Breastfeeding & Pumping

6 Most Common Challenges of Breastfeeding

6 Most Common Challenges of Breastfeeding

New mothers can be prone to some of the most common breastfeeding problems as they enter their first week and beyond on their breastfeeding journey. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages moms to breastfeed for at least the first 6 months of their baby’s life and up to one year as they begin to introduce solid foods. It is the best source of nutrition and can help build their systems to fight off many common illnesses.

Exclusive breastfeeding can be an adjustment as your body transitions from pregnancy to motherhood and can leave your breasts feeling a little tender during the process. It’s important to understand some of the challenges of breastfeeding so that you can prepare yourself mentally and physically as you go along.

Sore/Cracked Nipples

With frequent feedings as well as using a breast pump, you can end up with sore nipples as well as a sensitive breast. A few things you can do to try and prevent or help with this common challenge is to stock up on some supplies like these in the Boobie Bliss section at The Dairy Fairy, as well as make sure you have the correct size and shape of nipple shields for your breast pump. This is often caused by your baby not having a proper latch. This should be gone within two weeks of when you start breastfeeding. If a problem persists, be sure and reach out to a lactation specialist for help.

You will want to make sure you know the difference between dry skin and more serious issues that might need to be checked out and addressed by your primary care provider.

Getting a Proper Latch

Another common challenge of breastfeeding for new moms is working on the baby's latch. Learning how to get your baby’s head to the correct part of the breast and getting a good latch can take a bit of trial and error as you learn together.

Be patient with yourself and your baby as you find what works best. It is important to ensure the baby latches properly as you want to make sure that your breast is emptying so that you can keep up your milk supply, as well as prevent other common issues such as infections and mastitis.

A side-lying position is one of the most popular and comfortable to help get your baby’s mouth in line with your breast and be able to nurse efficiently. However, this will kind of be a moving target depending on how your baby is feeling and where you might be at and need to breastfeed your baby.


Breast engorgement is a very common challenge of breastfeeding and often happens as your body begins switching from colostrum to milk supply. It is a reaction from your body where your blood vessels carry an increased flow of blood to your breasts as you are preparing to feed your baby. You might experience some fullness and breast tenderness along with some other uncomfortable symptoms.

The best way to relieve engorgement is to nurse and empty the breasts as frequently as possible. If you are away from your baby or your baby is sleeping, you can also try an ice pack, as well as try to stay away from pumping if possible. Hand expression is another option.

Clogged Milk Ducts

A blocked milk duct can result for many reasons and can be a very common challenge in breastfeeding. The most obvious sign of a plugged duct is a hard lump in the breast. You can try and massage above and on the area while nursing, as well as use a cool compress to help relieve some of the pressure. You can also keep an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen on hand to help with some of the pain and swelling.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to end your breastfeeding journey. It’s actually very important to continue to nurse, as keeping your milk flow moving will typically help clear the plugged duct. If you develop other symptoms, such as a fever or rash, be sure and contact your health care provider to make sure you aren’t developing an infection or a more serious issue.

Low Milk Supply

Establishing your milk production in the early days can also be a common challenge in breastfeeding. It can be overwhelming and frustrating to make sure that you are producing enough milk to meet your baby’s needs.

You can take cues from your baby on whether or not they are able to get enough milk with each feeding. Do they seem full? Are they still fussy after your nurse? Are they getting a proper latch? Remember, you and your baby are on this journey together, and it’s going to take a bit of time to get a good routine down.

The best way to combat a low milk supply is to nurse frequently. Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand system. If your body feels that it is empty and needs to produce more, then it typically will. Be sure and reach out to a lactation specialist before beginning to supplement with formula. Many times low milk supply is a chain reaction to another issue, such as improper latch, that can be adjusted while remaining to breastfeed exclusively.


Suppose you feel that your nipple pain is beyond just being sore from breastfeeding, and you also are experiencing a fever or other symptoms. In that case, you might have a breast infection such as mastitis or other fungal infection.

You will want to contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned about an infection. They can determine if you need to be on an antibiotic or any further treatment to get you feeling better.

While breastfeeding can have some challenges, it is vital in the early months of life for your baby to get that liquid gold as they begin to build their immune systems. Their needs will flex and change as they go through growth spurts and other lifestyle changes, such as teething and gaining mobility.

It’s very important to remember that you are not alone on your breastfeeding journey. You can always contact your baby’s pediatrician or other health professionals at your doctor’s office with any questions. There are also countless resources for lactation support. We recommend finding a Certified Lactation Consultant as they will have a lot of knowledge and experience in breastfeeding as well as help solve many of these common challenges.

If you’re looking for more breastfeeding information, we hope you will check out our blog on Breastfeeding 101! We are so excited that you’re on this journey, and we would love to be a resource you can use along the way!

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