture since you know that the spit-up is coming. It’s possible that your baby is eating just a bit too much milk and spitting up is a natural way to correct the problem.
If your baby seems distressed between feedings or it seems like spitting up causes pain and stress, then see your doctor as soon as possible. A medical professional can help you diagnose potential medical issues while ensuring that your baby is growing at an acceptable rate. Follow your doctor’s orders to correct any underlying problems that may stop your baby from keeping his milk down.
Problem #9. Breastfeeding in public scares you or feels awkward.
There is so much controversy over breastfeeding, and that has increased the anxiety that some moms feel when they need to feed their baby away from home. You can prevent that anxiety or hesitation to feed by scoping out the best places to breastfeed in areas that you frequent. If there are no private rooms, look for less crowded areas that allow you to step away from most people to breastfeed in peace.
Keeping a breastfeeding cover with you at all times is also a good idea. You can purchase covers online in a variety of styles, colors and patterns. Large scarves or blankets also make good covers.
Problem #10. Your breasts are always leaking.
Sometimes the sound of a baby crying can lead to a letdown of your milk, even if it’s not your baby. Some women find that their breasts are constantly releasing small amounts of milk even without stimulation. The solution is to wear breast shells or milk savers. They fit comfortably in any bra and collect milk so that it doesn’t saturate your clothing. You can use that milk later to massage your nipples, preventing dry, cracked skin while relaxing.
As you continue your breastfeeding journey, you will encounter new problems as well as new pleasures. Use this list and other resources on this site to maneuver the issues as they arise while enjoying every moment spent breastfeeding. We’re here to answer your breastfeeding questions and to help your family thrive through the growing years.
Still Need Breastfeeding Help?
Has your issue not been addressed here? We have a whole section of questions and answers from moms just like you. Click here to see if your questions or concern might appear there.