The Most Common Breastfeeding Problems (& the Best Solutions)

There are many benefits to breastfeeding, including a reduced risk of SIDs, protection against various allergies, and a smaller risk of contracting certain viruses, infections and diseases.  

While the process can come naturally to some new mothers, it can often be difficult for others. If you are set to breastfeed or are currently doing so and want to avoid various obstacles, keep reading to learn more about the most common breastfeeding problems and the best solutions. 

Limited Breast Milk 

Many new mothers worry their baby might not be receiving enough breast milk at first. It is, however, important to worry, as building up your confidence can take time.  

If you are struggling with limited breast milk, you should switch between breasts during a feed, which can stimulate your milk supply and ensure your baby receives plenty of milk. Another top tip is to hold your newborn close to your bare skin. 

Sore Nipples 

Another common breastfeeding problem is sore or cracked nipples. This can often happen when you do not position your baby well and isn’t well attached to your breast. 

Rather than accepting it is a natural aspect of breastfeeding, you should take the steps to ease your discomfort. 

For example, you could ease sore nipples by: 

  • Dabbing expressed breast milk 
  • Applying a warm compress 
  • Using a salt-water rinse 
  • Regularly changing your nipple pads 
  • Applying a prescription or over-the-counter ointment 

Don’t suffer in silence when struggling with sore nipples from breastfeeding and talk to your midwife, health visitor or doctor for advice and treatment. 

Tongue Tie  

It has been reported that approximately 1 in 10 newborns will be born with tongue tie. If you’re unfamiliar with the issue, it is when the strip of skin that’s attaches the floor of the mouth to the tongue is too short. While it will not be a problem for some babies, it can prevent tongues freely moving in others, which could make breastfeeding a tad difficult.   

Tongue tie will often disappear untreated, but there are treatment options available, such as tongue tie division, which is the cutting of the tight piece of skin. 

Latching Issues 

It might take time for your baby to latch onto your breast, and it doesn’t mean your little one doesn’t like you or you’re doing anything wrong. It can sometimes just be a difficult process. 

For example, some women find it is helpful to use a breast pump for a minute or two prior to feeding their baby. The pump’s suction could elongate your nipples and help your bundle of joy to latch on. 

Breast Engorgement 

Breast engorgement can strike when your breasts become too full of milk, which can make them feel tight, hard and painful. It is common for the issue to strike during the first few days of your child’s life, as your milk supply will be coming in and your baby will be learning ow to take the breast. While it is often an early breastfeeding problem, engorgement can occur when a baby moves onto solids and not feeding frequently. 

A Blocked Milk Duct 

Breast engorgement can also lead to a blocked milk duct, which will feel similar to a small lump in the breast that is tender to the touch. If this happens, it could help for your baby to latch onto the breast with the blocked milk duct. Try to position your baby with their chin facing the lump. 

Mastitis 

It is vital to unclog a blocked milk duct as soon as possible, as it could lead to the development of mastitis, which is inflammation of the breast. It can be rather painful and it could make your breast feel hot. What’s more, you might experience flu-like symptoms.  

If you suspect you have mastitis, you should continue to breastfeed, which could help alleviate your pain. If the problem persists for more than 12 to 24 hours, you should contact your GP, who might prescribe antibiotics. 

If left untreated, mastitis could cause a breast abscess, which could require you to undergo an operation to drain the infection. 

Excessive Milk Production 

While some women might struggle with a limited milk supply, others might produce too much milk, which can be difficult for a baby to consume. If your little one is struggling to cope with excessive milk production, it is a wise idea to consult your health visitor or midwife, as they could identify why this problem is happening. 

Thrush

Cracked or damaged nipples can lead to the development of thrush of the nipple or breast. If you believe you or your newborn have a thrush infection, you should immediately contact your GP or health visitor.  

If you are struggling with breastfeeding problems, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to your health visitor or GP for advice and treatment. 

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