To all of the new parents out there troubleshooting breastfeeding problems, we understand your pain. Literally! From sore nipples to clogged ducts, we have got you covered with tips on how to make the process go more smoothly and comfortably for both you and your baby. To make it easier, we have compiled a list of a few of the most common breastfeeding issues, along with approaches for finding a solution. So, keep reading for our top breastfeeding tips for new moms. 

Nipple Pain

While nipple tenderness is normal, if it is too painful to breastfeed, something is wrong. An improper latch is a common lactation issue that can lead to all sorts of problems, including sore or cracked nipples. Soreness is normal, especially when you are first getting started; however, longer lasting pain could be the result of how your baby is latching. So if it lasts more than a few weeks, or pain while nursing lasts for more than a few seconds each session, try out a few of our breastfeeding latch tips to see if something helps. 

We suggest testing out new positions. Be sure to bring your baby to your breast rather than holding your breast up to your baby. You should also make sure your baby is positioned with their bottom lip below the nipple with a wide mouth surrounding the entire areola. Aim for a deeper latch, further inside your baby’s mouth where your nipple can rest more comfortably up against their soft palate. At the end of the feeding, you can also try releasing your baby from the breast using a finger first to break the suction. After trying a few tips, notify your healthcare provider or lactation consultant if symptoms worsen or do not improve. Whatever your situation, know that there are plenty of resources available to help remedy the issue and make breastfeeding more enjoyable for you and your baby.

Milk Supply

Too much or too little milk supply can be painful, exhausting, or frustrating for you and your baby. Having an excessive milk supply can also cause a number of breastfeeding problems including breast engorgement, clogged ducts, and even infection. Not to mention, a flow too strong can create challenges for your baby trying to feed. 

For low milk supply, increase the frequency and duration of nursing or pumping to tell your body that there is a higher demand. That means at least every few hours or 8-12+ times per day for 20 minutes or more! For high milk supply, help your baby avoid discomfort or gagging by lying back while feeding. This trick lets gravity work for you to reduce the strength of milk flow. Keep in mind that a strong, fast flow can lead to excess gas and spitting up. Be sure to burp your baby often to keep them happy and feeling good!

Breast Engorgement

We might imagine that milk arrives carefully at just the right time. But sometimes it can take time for the body to adjust. After the first week of breastfeeding, a new parent might notice full, tight, swollen, and even hard breasts. This can be the result of the body adjusting to the infant’s breast milk needs. While it usually only takes a few weeks to adjust, this can be a painful feeling and also make it more difficult for your baby to latch properly.

Luckily, there are a few ways to start remedying this common breastfeeding problem. You can start by taking on a schedule of more frequent feedings to reduce milk inside the breast. Consider expressing some milk by hand before feeding to make the breasts softer and less full so latching will be easier for your child. If breasts still feel full after the baby is well fed, you can continue to express by hand or with a pump to whittle the supply further.

Clogged Ducts

Another breastfeeding issue related to too much milk, clogged or plugged milk ducts can be uncomfortable and make nursing more difficult. While there is not necessarily a distinct cause, know that improper pumping or compression of the breasts (while sleeping or due to a bra) could be the cause. So, if you are experiencing breast soreness, redness, or notice a hard lump on the breast, a clogged duct could be the culprit. However, keep an eye out for any feverish symptoms, as this could be a sign of an infection. 

Luckily, a plugged duct is something that your baby might be able to help you out with! The power of their suction could be just the thing to help release the clog. Make sure you are breastfeeding often and do not go too long between feedings. Switch up positions as much as possible to try to access all areas of the breast and try massaging the breast during feedings to help improve the milk flow. Remember, it is very important to be sure you are getting adequate rest and are well hydrated. In the meantime, try to help relieve the plug by using a warm compress.

Potential Infection

Breastfeeding can be a big, messy challenge! With all of the many issues that can commonly arise, it is critical to note that infection is one of them. Mastitis, or a bacterial infection of the breast can occur especially during the first few weeks of nursing. It is often caused by one of the breastfeeding issues discussed above. So, if you have any of the symptoms we have covered and also notice a fever, talk to your doctor right away. A different infection, or thrush, is another common offender caused by your baby passing a yeast infection of the mouth to mom’s nipple. So if you notice itching, intense pain, flakiness, or redness of the nipple, it could be a fungal infection.

While infection might sound scary, luckily it is usually a straightforward fix. Talk to your doctor right away for a diagnosis and treatment plan. For mastitis, you can expect your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic that is safe for breastfeeding. For thrush, you can anticipate antifungal medications for treatment of both your nipple and your baby’s mouth at the same time. In the meantime, talk to your doctor about best practices while clearing an infection. This might include frequently washing or sanitizing objects that come into contact with infected areas of your or your baby’s body. Of course, you’re sure to be recommended plenty of rest and use of a warm compress for comfort.

Sleeping Baby

After the big event of birth, your baby is sure to be tired! While it is completely normal for babies to fall asleep after, and even during, feedings, it is crucial that your baby stay awake long enough to get the nutrients they need. So, if you notice your baby drifting off while nursing, assess whether there might be a breastfeeding problem at play such as low milk supply or weak flow. 

If you are sure you have a proper latch and milk is flowing for your baby, start nursing with the fuller breast. Then, after a few minutes, try massaging the breast while nursing to help increase the strength of the flow. Remember, the start of a feeding is the strongest, so try switching breasts to take advantage of a faster flow. Spotting the signs of sleepiness? Gently touch your baby or switch positions to help keep them awake. 

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are here to help make life with a newborn as easy and healthy as possible for both parent and child. We know that breastfeeding issues are common, especially in the first few weeks following birth. But, if problems do not get better, it can be a sign of a larger issue that could impact you or your little one. So, no matter what your concern, be sure to keep your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician informed. For more advice, tips for successful breastfeeding, or any concerns about your baby, be sure to reach out to your passionate and professional Coastal Kids pediatrician. To make an appointment visit us at