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5 Common Breastfeeding Problems and How to Solve Them

common breastfeeding problems

For some women, breastfeeding works great from the beginning, but breastfeeding problems are very common. Ask around among your friends, and you’ll see that you are not alone!

Here are a few of the most common problems that nursing moms often have and tips on how to solve the issues.

How To Solve The Most Common Breastfeeding Problems


My baby falls asleep

Some babies, especially when younger that 3 or 4 months old, tend to fall asleep really quickly when nursing. This can be a bit of a breastfeeding problem if your baby doesn’t eat enough to become full before falling asleep. This will mean very frequent feedings.

In general, you should strive to have your baby feed with concentration for at least 5 or 10 minutes before going to sleep. If he drifts away before that, try rubbing the palm of his hand or foot. Young babies often start suckling again if stimulated in that way.

You can, of course, try disturbing him a bit by changing position or burping him. Another tip to try is to massage your baby’s hand a little bit when he or she is falling asleep. For some reason, this seems to trigger the baby to start feeding again, at least for very young babies.


My baby swallows too much air

If you suspect that your baby swallows a lot of air – for example, if he/she gets a lot of gas and tummy pain – it is worth trying alternative feeding positions.

One position is to keep your baby more upright, the so-called saddle position. Hold your baby to nearly have him sit on your lap rather than lying horizontally. (You can see an image of the saddle position here. – External link)

Another possibility is to lie down together with your baby. When you lie down, the milk tends to flow more slowly, helping your baby to swallow less air.

Also take some extra care to really burp your baby. This is also a way to prevent tummy pain.


My baby is not interested

Some babies just love breastfeeding, other become disinterested from time to time. If your baby seems to get disinterested after a couple of weeks or months, don’t panic.

Continue to offer the breast. Most babies, unless some 8 months old or older, will want to continue to breastfeed. Even older babies may very well want to continue, but when they have started eating a lot of solid foods, some babies start preferring that over the breast. In such case, you will have to decide if you are ready to wean your baby or if you want to continue to encourage the breastfeeding.

Older babies also get distracted quite easy. Try going to a quite place when nursing, or use a blanket to cover your baby.


My baby got his first teeth – scary!

While your baby’s first tooth is definitely a milestone, if you still breastfeed, you might have mixed feelings about this white, sharp little pearl. Most babies won’t get their first tooth until being some 4 to 8 months old, but some do get them earlier.
(For teething symptoms, click here.)

Well, relax. Most babies’ first teeth are the central incisors in the lower jaw. To nurse, your baby covers these teeth with his tongue, so he won’t be able to bite you while suckling. If you are at risk of being bitten (it has happened before), you might want to keep a close eye on your baby to see a change in the tongue or of the nipple in your mouth. At any sign of biting, quickly but gently put your finger into your baby’s mouth and release your breast.

Later on, there is a higher risk that you will get bitten, but babies learn fast. If you jerk or make a sound when he bites you, your baby will soon understand that he should avoid chewing on you. Try not to scare your baby, though, even if it hurts! It’s much better to try to prevent the biting by watching your baby.

Some common reasons that a baby bites are teething, that he or she has emptied the breast and is throwing his head away from your breast before actually opening their mouth enough, and accidental biting, for example when trying to look at something interesting.


My baby wants to eat all the time

One of the most common breastfeeding problems (from the exhausted mom’s perspective) is that many new babies want to nurse very often.

I am breastfeeding all the time…” is a common complaint among new, first time moms.

Forget the three hours in between meals! Especially in the evening, the only way to keep you baby from crying might be to let him or her breastfeed – more or less without stopping.

Obviously, this is not all hunger! Comfort and consolation are two other important reasons why infants want to nurse. (Read about the pros and cons of nursing a baby to sleep here.)

This period of very frequent breastfeeding will not go on forever, of course. At some point between 2 and 4 months, many babies become more predictable and eat less frequently.

However, if your baby only nurses for a very short time, say 5 minutes or so, and wants to eat often, it might be a good idea to try to lengthen the feedings a bit. Try keeping your baby alert enough to eat for at least 10 minutes and only from one breast. This way you make sure that your baby gets the fat and filling hindmilk.

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Photo Credit: Photo: Creative Commons / Mandolin3142