Breastfeeding Problems and Challenges

Breastfeeding problems


Breastfeeding is something that could take a few weeks to get used to. Though it’s a natural, process, it could throw up a lot of unexpected challenges before you. But the more confidently you handle it, the sooner you will settle down to a comfortable ‘understanding’ that works out for both you and your baby.

Here are some Common Problems that Most Mothers tend to Face During Breastfeeding.

A Very Demanding Baby 

There could actually be an underlying reason for this problem, which in most cases goes unnoticed for a long time. When the baby is not positioned properly, there is insufficient supply of milk, and that’s why, the baby’s hunger demands may seem never be satisfied. Sometimes, continuous feeding could also mean that your baby simply enjoys it and finds it very comforting. It could also happen if the baby is trying to increase the supply of milk. If this activity is a change from his normal feeding pattern, then it may get back to normal in a day or two. Make sure that you position baby properly and let him feed on demand.


Itchy, Sore Nipples

This could caused due to:

  • Nipple eczema– if your skin is prone to eczema or it is dry and sensitive, it could affect your nipples too. The nipples become very itchy with red, flaky skin. Rinse your nipple with plain water after a feed. Then air dry or pat it dry with a soft cloth. Avoid using soap on the nipples while bathing; it could further make them dry.
  • Contact dermatitis– this is a direct reaction to the food particles that remain the baby’s mouth. A sip of water before nursing could cleanse the baby’s mouth of the food particles


Bleeding/ Sore / Cracked Nipples

This is again a result of bad positioning. When your baby is not placed properly, it tends to suck your nipple and not the breast. if this is the case, dislodge the baby, by inserting your finger gently into his mouth to break the contact. Then, reposition your breast so that the breast, and not just the nipple is inside his mouth. Try different positions. Express milk and rub it on the nipples – this will help it heal. Use the less sore side to feed.


White Marks on Sore Nipples

Certain antibiotics, which may not be agreeing either with you or the baby, could cause this problem. Commonly known as thrush, it can appear without any particular reason. Both of you may have to take oral medication or use anti-fungal cream.


Flat Nipples or Lumpy, Hard and Full Breasts

Engorged breasts can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. When milk first ‘fills in’ on the third or fourth day it is termed primary engorgement. Secondary engorgement happens when the baby starts feeding at longer intervals, subsequently reducing the number of feeds. If this is the case, your body will automatically reduce the amount of milk it is producing. Feed the baby more often to reduce engorgement. If baby is unable to latch on properly, then express some milk to help it do so. In cold weather, wear warm flannel clothing to ensure milk flow or have a warm shower before feeding to ensure the same. Keeping chilled cabbage leaves inside your bra can reduce the swelling.


Tender, Small Lump in the Breast

A block in one of the ducts in the breast hinders free flow of milk and causes swelling. The block could be caused due to many reasons. Maybe you slept too long on one side, or could be the tight fitting bra or even a seat belt that was across your breast for a couple of hours. A gentle massage or a warm compress in the affected area will help the lump to recede. Positioning the baby so that his jaw is close to the lump will help him feed and to dissolve the lump.


Inflamed, Red Areas on the Breast; Along with Flu Symptoms like Temperature, Aches, Sore Breast that is Full

This is known as Mastitis, which is an inflammation of the breast when milk leaks into the breast tissue. Rest as much as possible, but continue to feed the baby, starting with the sore side. Warm and cold compress will reduce the swelling. If there is no improvement, go to your doctor who will probably prescribe painkillers or a course of antibiotics.


Baby Refuses Breast Milk

A sudden rejection could be a cause for concern. But try and find out the reason and your problem could be solved easily.

  • Have you changed your diet? Are you on any medication that has resulted in a change in the taste of milk
  • Are you using a nipple cream?
  • Have you stopped using nipple shields?
  • Are you undergoing dental treatment or your periods starting?
  • You are undergoing dental treatment or your periods are starting
Whatever the case, don't give up, keep trying to feed your baby. Try feeding at different times:
  • when he is asleep as he may not notice the change in taste
  • Trim the nipple shields gradually, so that the baby gets used to it
  • If nothing works you will have to express milk in order to maintain milk supply