10 Of The Most Common Breastfeeding Problems Solved!

how to solve the 10 most common breastfeeding problems

7 minute read

Breastfeeding is natural…beautiful…but it can also be really HARD. But the more difficult side of breastfeeding often isn’t talked about. Sometimes you do run into breastfeeding problems… And this may leave you feeling like you’re on your own to figure it out… Or worse — that something’s wrong with you if your journey has bumps along the way. 

You may have learned the amazing benefits of breastfeeding in a childbirth class and thought that you really want this for your baby.

Or, maybe you thought breastfeeding would just “click” for you and your baby. 

Either way, breastfeeding may not be as easy as you originally hoped. And the difficulties you are having — getting a good latch, dealing with clogged milk ducts, trying to keep your sleepy baby awake long enough to nurse — are all totally normal.

Breastfeeding may be natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. In fact, breastfeeding can be really difficult at times. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Here Are Helpful Solutions To The Top 10 Breastfeeding Problems Many Moms Face

Breastfeeding Problem 1: Your Baby Doesn’t Want to Latch 

mom laying on side skin to skin working on solving breastfeeding problems with her little one

Breastfeeding is a new skill that your baby is learning…and sometimes it can take a little while for your baby to get the hang of it! They may struggle and cry or have difficulty latching on.

Being held skin to skin can help them soothe and regulate before you nurse. And the great thing is they can be skin to skin with you, dad, grandma – literally anyone who is there to support you and loves your baby.

That’s why lactation consultants like Rachel O’Brian recommends it to all their clients!

To get off to a good start, undress from the waist up. Hold your baby skin to skin, supporting them but not forcing them to latch on. Let your baby lead the way and follow their instincts to suck.

When your baby is hungry, they will bob their head against you, try to make eye contact, and squirm around. If your baby doesn’t latch on their own, try tickling your baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage them to nurse. 

Breastfeeding Problem 2: Latching Is Really Painful 

breastfeeding a baby showing a good latch - one breastfeeding problem solved

It’s normal to experience sensitivity or tenderness as you start your breastfeeding journey…but not pain. If you feel yourself grimacing or it’s too painful to make it through a feeding, your baby probably isn’t latched on correctly. 

Experiencing pain as your baby latches on usually means that your little one is sucking mostly on your nipple and not getting a big enough mouthful of breast at the start. Make sure your baby’s mouth is open nice and wide before they latch on and that their chin touches your breast. When they are positioned well, your baby’s mouth will be filled with breast.

It can take a little practice, but getting a good latch will help you feel the most comfortable and your baby will get the most milk. Here are some more helpful tips for getting a good latch.  

Caring for your nipples as you establish breastfeeding is important. If you are tender or sore, make sure you are using a high quality nipple cream and soothe your nipples between feeding by wearing silver shields.

The Spoiled Mama

Breastfeeding Problem 3: Your Baby Is Always Falling Asleep While Nursing

mom playing with baby while nursing her solving a breastfeeding problem of baby falling asleep and not eating

Newborns tend to be extra sleepy. And even though your baby needs sleep to develop…they also need to eat! But when your baby begins to nurse, a hormone is actually released — cholecystokinin — that can make your baby feel drowsy and full. That can make it even more challenging to keep your baby awake. 

When you have a really sleepy baby on your hands, try expressing some milk into their mouth, taking off their clothes and socks, stroking the palms of their hands and soles of their feet, or walking your fingers up and down their spine. 

There are lots of tips and tricks that can help keep your little one awake so that they eat enough — it’s all about finding which ones work for you and your baby!

Encouraging your baby to eat a full meal at every nursing session is a good habit that will help you get to routine and flexibility sooner.

Breastfeeding Problem 4: Your Milk Supply is Low

This is when your breasts do not make enough milk to meet the nutritional needs of your baby. The good news is that there are many things you can do to increase your milk production. 

Establishing a good supply and understanding how your milk production works is something I go over in detail in these breastfeeding tips. But, if you’re past the first two weeks and your milk seemed to talk unexpectedly look here to find out how to boost your milk supply fast.

But, the simplest way to increase supply is to simply feed your baby often throughout the day. Because when your baby nurses — even for 5 minutes! — this sends a signal to your body to make more milk when your breasts are empty. So breastfeed as often as your baby desires.

You can also try adding a yummy tea to support your milk supply production.

Breastfeeding Problem 5: You Have Sore or Cracked Nipples

Many new moms experience nipple pain in the first week of breastfeeding. This is often the sign of a poor latch and continued pain can lead to nipple damage like soreness and cracking. 

If you notice any nipple pain when your baby latches, you should call a lactation consultant as soon as possible. It’s likely your baby is probably just sucking on the nipple. And the problem can easily be fixed with a few small adjustments.

Instead of braving through the pain — which could lead to nipple problems — gently break the suction by putting a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth. Try to help your baby get a better latch, make sure their mouth is open nice and wide before they latch on. 

If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, use a silver nipple shield to keep your bra from sticking to your nipple and to prevent discomfort. You can also express a few drops of breastmilk and rub it over your sore nipple. Your breast milk has natural nourishing properties that can soothe and hydrate your skin. 

Breastfeeding Problem 6: Your Breasts Are Engorged and Painful

It’s common for your breasts to become hard and painful when they are too full of milk. This often happens when your milk production ramps up about three days after your baby is born. But engorgement can also happen anytime you do not breastfeed or pump for an extended period of time.

It often happens when moms are working on dropping feeds or lengthening out nights by adding a dream feed. Your body is smart and will adjust to changes, but it often takes a few days.

The best way to avoid any discomfort from engorgement is to breastfeed, pump or hand express to comfort. You do not want to leave your breasts so full they are painful. By expressing a little to comfort, you will be less likely to experience infection or mastitis.

If you aren’t in the 3-4 days after giving birth or making changes to your schedule and you are consistently having engorged breasts – check with a lactation consultant to make sure your baby is properly draining your breasts of milk and getting enough food.

Breastfeeding Problem 7: There’s a Painful Area On Your Breast

If there is a tender or painful area of your breast, this could be a sign that you have a clogged milk duct. The best solution is to get milk flowing to this area once again. There are some natural ways you can help this process including frequently feeding your baby from the affected breast and gently massaging the lump toward your nipple while your baby feeds. 

It can also be helpful to take a warm shower to encourage your milk flow. Also avoid wearing tight clothes or bras so your milk can flow freely from every part of your breast.

These steps will help you to treat the blocked duct quickly. This is important, because if you let it linger too long, it could lead to mastitis or a breast infection. Lactation consultant Andrea Tran points out these tips for recognizing mastitis:  

  • A person who has mastitis will usually have a lump somewhere in their breast tissue.
  • A large area of the breast may be hard.
  • The affected area feels warm.
  • Touching it can be excruciating.
  • You may have fever and feel like you have the flu

If you have any of these symptoms, reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

Breastfeeding Problem 8: Your Baby Is ALWAYS Feeding…And You’re Exhausted

Most likely, it’s perfectly normal that your baby wants to eat around the clock. When your baby is born, their stomach is only the size of a cherry! By the time they’re a month old, your little one’s belly has expanded to the size of an egg. But still — your baby’s stomach is pretty small…which means they’ll need to eat frequently! 

Your breasts may also have a small storage capacity for milk, leading your baby to need to eat often. Or your baby may be going through a growth spurt, which requires more energy and food than “normal.” 

I always recommend that moms view the first 2-3 weeks home with a baby as a babymoon – a time for resting anytime you can and feeding as often as baby wants. If your baby wants to eat all the time let them in these weeks.

After that – you can start nudging your baby into a 3 hour routine and extending night feeds so you can have a sense of you again.

Breastfeeding Problem 9: Frequent Feedings Is Making It Hard To Take Care Of Yourself

mom breastfeeding baby - trouble shooting breastfeeding problems like how to take care of yourself when nursing so much

Having a new baby can have its ups and downs. On top of learning how to care for your baby, you’re adjusting to a whole new way of life. Give yourself time to adjust emotionally and physically and most importantly…don’t forget to take care of yourself

Simply getting rest when possible — going to bed early and sleeping when your baby sleeps — and eating healthy foods will do wonders to help you heal and recover after birth.

Your baby thrives on routine. The more predictability you can build into their day, the more they will fall into the rhythms you set.

Start by establishing a bed time as soon as possible when you come home from the hospital. Create a simple bedtime routine and do it exactly the same every single night. This will establish the first beat in the rhythm of your day. Here are some more tips for creating a flexible daily newborn schedule that will allow you to have the predictability and freedom you need in your day.

Breastfeeding Problem 10: Your Baby is Having A Hard Time Nursing…But You’re Not Sure Why

mom helping baby breastfeed - getting help with a lactation consultant who is helping her trouble shoot breastfeeding problems

If your baby is still having a hard time nursing, there could be another issue altogether. The best thing to do is to reach out to a lactation consultant for help! They can spend time observing how your baby nurses to help you identify any potential problems. 

Your baby may be dealing with a physical barrier to nursing such as a tongue-tie. One in ten babies are born with a tongue-tie and this could be making it difficult for your little one to nurse. A lactation consultant or your healthcare provider will be able to help identify if your baby has a tongue-tie and direct you toward solutions and treatment options. 

My Favorite Breastfeeding Resource: Milkology

If you’re a first-time mom, it’s natural to have questions about breastfeeding. Even if this is your second or third child, it’s still a new skill for your baby and can take a little while for you both to get into the swing of things. 

That’s why I love Milkology! They are an incredible resource for all things breastfeeding. From their lactation library to their online breastfeeding and pumping classes… Milkology will empower you to gain answers to your nursing questions so that you can breastfeed your little one with confidence! 

Best Way To Learn About Breastfeeding If You Haven’t Had Your Baby Yet?

I love helping moms get off to a great start and beautiful beginning with their little ones.

So many birth courses teach you only about the very basics of birth. Tdon’t provide the tools or skills that you’ll need once your little one arrives. 

In my childbirth course, Birth Undone, class #8 is totally focused on teaching you how to care for your newborn. That way we can prevent breastfeeding problems instead of troubleshoot them later.

This class will empower you with the knowledge you need to confidently care for your little one. Not only will you learn everything you need to have a great birth experience – you will have tons of support around feeding your baby as well!

Ready to get started

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""I confided in Suzzie that I struggle with anxiety and a lot of self doubt. To be honest, I just wasn't sure I was cut out to do birth. After a conversation with her, I realized that the process of overcoming these doubts and fears was going to be an amazing gift. She gave me confidence to start working towards the birth I wanted. I went into birth feeling safe and ready. And I had a great experience. I'm glad I had the courage to start. That was the hardest part." - Olivia-Grace , a mom who took the first step and kept on going