How to Handle Breastfeeding Problems

Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Michele Tripple

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Breastfeeding can be tricky. Often times we run into a variety of breastfeeding problems. Here are some breastfeeding problems and solutions to try!

Breastfeeding can be tricky. Often times we run into a variety of breastfeeding problems. Here are some breastfeeding problems and solutions to try!

How to Handle Breastfeeding Problems

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I remember as a new mom I was pretty clueless about breastfeeding. I just assumed babies would know how to breastfeed from the start. Little did I know about all the breastfeeding problems that were out there. Here are some tips to help you with the most common breastfeeding problems.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way for your baby to get the nutrients he or she needs, but sometimes babies don’t get the hang of nursing right away. This can be frustrating for you and baby. There are many reasons why a baby won’t breastfeed, and it may take time and patience to figure out why. The following are different breastfeeding problems as to why babies won’t breastfeed, starting with possible foods that could be affecting your baby.


Foods to Avoid

There are no set recommendations of foods that you should avoid while nursing. Mostly, limit foods if they seem to affect your baby. Some common foods that might cause issues for baby are:



How to handle breastfeeding problems

Caffeine is okay in moderation, but too much caffeine might affect your baby. A cup of coffee, tea or your favorite cola probably won’t bother the baby. One way to avoid its effects is to drink after you nurse, it will be out of your system by the next time the baby is ready to eat again.





Almost all fish contains trace amounts of mercury but carry no risk to you or baby. There are ones to avoid while breastfeeding because of higher levels of mercury. These include shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel.  About 12 oz/week of other fish is okay.


Spicy Foods and Garlic

Foods to avoid while Breastfeeding

If you ate spicy foods and garlic while pregnant, your baby is probably already used to these types of foods and won’t have a problem. But if they are ones you avoided and your baby seems to be having problems, they might be ones you will want to limit. They can change the flavor of your milk making it unpalatable for your baby.



Cow’s Milk

foods to avoid while breastfeeding

If your baby shows signs of allergies or sensitivity, try eliminating cow’s milk from your diet. Cow’s milk is often the culprit when it comes to allergies in infants.


Soy, Wheat, Corn, Eggs, or Peanuts

These foods are common allergens in babies. If your baby is fussy, try eliminating these food products from your diet. Then for two to four weeks start adding them back in one at a time to see if one or more is causing problems for your little one.


Other Common Breastfeeding Problems

Foods aren’t always the reason why we encounter breastfeeding problems. My second child had difficulty breastfeeding from the very beginning. Having already had one child who had breastfed successfully, it was a frustrating time for me. My little guy was diagnosed with a “disorganized suck” and “a failure to thrive.” I spent six weeks training him how to eat by pumping and squirting milk into his mouth with a syringe every time he sucked my finger correctly. Feedings sometimes took up to two hours! I was exhausted and about to give up when one day when I gave him the breast, he started nursing and never looked back. I was so relieved.


Here are some other reasons why your baby may struggle with breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding Engorgement 

Sometimes breasts can become engorged and are too full of milk. This makes the nipple difficult for baby to latch onto. Your baby may become frustrated and refuse to breastfeed. You can express a little milk before nursing to soften your breast so baby can latch on.


Nipple Confusion

Babies who are fed from a bottle also may have a hard time latching on. The differences between the nipple of a bottle and beast, combined with the amount of flow, can cause confusion for baby. They may begin to prefer the bottle and refuse to nurse. To avoid this hold off giving your baby a bottle until a well-established pattern of breastfeeding is in place.


Poor Latch

If your baby isn’t latching on properly, it won’t get any milk and will get frustrated. Getting baby to encompass the nipple and the surrounding areola area of your breast produces a good latch. There are specialists available to help teach baby to latch on properly. Ask your doctor about a lactation consultant if you continue to have problems.


Flat or Inverted Nipples

Babies are able to latch onto flat or inverted nipples, but there are some who do have problems. There are a couple of ways to correct the problem. You can stimulate your nipples or you can get a breast pump and pump just before nursing. You can also consider using a breast shell—a breastfeeding product used to help with flat or inverted nipples.

If your baby won’t nurse, just remember to stay calm and be patient as you run through the different possibilities that could be causing the problem. Consult with your doctor for advice, if necessary. Breastfeeding has many benefits for you and your baby, and you won’t regret taking the time to figure things out.

For more tips on breastfeeding check out our post on Breastfeeding helps!

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Breastfeeding can be tricky. Often times we run into a variety of breastfeeding problems. Here are some breastfeeding problems and solutions to try!


Breastfeeding can be tricky. Often times we run into a variety of breastfeeding problems. Here are some breastfeeding problems and solutions to try!
Finding Solutions to Breastfeeding Problems



11 thoughts on “How to Handle Breastfeeding Problems”

  1. Wonderful tips, as a first time mom I couldn’t get the handle of things and quickly gave in and gave up. Only nurses for about a month. The rest of the little ones, i nurses exclusively from 6 months to about 18 months of nursing – I just had so much milk and since he kept feeding, I just continued. Great post! 😊🙏🏽

    • Wow! You are amazing! Being a new mom and trying to breastfeed is really challenging. I’m so happy you were able to try to breastfeed again after your first. It’s definitely a task that takes a lot of patience and practice! 🙂

      • Yes! Definitely not easy but truly the best for your child. I agree, patience, I would get easily frustrated. A Lactation consultant once told me, you’ll be breastfeeding, a lot. And you’ll think that’s all you’re doing, all day. And it’ll all be true! Indeed! The honesty and truth needs to be told so fewer women feel discouraged when things are going as well as they thought. 😊🙏🏽

      • Yes! I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to breastfeed. Breastfeeding tends to look easy and enjoyable. I remember going back in to get checked with a lactation consultant about a week after I had my first baby (it was required for firsttime moms who chose to nurse) and simply having my son latch for about 30 seconds and having the lady tell me everything looked great. I was dying inside. I was too timid to ask questions about how painful it was for me or to ask for solutions for the intense hyperletdown that I was experiencing. Mom’s need reassurance and people willing to talk about hard topics, like breastfeeding a baby.

      • Yes! I didn’t want to look like a mom that was failing to give her baby the ‘liquid gold.’ The expectations are set too high sometimes for first time moms. I’ve find it comforting though that by the time I had my second baby, the Lactation consultants at the hospital would ask everyone to leave the room so I can have a one on one with her and the baby. What a sigh of relief! Not having eyes focused on me, trying desperately to do it right. The Lactation consultants are so sweet, patient and understanding. I loved my experiences after my firsts

      • That is wonderful! I vaguely remember a lactation consultant coming to visit me with my first baby, but I’m pretty sure all they did was handed me a handpump to take home and asked if I needed anything. I had no idea what I needed! Real breastfeeding information is so important!

      • What?! Oh no. Yes, that’s not good. The consultants need to take a good amount of time with each mom – new or not, each child is different and each mom needs support. I agree, information in breasting is vital, and will only encourage moms to continue to feed.

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