During the first days and weeks of breastfeeding, you and your baby are learning to nurse. It is important to get help early to make sure you are comfortable and that your baby has a good latch and is feeding well.
If your baby is not feeding well, you may be having one of the common breastfeeding problems described below.
If your baby is not latching on well, your nipples may get sore. When you bring your baby onto your breast, make sure they have a wide-open mouth to get your breast and as much of your areola (the dark area around your nipple) into their mouth as possible. If your baby is sucking only on your nipple, break the suction by placing your pinky finger gently into the corner of their mouth and remove your breast from their mouth. Then, try to latch them on again.
Ask a lactation specialist for help in getting a good latch.
If you are experiencing sore nipples, you can also try the following:
Your breasts will swell when you start to make more milk. This is normal and will usually happen within the first few days after giving birth. If your breasts swell so much that they feel too full and painful, this is called engorgement.
To prevent engorgement, make sure your baby is latched on well and feeding frequently. Ask your lactation consultant for help in relieving engorgement and preventing it from happening again.
If you are engorged, try the following:
Milk may clog the ducts and create blockages. This can feel as if you have a lump or marbles in your breasts, which can become red and painful to touch. The best way to clear a clogged duct is to continue to breastfeed, as babies are the best at moving milk.
To prevent clogged ducts:
If you think you have a clogged duct, in addition to the tips above, try the following:
If a clogged duct does not go away in a day or two, see your health care provider or lactation consultant.
Mastitis is a serious breast infection and should be addressed immediately. If you have a lumpy, painful red area on the breast and chills, aches or a fever, contact your health care provider or lactation consultant immediately. Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics commonly used to treat mastitis are safe for breastfeeding.
Start following the steps for resolving a clogged duct and contact your health care provider as soon as possible to discuss your treatment plan.
Your health care provider or lactation consultant should be your first contact for information and support. You can also contact the hospital where you gave birth, or local organizations and groups.
Here are some local services for breastfeeding parents: