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Tips for breastfeeding difficulties

Breastfeeding can be just as problematic as it is joyful. Here are a few tips that might help you.

Even though we’ve all been told that “breast is best” it doesn’t mean that it is the easiest thing to do. Sometimes breastfeeding can be a great source of frustration, pain and tears (yours and the baby’s!).

If you are able to give breastfeeding one more go, here are some tips that address commonly-experienced difficulties.

Body aches or restlessness

Try to find a comfy position while breastfeeding. This will help your body relax and sustain a feed. Sit with your back well-supported, feet flat and almost-flat lap and pillows to support you and the baby.

Sore nipples

This can be caused by a number of things. Check that your baby is latching on correctly with a wide mouth. Check the skin around your nipple for dermatitis or thrush and seek medical help if found. Consider if the bra you are wearing fits correctly or if the breast pads you are using are abrasive or rubbing.


Breast infection or inflammation, known as mastitis, can be caused by a number of reasons — including not emptying a breast fully, changes in feeding patterns, cracked nipples or blocked milk ducts.

NSW Health has recently re-released their popular book, Having A Baby, and recommends treating the affected breast by:

  • Offering frequent feeds, draining the breast well
  • Expressing milk if you can’t put the baby to the breast
  • Starting feeds on that side two feeds in a row (then go back to alternating starts) 
  • Using cold compresses before and after feeds if the symptoms are in the first 10 days of breastfeeding
  • Applying moist heat (such as a shower, bath or warm pack) before feeds and cold compresses afterwards if the symptoms occur later in the breastfeeding relationship
  • Gently massaging the area towards the nipple during the feed
  • Resting, increasing fluids and accepting any offers of help

Engorged breasts

Further help

The abovementioned are only a handful of commonly-experienced problems while breastfeeding. If you need assistance with breasfeeding, speak to your GP, community nurse or contact a helpline like Tresilian on 1800 637 357 (freecall for NSW).

Sometimes in the early days of breastfeeding when the colostrum turns to thinner cloudy milk, women can experience engorgement of the breast (very full). Possible solutions can include removing a bra before feeding, applying warm presses before feeds and cold presses after, or sometimes expressing milk.

Another suggestion from the Australian Breastfeeding Association includes softening the breast.

“To soften the areola (the darker skin around the nipple), gently express some milk before attaching your baby. Another method to soften the areola is to apply pressure with the fingertips of one hand to push in the breast tissue around the whole nipple. Hold the pressure for 2–3 minutes or until the tissue softens beneath them.”

More articles for new mums

4 Ways new mums can look after themselves
Teaching your baby to sleep through the night
Enjoying the “now moments” of parenting

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