Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby, but remember you are both learning a new skill. You and your baby may face some challenges on your journey. It is useful to have some self-help tools and know where to find advice and support when you needed it.

The majority of breastfeeding difficulties can be helped by improving your and your baby’s position to facilitate a deep latch. You and your baby will work out what is best, but you might the video below useful as it shows the basics and the various positions you may use.

How to position your baby for breastfeeding.

Click on the link below for an interactive resource with videos and quick reference information on how to solve breastfeeding challenges.

Tools for breastfeeding challenges - DVH Padlet

Knowing how to hand express and store your breastmilk is a useful skill. In pregnancy, it can help you prepare for your baby’s first few feeds. After birth, it is a great way to collect colostrum and milk if your baby needs extra feeds, or to relieve engorged breasts.

Use the following link for our ‘Guide to Expressing your breastmilk in pregnancy and after birth’ to learn all about it.

Guide to Expressing your breastmilk in pregnancy and after birth

Preventing breastfeeding difficulties

Good positioning and latching together with feeding responsively, help to prevent sore and cracked nipples, engorgement, mastitis, weight loss in babies and low milk supply. Your community midwife, health visitor and other specialist groups in the community should be able to support you if you experience any of these problems.

Sore and cracked nipples

  • Remember good positioning of baby and yourself.
  • Ensure a deep latch.
  • When nipples have been damaged cover with your own breastmilk or use nipple cream.
  • Leave breasts in open air for some periods during the day. (No hair dryers!)

Blocked duct (Lumpy and sometimes painful areas in the breast)

  • Massage any lumpy areas in your breast with circular motions. After, push from the lump towards the nipple and hand express milk.
  • Run warm water or use warm compresses on your breasts.
  • Feed baby in different positions to help drain all breast areas.

Engorged breasts (Tight and shiny breast skin )

  • Feed frequently to remove milk.
  • Hand express to soften the breast tissue and help milk flow.
  • Massage your breasts.
  • Run warm water or use warm compresses on your breasts.
  • A combination of warm + cold compresses can also help
  • Avoid wearing tight underwear or clothing.
  • Use reverse pressure softening: apply pressure over the areola before feeding or pumping counting to 50. You can do it lying on your back. (See images below)


Mastitis (Swollen breast with red, painful and often hot areas)

  • Continue to feed frequently from both breasts to remove milk.
  • Try different feeding positions to help drain the breast.
  • Express milk from the affected breast if needed.
  • Run warm water or use warm compresses on your breasts. Cold compresses also help.
  • Combine warm and cold to help blood flow.
  • Avoid wearing tight underwear or clothing.