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Breastfeeding support: Common breastfeeding problems and solutions

Are you struggling to nurse your newborn? From mastitis to clogged ducts, learn helpful tips and solutions for some of the most common breastfeeding problems.

common breastfeeding problems

Mother’s milk is the perfect nourishment for infants. But breastfeeding challenges can throw a wrench into your nursing relationship. It’s not uncommon for mothers who experience breastfeeding problems to give up and switch to formula because they didn’t get the support they needed during a critical time.

Learn about some of the most common challenges and get the relief you need to get your breastfeeding relationship back on track.

Sore or cracked nipples

During the first few weeks of establishing breastfeeding, it is common to experience some discomfort as your body adjusts to nursing a hungry infant.

However, if your nipples are cracked, bleeding or developing blisters there may something more than adjustment discomfort. Oftentimes, these types of problems arise from improper latch or positioning. Make sure that your baby is suckling your entire areola and not just your nipple, as this will quickly cause soreness, cracking and even blisters.

For new moms, breastfeeding is a new sensation and may be a bit uncomfortable, but if you are feeling anything beyond mild discomfort, this is a sign that you need to adjust your latch or positioning. Many lactation consultants are happy to visit you in your home and help you get correctly positioned in your own environment. Oftentimes, a single appointment can make all the difference.

Check out 10 helpful breastfeeding tips from the World Health Organization >>


Many babies develop thrush, which is nothing more than fungal overgrowth on the tongue. Unfortunately, this can easily transfer to mom’s nipples and can be very painful. If you are experiencing intense pain in your nipples during and after nursing that is not improved by better latch-on or positioning, visit your family doctor to check for thrush. Treatment is simple, but it is important to treat both mom and baby at the same time or you will continue to transfer the yeast infection back and forth.

Read more on natural solutions and treatments for thrush >>

Clogged ducts and mastitis

During the first few months of breastfeeding while your milk supply is being established, it is not uncommon for moms to experience engorgement and clogged milk ducts. If you notice a hard lump inside your breast that is tender to the touch, you may have a plugged duct. If you are also experiencing fever, body aches and other symptoms, it is possible that you have developed mastitis.

Plugged ducts may loosen on their own through regular feedings, but there are a variety of techniques to speed up the process:

  1. Gently massage the clog with your hands. Massage in the direction the milk flows toward the nipple.
  2. Use a rice sock to heat up your breast in between feedings. Heat is very useful for loosening clogs.
  3. Nurse your baby in a different position. If you can, position your baby’s chin in the area just beneath the clog. This may require a little gymnastic nursing on your part, but can be very effective as babies suckle the hardest on the area directly above their chin.
  4. Make sure to get plenty of rest. The strength of your immune system is directly related to your body’s ability to recover from clogged ducts and mastitis.

If you have done all of these techniques and you are still not feeling better, you may need to seek professional guidance from a lactation consultant or doctor.

Learn how to heal from a breast infection naturally >>

More on breastfeeding support

The pros and cons of extended breastfeeding
Breastfeeding help: Getting baby to latch on
Why moms choose to breastfeed

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