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Food & Health

Top Breastfeeding Problems And How To Solve Them

Although breastfeeding is a natural process, it doesn’t come easy to all mums. Some days may be harder than most… or vice versa!

Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging. Like learning a new skill, it takes getting used to. Know what to do when you encounter these common breastfeeding problems. 

Baby Falls Asleep During Nursing

There are cases where this is alright (cute, even) such as when the baby looks satisfied and relax, or perhaps the timing—research has found that breastmilk in the evening has sleep-inducing components. But if your baby is falling asleep just a few minutes after latching, it could be that she’s not latching on properly so milk doesn’t flow as much.

It could also be that she is just sleepy. You can start feeding with the fuller breast. Once you see her eyes starting to droop, try keeping her awake by gently tickling her feet or nudging her arms and legs then switch breasts. You can also drip milk near her mouth to encourage her back into feeding. Waking her up is okay; she’ll learn to stay longer awake eventually.

Cracked Nipples

There are many factors that can cause cracked, sore nipples. Ouch, but a key is to keep feeding. Your baby will suck softer if she’s not as hungry. Wash your nipples with water and apply lanolin cream after feeding. You can leave some milk on your nipples as it helps with the healing process. You may also consider using a nipple shield to be more comfortable. Cracked nipples may cause some bleeding, which gets into the breastmilk, but this is not harmful.


This is when your breasts feel uncomfortably full because of high milk supply. This could be temporary as you will soon adjust to produce the enough amount of milk your baby needs. But in the meantime, try feeding more regularly, even while your baby is not yet very hungry to avoid breast engorgement. If you’re at work, try pumping.

 A warm shower before breastfeeding and massaging the breast in a downward motion can help ease the milk flow. After feeding, use a cold compress to lessen swelling. Engorgement can ease up in a few days when these measures are taken.

Low Milk Supply

Alternatively, low milk supply may occur but this may not necessarily be a problem, especially if you’re new to motherhood. Try feeding more often to encourage your body to produce more milk (think supply and demand). Since mums can usually accommodate the milk needs of their babies, don’t mix up the natural feeding with formula milk yet to maintain the level of your own milk supply.

Adjusting to this new phase of your life can be stressful but try to relax and maintain a healthy diet. Of course, be sure to drink lots of water, the main milk ingredient!


Mastitis occurs when the breast tissue is inflamed. It’s what you can call an escalated issue due to untreated cracked nipples, engorgement, or plugged ducts. You also have a higher risk of having mastitis if you don’t empty your breasts regularly. Its symptoms are flu-like, such as fever and chills, plus breast pain.

If found to have infection, you will be advised to take antibiotics as the primary treatment. And while on meds, remember to take the full prescription even if you start to feel better. Though you have mastitis, it is still recommended to continue feeding. Use hot or cold compress over the affected breast. Having mastitis may be discouraging especially if you get it in the first few months but don’t fret, you’ll get through!

Painful Latching

A good latch is crucial to a successful breastfeeding. Even if you have sufficient breast milk, a poorly-latched baby will not be able to feed properly, tricking your body into thinking it doesn’t have to produce as much milk and voila, low milk supply.

The first few tries of breastfeeding are expected to hurt, but if the pain lasts a few minutes into the nursing session, the problem may be improper latching. The trick here is proper positioning of your baby to achieve a deep latch, wherein she takes in much of the lower portion of the areola and you feel the nipple towards the back of the mouth.

Plugged Ducts

Milk ducts become clogged when milk doesn’t flow completely from the breast. It doesn’t take much to notice this as you’ll feel a sore, hard lump and see redness in the area. Needless to say, breastfeeding will be painful but should not be discontinued. If untreated, having clogged ducts can lead to mastitis.

You can massage the affected area and use a hot compress to open the ducts before feeding, then a cold compress after. Breastfeed with the affected breast first while leaning over the baby (called dangle feeding) and let gravity do its work in draining the blocked nipple pore. Try to avoid the following: missed feeding, tight bra, and fatigue.


This one affects both the mum and baby. Thrush is a yeast infection usually found in the baby’s mouth and can spread to the mother’s nipples. You’ll know it once you see a white rash on the baby’s tongue or inner cheek and notice a fussy behaviour due to pain or discomfort. It causes diaper rash. You may also feel it in your nipple area through irritation and a burning sensation.

Again, no worries as this can be treated with anti-fungal medication, which should be applied on both the baby’s mouth/tongue and mother’s nipples so as to prevent recurrence of the infection.

Breastfeeding problems may also be unique to some mums, in which case it’s best to seek advice from a lactation consultant or a doctor.

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