Common breastfeeding problemsBreastfeeding can take time and practice to perfect, just like any new skill. But the more time you spend with your baby, in close contact, the more you’ll get to know and understand each other’s signals. Your breastmilk is the only food that’s designed for your baby and can help to protect them against infections . That’s why it’s especially important to persevere in the early stages. But it’s not just your baby who can benefit from breastfeeding; it can also help you to regain your pre-pregnancy shape, can reduce your risk of Osteoporosis and offer other benefits too. And once you get the hang of it, it’s often the most convenient feeding option too.
If you’re having any sort of difficulty breastfeeding, speak to your midwife or health visitor as soon as you can. You’ll also find that there are many local breastfeeding support networks that would be happy to offer help and support. There’s also more information available at laleche.org.uk or you can talk to one of our expert feeding advisors, anytime, on 0800 996 1000.
How often should my baby feed?
You might feel like you’re constantly feeding in the beginning. But gradually, your baby will settle into a pattern and your milk supply will adjust accordingly. All babies are different, and so is each day!
Your baby will be happier if you stay close and feed them whenever they’re hungry . And if their weight gain is good, they produce regular, wet and dirty nappies and settle between feeds, you can be quite sure your baby’s getting enough milk.
It can take a while for you both to get used to feeding. But if you feel, in the early days, that your milk supply is not satisfying your baby, speak to your midwife.
Sore nipples from breastfeeding may be due to your baby not latching on properly or being in the wrong position. Make sure your baby's mouth is wide open and they are sucking on your breast rather than just the end of your nipple. Your baby should be facing you with their nose level to your nipple and their chin on your breast. It’s best not to hold your baby’s head, but gently support their neck so they’ll be able to move their head freely as they feed. You can also try lying down to feed or experiment with other positions that feel more comfortable for you both.
To prevent soreness try squeezing out a drop of milk after your feed and rubbing it into your skin, letting your nipples dry before you cover them. If you’re using breast pads in your bra, remember to change them after every feed and opt for a cotton bra, which will let the air circulate.
If you’re experiencing shooting pains in your breasts during feeding there is a possibility that you might both have Thrush. It’s a common infection that’s easily treated. Just visit your doctor who should prescribe something for you both to clear it up.
Although breastfeeding can be a little uncomfortable to begin with, it shouldn’t cause any pain. So speak to your midwife if you’re having trouble getting it right. You can also call our experts anytime for support or advice about feeding positions on 0800 996 1000.
A couple of days after birth, it's common for your breasts to become full and swollen. This is due to your body producing an abundance of milk and increased blood flow to the area. If your baby is finding it difficult to latch on, you may find hand expressing a little milk will soften the areola (the brown area around your nipple). A warm bath or shower before feeding can encourage the milk to flow and massaging the breast you're feeding from can help to relieve some of the tightness. You could also try applying cold packs or even chilled cabbage leaves to provide some relief from discomfort. But the best way to ease the full, swollen feeling and to relieve the pressure is to feed regularly – in time your body will adjust to your baby’s needs.
When your breasts are full of milk, it's not unusual for them to leak. It can also happen unexpectedly when your body's letdown reflex is triggered by a baby's cry – whether yours or someone else's. It's most common during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, while your body adapts to your baby's feeding routine.
There's no way of controlling leaks. But feeding frequently and before your breasts are full can help. And once breastfeeding is established, leaking will reduce. Breast pads for your bra are designed to absorb any leaks and come in disposable or washable varieties. By carrying a spare pair and a change of top, you'll be prepared if there’s a mishap!
Remember, you’re not expected to be a breastfeeding expert straight away, and some mums find it easier than others. So if you need help or advice, don't be afraid to ask your health visitor. You may find our Guide to Breastfeeding helpful too.
Our experts include experienced mums and feeding advisors. So if you’ve got a question about breastfeeding, give them a call, anytime, on 0800 996 1000. Or use our confidential instant messaging service, Live Chat.