Common breastfeeding problemsVanliga besvär vid amning - engelska
It is common to experience breast discomfort when you first start breastfeeding. This will often pass after a while. Sometimes treatment is needed.
You can get help with breastfeeding. During the first week after giving birth, you can contact the maternity ward, also called the BB ward.
You can also contact the children's health centre (BVC) or a midwifery clinic. Some places have special lactation support clinics.
Your breasts are taut and leaky
It is common for breasts to be taut or leaky, especially when your milk first comes in.
You may also produce more milk than your baby is able to take in.
Apply pressure to the nipple
You can apply pressure to the nipple to stop the flow of milk. There are also so-called milk catchers or nursing pads that you can put in your bra.
If you have too much milk, you can hand-express some milk before feeding your baby. Take a break once in a while and let the milk drain out on its own.
When your milk first comes in, your breasts may feel very firm and taut. This usually occurs three to four days after you have given birth. Your body temperature may also be higher than normal.
This is called engorgement, and it usually goes away after a few days.
How to find relief
The best way is to let your baby nurse often.
It may feel nice to put something warm or cold on your breasts.
It is common to feel sore when you first start breastfeeding. Your nipples are sensitive and not used to nursing yet. This usually passes.
It can also hurt if your baby has a shallow latch, meaning that they do not have their mouth open wide enough when nursing.
Here is a video showing how to help your baby get a deep latch.
You can use non-prescription medicines with paracetamol or ibuprofen if you are in pain.
Blisters, sores or cracks can form on your nipples.
Important to keep clean and dry
Wash your hands before breastfeeding. It is important to keep the area clean if sores develop. You could develop an infection if bacteria get into the sores.
Avoid using soap and lotions on your breasts. You can massage breast milk into your nipples before and after nursing. You can also clean your breasts with saline solution.
Allow your nipples to rest
You may need to give your nipples a break from breastfeeding to let them heal. In such case, you can hand-express milk or use a breast pump.
You can also use an aid called a nipple shield, which is a flexible silicone teat that protects the nipple.
Thrush (yeast infection)
Cracked and sore nipples can also be caused by a yeast infection called thrush.
Thrush can clear up on its own. If not, you may need to use a special ointment.
It is also important to keep your breasts dry if you have thrush.
There is a risk of developing a breast abscess if you have a breast infection. A breast abscess can be very painful. You may also have a fever.
A breast abscess needs to be treated by a doctor.
Blocked milk ducts
If your breasts remain overly full for a length of time, one or more of the milk ducts in your breast may become blocked. When this happens, the milk cannot come out.
- You have a lump under your skin.
- An area of your breast feels warm and tender.
- You have a fever.
- It hurts when you breastfeed.
Try to get the milk out
It is best if your baby continues to suckle the affected breast. This will help the milk come out.
You can also try to hand-express milk or use a breast pump.
While breastfeeding, pumping or hand-expressing, massage your breast starting at the hard area and moving towards your nipple.
When and where should I seek medical care?
Call the 1177 helpline if you need advice on what to do. Your call will be answered by a nurse. The nurse can speak both Swedish and English. Help is sometimes available in other languages. Call +46 771 11 77 00 if you are calling from a phone with a foreign number.
Seek medical care
Contact a healthcare centre if any of the following applies:
- it feels like you have an abscess in your breast
- you suspect you have a thrust (yeast) infection in your breast.
Sometimes a video call with a doctor or midwife is enough to provide the help you need.
Get help from an interpreter
You can get help from an interpreter if you do not speak Swedish.