Challenges of Breastfeeding | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines
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Breastfeeding Challenges

Breastfeeding can be a difficult process. It can lead to frustration, anxiety and breast health issues. With our Lactation Consultants and our Breastfeeding Support Group, we can help answer your questions and address your concerns.

Sore Nipple

  • Alternate nursing positions.
  • Make sure the baby is latched properly.  Your nipple should not be pinched in the baby's mouth.  This may cause you pain, and the baby may not obtain enough milk.
  • The baby should not just be on the end of the nipple.  Instead, the baby's mouth should be further back on the breast.
  • Break the suction by gently inserting a finger into the corner of the baby's mouth.
  • After feedings, use your hands to express a few drops of milk and rub into the nipple.
  • Allow the nipple to air dry.
  • Try to feed the baby more frequently.
  • If pain still continues after a few days, contact an IBCLC  by phone at 515-241-6570.


  • Mastitis is an infection of the breast.
  • Symptoms may include swelling of breast, redness, pain, breast lumps, and fever.
  • Consult your health care provider immediately.
  • Health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
  • To relieve discomfort, apply a warm, damp cloth to the affected breast for 15 to 20 minutes four times a day.
  • Ibuprofen may help reduce inflammation in the breast.
  • You may continue to breastfeed or pump when experiencing mastitis.
  • If pain still continues after a few days, contact an IBCLC.


  • Usually occurs between the second and sixth day after birth due to increased volume of milk and increased flow of blood to the breast.
  • Engorgement may make it more difficult for baby to latch on properly.  If this occurs, express some milk until the baby is able to get her mouth around the nipple.
  • Sometimes taking a warm shower before breastfeeding will relieve some discomfort and stimulate milk flow.
  • Apply cold compresses between feedings to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Breastfeed often, making sure the baby completely drains at least on breast during a feeding.  Feed as often as baby is willing.
  • Manually express breasts if still feeling full after a feeding.
  • If pain still continues after a few days, contact an IBCLC.

Blocked Duct

  • When milk is not able to flow out of the nipple and instead remains in the duct, it creates a blocked duct.
  • Keep breastfeeding to help relieve the blockage.
  • Try to feed from the affected breast first, and completely drain the breast.  If the baby doesn't completely drain the breast, you can pump.
  • Try a different nursing position. Positioning the baby with the chin pointing in the direction of the blockage may help drain that area.  Massaging area towards the nipple during feeding may also help relieve the blockage.
  • To relieve some discomfort place a warm, damp cloth on the affected area.  Standing in a warm shower may also help.
  • If pain still continues after a few days, contact an IBCLC.