April 2021

How to resolve breastfeeding problems

Most women can breastfeed immediately after birth, but this is not a given. Some mothers may have a variety of problems, whether themselves or the child. The most common issues during breastfeeding include a lack of milk, cracked nipples, a blocked milk duct, inflammation of the breast, or even the fact that the baby bites while breastfeeding. However, all these problems can be resolved and your gynaecologist, midwife or lactation specialist will help you with them. Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthiest form of providing nutritionally balanced nourishment for the baby, which also strengthens the bond between mother and child. 


Benefits of breast milk

Breast milk is the best a woman can give her baby. In addition to containing all the necessary nutrients and strengthening the baby's immunity, a woman's body can create the composition of breast milk exactly tailored to the baby's needs. In addition, it is a natural way for a woman's body to return to the same state as before pregnancy. At present, infant formula is a very high quality, but it can never fully replace breast milk.

Immediately after birth, so-called colostrum usually begins to form, which is often referred to as a superfood. This substance contains all the nutrients, antibodies and other things that are important for children's immunity and development. As the baby gradually grows, the composition of breast milk and its amount also changes to copy the needs of the infant at each stage of its development. How to resolve breastfeeding problems, when to consult a lactation consultant and what situations may arise?


Lack of milk (lactation crisis)

Some women, especially first-time mothers, may have little milk in the first months. Typically, this is the period between weeks three and six and months three and six, when the baby is in the growth spurt phase and is growing faster. It is definitely not recommended to use foods during this period as reduced breast-feeding frequency leads to reduced breast milk production.

On the contrary, its increase can be supported in several ways. In most cases, more frequent breastfeeding day and night will help. Repeated breast rotation is also recommended during breastfeeding. If the problem of a milk shortage persists, it is possible to support the production of milk by its extraction even between breastfeeding. The psyche also plays an important role. As a result, a woman dealing with a lack of milk should not be stressed, should breastfeed in a quiet environment and have enough time to rest between breastfeeding.


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Cracked nipples (fissures)

The formation of small cracks on the nipples (fissures) is in the vast majority associated with incorrect breastfeeding technique. Ideally, the baby should have part of the areola and not just the nipple in their mouth. If the baby has trouble sucking, it will often help to spray some milk first and only then let the baby suck. 

A woman who suffers from cracked nipples while breastfeeding should regularly take care of them. Creams with healing effects that are not harmful to infants and do not need to be wiped off before breastfeeding can help. Breast milk itself is also beneficial for cracked nipples. A lactation specialist can help with specific individual cases.


Weak or strong ejection reflex

The ejection reflex can cause breastfeeding problems, whether it is too strong or too weak. Weak ejection reflex causes problems with milk release. You can recognise this by the fact that the baby is not calm during breastfeeding and pulls away. The main reason is mainly the mental state of the woman who is breastfeeding and this can be easily solved by eliminating disturbing and stressful factors. Massages, warm compresses or milk spraying also have a beneficial effect, which will support its production and strengthen the ejection reflex.

A strong ejection reflex can be recognised by the fact that the baby chokes during breastfeeding, milk flows from their mouth due to regurgitation. Due to the strong flow, the child must drink quickly and there is a risk that they will swallow too much air. A strong ejection reflex can be solved by squirting a little milk before breastfeeding, the woman breastfeeding sits in a slightly inclined position and holds the baby upright.


Breast problems

The most common breast problems during breastfeeding are blocked milk ducts and inflammation of the breast. A blocked milk duct or professionally known as milk retention is the cause of painful deposits in the breast, reddening of the skin and in some cases even stiffening of the entire breast. This can be caused by poor breast-feeding, breast suction or low frequency of breast-feeding. Warm compresses and massage help the most, thanks to which the milk duct will loosen. An unresolved blocked milk duct can lead to inflammation of the breast.

Inflammation of the breast (mastitis) is a relatively serious problem, which manifests itself similarly to a blocked milk duct and is also accompanied by fever or chills. In case of inflammation of the breast, antibiotic treatment should be started. Despite the discomfort and pain, it is necessary to continue breastfeeding or to express milk. As with a blocked milk duct, inflammation of the breast can be alleviated by warm compresses and massages.


You have problems with breastfeeding or lack of milk. Contact our lactation consultant, who will advise you at the Gynem clinic, at your home or online.


This article is translated from Czech original to English language by Bobby Pacewicz.