Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Common Breastfeeding Problems

    Solutions to sore nipples, infections, and more, plus resources for breastfeeding moms.

    Infections or Painful Lumps

    Even when your baby is latched on correctly, you may develop a sore or tender spot in your breast, or even a painful lump. Says lactation expert Carol Huotari, this commonly results from a plugged milk duct, or the beginning of an infection known as mastitis.

    "Either problem can be easily remedied, and you don't have to stop breastfeeding in the meantime. It's perfectly safe to continue, even when an infection is present," says Huotari, manager of the Breastfeeding Information Center at La Leche League International in Schaumberg, Ill.

    If the pain is from a blocked milk duct, experts at La Leche say you should apply moist or dry heat compresses to your breast for 10 minutes, three times a day. Also, massage your breast in a warm shower. As the duct unplugs, you may express some milk, which helps relieve pain. Continuing to feed on that breast is important because breastfeeding helps further open the milk ducts, says Huotari.

    Though early treatment will usually prevent a plugged duct from becoming infected, this is not always the case. So if you have pain and tenderness and also find you are fatigued, running a fever, and have some flu-like symptoms, you might have a breast infection.

    Normally, says Huotari, the same method used to treat plugged ducts works for an infection -- heat packs, along with bed rest. If your fever does not break in 24 hours, however, you may need an antibiotic to stem the infection. Call your doctor. In the meantime, experts say don't stop breastfeeding.

    "Although it may seem counterintuitive to breastfeed while you have an infection, because breast milk contains such a high level of antibodies, your baby is safe," says Huotari.

    Yeast Infections or Thrush

    Yeast infection is a less troubling but still uncomfortable condition on the surface of the breast skin. This problem can develop even after weeks or months of successful nursing. The culprit is thrush, a form of yeast infection that thrives on milk. This infection will likely affect both you and your baby.

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
     
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
     

    mother holding baby at night
    ARTICLE
    mother with sick child
    QUIZ
     
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    SLIDESHOW
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    TOOL
     
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Slideshow
    Mother with her baby boy
    Article
     
    baby in crib
    Slideshow
    baby gear slideshow
    Slideshow