Breastfeeding Problems

Parenthood Plus has online videos to help you with breastfeeding.

Breastmilk Counts has videos of real moms discussing their experiences with breastfeeding.

Also see Breastfeeding Help.

Sore nipples
If your baby isn't latching on properly, your nipples may get sore in the beginning. After giving birth, ask a nurse or lactation specialist for help in getting your baby latched on. It also helps to:

  • Make sure your baby is taking as much areola in her mouth as possible
  • Nurse more frequently for shorter periods
  • Nurse on the less-sore side first.
  • Coat your nipples with breast milk after feedings and let them air dry

Engorged breasts
You may have swelling of the breasts when your milk is coming in, especially during the first three to five days after birth. It may feel like your breasts are too full. This is called engorgement, and it goes away once your body gets more practice making milk. In the meantime:

  • Make sure your baby is taking as much areola in her mouth as possible
  • Shower or apply warm, wet washcloths to your breasts before you breastfeed, and apply cold compresses (such as an ice pack or frozen bag of peas wrapped in a towel) afterwards.
  • If your baby is having a hard time latching on, express a little milk before you offer the breast to relieve discomfort and reduce swelling.
  • Nurse often (10 to 12 times in 24 hours), offering both breasts at each feeding.

Blocked milk duct
A painful red area or lump in the breast may mean a blocked milk duct. Here's what to do:

  • Make sure your bra fits properly and is not too tight. Also, avoid sleeping positions that put pressure on your breasts.
  • Breastfeed often, from the painful side first. This will help the duct open faster.
  • Drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest.
  • Shower and apply warm, wet compresses to the painful breast.
  • Massage the area gently
  • If the lump does not go away in a day or two, see your doctor.

Breast infection (mastitis)
If you experience both a lumpy, painful red area on the breast and chills, aches and fever (almost like the flu), you may have a breast infection. Here's what to do:

  • Call your health care provider. You may need an antibiotic; your doctor will choose one that is safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Follow the steps for a blocked milk duct (above).
  • Continue to breastfeed