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Breast-Feeding Problems After Delivery

Breast-feeding problems are common, especially in the first days and weeks after delivery, as your body changes back to its nonpregnant condition and you figure out a feeding schedule. Your doctor or a lactation consultant can help you learn how to breast-feed successfully and treat any problems that occur.

Some common breast problems include:

  • Breast engorgement. This can cause painful breasts and flattened nipples, making it hard for your baby to latch on for feeding. Gently massage your breasts and express or pump some milk to soften your nipple and areola before breast-feeding. Wear a supportive, well-fitting bra and use cold packs to your breasts after breast-feeding to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Sore or cracked nipples. You can help relieve the pain from sore or cracked nipples by rubbing a few drops of breast milk on the nipple and areola and let it dry. It may also help to put pure lanolin cream on your nipples.
  • Blocked milk ducts. Blocked milk ducts may cause a painful lump in the breast. Massage the area before breast-feeding and during feeding. This may release the milk plug. You can also try warm packs on your breast several times a day for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Mastitis. This breast infection causes painful, red, warm breasts and sore nipples. If mastitis is caused by a blocked milk duct, massage and warm packs may help. You may need antibiotics to heal your mastitis.
  • Poor milk let-down. Being more relaxed will help your milk flow better. Breast-feed in a comfortable, quiet room. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Low milk supply. Breast-feed more often to help increase your milk supply. You can also try pumping both breasts for 10 to 15 minutes each after you have just fed your baby.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised April 12, 2013

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