3 Common Breastfeeding Problems & What You Can Do

You’ve decided breastfeeding is the right choice for you and your new baby, but it might not go as smoothly as you would hope. Breastfeeding can be difficult, and it requires practice to make sure you get it just right. Here are three problems you might face and the proper solutions to help you have the best experience possible.

1. Poor Latch

Breastfeeding might seem like the most natural thing in the world, so it can be frustrating when your new baby won’t latch on to your nipple. But a poor latch is more common than you might think. Make sure you’re in the right breastfeeding position when attempting to feed your baby. Squeeze your areola, tickle your baby’s cheek to encourage the opening of his or her mouth, and make sure baby’s mouth covers both the nipple and the areola.

Sometimes the poor latch is due to an anatomical mouth problem such as palate issues or a larger-than-average tongue. Your baby might need surgery to have these issues resolved, or you might be able to breastfeed surgery-free with the help of a lactation consultant.

2. Mastitis

An infection called mastitis typically happens within the first six weeks of breastfeeding, and it’s the result of bacteria entering your body through a milk duct or broken skin on your nipple. Mastitis announces itself with symptoms such as fever, above-average exhaustion, tired muscles, and one red, painful breast. If you have these symptoms, you should visit your doctor, who can prescribe antibiotics if you test positive. Your milk is still safe for baby to drink, so you should continue to breastfeed.

3. Breast Engorgement

You might experience breast engorgement after giving birth. Blood vessels and milk accumulating in the breasts cause the swelling, hardness, or pain you might feel. You can reduce pain by breastfeeding regularly, taking warm showers, and applying cold compresses to the breasts. The engorgement should decrease in severity within a few days of breastfeeding.

If you’re expecting, schedule an appointment with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group OB/GYN. For additional assistance with breastfeeding, meet with a lactation consultant at St. Luke's Health Family Birthing Centers or join in on one of their breastfeeding classes or support groups. You can also make an appointment with one of the pediatricians at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group to learn more about keeping your baby happy and healthy while breastfeeding.

National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine | Overcoming breastfeeding problems
What to Expect | 11 Most Common Breastfeeding Problems & Solutions
What to Expect | Mastitis

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