5 Common Breastfeeding Problems & Their Solutions

a mom breastfeeding her baby

Breastfeeding is easy, right? Every mother has the natural instincts to do it, and every baby knows how to latch on from the moment they’re born. Oh and here’s a good one: Moms who have breastfeeding problems obviously aren’t fit to be mothers, and in fact, they should probably give their babies up for adoption.

This line of thinking not only fills moms with shame, but it’s completely incorrect. Most moms who want to breastfeed have trouble, whether because of their own bodies or because the baby refuses. According to a survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics, two-thirds of women are unable to breastfeed for the entirety of the doctor-recommended six months. Here, we’ll look at some common issues moms encounter and their solutions, giving you the information you need to properly feed your little one:

1. Sore or painful nipples

Your nipples will be sensitive the first few times you breastfeed, so some soreness is normal. If, however, the pain lasts longer than a few minutes, try moving your infant so the nipple is closer to the roof of the mouth. If this doesn’t work, wear loose clothing, avoid washing your breasts with soap and use lanolin-based creams to make sure your nipples are properly moisturized.

A mother breastfeeding her infant.If your nipples are constantly sore, try repositioning your baby.

2. Engorgement

A bit of engorgement is normal during the first few days after birth as your breasts adjust to produce the amount of milk your baby needs. After a while, however, excess production can cause milk to build up in the ducts. You may also accidentally engorge your breast by wearing an ill-fitting bra, missing a feeding, forgetting to pump, or suffering trauma to the breast.

To alleviate the problem, try feeding your infant more often. Place a warm towel on your breast beforehand to make yourself comfortable and encourage milk flow, and release milk if your breasts still feel full afterward.

3. Low milk supply

Many moms assume – based on how much they pump, how frequently their baby feeds, whether or not their baby cries or takes a bottle after breastfeeding and similar unreliable factors – that their bodies aren’t producing enough milk. However, if your little one gains weight at a healthy rate, you have no reason to worry. Talk to your doctor to be certain you suffer from low milk supply before taking action, and then follow his or her suggestions.

4. Thrush

Dry nipples can crack or bleed, providing opportunity for a thrush infection. Thrush can also occur in your baby’s mouth and transfer to the breast during a feeding. Signs include severe pain in both breasts that lasts for up to an hour after every feed. The best way to cure thrush is to have you and your baby treated at the same time to prevent the infection from spreading back and forth. The U.K.’s National Health Service recommended spreading a thrush-treating cream around the nipples or taking anti-fungal tablets and giving your baby an anti-fungal gel.

5. Mastitis

This is another infection occurring when bacteria enters the nipple. Unlike thrush, however, it can’t be transmitted to your baby. In fact, according to the University of Michigan, breastfeeding can help alleviate the condition. To completely cure the infection, however, you’ll need to take antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

If you experience one of the five conditions above, don’t worry. They’re perfectly normal side effects of breastfeeding, and with proper attention, they’ll clear up in no time.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.