updated 28 Oct 2010, 13:49
    Powered by
user id password
Mon, Aug 02, 2010
The Star/ANN
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Common problems in breastfeeding

BREASTFEEDING can be challenging, especially when you are breastfeeding for the first time. However, many of the common problems mothers encounter are temporary and can be overcome. Here are a few common ones you may face while nursing, and some of the ways to deal with them.

Engorged breasts

Problem: When you produce more milk than your baby consumes (or she expresses), the milk may accumulate in breast tissues, causing swelling and tenderness or pain in your breasts. However, when the breast is engorged, babies may find it difficult to latch on properly.

Signs/Symptoms: Your breasts become firm, flushed, warm to the touch, and feel as if they are throbbing. You might also develop a slight fever.

Treatment: A cold compress or ice pack can help relieve the discomfort. After that, you can express your milk by hand or with the help of a breast pump to soften the breast and help the baby latch on more easily.

Sore nipples

Problem: In most cases, nipple injury (bruises, cracks or blisters) can happen due to problems with the way you hold your baby during breastfeeding and the way he latches on to your breasts.

Signs/Symptoms: Although it is normal for your nipples to become more sensitive during pregnancy and a week after delivery, nipple soreness that happens after that period, or lasts throughout a nursing session (normal nipple soreness usually lasts for the first 30 to 60 seconds) might be due to nipple injury.

Treatment: While nipple ointments may help, sore nipples that result from wrong breastfeeding techniques can be resolved when you learn how to breastfeed correctly.

My baby bites!

Problem: When babies begin teething at about six to 10 months of age, some of them may begin to use them on your breasts.

Signs/Symptoms: The baby bites during breastfeeding.

Treatment: As it is not possible to bite and nurse at the same time, you can teach your infant not to bite by immediately removing him from the breast as soon as he begins to bite. Otherwise, you can also try to bring him more deeply onto your breast when he starts to bite or give him teething toys, teething rings or cloths to suck on before nursing.

Breast infection (mastitis)

Problem: Breast infections are seen most commonly in mothers who are stressed and exhausted, have cracked nipples, plugged milk ducts or breast engorgement, have skipped feedings, or wear a tight bra.

Signs/Symptoms: You have fever and your breasts become hard, red, tender and swollen. You may also experience body aches and chills.

Treatment: It is wise to consult a doctor if you develop these symptoms. To treat the infection, doctors may prescribe antibiotics. And like any infections, you should rest as much as possible. However, stopping breastfeeding is not usually recommended. To ease the discomfort, you can use moist and warm compresses and wear a comfortable bra in between feedings. There is little or no risk of passing the infection to the infant during an episode of mastitis¹.


1. Uptodate (2010, January). Patient information: Common breastfeeding problems. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from

2. Medline Plus (2009, February 8). Overcoming breastfeeding problems. Retrieved 26 July 2010 from

readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.