Common Breastfeeding Problems

Breastfeeding comes naturally to some mothers and babies, but some will have problems along the way. By preparing yourself for a potential struggle, you may avoid feelings of disappointment and failure if you have to work at breastfeeding.

One thing to remember is that most breastfeeding problems are temporary and can be overcome. Only around one percent of mothers are physically unable to breastfeed. If you find yourself struggling to feed your newborn, the most important thing you can do is ask for help. Speak to your healthcare provider straight away, they will be able to diagnose the problem and offer you the support necessary to help you continue on your breastfeeding journey.

There are a number of common breastfeeding problems, and the more you know about them, the easier you will find it to identify any problems you may face.

Sore nipples
Some women have very sensitive nipples, and can experience some discomfort as their nipples “toughen up” for breastfeeding. This pain is temporary and will soon disappear once you are in the swing of breastfeeding.

Some women find that each breastfeed is painful, this could be down to a painful letdown. Letdown is the moment your milk starts to flow. If this is to blame, the pain will disappear after about a minute of feeding.

If you are still in pain after one minute, you should remove your baby from the breast. The pain may be caused by an improper latch, so try latching the baby onto your breast again to see if that helps. Make sure baby’s mouth is wide open and baby’s body is at breast level and tummy-to-mummy – these minor adjustments can relieve a lot of pain.

If your nipples are sore and cracked, you can rub a few drops of breast milk into the nipple at the end of each feed. This will help to keep the skin moisturised and should encourage healing. You might also try using a purified lanolin made especially for breastfeeding mums.

Pink, sore nipples that itch could be a symptom of thrush. If your nipples are infected with thrush, your baby may be suffering from oral thrush. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you have thrush. Antifungal cream will be prescribed to treat the infection. Both mom and baby should be treated.

Blocked milk ducts
If you are suffering from tender, hard, hot breasts, you may have blocked milk ducts. This condition can be very painful, but can be treated at home by getting lots of rest, feeding from the affected side to clear the blockage, and applying heat to the affected area. Hand expressing may also help to clear the blockage, and pain relief may help to alleviate any discomfort (speak to your pharmacist to find out what you can take while breastfeeding). Contact your healthcare provider if you are still experiencing pain 48 hours after onset.

Mastitis can be caused by a bacterial infection, or improper drainage of the breast. It is a painful condition and the affected breast(s) will feel hard and hot to the touch, will appear red and inflamed, and you may experience a burning sensation during feeds. Mastitis is often accompanied by flu-like symptoms.

Contact your healthcare provider if you think you are suffering from mastitis, since antibiotics are sometimes needed to fight the infection. Use heat compresses, drink plenty of water, rest, and continue to feed through the affected breast to speed up recovery. Your healthcare provider may recommend pain relief for the discomfort.

Tongue tie
Some babies are born with an excessively tight piece of skin connecting the floor of the mouth to the underside of the tongue. This is known as a tongue tie and can cause feeding problems. If you think your baby has a tongue tie, or if you are experiencing ongoing feeding problems, you should contact your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Tongue tie most often causes nipple soreness, low milk supply and slow weight gain.

Seeking support
Try not to feel disheartened if you run into problems at the start of your breastfeeding journey. Remember, most women seek assistance in the early weeks of feeding. Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. Speak to your healthcare provider to find breastfeeding support in your local area.

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

Red, Tender Boobs Postpartum; Could it be Mastitis?

Your breasts may have been achy since the day you found out you were pregnant. Now that you had your baby and your milk came in, it may be more of the same; swollen, sore breasts. But how do you know when painful breasts are more than typical postpartum aches?

Mastitis occurs when breast tissue becomes inflamed and painful. It can develop due to an infection or from a blocked duct. An infection can occur when bacteria from your baby’s mouth enters your body through a cracked nipple. Mastitis from a blocked milk duct may develop if there is a build-up of milk. It can occur if your breasts do not empty fully during feedings.

Up to about 1 in 10 women who breastfeed develop mastitis. Although mastitis can develop anytime during breastfeeding, it’s more common during the first month after you deliver.

Symptoms of Mastitis

One of the first symptoms of mastitis is feeling a little rundown. In fact, you may feel flu-like symptoms several hours before you notice breast changes. Mastitis often only affects one breast not two, and additional symptoms include breast swelling and tenderness.

You may also notice a small, hard lump that hurts when you touch it. The affected breast may be red and warm to the touch. Fever and chills may also occur in some women with mastitis.

It’s important to contact your healthcare provider if you think you have mastitis. It is usually treated easily without an interruption in breastfeeding. In most cases, mastitis clears up in a few days.

How do I Treat Mastitis?

If you have mastitis, you might wonder if it’s OK to continue to breastfeed. Rest assured, breastfeeding is still recommended while you have mastitis. In fact, frequent emptying of your breasts may help clear the inflammation.

In some instances, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics. Although medication prescribed may enter your breastmilk, in most cases, antibiotics used to treat mastitis are not harmful to your baby. But speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Mastitis can make breastfeeding somewhat painful. But it’s important to continue to keep milk flowing and prevent a buildup. Applying a warm compress to your sore breast a few minutes before you breastfeed may help reduce discomfort. In addition, applying cold packs for about twenty minutes at a time on and off throughout the day may decrease discomfort. Talk to your doctor about taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication, which may also reduce pain.

There are a few things you can do to decrease your chances of developing mastitis in the future. For example, make sure your baby is latching on correctly during each feeding. Also, it may help to vary breastfeeding positions from one feeding to another to promote complete emptying of the breasts. If your baby does not empty each breast while feeding, use a pump to express leftover milk. Don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or a lactation consultant if you have any breastfeeding concerns.

Other notes

If you have a red sore, don’t automatically assume it’s Mastitis. If your symptoms don’t go away with antibiotics, you should follow up with your doctor. Trust your gut, especially when it comes to your health. It can be so easy to fall into such a pattern of taking care of everyone else that you forget to pay attention to what is going on with your own body.
You can read Heidi’s story here: Inflammatory Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know


Written by MaryAnn DePietro @writerlady34

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

5 Ways to Relieve Breast Engorgement

If you’re currently reading this over a pair of ginormous boobs, you may be wondering how you can relieve breast engorgement. They might look pretty spectacular, but engorged breasts can be tender, sore and downright painful. When your milk comes in, your breasts can change overnight. All of a sudden, they’re huge and uncomfortable. If you’re not enjoying your surgery-free boob job, you can try the following tips to reduce engorgement:

  1. Wear a comfortable bra

As a new mother, comfort is probably quite high on your agenda. A soft nursing bra could be the answer to your problems. Underwired and unsupportive bras could be making matters worse, so invest in a decent nursing bra. Many moms find that sleeping in a nursing bra helps them to get comfortable at night. Don’t worry, the engorgement won’t last forever. As your supply adjusts to the needs of your baby, it will get easier. Until then, a decent nursing bra is your uniform.

  1. Breastfeed your baby

The best and most effective way to relieve breast engorgement is to feed your baby. Newborn babies feed regularly thanks to their tiny tummies. If your breasts feel uncomfortable, try offering your baby a feed. Massage your breast during feeds to help the flow of milk and encourage the breasts to empty effectively.

  1. Avoid formula milk and pacifiers

According to UNICEF, the use of pacifiers and formula milk can reduce the amount of time spent at the breast. Reducing the frequency of breastfeeding can lead to engorgement. It is important to offer your baby the breast regularly during those first few months of life.

  1. Express milk

If your baby isn’t hungry, expressing some milk may help to relieve your discomfort. You should be careful not to over pump because this could lead to an oversupply of milk. Instead, limit yourself to just 10 minutes of pumping or less. You can express milk by hand or with a breast pump. There are plenty of different pumps on the market, so you’ll need to play around with different ones until you find one you like. There are manual pumps and electric pumps, and you’ll need to see which type you prefer. You may be able to borrow a pump from a friend or hire one from your local breastfeeding support group. You don’t have to use an expensive pump, you can hand express to relieve some pressure. If you’re struggling to get the hang of hand expressing, try it in the shower, the warm water is thought to help.

  1. Use a cold compress

Using a cold compress between feeds can help. You can buy specialist breast compresses that can be easily kept in the fridge, or you can create your own by wrapping an ice pack in a blanket. Hold the compress to your breast for up to 20 minutes. Some moms use cabbage leaves as a cold compress. Simply tear off some leaves that have been chilled in the fridge and place directly in your bra for up to 20 minutes.

If the above tips don’t help, contact your local lactation consultant for advice. If you have flu-like symptoms and a fever you could be suffering from mastitis, contact your healthcare provider immediately if this is the case.

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.