Breastfeeding Problems | Emma's Diary India

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Solutions to your breastfeeding problems


Breastfeeding problems and solutions

We all know breast is best and when breastfeeding goes smoothly there is no easier, more convenient or healthy way to nourish your baby. However, it's not always problem-free, so here we take a look at the difficulties some mothers may have to overcome...

Sore nipples


The most common reason for sore nipples is incorrect positioning which means that your baby isn't latched on properly so she is sucking on the nipples rather than the surrounding areola.

Soreness can also occur if your baby is taken off the breast without the suction being broken first. Sometimes nipple pain is caused by thrush however, this is more common if your baby has had antibiotics.

Other causes include:

  • Reattaching the bra while the nipples are still wet or wearing soggy breast pads
  • Using too much soap which can dry the skin
  • Developing a sensitivity to creams or sprays


Make sure your baby is well attached; line up the nipple with your baby's nose or top lip so she can reach the nipple easily. She should automatically tilt her head towards the breast and open her mouth wide. Make sure she takes in big mouthful of breast including the area around the nipple.

To detach her from the breast, gently put your clean little finger in the side of her mouth to break the suction.

If you are having trouble you can get help and support from your doctor, nurse orbreastfeeding counsellor or contact dedicated breastfeeding organisations for support such as la leche league of india, cappa india or breastfeeding promotion network of india.

Other tips

  • Keep nipples dry and expose them to the air as much as possible
  • Regularly change your breast pads so they are fresh and dry
  • Wear a cotton bra to let the air circulate
  • Start each feed with the opposite breast to the one you finished with last time so that alternative breasts are offered at the beginning of a feed when her suck is strongest
  • If you have sore nipples continue feeding making sure your baby is properly latched on the breast

Cracked nipples

Cause and symptoms.

Nipples bleeding through a small crack or sore in the skin can result from untreated sore nipples.

Common causes include poor positioning, a reaction to soaps that dry the skin, reattaching your bra while the nipples are still wet or using a damp breast pad.


  • If you are in real pain seek advice. Generally, you will be advised to keep on feeding if at all possible.
  • Try to find a more comfortable position for your baby to feed and one where your baby is properly latched on. If it is too painful you should carefully express your milk and give it to your baby.
  • Squeeze out a drop or two of your own milk at the end of a feed and rub it into the areola and nipple.
  • Keep nipples dry and exposed to the air as much as possible
  • Regularly change your breast pads so they are fresh and dry
  • Wear a cotton bra to allow the air to circulate

Blocked ducts

Cause and symptoms

Although they are referred to as blocked ducts, these are more usually a lump in the breast which develops when the tissue around it becomes swollen and presses on the milk duct.

The swelling is caused by a build-up of milk in the breast, often through missing a feed or if the breast isn't being emptied fully.

The milk gets forced out of the duct and into the tissue which causes the swelling and makes the breast feel hot and painful.


  • Do not stop feeding as this will make it much worse. Feed as often as you can. If feeding hurts too much, use a breast pump to express your milk. Try different feeding positions and make sure your baby is latched on properly.
  • Warmth on your breast before a feed can help the milk to flow and make you feel more comfortable. Try warm flannels or a bath or shower
  • Offer the affected breast first as your baby's strongest sucking at the beginning of the feed will help to get the milk moving through the ducts again. If it is too painful, gently express until you feel able to feed your baby


Cause and symptoms

Mastitis is a condition that causes the breast tissue to become painful and inflamed. It usually only affects one breast and can also include flu-like symptoms such as a fever, chills and aches.

There are two types of mastitis: infectious (usually caused by bacteria) and non-infectious (usually caused by a blocked milk duct or problems with breastfeeding).


  • If you think you have mastitis seek advice from your doctor. They may prescribe antibiotics that are safe for use during breastfeeding.
  • It is important to try to continue as it can help release blocked milk in the breast as well as easing the symptoms more quickly and preventing them becoming more serious.
  • It is safe for the baby to drink breast milk as any bacteria present will be harmlessly absorbed by her digestive system and cause no problems
  • Make sure your baby is latching on correctly and that the breast is empty after every feed. If it isn't, express any remaining milk. Expressing between feeds can also help alleviate the symptoms
  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids
  • Use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce pain and fever. A small amount of paracetamol or ibuprofen can enter the breast milk but is not enough to harm the baby
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing
  • Place a cloth warmed by hot water over the breast to relieve symptoms. This can soften the breast too, making it easier for your baby to feed
  • Massage your breast to release any blockages. Stroke from the lumpy area towards the nipple to help the milk flow. Do this in the bath or shower as the warmth can soften the skin
  • If there is no improvement within 12 to 24 hours or you start to feel worse contact your healthcare professional. They may prescribe antibiotics that are safe to use during breastfeeding

Breast abscesses


An abscess can occur if an infection like mastitis goes untreated. A breast abscess feels like a painful, swollen lump in the breast and can also be red, feel hot and can cause a fever.


Seek medical help help straight away if you experience the symptoms

An abscess can be treated with antibiotics

If more serious, it can be drained with a needle and syringe or by making an incision to let the pus escape.



If you suddenly get sore, cracked nipples after you've been feeding without problems for a while, you may have an infection known as thrush.

Your baby has thrush if you can see patches of yellow or cream-coloured, like cottage cheese in her mouth which doesn't go away between feeds.

It is very easy to give thrush to each other so if your baby has it in their mouth it can easily spread to your nipples and vica versa. Thrush can give rise to sore itchy nipples and will require treatment with cream and sometimes oral anti-fungal tablets. Seek advice from your doctor.

If your doctor decides that your baby needs treatment, they will probably prescribe an anti-fungal medicine which can be given as a gel to apply, or an oral suspension which kills the fungus in your baby's mouth.

Oral thrush may not bother your baby but if her mouth is sore she may be reluctant to feed. Babies rarely have oral thrush in their first week of life. It is most common in babies around four weeks old. Older babies can get it too, but this is less common.


Make an appointment with your doctor straight away and, if it is a yeast infection, both you and your baby will need treatment.

Sore, itchy nipples will require treatment with cream and sometimes oral anti-fungal tablets.

If your baby needs treatment, an anti-fungal medicine will be prescribed which can be given as a gel to apply, or an oral suspension.

Tongue-tie babies

Cause and symptoms

Some babies are born with a tongue-tie which is when there is a tight piece of skin between the underside of their tongue and the floor of their mouth.

This can affect feeding by making it hard for your baby to attach effectively to the breast. It can also cause nipple soreness as your baby is unable to latch on properly.


The good news is that doctors can easily fix the condition with a minor surgical procedure and your baby can then feed properly. If you think your baby might be tongue-tied, contact your doctor or a lactation consultant immediately.

Breastfeeding after a caesarean

It is fine to breastfeed after a caesarean and getting into a comfortable position while you are doing it is the key to successful feeding.

Tuck your baby’s body under your arm and support her head with your hand, using a couple of cushions for support to avoid her pressing down on your tummy.

If sitting up is too painful or difficult, feed her by lying on your side with your baby facing you

A doctor or nurse will be on hand to help you get into the right position. Any drugs you are having for pain relief will only pass to your baby in tiny proportions and the most important thing is you are without pain and able to feed your baby as soon as possible.

Low milk supply

Poor positioning so that the baby is not latched on properly or infrequent feeding is more often to blame for an inability to produce enough milk. The signs your baby is not getting enough milk are:

  • Not being able to hear your baby swallow while feeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Your baby pulling off the breast in frustration
  • Fewer than six wet nappies a day and/or irregular bowel movements

Generally, the more you feed your baby, the more milk your body produces so if you feel you are not making enough, aim for 8 to 12 feeds in a day and possibly use a breast pump between feeds for further stimulation if this is advised. It's also important to drink plenty of water when breastfeeding.

With these measures it is very likely that your milk supply will improve. Always consult your doctor or a lactation consultant if you are concerned about your milk supply.

Nipple confusion

If your breast fed baby is given a dummy or bottle of expressed milk before six weeks of age there is a chance that he may become confused. The methods require completely different tongue and mouth movements and swallowing skills.

During breastfeeding your baby uses his jaw and lips to pump the milk from the breast and he can regulate the amount

Artificial teats are firm and do not fill the baby’s mouth. Babies often find that drinking from them is easier and that the milk flows more rapidly.

Nipple confusion can be avoided by avoiding the use of bottles and dummies until breastfeeding has been established.

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