Breastfeeding issues

​Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. It can be really challenging. It takes time to figure out what works. Don't worry if you aren’t able to breastfeed and choose to bottle feed your baby, or do a combination of both.

Making too much or not enough milk

You may find you are making too much breast milk early on. This can be uncomfortable. This is because breasts have the potential to feed more than one baby.

Your milk supply will match your baby’s needs as you begin to develop a consistent feeding routine. To ease discomfort you can try expressing a small amount before or after a feed.

You may feel that you are not making enough breast milk. There are many strategies to increase breast milk supply:

  • Double-check your baby’s position and attachment.
  • Feed more often; offer your breast frequently between feeds.
  • Offer your breast for comfort (especially when baby is tired or upset).
  • Allow the baby to completely finish the first breast before switching.
  • Alternate which breast is offered first at each feed and continue switching during feed.
  • Express between feeds.

Breast inflammation

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast causing pain, swelling, redness and, occasionally, fever. Nipple damage or insufficient draining of the breast during feeding can create a blocked milk duct, causing mastitis. Mastitis often causes fever and flu-like symptoms; if these are present, see your local doctor.

To help with mastitis you can try:

  • feeding and expressing more often
  • double-checking position and attachment
  • placing a cool compress (a clean, cool, damp cloth or face washer, or a commercially available cool pack) to reduce swelling
  • very gentle massage
  • applying a warm cloth if this helps with milk release and for pain relief.

If you've tried these strategies and you’re still lacking in milk or if your breast is still inflamed, contact your Maternal and Child Health nurse or call the Maternal and Child Health line on 13 22 29.

Expressing

Expressing is when you squeeze the areola (the dark area around the nipple) to release breast milk. You might express when:

  • you are unable to be with your baby during feeding times (e.g. returning to work, study)
  • your baby is sick or preterm
  • increasing your milk supply
  • your breasts are uncomfortably full.

You can store the expressed breast milk in the freezer for up to three months, and up to three to five days in the fridge. It is important that the milk is not stored in the side door of the fridge to avoid inconsistent temperatures; the back of the fridge is best.

If and when to use dummies and pacifiers

It’s recommended that you don’t use dummies or pacifiers when your baby is learning to breast feed for at least three weeks. Your baby’s hunger might be satisfied from the dummy causing them to miss feeding time. Because of the different shape and texture of the dummy (compared to your nipple), it may take longer for your baby to learn to breast feed.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Alcohol affects your breast milk the same as it would your blood stream and kicks in 30-60 minutes after you start drinking. If you’re breastfeeding and intend on consuming alcohol, it’s best to plan ahead to avoid passing the alcohol on to your baby. You might choose to express milk beforehand to ensure your baby can still be fed on time. See the Australian Breastfeeding Association for more information.

Smoking and breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is essential for the baby, even if the mother smokes. Breastfed babies get nutrients from the breastmilk that help them fight infections, including some of the illnesses they can get if there is second hand smoke in their environment.

It's better if a mother (and other household members) don’t smoke, but if she has trouble stopping or cutting down, it’s still better for the baby to smoke and breastfeed rather than smoke and formula feed.

Babies who share a house with a smoker are at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For more information about SIDS and SUDI, see the Red Nose website.

Ways to reduce affecting your baby:

  • smoke outside in a jacket and then removing the jacket once inside
  • ensure the smoker does not sleep next to the baby
  • ensure no-one smokes in the house or in the car (smoking in the car is illegal with a passenger under 16 years of age).