Baby discomfort during feeding

My baby fusses or cries when breastfeeding

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

© Lsantilli -

Some babies will fuss, cry or pull off the breast during breastfeeding. There are a number of reasons why this might be happening. It’s pretty common to see this type of behavior at around 6-8 weeks, though it can occur at any time. If your baby is generally fussy (not just when nursing) see My baby is fussy! Is something wrong?


Determining the problem

Here are some of the problem-solving steps I go through when my baby is fussy at the breast or a mother asks me why her baby is fussing while breastfeeding:


How old is baby? Most babies go through growth spurts during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc. Many babies are fussy during growth spurts.

Is baby working on anything new developmentally? Babies who are starting to notice the world around them can be notoriously distractible. Any kind of new developmental step that baby is working on can affect nursing temporarily, whether it be fussy nursing behavior or simply more frequent nursing.

When is baby fussing? To figure out the cause it’s helpful to pay attention to when the fussy behavior happens, both during the nursing session and during the day.

If baby is fussy right when your milk is letting down (or immediately after), there’s a good chance that the fussy nursing is related to a fast let-down. If baby is fussy before let-down, or a few minutes into nursing (and a while after let-down), then baby may be impatient for the fast flow of milk that comes with let-down. Fussing at the end of a nursing session (or what seems to be the end) may mean that baby needs to burp, or is ready to finish nursing, or just wants to suck (and doesn’t want to deal with a new let-down at this point), or wants to continue nursing on the other side or with a faster flow of milk.

If the fussy behavior is mainly in the mornings, it might be due to a faster than usual let-down if baby has just had a longer sleep period and mom’s breasts are fuller than usual. If baby is fussier during evening nursings, it may be due to the normal fussy time that most babies have during the evening. Although most babies don’t react to foods that mom eats, some do. If you eat a particular food at about the same time each day (or most days) and baby has a regular time where she fusses during nursing, try not eating that food for a week or two to see if things improve.

Does fussing occur on both sides equally or only on one side? Most moms have a faster let-down and/or a more abundant milk supply on one side than the other, so if your baby fusses more on one side, it may be due to these differences.

What else is going on with baby? Is she sick or teething? Is something new or different going on in her environment? Has she started solids or is she trying a new food? Is she exhibiting other symptoms besides the fussy nursing?

Below are discussions of some of the different things that can lead to fussy nursing behavior. Keep in mind that the problem may also be a combination of several things.

Does baby need to burp?

Many babies will cry, fuss, pull off the breast, etc. if they need to burp. Try to burp between breasts and after a feeding, but don’t worry if baby does not burp and is content. Breastfed babies overall don’t take in as much air during a feeding as bottle-fed babies do, so usually don’t need to burp as often. If baby has been crying before she nurses, or is so hungry that she nurses “frantically” or if mom has a fast let-down, baby could be taking in more air and may need to be burped more often.

Burping is usually only necessary during the first few months, though it may extend longer. Once your baby is moving more freely, she will be able to relieve the gastric gas herself. This usually will occur between the 4th and 6th month, but may be shorter in some children and longer in others.

If baby has a hard time burping, try burping more often during a feeding. The best burping position is one that applies firm pressure to the baby’s tummy. Placing baby over the shoulder way up so that there is pressure on baby’s abdomen often works well. Walking around while doing this might distract her long enough to get a good burp. You may even want to lie baby down on her stomach and burp her that way.


Growth spurt

Babies often pull off and fuss during growth spurts. Most babies go through growth spurts, sometimes called frequency days, during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (more or less). More growth spurt information in this link.


Distractible baby

If baby seems to be pulling off the breast at any distraction (real or imaginary), then see The Distractible Baby.


Forceful let-down

Some babies will pull off the breast soon after let-down if mom has a forceful let-down. Baby may be frustrated by the too-fast flow of milk with let-down. A too-forceful let-down can also cause excessive gas or spitting up/vomiting. There is more information here on symptoms of and how to deal with a fast let-down reflex.


Slow let-down

Some babies get very impatient if mom has a slow let-down. There is more information here on speeding up a slow let-down reflex.

Baby wants a faster milk flow

Even very young babies can be quick to notice that pulling off, kneading the breast, etc. can cause an additional let-down, and can facilitate a faster, easier milk flow. Some babies become impatient with the slower milk flow following the initial fast flow at let-down. This may or may not be related to a slow let-down.

When a feeding begins at the breast there are drops of milk. Then when the initial let-down occurs (several seconds to a minute into the feeding), the milk flow speeds up quite a bit. At that time it may drip very quickly, squirt, or even spray. Some minutes later it slows again and the baby must continue to suck vigorously in order to elicit further let-downs. This pattern can continue through successive, multiple let-downs as long as the baby is continuing to nurse vigorously. Eventually, baby will learn that the flow will pick back up again if she’ll only continue to vigorously suck/swallow.

With bottle feeding, the flow is instant and continuous. The baby is required to work very little. Once a baby has had a bottle, especially a lot of bottles, she may begin to prefer the ease of bottle-feeding over the work of breastfeeding. She may become frustrated at the breast after the first let-down occurs and the flow of milk begins to slow.

If baby is getting bottles you might consider putting them away, at least for a while. When you must use a bottle, only use a newborn nipple for as long as baby will tolerate it so that she never gets a really fast flow of milk from the bottle, but has to work a little more to get the milk.

Sometimes babies of moms with oversupply or fast let-down will also get very used to the fast flow and object when it normally slows somewhere between 3 weeks to 3 months.

It can be helpful to do some breast compression when this fussiness starts or right before you expect it to. This will help speed up the milk flow again. Once compression stops helping, try switching baby to the other side when she begins to fuss and back and forth again (after using compression) as you need to.


Baby is done nursing for the moment

If baby is fussing after she’s been nursing for a while, and you’ve ruled out other causes, she may be in the process of changing her nursing pattern. Babies become very efficient at the breast with growth and maturity. They can milk the breast in a lot less time per feeding session than they required before. Baby’s frustration may just be a sign that she’s finished and wants to move on.

On a similar note, an occasional baby will just want to suck at the end of a nursing session and the flow of milk with let-down frustrates her. You might see if offering her a finger or pacifier (if baby is older than 4-6 weeks) to suck on during these times seems to help.


Baby prefers one side

Sometimes babies will refuse or fuss at a breast when the let-down is slower or too forceful, or the supply a bit lower. They in turn will prefer the side which lets down more/less quickly and in which the supply is more bountiful. See also: Lopsided! What can I do?


Fussy in the evening

Many young babies tend to pull off and fuss at the breast in the evening. See the article Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings.



Teething can cause fussy nursing behavior, as some babies experience gum discomfort with sucking. Baby might start to nurse, but then pull off and cry or fuss and not want to nurse anymore. See Teething for more information and tips.



Frequent pulling off the breast can be a symptom of thrush.


Stuffy nose

A stuffy nose can cause fussy nursing behavior. If your baby has a stuffy nose and is having a hard time breathing and nursing at the same time, see colds & congestion.


Allergy or food sensitivity

Some babies with allergies or food sensitivities exhibit fussy nursing behavior. Often when there is a sensitivity to something in mom’s diet, baby will come to the breast hungry but when she tastes/smells something in the milk that will cause her GI distress, she pulls off, bats her head back and forth, etc. Sensitivities to foods in mom’s diet are rare. If this is the problem, you will most likely notice other symptoms, such as excessive spitting up or vomiting, colic, diarrhea, rash, persistent congestion or runny nose, or excessive gas. More information on food sensitivities in babies and links to more allergy information can be found in my article Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies.


Low milk supply

Low milk supply can cause baby to be fussy at the breast. If you feel that your milk supply may be low, see this page for more info: Increasing low milk supply.



Reflux can result in baby being fussy at the breast. See Reflux and Breastfeeding for more information.



Tongue-Tie can result in baby being fussy at the breast. See Breastfeeding a Baby with Tongue-Tie (Resources) for more information.


Breastfeeding FAQs: Pain and Discomfort (for Parents)

Breastfeeding is natural, but it takes practice to get it right. Here's how to handle pain and discomfort during nursing.

Is It Normal to Have Cramps While Breastfeeding?

Yes. During the first few days to weeks after delivery, you may feel strong, menstrual-like cramps in your uterus when your milk “lets down” (starts to flow). This is your uterus shrinking back to a smaller size.

Is It Normal for My Breasts to Get Engorged?

During the first 2–5 days after birth, it’s normal to have engorged (very full) breasts as your milk supply increases. But if your baby nurses (or you pump) every 2–3 hours, your breasts should not feel engorged.

Engorgement can lead to sore, painful breasts or a breast infection. So it’s best to try to avoid it. The longer you wait to breastfeed or pump, the more uncomfortable and engorged your breasts may get.

If you can't feed your baby right away, use warm compresses and try to pump or manually express your milk. One way to express milk is to put your thumb on top of your areola and a finger below it. Gently but firmly press your thumb and fingers back against your chest wall. Then compress your fingers together to express (push out) your milk.

Is It Normal to Feel Pain During or After Breastfeeding?

When babies latch on properly, some moms feel a few moments of discomfort at the very beginning of a nursing session. After that, discomfort should ease. You may feel a gentle tug on your breasts while your baby feeds, but it shouldn’t hurt.

If you feel discomfort during nursing, stop nursing and reposition your baby to get a better latch. Your nipple areola (the ring around the nipple) should be mostly in your baby’s mouth. When babies are latched on wrong, it can hurt or feel like a pinch each time your baby sucks. Over time, this can lead to painful, sore, cracked nipples.

If you have pain during breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant to make sure your baby is properly latched or that something else isn't going on.

What Else Can Cause Breast Pain?

The most common causes of breast pain include:

A plugged milk duct. Sometimes milk ducts get plugged. You may feel pain in an area of your breast or a lump may form under the skin where the duct is plugged. To help unclog the duct and ease pain:

  • Take warm showers or use warm compresses on the area. Massage the area several times a day. Then, breastfeed your baby right away.
  • Position your baby’s chin so that it points toward the clogged area during feeding. This will help that area of the breast empty sooner.
  • Gently massage the lump while your baby feeds. It may take 2 to 3 feedings for the lump to go away. You also can use a manual (hand) or electric pump for a few minutes to help draw out the clogged milk while gently massaging the area.
  • Apply cold compresses (ice wrapped in a thin towel) between feedings.
  • If the lump doesn't go away within a couple of days, or if you have a fever, chills, aches, or red streaking, call your doctor.

Mastitis. This is an inflammation of the breast. If your breasts are sore; have red streaks; or have a hard, red area, you may have mastitis. Some women also get a fever and chills. If you think you have mastitis, call your doctor. In the meantime, continue to breastfeed or pump to drain the milk from your breasts. Switch between warm compresses and gentle massage right before breastfeeding and then apply cold compresses after a session. Mastitis caused by an infection may need treatment with antibiotics.

Oral thrush. Sometimes babies develop a yeast infection in the mouth called oral thrush. Babies with this have cracked skin in the corners of the mouth, and whitish or yellowish patches on the lips, tongue, or inside the cheeks. The infection can spread to your breast and cause:

  • shooting or burning breast pain either during or after feedings
  • pain deep within your breast
  • strong pain in the breasts or nipples that doesn't get better after your baby properly latches on or you reposition your baby
  • nipples that are cracked, itchy, burning, or are pink, red, shiny, flaky, or have a rash with little blisters

Call your doctor if you or your baby have any of these symptoms.

Inverted or flat nipples. Women who have inverted nipples (nipples that turn in rather than stick out) or flat nipples (that don't become as erect as they should when a baby is nursing) may have a harder time breastfeeding or have nipple pain. If either is the case, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant about ways to make nursing easier and reduce any pain.

How Can I Ease Breast or Nipple Pain?

During Feedings
  • Nurse first on the side that's less sore and vary breastfeeding positions.
  • Make sure your baby latches onto your breasts correctly. If breastfeeding is too painful, it may be more comfortable to drain your breasts by pumping the milk.
  • If you have sore nipples, ask a lactation consultant or your health care provider if a nipple shield is a good idea. Nipple shields go over the areola and nipple during a feeding to protect sore or cracked nipples. They should only be used when recommended by your care team as they can sometimes affect milk supply.
  • Gently break the suction when removing your baby from your breast. Slip your finger in the side of your baby's mouth, between the gums, and then turn your finger a quarter turn to do so.
  • At the end of a feeding, massage some breast milk onto your nipples, and then let them air dry.
Between Feedings
  • Gently massage the sore area before nursing.
  • Use wet or dry heat on your breasts (a warm shower, water bottle, heating pad, or warm washcloth) right before feeding. But if you have a yeast infection in your breast, you'll need to keep your nipples dry because yeast thrives on moisture. Get plenty of rest and fluids.
  • Put ice packs or cool compresses on engorged breasts after feedings.
  • Make the area where you feed your baby comfortable. Sit in a glider or a cozy chair with armrests. Footstools and pillows can give extra support. Some women like wraparound nursing pillows or "husband" back pillows with arms on each side for nursing in bed.

If breastfeeding is painful or uncomfortable for you, callyour doctor or lactation consultant for help.

Solving nine breastfeeding problems in the first month

Expert advice on solving major breastfeeding problems in the first month.

Share this information

Cathy Garbin, child health nurse, midwife and lactation consultant:
Cathy, a mother of two, was a research fellow at the renowned Human Lactation Research Institute, founded by Peter Hartmann, for seven years, providing support to breastfeeding mothers in clinics and at home. Today, she still works as a family counselor, and also conducts seminars for attending physicians and speaks at international conferences. nine0003

Breastfeeding is as much a skill as driving a car, and in the first month mother and baby may encounter some obstacles along the way. It takes time and experience to make it familiar to both of you. Solving breastfeeding problems in the first month helps to establish good milk production and increase the duration of breastfeeding in the future. Below you will find tips on how to overcome the main breastfeeding challenges that mothers often face from the end of the first week to the end of the first month after giving birth. nine0003

Problem #1. A painful lump appeared in the breast

Lumps and lumps in the breast of a nursing woman can appear for various reasons. One of the most common is blockage of the milk ducts, which results in a hard and painful lump that can become inflamed.

Solutions 1-3

  • Massage the inflamed area, especially while breastfeeding or expressing, to clear the blockage. nine0027
  • Gently apply warm flannel to your breasts or take a warm shower before feeding to relieve discomfort.
  • Continue breastfeeding as usual to avoid milk accumulation that can cause mastitis.
  • Try to express milk from the inflamed breast after feeding to ensure that it is completely emptied. This will help to remove the blockage and restore the patency of the duct. See what breast pumps* Medela has to offer and choose the right one for you. nine0027
  • Try ultrasound therapy. If you have repeated blocked ducts, your lactation consultant or healthcare professional may suggest this procedure to help restore milk flow. The procedure is performed by a physiotherapist.
  • Call your healthcare provider, if you notice signs of infection (breast redness and tenderness or flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches, malaise and headache), or if you think the lump is not related to breastfeeding . nine0027

Problem #2. The breast is red and sore

If one or both mammary glands are red and sore, and this is not due to blockage of the ducts, mastitis, that is, inflammation of the breast tissue, is not excluded. Mastitis is characterized by redness, burning, and soreness of the breasts, combined with flu-like symptoms: You feel hot and cold, your joints ache, and your temperature rises above 38.5 °C (101.3 °F). Seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms. Mastitis needs to be treated as soon as possible, as your condition can worsen in just a few hours. nine0019 3

Mastitis can be caused by the following causes:

  • untreated blocked ducts,
  • Bacteria entering the breast through cracked and damaged nipples,
  • incorrect attachment of the child to the breast,
  • long periods between feedings,
  • breasts too full,
  • wearing a bra that is too tight or that cuts into the skin,
  • Abrupt weaning,
  • excess milk.

Solutions 3
In addition to seeking medical attention:

  • Continue to breastfeed or express milk frequently. Your milk is still safe for your baby. Its release will help eliminate blockage of the ducts and prevent painful accumulation of milk. Sudden cessation of feeding or pumping may exacerbate symptoms. After feeding, it is advisable to express any remaining milk.
  • nine0024 Give the child the inflamed breast first. This way the child can empty it completely. If it hurts too much, start feeding on the healthy breast, and when milk begins to flow, go back to the first one.
  • Have a good rest, drink and eat. You need to get enough fluids and good nutrition.
  • Massage the sore area under a warm shower or apply a warm flannel or warm pack to clear the blockage and relieve symptoms before feeding or pumping. nine0027
  • Apply a cooling pack after feeding, , to reduce inflammation.

Problem #3. My strength is running out

Breastfeeding in the first weeks can be very tiring and seem endless. The baby will ask for a breast every few hours, day and night, and you have not yet grown stronger after giving birth.


  • Take care of yourself. This may be easier said than done when you have a newborn in your arms, but still try to get as much rest as possible, eat healthy and regular meals, and drink plenty of water. Do not refuse the help of your partner, relatives and friends, or even hire an assistant if you can afford it. nine0027
  • Feed lying down. This will allow you to relax and reduce stress on sore spots, stitches or c-section scars.
  • Do not skip feedings. Your partner may offer to bottle feed your baby while you are resting. However, despite this temptation, it should be remembered that milk production is best established in the first four weeks through breastfeeding. When breastfeeding is well established, you can give your baby expressed milk, but before that, ask family or friends to help you with other things so you can fully focus on breastfeeding. nine0027

Problem #4. How can I increase breast milk production?

It's easy to question whether you're making enough breast milk, especially when your baby has developmental spikes between the third and fourth weeks. It may seem to you that the child asks for breasts more often because he does not have enough milk. However, if the number of wet and soiled diapers doesn't change—see Breastfeeding: What to Expect in the First Month—the baby is likely to breastfeed more often to calm down. The baby is surrounded by many new sounds and images that are easy to get tired of, and at the breast he feels safe. nine0019 4

Solutions 4.5

  • Do not try to supplement your baby with formula, unless doctors are worried about weight gain or fluid loss. Continue breastfeeding your baby. This will help naturally increase breast milk production.
  • Do not feed on a schedule. Feed your baby on demand. Thus, the production of breast milk will adapt to his needs.
  • nine0024 Use the breast pump, , to help increase breast milk production while continuing to breastfeed.

Problem #5. I have too much milk

Hyperlactation, or too much milk, can also be difficult for you and your baby. You may experience discomfort from swollen and leaking breasts, and your baby may have difficulty latch-on, choke on the milk flowing too fast, and be unable to empty the breast properly. nine0019 6


  • Express some breast milk at the start of a feed to reduce the force of the flush. Don't pump too much as this can aggravate the situation - pump only as much as needed to ease the discomfort. Try hand pumping or use a breast pump (check out the Medela* breast pump range and choose the right one for you).
  • Use towel or pad to soak up excess milk, or place the Milk Collection Pad** on the other breast while you breastfeed first. nine0027
  • The child must feel supported. Hold him firmly (this gives a sense of security) and in a comfortable position so that he can turn his head. Talk to the baby during the first rapid flush, then he will not be frightened by surprise and will not push the breast.
  • Contact a lactation consultant or health care professional who will monitor you and suggest single-sided feedings or hourly breast changes (“breast duty”) to normalize your milk supply. nine0027
  • Be patient . Problems with milk production usually go away after a few weeks.

Problem #6. I have different breasts!

You have noticed that the baby has a preference for one breast, or that one breast produces more milk than the other, and as a result, the mammary glands have become of different sizes and shapes. This happens quite often and does not pose any problems for breastfeeding. If this does not bother you or your baby, you can leave everything as it is. If this makes you uncomfortable, try the following tricks. nine0003


  • During feeding, offer the less demanded breast first as babies usually suckle more vigorously at the beginning of feeding.
  • Use the breast pump to increase breast milk production in the smaller breast.
  • Don't give up on bigger breasts. Breastfeeding should continue with fuller breasts to avoid blocked ducts and mastitis.
  • See a doctor. Sometimes an ear infection is the reason for a baby to latch on only one side. However, some positions may cause him discomfort, so try to keep the child more upright. In addition, a breast infection can change the taste of milk and cause milk to be rejected as well.

Problem #7.

A blister has appeared on the nipple

With frequent feeding, sometimes painful friction occurs, and a blood bubble may appear on the breast,
nipple or areola. nine0019 7


  • Ask a lactation consultant or specialist to check the baby's latch on. A shallow grip can cause blistering of the nipples and areolas.
  • Talk to your doctor about what medicine you can take to relieve pain if needed.
  • Try other feeding positions to avoid pressure on the painful area. nine0027
  • Lubricate inflammation with pure lanolin.
  • Use Breast Pads** to avoid rubbing your blister with clothing and help it heal faster with air circulation, or try cooling hydrogel pads** to help relieve pain and promote healing.
  • Try expressing milk. Using a breast pump can be an alternative way to get breast milk without bladder irritation. Choose the correct funnel size so that the nipple can move freely and the bubble does not rub against the walls of the tunnel. nine0027
  • Do not pierce the vial as this may lead to infection.
  • Seek medical attention, if the problem persists and causes you pain.

Problem #8. Painful white spot on nipple

When the orifice of the milk duct becomes blocked with milk or a thin layer of skin grows over it, a small white or yellowish spot may appear on the tip of the nipple. For some, these blocked ducts, sometimes called milk vesicles or blisters, cause pinpoint pain, especially during feeding or pumping. Others do not experience any discomfort. White blisters may persist for several days or weeks until the skin breaks and hardened milk comes out. nine0019 8


  • Follow the tips above to solve friction bubble problems.
  • Remove the blockage, if you see that the milk cork is starting to bulge. Try to squeeze it out very gently with clean nails.
  • Continue breastfeeding or pumping, to clear the milk duct. If the milk duct clears during feeding, it will not harm the baby in any way. nine0027
  • Apply hot wet flannel to the vial just before feeding or pumping. This will help open the blocked duct. You can also try rubbing the area quickly with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Manually express some milk before feeding, trying to push out hardened milk clots. If this does not help, feed the baby or express milk as usual. Repeat several times a day.
  • Soak a cotton swab with olive oil and place it in the bra, pressing it against the bubble nipple. This will help soften the skin.
  • Seek medical attention, if problem persists. Your doctor may remove the plug with a sterile needle. This should be done immediately after feeding, when the bubble is as inflated as possible.

Issue #9. My nipples hurt while breastfeeding

At the start of breastfeeding, my nipples may become more tender, sore, and even inflamed, but this usually goes away after a few days. If your baby's latch is checked by a specialist and the inflammation persists or the nipples hurt with every feeding, you may need medical attention to resolve this problem. nine0019 2.7

The following symptoms and signs that appear on one or both breasts during or after feeding may indicate a bacterial infection or thrush:

  • burning, itching or moderate to severe pain in the nipples
  • pain in nipples aggravated by contact with clothing,
  • nipple pain persists despite attempts to attach baby differently,
  • nipples hurt to touch,
  • nine0024 stitching, shooting, burning or deep aching pain,
  • chest pain during feeding and almost an hour after,
  • hot pink nipples,
  • discoloration and texture of the areola (hot pink, darkening, dryness or peeling),
  • white rash on chest or areola.

Also check if your child has the following symptoms and signs:

  • hard white patches or coating on the tongue,
  • white indelible spots on the cheeks,
  • bright red spotted rash on buttocks not helped by diaper rash creams.

Solutions 7

  • Seek medical attention. He will most likely suggest testing for infections to make a diagnosis. Bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections are treated differently, so appropriate treatment should be started as soon as possible. There are other reasons that can cause similar nipple pain, such as eczema, psoriasis or vasospasm (narrowing of the blood vessels) in the mother and problems with latch or tongue frenulum in the child. Therefore, it is very important to make an accurate diagnosis. nine0027
  • Strict hygiene. Wash hands before and after feeding and applying any medication, and after changing diapers. Change bra pads regularly, wash bras, tank tops and towels in high temperature water, thoroughly wash breast cups and anything your baby puts in her mouth, such as nipples.
  • Let the nipples dry after feeding, as all infections love a warm and humid environment.
  • nine0024 See your doctor again if there is no improvement after a few days. Do not let the problem run its course, otherwise the situation may worsen.

Related materials. Breastfeeding: what to expect in the first month

Breastfeeding: what to expect after the first month

Breastfeeding problems after the first month


1 Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM clinical protocol # 20: Engorgement. Breastfeed Med. 2009;4(2):111-113.- Breastfeeding Academy Protocol Committee, "AVM Clinical Protocol #20: Breast engorgement". Brestfeed Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2009;4(2):111-113.

2 Jacobs A et al. S3-guidelines for the treatment of inflammatory breast disease during the lactation period. Geburtshilfe and Frauenheilkunde . 2013;73(12):1202-1208. - Jacobs A. et al., "Recommendations 2014;9(5):239-243.

4 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". G Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121. nine0361

5 Amir L. Breastfeeding managing ‘supply’ difficulties. Aust fam physician . 2006;35(9):686. - - Amir L., "Breastfeeding: problems of 'supply'. Aust fam physis. 2006;35(9):686.

6 Trimeloni L, Spencer J. Diagnosis and management of breast milk oversupply Journal Am Board Fam Med . 2016;29(1):139-142. - Trimeloni L., Spencer J., "Diagnosis and correction of excess breast milk production. " Journal Am Bord Fam Med. 2016;29(1):139-142.

7 Berens P et al. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM Clinical Protocol# 26: Persistent pain with breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med. 2016;11(2):46-53. - Behrens, P. et al., Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, AVM Clinical Protocol #26: Persistence of Breastfeeding Pain. Brestfeed Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2016;11(2):46-53. nine0361

8 Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet] White spot nipple; March 2015 [Accessed 02/08/2018]. - Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet], "White spots on the nipples", March 2015 [visited 02/08/2018].

Read instructions before use. Consult a specialist about possible contraindications.

* RU № ФСЗ 2010/06525 dated 03/17/2021

** RU ФСЗ 2010/07352 dated 07/19/10

Solving six problems of breastfeeding in the first week

Are you having difficulty breastfeeding your newborn baby? Read on for expert advice on tackling the main challenges of the first week of breastfeeding.

Share this information

Cathy Garbin, child health nurse, midwife and lactation consultant:
Cathy, a mother of two, was a research fellow at the renowned Human Lactation Research Institute, founded by Peter Hartmann, for seven years, providing support to breastfeeding mothers in clinics and at home. Today, she still works as a family counselor, and also conducts seminars for attending physicians and speaks at international conferences. nine0003

Breastfeeding is not always easy, so if
you are having difficulty, know that you are not alone. A US study found that out of 500 new mothers surveyed, 92% experienced breastfeeding problems by the third day. 1 Fortunately, most early breastfeeding problems are easy to resolve. Below you can read recommendations for solving the main problems that mothers often face in the first week of feeding. nine0003

Problem #1. Breastfeeding hurts!

Pain during feeding is usually associated with tenderness or inflammation of the nipples, especially when milk "comes" on the second to fourth day after birth. 2 The baby will beg for a breast every couple of hours and this can quickly aggravate the problem: some mothers have cracked, bleeding or blistering nipples. This is, of course, very annoying.

Solutions 3

  • Check how the baby latch on. An incorrect latch is one of the most common causes of pain during breastfeeding. A newborn baby should take most of the lower half of the areola (dark skin around the nipple) into his mouth, and your nipple should rest against his palate, supported from below by the tongue.
  • Contact a lactation consultant or healthcare professional to make sure your baby's mouth and torso are properly positioned during feeding and there are no other latch-on problems. The doctor may also examine the baby's mouth for physical abnormalities. nine0027
  • Try other feeding positions. Reclining, cross cradle, underarm, or lying positions can relieve pressure on the most painful areas of your breasts.
  • Gently wipe soaked nipples with water-soaked cotton swabs after each feed to remove milk residues that can cause infection.
  • Air dry nipples or blot with a clean, soft muslin or flannel cloth to prevent bacterial growth in a humid environment. Use disposable or reusable bra pads to absorb leaking milk and remember to change them regularly. nine0027
  • Soften your nipples. An ultra-pure lanolin treatment will help relieve inflammation and dry skin. You can also apply a few drops of your own breast milk to your nipples. In both cases, you do not have to wash your breasts before the next feeding. You can also apply refrigerated hydrogel pads* to your nipples. They soothe the nipples and help relieve pain during feeding, as well as speed up healing.
  • Protect your nipples. nine0008 Nipple shields* protect the sore area from rubbing against clothing.
  • Be patient. The inflammation usually resolves after a few days as your body adjusts to breastfeeding and your baby learns to suckle.
  • Seek medical attention, if pain during feeding does not improve after a few days. Constant inflammation of the nipples may indicate an infection that requires prompt treatment.

Problem #2. Baby doesn't latch on properly

Some newborns do not immediately latch on properly. Maybe both of you just need more time to learn how to breastfeed, or maybe the baby was born prematurely, feels unwell after a difficult birth, or mom has flat or inverted nipples.


  • Contact a lactation consultant or healthcare professional who can help identify the cause of the problem and suggest solutions. nine0027
  • Flat or inverted nipples must be pulled out. Nipple formers* fit comfortably in the bra and apply gentle pressure to the nipples to help them come out for easier feeding.
  • Try different positions and ways to support your newborn. The baby needs to feel supported. He must be comfortable and breathe freely in order to suckle properly. Do not hold the child by the head and do not put pressure on it. Lean back and let your child take the lead. This stimulates his natural reflexes and helps him find and latch on to his breasts. nine0019 4
  • When feeding, try to find the optimal position. Instead of putting your baby on and off, stressing both of you, try to position him in a way that is easy and comfortable for him. Hold the torso and legs of the baby close to you, support him by the shoulders and hold him firmly so that he feels safe. Let the baby's head rest freely on your arm so that he can tilt it back slightly and breathe freely. The chin should be pressed against your chest. If these small adjustments don't make feeding more comfortable for your baby, seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare professional. nine0027
  • Use nursing pads. If your baby is having difficulty latch-on, a lactation consultant or healthcare professional may suggest trying nursing pads*. A nipple with an overlay is more convenient to take in the mouth, so it is larger and more rigid. Do not use nursing pads for a long time.

Problem #3. Not enough breast milk

You will produce little breast milk at the very beginning, as the hormonal changes that trigger milk production occur slowly and do not end until the second or fourth day after birth. nine0019 2 You may be worried that your baby is not getting enough milk, but in the early days his stomach is still too small and feedings are frequent, so don't worry. The only things to worry about these days are excessive weight loss, too few wet and soiled diapers, or signs of dehydration in the baby. For more information on how often a newborn should urinate and void, see Breastfeeding Newborns: What to Expect in the First Week. nine0003


  • Contact a Lactation Consultant or your healthcare provider who can determine if you are having problems with milk production. The sooner you do this, the better.
  • Feed your baby on demand, not on a schedule. In the first week after birth, your baby will ask to breastfeed every two to three hours (or more often!), both day and night. Such frequent feeding helps to establish the production of breast milk. nine0027
  • Take care of yourself. It's not always easy with a newborn, but try to rest whenever you can, eat right, and accept any help around the house or with older children that your loved ones can give you to fully focus on breastfeeding.
  • Try expressing milk. If a baby is feeding frequently but not gaining any weight, a lactation consultant or doctor may recommend pumping to increase breast milk production. If milk is not coming out at all, you can try the Medela Symphony Dual Electric Clinical Breast Pump**. It features an Initiate program that mimics a baby's natural sucking rhythm for the first few days. nine0027

Problem #4.

Breast full and heavy

Your breasts will become fuller and heavier as milk comes in.
If the baby suckles well and often, this should not cause any problems. However, in some women, the breasts become so full that they become hard and painful. This condition, called breast swelling, can cause discomfort. The swollen chest seems to be “burning”, now all the activity of your body is concentrated in it, resembling a busy traffic at rush hour. Fortunately, this condition usually resolves within 24 to 48 hours. However, due to the swelling of the mammary glands, the nipples can become flat and the baby may have difficulty latch-on. nine0019 5


  • Feed your baby often. Try to breastfeed at least 8-12 times a day. This is the main way to alleviate this condition. For more tips and tricks, see the article on Breast Swelling. 6.7
  • Call your healthcare provider, if symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, you have a fever, or your baby is unable to breastfeed due to swelling.

Problem #5. Milk is leaking

Breast leakage is very common during the early days of breastfeeding when milk production begins. Milk may leak from one breast while you are feeding the other, when you sleep on your stomach, or when something accidentally triggers the milk flow reflex, such as when you hear a baby crying in a store. The leakage usually stops after about six weeks.


  • Protect clothes from stains will help disposable or reusable bra pads to be used day and night. nine0027
  • Don't waste precious drops! Breast milk collection pads* fit inside the bra and allow you to collect any leaking milk. This is a very useful thing when there is too much milk and the pads are not absorbing well, or when one breast is leaking while you are feeding the other. If you want to save the collected milk, use only the milk collected at the feeding. Place it in a sterile container and refrigerate immediately if you are not supplementing with it right away. Collected milk must be used within 24 hours. The breast milk collection sleeves should not be worn for more than two to three hours at a time. nine0027

Problem #6. There seems to be too much milk

Sometimes when milk comes in, too much is produced! In the first few weeks there may be an overabundance of milk, but usually everything returns to normal soon. 7 Up to this point, the breasts may be heavy and sore almost all the time, even immediately after a feed, and a lot of milk may leak. A strong flush can cause a baby to cough or choke, vomit immediately after a feed, have tummy discomfort, or have hard, frothy, greenish stools. These are all signs that you are having too much milk, but the problem may resolve itself as your breasts get used to the new function. nine0003


  • Express some milk by hand at the beginning of each feed to ease the force of the flush.
  • Try to feed while leaning back: this will help your baby control the flow of milk. The "cradle" position is also good: hold the baby obliquely by the shoulders so that the head can lean back slightly while on your arm. The torso of the baby will be located diagonally on you.
  • Be kind and patient. Let your baby rest and absorb milk both during and after feeding. Don't move your baby too much or too fast, as this can make him nauseous. As the baby grows, he will learn to better cope with the rush of milk, which is likely to weaken anyway.
  • Use the towel or swaddle to soak up spilled milk if the baby can't handle the flush, and place the breast milk collection pad on the other breast to catch any spilled milk. nine0027
  • Contact a lactation consultant or doctor if problems persist after a few weeks . He will examine you and may suggest one-sided feedings or hourly breast changes (“breast duty”) to reduce your milk supply.

Related materials: Difficulties in breastfeeding in the next few weeks and problems with breastfeeding after the first month


1 Wagner EA et al. Breastfeeding concerns at 3 and 7 days postpartum and feeding status at 2 months. Pediatrics . 2013: peds -2013. - Wagner I.A. et al., "Breastfeeding Problems at Days 3 and 7 of a Child's Life and Type of Feeding at 2 Months". Pediatrix (Pediatrics). 2013:e865–e875.

2 Pang WW, Hartmann PE. Initiation of human lactation: secretory differentiation and secretory activation. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia 2007;12(4):211-221. - Pang, W.W., Hartmann, P.I., "Lactation initiation in the lactating mother: secretory differentiation and secretory activation." G Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007;12(4):211-221.

3 Cadwell K. Latching - On and Suckling of the Healthy Term Neonate: Breastfeeding Assessment. J Midwifery & Women s 2007;52(6):638-642. — Cadwell, K., "Latching and sucking in healthy newborns: evaluation of breastfeeding." F Midwifery Women Health. 2007;52(6):638-642.

4 Colson SD et al. Optimal positions for the release of primitive neonatal reflexes stimulating breastfeeding. Early Hum Dev . 2008;84(7):441-449. - Colson S.D. et al., "Optimal Positions for Provoking Primitive Innate Reflexes to Induce Breastfeeding." Airlie Hume Dev. 2008;84(7):441-449.

5 Jacobs A et al. S3-guidelines for the treatment of inflammatory breast disease during the lactation period. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2013;73(12):1202-1208. - Jacobs A. et al., "Recommendations 2014;9(5):239-243.

7 Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM clinical protocol# 20: Engorgement. Breastfeed Med . 2009;4(2):111-113. - Protocol Committee of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, "AVM Clinical Protocol No.

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