Most Common Breastfeeding Problems

Many new moms start out with good intentions when it comes to breast feeding. However, there are certain problems that can arise fairly rapidly after you have begun breast feeding. Knowing what the problems are and how to fix them ahead of time will increase your chances of success at continuing to breast feed. Some of the most common breast feeding problems include:

  • Inadequate milk supply. Frequent feedings, adequate rest, good nutrition, and adequate fluid intake can all help maintain you milk supply.
  • Nipple soreness caused by incomplete suction release. To help your baby learn to release, at the end of feeding you can gently insert a finger into the side of your baby’s mouth to break the suction.
  • Nipple soreness caused by excessively dry or excessively moist skin. If your skin is moist, try changing to a bra not made of a synthetic fabric which increases sweating and hinders evaporation. Dry skin can be caused by using soaps or solutions that remove natural skin oils; lanolin may be useful if your nipples are dry.
  • Nipple soreness caused by chewing or biting. When your baby is teething, this can be a real difficulty. To comfort baby and help reduce baby’s desire to bite on your breast, give him something cold and wet that he can chew on for a few moments prior to feeding.
  • Breast engorgement. When blood vessels in the breast become congested, this is called engorgement. To avoid engorgement, nurse frequently, around every 4 hours for at least 15 minutes. You can relieve breast engorgement by expressing milk manually or with a breast pump. Warm showers or cold compresses may also help relieve the discomfort. Some moms believe that cabbage leaves seem to help decrease the engorgement more rapidly than ice packs or other treatments. Crush the cabbage leaves with a rolling pin if the leaves do not accommodate to the shape of your breast. Wrap the cabbage leaves around the breast and leave on for about 20 minutes. Twice daily is enough. It is usual to use the cabbage leaf treatment two or three times or less.
  • Breast infection. A mastitis or breast infection can produced symptoms such as fever, aching muscles, and a hot, reddish, tender area on the breast. Breast infections often occur in moms who do not get enough rest, are stressed, have cracked nipples, or have breast engorgement or plugged milk ducts. The attention of a physician is necessary to get rid of the infection.
  • Plugged milk duct. Your milk duct can become plugged if your baby doesn’t feed well, if you skip a feeding, or if you wear a constricting bra. If you have a plugged milk duct, you will often experience tenderness, head and redness in one area of the breast, or a lump on the breast close to the skin. Sometimes, you will be able to see a tiny white dot at the top of the nipple. Massaging the area gently and applying some pressure will help remove the plug.
  • The Let down reflex. This is a normal and necessary part of breastfeeding. The hormones prolactin and oxytocin control the reflex and allow milk produced in the milk glands to be released into the milk ducts. Factors such as pain, stress, and anxiety can interfere with the reflex. This causes the milk to stay within the milk glands which can cause additional pain and anxiety.
  • Thrush. A woman who is breastfeeding may pass a common yeast infection, known as thrush, to her baby during breastfeeding. The yeast infection thrives in warm, moist areas. A yeast infection can be difficult to cure, but fortunately, this is uncommon. Yeast infections frequently occur during or after antibiotic treatments. Contact your physician to get a prescription for an appropriate anti-fungal medication.