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The most common breastfeeding problems and how to solve them

Breastfeeding is a natural process; however, it is not always straightforward, especially for the first-time moms. Since it’s an entirely new skill for both a young mother and a newborn baby, they must learn from each other, and these skills come with time. Sometimes things can go wrong with breastfeeding and it’s better to be prepared for the possible complications and react quickly if they arise. In this article, on the occasion of world breastfeeding week happening now, we will talk about the most common breastfeeding problems and how nursing mothers can deal with them.

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Five most common breastfeeding problems: symptoms and remedies

There are many possible breastfeeding problems; however, we only want to focus on the five most common ones that may happen to all moms. These are breastfeeding problems such as incorrect latching, low milk supply, hyperlactation, blocked milk duct, mastitis, and thrush.

When a newborn doesn’t know how to suckle

Babies are born with a natural suckling reflex but they still need some guidance from the mom to know how to latch onto a mother’s breast properly. A proper, strong latch is the most important part of breastfeeding. The right way for latching a baby is to make sure its mouth is covering your nipple and areola, and that the mother has adopted the correct position for breastfeeding. How can you tell if your baby is suckling the wrong way?  

  • Breastfeeding is painful
  • Your nipples are cracked and painful
  • Baby is “biting” your breast
  • Poor milk supply due to low breasts stimulation

How to fix latching problems?

When the latching causes problems, keep guiding the baby in the right direction by placing its mouth in the area of nipple and areola. To avoid bites, put the baby’s nose close to your breast, forcing it to breathe through its mouth. If this doesn’t help, seek professional help from a lactation specialist.

Cracked and painful nipples

Nipples often crack and are sore at breastfeeding mothers, causing pain, discomfort and discouraging young moms from breastfeeding. These ailments can occur not only due to latching issues, but also thrush, dry skin, improper pumping.

To ease with sore nipples, put some lanolin cream or even just breastmilk on them after feeding. You can try feeding the baby more often, as the suckling should be less hard when they’re not very hungry. Using plastic hard breast shells inside your bra will be beneficial as well.

Low milk supply

The impression of low milk supply is one of the most common breastfeeding problems that first-time moms experience, especially in the first weeks after giving birth. If a mom feels that she is not producing enough milk, but can see her baby is gaining weight appropriately, is healthy and wets at least six nappies daily, there is no reason to worry. The main point to remember here is not the amount of milk that a mother produces, but the amount that baby needs.

Some signs that low milk supply might be a problem can include a lack of milk leaking from the nipples, feeling that the breast is less full, or finding a baby seems to be needing more milk than usual.

Disrupted breastfeeding is the main reason why women may experience low milk supply. It can also be affected by:

  • Baby’s sleep during feeding time
  • Baby’s feeds have become shorter
  • Feeding baby on a routine base, rather than on demand
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Breast injury or previous surgery
  • Loss of blood during the labor

How to increase your milk supply?

Breastfeeding is not a strict science and change in baby’s feeding behaviors or the mother’s organism may scare first-time moms. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to improve your supply situation. The best way to increase your supply is to stimulate your breasts to produce more milk. Frequent tries to feed the baby, massaging breasts with circular motions or even warm compress can help a lot.


Hyperlactation is another common breastfeeding problem and it usually occurs on the 2nd to 6th day after the delivery. During this time, the breasts are producing as much as ten times more milk than needed. If it stops after a few days, it’s a signal of successful lactation. However, if the hyperlactation continues, it may have negative effects for both the baby and the mother. Signs that you’re experiencing hyperlactation include:

  • Your breasts feeling fuller and heavier
  • Your breasts leak milk in between feedings
  • You may feel swollen
  • Your baby may have trouble catching the breast from which milk spurts
  • Your baby may vomit after feeding

Hyperlactation can not only cause the mother discomfort, but also result in breastfeeding problems such as the baby refusing to feed, or getting an inadequate amount of milk.

How to deal with hyperlactation?

  • To facilitate the outflow of milk, put a warm compress on the breast
  • Draw some milk by hand before putting the baby to your breast to help them grasp the nipple better – it can be challenging for a baby to grasp when the breast is swollen
  • Try as often as possible to feed a baby with full breasts – if their feeding appears to be insufficient, use a breast pump to express excess milk
  • Between feedings, apply cold compresses to the sore breasts

A blocked milk duct and mastitis

A clogged milk duct can be a result of a back-up of milk building up in your breast and forming lumps. Nipples get swollen and may turn red. A blocked milk duct is an easily treated breastfeeding problem: Nurse the baby often to empty the breast, massage the area and wear loose clothes around your breasts. If the lump begins to be accompanied by fever, as it may be a sign that mother is developing mastitis.

Mastitis (also referred to as “milk fever”) occurs when a blocked milk duct is not treated. Its symptoms are similar to the flu, while the breast can become red and very painful.

What to do if you develop mastitis?

  • Treat your mastitis similarly to hyperlactation and a blocked milk duct
  • Seek medical care immediately after noticing the symptoms of mastitis to avoid exacerbation or breast abscess
  • Your doctor might recommend medication, mostly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are safe during breastfeeding, and as a last resort, an antibiotic.

Nipples and baby thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth which can also spread to your breasts. Look at your baby before breastfeeding for symptoms like white patches and unusual redness in its mouth and a diaper rash. Thrush is highly contagious and can cause in symptoms for the mother, such as:

  • Incessant itching and cracking of nipples
  • Breast pain during and after breastfeeding
  • Nipples may develop a rash with tiny blisters
  • Redness of the nipples

How to deal with thrush?

As in the case of mastitis, you must seek medical attention immediately if you develop thrush. Both you and your baby should be given antifungal treatment; the mother with a topical nipple treatment, while your baby may also be prescribed medicine.

Get all the help you need

While these are some common breastfeeding problems there are more of varying degrees of seriousness. For a first-time mother, they can all be equally scary. The benefits of breastfeeding are widely acknowledged, but the choice of whether to breastfeed will always be yours. No matter what way of feeding your infant you will choose, you have to be sure that both you and your child will be able to get proper medical attention in case something happens.

That’s why planning ahead and securing private maternity plan is a number one thing every parent should do. It’s important to consider it early too since maternity plans come with with a minimum ten month waiting period. There are other solutions to protect the baby’s health, like newborn insurance, that you can secure for any medical complications or issues arising after birth as well.

Insurance specialists from Pacific Prime Singapore are at your disposal and will gladly advise you in choosing and securing the best maternity, newborn, or family plans available in Singapore. Contact us for a free quote and impartial advice today!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Singapore
Elwira Skrybus is a content writer at Pacific Prime. In her everyday work, she is utilizing her previous social media and branding experience to create informative articles, guides, and reports to help our readers simplify the sometimes-puzzling world of international health insurance.

When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!