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Common Breastfeeding Problems and How to Solve Them

Common Breastfeeding Challenges

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to provide your baby with important nutrients and develop a bond - but it can also be a challenge for many new mothers. Many newborn babies and their moms need a bit of time to learn how to breastfeed together. 

If you’re having breastfeeding difficulties in the first week of your baby’s life, you’re not alone - and here’s your guide to solving the most common problems.

Most Common Breastfeeding Difficulties

Having problems while breastfeeding can be frustrating for new moms and babies alike. But knowing how to deal with the most common issues can help you and your baby feel more comfortable and confident to handle any problems that arise.   

Latching 

It can be a challenge to get your baby to latch onto your nipple properly in the first few days (and weeks!) of breastfeeding. If your baby isn’t latching the right way, you can experience pain that lasts longer than a few seconds every time they feed. Since both you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed at the same time, this is one of the most common breastfeeding problems. Potential solutions can include: 

  • To encourage your baby to open her mouth wide, rub your nipple gently under their nose. 
  • Place your baby so their bottom lip is well below your nipple instead of at the base to encourage a good latch. 
  • Bring your baby onto your breast instead of putting your breast in her mouth. 
  • When your baby has a good latch, you’ll see that her lips are splayed out, her chin is touching your breast, and you can’t see your nipple. 
  • You can also try different breastfeeding positions to see which is most comfortable for you and your baby to get the best latch.

Sore Nipples 

It’s normal for your nipples to feel a bit tender during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, but having nipples that are very sore, chapped, or bleeding is a sign that something is wrong. And if your nipples get too sore to breastfeed, treat them right away. 

  • Apply warm, moist compresses to your nipples. 
  • Apply some of your own milk on your nipples, your milk has healing properties to relieve soreness
  • Try a different breastfeeding position and change positions at each feeding. 
  • Break the suction from the latch gently with your finger before removing your baby from your breast. 
  • Have shorter, more frequent breastfeeding sessions. 

Breast Engorgement 

Your breasts typically fill with milk by the end of your first week of breastfeeding, and that can cause them to become swollen and tight. Breast engorgement is often painful for the mother, and makes it harder for the baby to latch on and feed. Your body will adjust within a few days or weeks to your new milk supply, but you can try these solutions to ease the discomfort while that happens. 

  • Breastfeed frequently, between 8-12 times per day. 
  • Alternate using hot and cold compresses, take warm showers, and massage your breasts to relieve the pain. 
  • Hand express a little bit of milk before you start breastfeeding to make it easier for your baby to latch. 
  • If your breasts are still too full, use a pump or express by hand to remove extra milk. 

With all of these common issues, it’s important to check in with your doctor if the issue continues causing you pain or your baby still has trouble feeding for more than a few days. These problems can cause pain or infections in you, and should be treated by a professional.

What To Do If Your Baby Cries During Breastfeeding 

If your baby cries while breastfeeding, that can be a stressful experience - but this tends to be a normal and passing phase. Babies, especially newborns, are often fussy while feeding for unrelated reasons. But if it’s hard to get your baby to calm down enough to feed them, here are a few tips. 

  • Use skin-to-skin contact to calm them down before attempting to breastfeed. 
  • Switch sides or positions to see if that helps. 
  • Try rocking your baby gently or feeding in a darkened room. 
  • See if your baby needs to burp. 
  • Feed your baby when they are sleepy, like when they have just woken up from a deep sleep. 

First Week of Breastfeeding Tips 

Looking to make your first week of breastfeeding easier for both you and your newborn baby? There are a few tips you can try to ease both of you into a comforting, less stressful feeding pattern. 

  • Newborn babies typically feed at least eight times per day - this helps give them enough nourishment and ensures your milk supply comes in. 
  • Supporting your breast with your hand, with your fingers far back behind your areola, can help your baby to get plenty of milk and prevent nipple soreness. 
  • Hold your baby tummy to tummy so there’s no space between the two of you. 

Breastfeeding can be a great option for feeding your newborn, so don’t get discouraged if you encounter these breastfeeding difficulties in the first week or beyond. If you find that breastfeeding isn’t for you that’s okay, always remember that fed is best