Mother knows best?

By: Alison Dunn Apr 08, 2011
breastfeeding problems, breastfeeding difficulties, breastfeeding troubles, breastfeeding tips

Having trouble breastfeeding your new baby? Try these tips to help make the process smoother

Breastfeeding might be the most natural way to feed a baby, but that doesn't mean it comes naturally. Here are some common breastfeeding problems you might encounter as a new mom:

A poor latch

When the baby is latched on properly to the breast, he should be facing toward you, with his mouth covering your entire nipple and most of your areola. The nipple should be pointed upward in baby's mouth and, most of all, it shouldn't hurt. If your nipples are cracked, sore and bleeding, you may have an incorrect latch.

The easiest way to solve the problem is to have another breastfeeding mother check your latch. If you don't know anyone who breastfed, try and talk to a lactation consultant (call your local hospital for references). The good news is that even if you didn't start with good latch to begin with, it can be fixed.

Cluster feeding

This is a phenomenon that drives a new mom insane: suddenly, your baby wants to eat all the time, for hours on end.

Cluster feeding, where a baby has a seemingly insatiable appetite, most often occurs during a baby's growth spurt. Generally the baby feeds often because she's trying to increase her mother's milk supply. As long as your baby is gaining weight and wetting approximately six to eight diapers per day, don't worry, say health experts. Those are signs that baby is getting enough to eat. Just sit back and just go with the flow.

Milk production issues

Since there's no gauge on your breast telling you when it's empty, many new mothers complain they don't know if baby is getting enough to eat. What makes this even more difficult to gauge is that breastfeeding babies tend to eat more often than their bottle fed counterparts.

Most experts say it is very rare for women not to produce enough milk. The body manufactures breast milk on demand, so for some women, that only occurs while the baby is eating. If the baby is gaining weight and seems satisfied, he probably is. If you are concerned that baby is not getting enough, check with your doctor or a lactation consultant.


Mastitis, commonly referred to as a breast infection, is a blocked milk duct in the mother's breast. It is generally caused when a baby doesn't drain all of the mother's milk ducts in a feeding.

The symptoms of mastitis include red, streaked lines on the breast, pain and flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea and exhaustion. Experts agree, however, that mom doesn't have to stop breastfeeding with a bout of mastitis. The best thing to do is have the baby nurse on the affected breast, in different positions, to unclog the blocked duct. Mothers can also feed the baby on the unaffected breast and pump on the affected breast, if it's not too painful.

It's important to see your doctor at the first sign of mastitis. You may need antibiotics or medication to treat the infection, and be sure to find out if that medication can be passed through your breast milk to the baby.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.