Common Breastfeeding Problems (+ How to solve them)

Common Breastfeeding Problems (+ How to solve them)

Struggling with breastfeeding? You are not alone! Read our guide about common breastfeeding problems and when to seek further help.

Sore nipples, milk stasis, low milk supply or breast engorgement - for some mums (and babies) breastfeeding is a breeze while for many others it’s not that easy. Breastfeeding problems are not uncommon, especially in your early days. We curated a list of the most common breastfeeding problems, how to identify them, relieve symptoms and when you should seek help from a midwife, lactation consultant or doctor. 

*this blog post informs about general breastfeeding. Please consult your doctor or midwife first to receive clinical advice for your individual situation.

#1 Problem: Low Milk Supply

When you first start breastfeeding, you may worry that your baby is not getting enough milk. It can take a little while before you feel confident that your baby is getting what they need. However, some women may have issues producing enough breast milk.

Usually, breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand system. The more you feed, the more milk your body produces. 

MOB’s expert tips:

  • Frequent breastfeeding and pumping throughout the day can boost your milk production.
  • Offer your baby both breasts at each feed - alternating breasts will help to stimulate your milk supply equally. 
  • Use our wearable breast pump to stimulate and increase milk supply if you are having difficulty breastfeeding. 
  • Maintain hydration and proper nutrition are crucial during breastfeeding.

#2 Problem: Too Much Breast Milk 

Especially in the early days, breastfeeding is controlled by hormones and slowly adjusts to the baby’s needs (again, think about a supply-and-demand system).

Sometimes producing to much breast milk or oversupply can occur because the baby's sleep phases have become longer or the supply outweighs the demand. Oversupply  is noticeable in the form of full, tense breasts, a strong milk let-down reflex and milk dripping from the breasts between feeds. Babies have difficulty swallowing while breastfeeding or are restless at the breast.

MOB’s expert tips:

  • Alternate your baby on each breast before each feed
  • Cool the breast with breastfeeding heat/cold packs to assist with pain and inflammation. 
  • Express milk with a breast pump if your breasts feel very tight. However, hand expression or pumping should be reduced to a minimum so that milk production is not stimulated any further. 

An oversupply of breast milk can result in milk stasis or inflammation of the mammary glands. Don't hesitate to seek advice from your midwife if your breasts hurt, feel hot or and are red as this may be early signs of mastitis. 

#3 Problem: Clogged Ducts

When your breasts are overly full or you have longer periods between your feeds, the milk can back up in your breast ducts.

You will recognize clogged ducts if there is a hard lump in your breast that cannot be removed.

MOB’s expert tips:

  • Warm before breastfeeding/cool after breastfeeding. Heat improves the milk flow and relieves the affected glandular tissue, while cold reduces inflammation and gives the breast time to recover. We highly recommend our warm/cold gel pads
  • Massage your breasts with an electronic lactation massager as you are breastfeeding or expressing towards the nipple to move the lump. 
  • Allow yourself to rest and stay hydrated

#4 Problem: Sore Nipples

Nipple pain is a common problem in your early days of breastfeeding. This is because your nipples are not used to breastfeeding, but could also be because your baby isn’t well position and attached at the breast. Some women may experience cracked nipples due to the baby learning to latch. 

However, while cracked nipples can be distressing and uncomfortable, they are generally not a cause for concern. 

MOB’s expert tips:

  • Ensure your baby is positioned correctly during feeding  - Position your nipple in front of your baby’s mouth, ensuring your nipple is rubbing along your baby’s hard palate.
  • Use our Silver Nipple Covers with antimicrobial properties to promote skin regeneration and to assist cracked/damaged nipples to heal.
  • Change breastfeeding position (e.g. cradle hold, football hold, lying position) to avoid one-sided strain on the sore nipples
  • Let some breast milk remain on the nipples after feeding and air drying to aid in healing.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before touching your nipple to avoid infection.

#5 Problem: Baby Sleeps at Breast

Newborns can be sleepy in the first few weeks after birth, so nodding off while nursing is common. Thus, milk flowing throughout the feeding will keep your baby awake and engaged.

MOB’s expert tips:

  • To keep the milk flow throughout your breastfeed, start with the fuller breast, then switch to the other sooner rather than later.
  • When your baby’s eyes are starting to flutter, massage your breast with your free hand. The increased milk flow will perk your baby up.
  • Alternatively, gently rub your baby’s head, tickle their foot or shift their position to wake your baby up. 

#6 Problem: Inverted Nipples

Many women have flat or inverted nipples (yes, you are not alone!). 

To ensure that the baby can suck effectively, you should work with a midwife to find the right attachment technique. Sometimes it can help to pull out the nipple with a breast pump before breastfeeding or to use nipple shields. Once the correct latch-on technique has been found and learned, flat or inverted nipples are usually no longer an obstacle to breastfeeding.

#7 Problem: Baby Refuses Breast

Many breastfeeding mothers are familiar with this situation: the baby cries, pushes away and just won't take the breast. There are numerous reasons why breastfeeding sometimes doesn't work - and many problems resolve themselves. If your baby keeps refusing the breast over a longer period of time, talk to your midwife!

MOB’s expert tip:

  • Wait for your baby to calm and then attempt to attach again.
  • In order to maintain milk production and prevent a build-up of milk, you should regularly express using the wearable breast pump if baby is refusing.
  • Keep calm and try to latch your newborn on again and again. Breastfeeding takes time!

Conclusion

Breast milk is the best food for babies: It contains all the nutrients necessary for development in an optimal composition, is at the right temperature and is also inexpensive. However, breastfeeding is not always easy - especially at the beginning. Many women experience typical breastfeeding problems. Always consult your midwife, lactation consultant or doctor and remember: an initial bumpy start can lead to a harmonious breastfeeding relationship. 

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