I’ve spoken with mothers having all types of breastfeeding issues during my consultations and one thing is clear: every situation is unique. There are plenty of reasons mothers and their infants can experience breastfeeding difficulties… it is not reasonable to blame any one factor alone.
This post will cover the most common breastfeeding problems and solutions. While I urge you to see a international board certified lactation consultant versus self-diagnosing, this list may simply serve as a helpful resource.
The Most Common Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions
1. “My baby has trouble latching.” Reasons for this frequent problem are varied and may include not enough skin to skin contact between mother and baby, improper positioning and the possible interference of the baby’s lingual frenulum (aka a tongue tie).
2. “My baby is fussy, seems to choke a lot on the milk and gulps too frequently.” The flow of milk may be too fast for your infant. Try this: switch breasts every few minutes to equalize the flow.
3. “My breasts are engorged and swollen.” Typically, this occurs about three days after the baby is born. Production is naturally ramping up during this period. Try this: Gently massage and compress the breast when the baby pauses between sucks. You may also try applying a cold compress for 10-15 minutes after feedings to decrease swelling.
4. “My nipples are cracked and painful.” Continuing to work on correct latch and positioning with a lactation consultant and applying expressed breastmilk to the nipples to promote healing help many women to overcome these symptoms early on. If these symptoms do not subside, however, there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, as it is not normal. Often, this points to the presence of a tight lingual frenelum on your baby (aka a tongue tie). This can be removed via a lingual frenectomy, a procedure that I specialize in.
5. “There is a painful, red dot on my breast.” Sometimes this can be a plugged duct, or it could be a cracked and damaged nipple. Be mindful of this. If left unresolved, it could develop into mastitis or a breast infection. Gentle massage and heat with plenty of rest, should be the first solution attempted. If it does not resolve within 24 hours, or especially if you develop a fever, see your pediatrician to be prescribed the proper antibiotics.
Resources at Your Disposal
There are other breastfeeding issues you may be experiencing… this is by no means a complete list. Make sure to tap into all of the resources at your disposal, and not just internet research. Speaking from my own breastfeeding journey with my son, meeting with a lactation consultant in the first few days after birth, can truly help to establish a positive breastfeeding relationship between you and your little one.
I work with a number of reputable lactation consultants in my community on a professional basis that are comfortable checking for possible intraoral restrictions. If breastfeeding issues may be related to a tongue and lip ties, you can schedule a consultation with me for a thorough evaluation of your infant.