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Breastfeeding problems and concerns in the early days

Here we look at some of the problems and concerns that can make breastfeeding in the early days challenging.

Feeding should be comfortable for both you and your baby. If you experience any discomfort, or have concerns about your baby's feeding, talking to someone who can help could make all the difference.

Watch our video to find out about support for breastfeeding. 

Common problems with breastfeeding include:
Sore nipples
Tongue tie
Sore breasts
Unsettled baby and frequent feeding
Baby refuses the breast

Sore nipples

An unfamiliar feeling of tingling, or pressure, without actual pain, is normal when you first start to breastfeed. But if breastfeeding hurts your nipples, then the most likely reason is that you and your baby need to change the way he latches on. Read about how to deal with sore nipples.


Some babies find a comfortable, effective latch hard to achieve because of tongue tie. Read our article on tongue-tie.

Sore breasts

When your baby is feeding, your breasts ‘let down’ milk. A few women find this sensation painful. You may also feel your womb contracting. It should pass quickly; try to relax and breathe through it and ask your midwife for tips. Find out more in our article here.

Unsettled baby and frequent feeding

If your baby seems unhappy, unable to sleep, or difficult to feed, do ask for help. Many women worry a great deal when their babies seem to need to breastfeed a lot, or for prolonged periods of time, and show by their crying they don’t like being placed in a crib or cot for very long. Read about how to deal with frequent feeding here.

Baby refuses the breast

If your baby is very sleepy and doesn’t seem interested in feeding, then do seek help. It could be that the after-effects of the birth or pain relief used during labour are affecting his responses. Other babies fight and struggle at the breast, and seem to resist it. Find out more here.

For problems that are more likely to affect your breastfeeding, as your baby gets older click here.

Further information

NCT supports all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our helpline on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. You can also find more useful articles here.

National Breastfeeding Line (government funded) 0844 209 0920

NHS information on mastitis.

Best Beginnings - Bump to Breastfeeding DVD Chapter 7 'Overcoming Challenges'.

Healthtalkonline.org: Managing Breastfeeding – dealing with difficult times.