Common Breastfeeding Problems
Solutions to sore nipples, infections, and more, plus resources for breastfeeding moms.
Whether you are an experienced mom who has breastfed
before, or a new mother nursing for the first time, you may run into a number
of common problems.
Although most are not serious enough to keep
you from breastfeeding, some can make breastfeeding a more uncomfortable and
less fulfilling process for you and your baby.
The good news: Often you only need make a few minor
adjustments in technique or style to get your body and your baby in perfect
sync. "Breastfeeding should be a pleasurable experience for both mother and
baby. If it's not, then it's important to identify the problem early on and
make whatever changes are necessary," says Pat Sterner, a lactation
counselor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
Some of the more common breastfeeding problems - and
solutions - follow.
"Many women find that their nipples not only feel
sore after every feeding, they are red and pointy instead of round and smooth
-- all indications that your baby is not 'latched on' properly," says
The "latch" as experts call it, is the way
your baby connects to your breast. When done correctly, your baby will open his
or her mouth very wide and take in a good deal of breast tissue. This means
that your nipple ends up way in the back of your baby's mouth where the hard
and soft palates meet.
"When your nipple is sitting way back there in the
hollow, there is nothing to pinch, so it should not cause any nipple soreness
at all," Sterner tells WebMD.
If, however, your nipple is sitting in front of your
baby's mouth, you're going to feel the pinch every time baby's tongue comes up
-- and baby is not going to have an easy time feeding.
The solution, says Sterner, is to insert your finger
into the corner of your baby's mouth to break the latch as soon as you feel
pain -- and then try latching on again. Ideally, your baby should take at least
one inch of your areola into the mouth.
Experts say you can further ease pain by avoiding the
use of soap on your breasts, which can be drying and irritating. Instead, wash
with plain water. You might also want to let some milk air dry on your breast
after feeding, which can help reduce some inflammation and soreness.
To keep nipples soft and supple, try any
of the lanolin-based creams specifically for nipple inflammation, such as
Lansinoh, Belli Cosmetics Pure Comfort Nursing Cream, or PureLan 100 Nipple
Cream by Medela.
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.