Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions


Breastfeeding problems and how to solve them

It was easy to start and get comfortable with breastfeeding and now you are already busy with frequent long breastfeeding sessions and changing diapers. Getting any problem now is not less than a nightmare. But sometimes breastfeeding can give you unexpected surprises but dont worry if the problem is identified and treated early it will disappear before bringing you any pain. Let’s see causes, prevention and treatment for these common breastfeeding issues.

Sour nipples

You may experience sour nipple in first few weeks of breastfeeding. If sour nipples are not treated on time then it may lead to cracks, sever pain or even bleeding through cracks.


1. Baby is not latching on well. If baby suckles the nipple and not the breast for long time.
2. Thrush infection in baby’s mouth
3. If you tried to remove baby forcefully from breast while she was feeding.
4. During early days of breastfeeding you may feel nipples tender or little sour but this is temporary and not a problem.
5. Sucking pattern changes in case baby is teething.
1. Proper latch on and positioning are most important. When you begin to breastfeed ensure your baby opens mouth wide, bring her close to you. Repeat to latch on if necessary but do not continue with poor latch on.
2. Unlatch carefully after finished nursing. If baby doesn’t release breast herself then put your clean little finger in baby’s mouth from side and release the latch carefully.
3. Feed frequently. This way you will avoid the late signs of hunger. If baby is very hungry and not calm, she will suckle vigorously.
4. Use cotton made, comfortable, dry and clean bra and bra pads.
5. Do not use soap on nipples. Use only clean warm water to wash them. Do not use deodorants.
1. After you finished breastfeeding express little hindmilk (thick milk at end of breastfeeding) and apply it on nipple. Let it dry in air. Hindmilk has healing properties. It is safest way to heal.
2. Use nipple shield: If feeding is very painful with sour nipple then its recommended to use nipple shield till nipple heals.
3. Feed from less sour side first. (This may make breasts imbalanced so do it if you are not able to feed from sour side)

Breast Milk Leakage

Your breasts may leak when they become over full of milk or when you are feeding baby from other breast. Sometimes, triggering like hearing baby cry or just thinking of her can cause leakage. Milk leakage is not a problem. Its common and normal that your breast leak few drops to copious amount of milk. Most of mothers find the leakage for first few weeks only. Once your baby has a stable feeding schedule, leakage is less often.

What to do if you have abundant milk leakage:

1. Express milk before breastfeeding so that your baby gets easy flow. Do not express too much else baby won’t get foremilk and in result of expression your breast will make more milk to fulfill considering it demand. You can store expressed milk in sterilized container, store it in refrigerator and use it later.
2. Breastfeeding position: Try laid back position.
3. Use nursing pads, but make sure there is enough space for pad in bra and your nipples are not pressed else you will add on problems like blocked ducts/engorgement.
4. If in case baby refuses to take breast with abundant milk, express and feed with spoon.

If your breasts do not leak then it does not mean you are not making enough milk. Many mothers don’t have leakage due to efficient muscles near nipple.

Breast Lumps/Engorgement

If any milk duct is blocked, a lump is formed which further causes engorgement. Engorgement is also caused by build-up of blood in the breast tissue. Breasts become larger and feel heavy. It’s painful and uncomfortable for mothers. In some cases breasts become very hard and swollen, areola feels hard. Fever around 100 degree F, chills, body aches are common symptoms. If you treat engorgement immediately you will see the symptoms disappear quickly.


1. After 2 days of delivery you will start making more milk making breasts full, your little newborn may not be able to empty one breast at a time which then this tend to block the ducts.
2. Tight bra is the most common reason. If nipple is pressed back on breast, milk duct gets blocked.
3. Long gap between two subsequent feedings.
4. Sleeping in wrong position. (i.e. sleeping partially or completely on stomach which causes breasts getting pressed)
5. When you start solids to your baby after she is 6 months old, sudden imbalance between demand and supply can cause engorgement.


1. During early days of breastfeeding, feed frequently
2. Let baby empty one breast before you switch to other.
3. If in case you cannot feed baby for a long time then express milk manually or with a pump.
4. Wear a proper fitting and supporting nursing bra.
5. While starting solids to your baby, do not reduce breastfeeding suddenly. Slowly introduce solid food to your baby. Read more on introducing solids to baby.


1. Feed baby frequently. Massage the breasts before and while breastfeeding. If baby suckles well then blocked duct will get unblocked.
2. Apply ice pack or cold cabbage leaves (Keep cabbage leaves in freezer for 10 mins before using). Massage the breast while taking bath.
3. If baby is of few weeks and is not emptying one breast completely in one feeding then express milk by hand or using breast pump.

breastfeeding position to treat blocked duct

Breastfeeding position to treat blocked duct

4. Try this breastfeeding position: Position yourself on your hands and knees or lean over a table. Lay baby flat on her back underneath you. Position and hold your breast so that baby can suckle milk from plugged duct. This is very effective method; try it as soon as you observe signs of lump/engorgement.


1. Engorgement has no effect on baby. You can still breast feed baby, in fact breastfeeding frequently is encouraged to treat.
2. Contact your doctor or lactation consultant if above methods do not work or you get high fever. It could be some other sever problem like Mastitis.

Inflamed/Red Areas on the Breast

If you observe inflamed or red areas on the breast along with symptoms like fever, sore and full breast then this could be Mastitis. You should consult your doctor or lactation consultant. Do not stop breastfeeding.

Baby Refuses Breast

There could be various reasons for this.

Possible Causes and prevention:

1. Change in the taste of your milk can make baby dislike the milk. Most likely its because of change in your diet or any medications you are taking. Raw onion and raw white radishes are believed to cause change in taste of milk. Avoid such foods.
2. Poor latch on. Learn latch on techniques
3. If baby started crying due to hunger then she tends to refuse breast. In such case calm baby first and then start breastfeeding
4. Thrush in baby’s mouth.
5. Baby having cold or stuffy nose makes breathing difficult for baby while feeding.
6. Ear infection can cause pain in baby’s ear while lying on the side of infection. Try other breastfeeding positions which are comfortable to baby.

Insufficient Milk Supply


1. If you are not breast feeding enough. After each feeding, breasts produce milk for next feeding. So if you are feeding less frequently your body will not receive signals to make more milk.
2. Use of pacifier or bottle to baby.
3. If you are taking medications or certain herbs which are not good for breast milk production.
4. Very less or no feeding at night.
5. If you are giving formula milk sometimes in place of breast milk.
6. Psychological stress can affect milk production.


1. Breastfeed as much as baby wants. Breastfeed at night. Do not use formula milk in place of breast milk.
2. For any consultation do not forget to tell your doctor that you are a nursing mother so that doctor will prescribe you safe medicines.
3. Stop using pacifier or bottles to baby.
4. Use galactagogue food in your diet. Learn more here about diet to increase breast milk.
5. Gently massage your breasts in circular motion from outer edge of breast to nipple, while taking bath and just before breastfeeding.
6. Stay away from negative thoughts. Think positive about breastfeeding. Your feelings play important role in milk production. Feel happy and stay relaxed. Hold your baby, play with her, talk with her.

Please note:

All above information is to help you identify problem in early stage and to know the solutions. Always consult your doctor or lactation consultant for any health issue. Practical examination by medical practitioners cannot be replaced by theoretical knowledge or information.
Remember and avoid the causes of problems so you can avoid possible problems in breastfeeding. Happy breastfeeding.


About Author


An IT professional, a mom of two, Sapana had belly-only pregnancies in her life & has lost 15Kg weight twice. Along with fitness, Sapana is an expert in Indian names & has helped scores of Indian parents to shortlist suitable baby names by virtue of her years of expertise in Sanskrit origin names & logical approach towards cultures & trends during the name research. Drop a comment to get help from her.

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  1. Pingback: Breastfeeding Newborn on First Day | GoMama 24/7

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