4. Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

Let’s be honest—there are disadvantages to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding ties you completely to baby. Because you must be available when baby is hungry, other family members may feel left out.

Because breast milk empties rapidly from baby’s stomach, most newborns need to feed every couple of hours. You may spend more time feeding baby than you anticipated. Pay careful attention to your diet. Most substances you eat or drink (or take orally, such as medicine) can pass to baby in your breast milk and might cause problems.

5. Problems You May Have during Breastfeeding

Problems during breastfeeding are not uncommon. On the opposite page is a discussion of the three most common medical situations you may encounter.


A common breastfeeding problem for some women is breast engorgement. Breasts become swollen, tender and filled with breast milk. What can you do to relieve this problem?

The best cure is to drain the breasts, if possible, as you do when breastfeeding. Some women take a hot shower and empty their breasts in the warm water. Ice packs may also help.

Feed your baby from both breasts each time you feed. Don’t feed on only one side.

When you’re away from your baby, try to express some breast milk to keep your milk flowing and breast ducts open. You’ll also feel more comfortable.

Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, are often useful in relieving the pain of engorgement. Acetaminophen is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as safe to use while breastfeeding.

You might need to use stronger medications, such as acetaminophen with codeine, if pain is more severe. Call your healthcare provider; he or she will decide on treatment.

Breast Infections

It is possible to get an infection in your breast while breastfeeding. An infection may cause pain in the breast, and the breast may turn red and become swollen. You may have streaks of red discoloration on the breast; you may also feel as though you have the flu.

If you think you have an infection, call your healthcare provider. He or she can devise a treatment plan and/or prescribe medication for you, if necessary.

Sore Nipples

Most nursing mothers have sore nipples at some point, particularly when they begin breastfeeding. You can take steps to lessen or to relieve the soreness. Try the following.

• Keep your breasts dry and clean.

• Do not air dry—it encourages scab formation and can take quite a while for a sore breast to heal.

• Moist healing is best, such as applying lanolin.

• Cover the entire nipple area with lanolin every time baby finishes nursing.

• Express a little breast milk after breastfeeding, and rub it over your nipples. Research shows that breast milk contains antibiotic qualities that can help prevent and/or heal sore, cracked nipples.

Good news! Before too long—a few days to a few weeks—your breasts will become accustomed to breastfeeding, and problems will lessen.

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