Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned parenting pro, breastfeeding often comes with its fair share of questions. Here are answers to some common inquiries that mothers — new and veteran — may have.
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. Breastfeeding helps shrink the uterus, so nursing moms may have less blood loss after childbirth.
If your baby is latched on properly, you may have 30 to 60 seconds of pain (from the nipple and areola being pulled into your baby's mouth), then the pain should subside. But if you continue to feel pain, stop feeding momentarily and reposition your baby on your breast. If the pain persists, something else might be going on.
If your baby consistently latches on wrong, sucking on your nipple without getting much of your areola in the mouth, you'll probably feel discomfort throughout each feeding. Some moms say it's painful or feels like a pinch as their babies nurse. And you'll probably have sore, cracked nipples in no time. Consulting with a board-certified lactation consultant can help with these situations.
If your breasts are sore and you have flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, a hard or red area of the breast, or red streaks on your breast, you may have an infection in your milk ducts called mastitis. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor. If he or she finds that you have mastitis, the infection can be easily treated with antibiotics.
You may also have a yeast (or thrush) infection of your breast. It's important that you call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Babies with oral thrush may have cracked skin in the corners of the mouth, and whitish or yellowish patches on the lips, tongue, or inside the cheeks.
Sore breasts with a lump also may be a sign of a plugged milk duct, in which a particular duct gets clogged. To help unclog the duct and ease your pain:
Women who have inverted nipples (that turn inward rather than protrude out) or flat nipples (that don't become erect as they should when your baby is nursing) also may have trouble breastfeeding and may experience frequent nipple pain. If either is the case, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultation about ways to make nursing easier and reduce any pain.
When dealing with sore breasts or nipples, here are some pointers for avoiding general pain in the future as well as making yourself more comfortable while your breasts heal:
If you find that you're consistently unable to nurse your baby without pain, be sure to call your doctor or a lactation consultant.
Yes. Contrary to what many people think, you can continue to nurse your baby while treating your breast infection. In fact, continuing to breastfeed can help clear up the infection.
No! If the breasts are emptied frequently, engorgement will not occur. Engorgement can lead to mastitis, and should be avoided.
But the longer you wait to breastfeed or pump — both initially and throughout your time nursing — the more uncomfortable and engorged your breasts may become.
If you can't feed your baby right away, use warm compresses and try to pump or manually express your milk. One way you can express your milk is by holding onto your breast with your fingers underneath your breast and your thumb on top. Gently but firmly press your thumb and fingers back against the chest wall, then roll your thumb and fingers toward your areola over and over to help push the milk down the milk ducts.
Also, nursing frequently (approximately every 2 to 3 hours) and trying to empty your breasts can help with the initial discomfort and prevent engorgement.
Reviewed by: Joseph DiSanto, MD, and Karin Y. DiSanto, IBCLC
Date reviewed: January 2012
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|La Leche League This international organization offers support, encouragement, information, and education on breastfeeding.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|WomensHealth.gov Developed by the U.S. Office on Women's Health, 4woman offers reliable women's health information.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: How Much and How Often Here are answers to some common questions about beginning to breastfeed - everything from how often to nurse your baby each day to how to tell if your little one is eating enough.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Getting Started Here are answers to some common questions about beginning to breastfeed - everything from latch-on to let-down.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Sleep - Yours and Your Baby's Here are answers to some common questions about breastfed babies and sleep - from where they should snooze to when they'll finally start sleeping through the night.|
|Burping Your Baby Feeding a baby for the first time is an exciting experience for any new parent. Here's a quick guide to one important aspect of feeding - burping.|
|Bonding With Your Baby Bonding, the intense attachment that develops between you and your baby, is completely natural. And it's probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of infant care.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Out and About Here are answers to some common questions about going out in public as a breastfeeding mom - from how to do it discreetly to taming sneaky leaks.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Pumping Here are answers to some common questions about pumping your breast milk - from buying a pump to making the process a little easier.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand Here are answers to some common questions about your milk supply - from having too much to having too little.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Solids and Supplementing Here are answers to some common supplemental feeding questions - from when to introduce solids to offering breastfed babies formula.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Some Common Concerns Here are answers to some questions about common breastfeeding concerns - from biting to spitting up.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Safely Storing Breast Milk Here are answers to some common questions about how to keep breast milk and how to clean and sterilize supplies, from bottles to nipples to breast pump parts.|
|Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding Making a decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. There are some points to consider to help you decide which option is best for you and your baby.|
|Nursing Positions If you're a first-time parent, breastfeeding your newborn may seem complicated. Check out this article for information on common nursing positions, proper latching-on techniques, and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Your Eating and Drinking Habits Here are answers to some common questions about what breastfeeding mothers should and shouldn't eat and drink.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.