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Nursing Pains: How to identify common breastfeeding problems as new moms

Mom Health / Nov 05, 2022 / Vetted by S Gupta, MBBS, MD, FNB-PICU
Identifying Breastfeeding difficulties

Are you a new mom who recently welcomed her bundle of joy into the world? Are you finding breastfeeding to be a challenging task? Then you are not alone! For most moms, breastfeeding is a learning process that takes patience and practice.
It is common for new moms to struggle with some breastfeeding difficulties initially due to reasons as simple as the baby not latching or sucking properly. It might take a while for you to understand the technique, but you will soon get to a stage where you can nurse with ease and to your baby’s satisfaction with practice and guidance. 

Signs of a good latch

Positioning your baby’s mouth properly at the breast is essential for good attachment so that your baby gets enough milk and prevents breastfeeding problems.

The following signs indicate that your baby has latched on properly:

  • Your baby’s mouth is wide open with a good mouthful of breast.
  • The baby's lower lip is turned down, with the chin touching the breast and the nose not pressed against your breast.
  • Your baby’s initial few sucks may come as strong, but there is no pain or discomfort in the breast or nipple.
  • The dark skin around the nipple is visible more above the baby's upper lip than below the lower lip.

Signs that indicate problems with breastfeeding

If your little one does not seem satisfied after feeding or breastfeeding comes as a painful experience to you, it's highly possible that your baby is not latching onto the breast properly, and you may observe some of the signs of latching difficulties listed below:
  • The baby dozes off within a few minutes of latching on.
  • Even after nursing for a long time, the baby still looks hungry.
  • The baby wants to feed more than 14 times within 24 hours or fewer than 8 times during that time.
  • The baby starts drinking milk and stops repeatedly.
  • The baby pushes away or does not want to latch on.
  • The baby finds it difficult to draw milk from other feeding methods.

If your baby has trouble latching on or feeding, you should approach a lactation consultant who can help you initiate and establish successful nursing. They can also provide a solution for any breastfeeding challenges you may encounter.

Other problems associated with breastfeeding

Breastfeeding difficulties are also associated with problems such as:
  • Sore or cracked nipples: This problem usually occurs because the baby is not positioned or attached correctly to the breast. Since the pain can worsen without corrective measures, it is essential to get timely advice from a doctor or your midwife. The best way to prevent sore nipples is to correctly position your baby while breastfeeding.
  • Breast engorgement: When your breasts are overly full with milk, they may feel tight and hard and cause pain. This condition is called breast engorgement. Nursing regularly will help ease the engorgement. It can also be eased by expressing a little milk with your hand.
  • Mastitis: Mastitis or inflammation of the breasts usually happens when a milk duct is blocked and not relieved soon. This causes the breast to become painful and hot and can give you flu-like symptoms. You should continue breastfeeding, call your doctor and get treated for mastitis promptly to reduce the risk of a breast abscess (pus build-up).
  • Inverted nipple: An inverted nipple is a condition in which the nipple points inward into the breast or is flat on the breast instead of protruding outwards. Inverted nipple breastfeeding problems can be caused due to block in milk ducts or lack of support from the tissues surrounding the nipple. It can be difficult for your baby to latch to an inverted or flat nipple. Using a nipple shield or syringe will help you rectify the problem. However, the nipple shield should not be used during the first few days of secretion of thick milk. It is essential to track your baby’s weight and milk consumption to make sure they are getting enough milk.

You may be advised not to breastfeed if you have a serious infection that can be passed on to the baby or if you are on any medication that may be harmful to your baby. If you are unwell or plan to take any medication, ask your doctor if breastfeeding can be continued safely.

Breastfeeding is one of the many beautiful moments you get to share with your baby. Most new moms experience some breastfeeding problems that get better with time and experience. If you face any trouble nursing, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor to ensure that your little one gets enough nutrition for their growth and development.

Looking for a one-step solution to keep up with all things breastfeeding and baby health? Head to BabyG App to get complete access to 1000+ Development Activities, Milestones and Growth Reports, Meal Plans, Recipes, Bedtime Stories, Tips and a global Community of like minded parents.



  1. USDA WIC Breastfeeding Support. Common breastfeeding challenges
  2. Stanford Children’s Health. Problems with latching on or sucking
  3. NHS. Breastfeeding: Is my baby getting enough milk?
  4. Hand to Hold. Meet the professional: What does a lactation consultant do?
  5. NHS. Common breastfeeding problems
  6. NHS. Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding
  7. NHS. Breast pain and breastfeeding
  8. Philippa Pearson-Glaze. Breastfeeding with inverted nipples and flat nipples
  9. NIH, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Are there any special conditions or situations in which I should not breastfeed?

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