6 Common Breastfeeding Issues and how to fix them

Disclaimer: This article is solely based on personal experience and should not be mistaken for medical advice. Anyone struggling to breastfeed should seek the help of an IBCLC, LC, or pediatrician. Fed is best.

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing but to many new mom’s surprise, it comes with a host of issues. Between baby guzzling bottle after nursing, crying after latching, always wanting to nurse, can’t ditch the nipple shield, and poor pump output? If any of these apply to you in past or present, read on for some simple fixes!

If breastfeeding has you burnt out, turned off, and touched out, check out my article on supplementing with formula. Your Breastfeeding journey doesn’t have to be all or nothing, mama!

Okay now lets get to the fun stuff, shall we?

1. Baby Always wants to nurse/guzzles a bottle after nursing for 45 minutes

If you ever heard the ‘2-3 hour’ rule, forget everything you ever read/heard about it. Breastfed babies want to breastfeed. ALL. THE. TIME. They don’t have clocks, just tiny tummies that empty quickly. It’s also worth noting that breastmilk is digested faster than formula. Grab a snack, water, pick out a good show or book, and enjoy the snuggles because it won’t last forever.

If baby is guzzling a bottle after nursing it’s usually not because they didn’t get enough, it’s because the bottle is easier than the breast and they don’t need to work as hard to get the milk. When bottlefeeding rember to practice pace-feeding which is so important for not overfeeding baby and mimics feeding at the breast. You can read more about this here..

2. Can’t ditch the nipple sheild

I vividly remember the day we ditched the nipple shield.. and I also remember wanting to jump for joy and shout it from the roof tops because I was so proud of myself. We brought my 5-day old daughter to the pediatrician for a follow-up appointment and blood work. By the time we got to the lab and did the blood draw she was ready to nurse. The phlebotomist was super nice and gave me a private and comfy place to nurse, but I didn’t have my nipple shield. My husband ran to ask the hospital’s pharmacy if they had any but we had no luck. We debated him going across town to get one but decided to just go for it.

Actual photo of my celebration

It turned out that being in a cold sterile room, a little hand expression, and a bit of twiddling did the trick and my little baby finally latched without having to fight with a plastic sombrero! It was truly a special day. If you are having trouble ditching the shield please consult with an IBCLC or LC. It may also be worth taking your baby to a Pediatric Dentist to be assessed for lip or tongue tie.

3.Baby is crying shortly after latching

Sometimes if the flow is too much for babe they will pull away and cry and milk will fly.. it’s really fun I know. If this happens an easy solution is to do a quick hand expression before feeding. This will make the flow a little slower and easier to manage and make less milk to clean up, win-win!

Another possibility is that the letdown is taking too long and baby is getting impatient in this case hand expression would work well too.

You can read more about hand expression here.

4. Constant Spit up

Spit up more than the usual should be discussed with your pediatrician. There are many causes such as overactive letdown, and in some cases, babe might be reacting to something in your diet like soy or dairy.. yes even if you aren’t eating that much of it!

5. Painful latch

If latching is painful, something is wrong. One thing I finally learned in the early days is that if the baby has to turn its head toward your breast, it’s not a good latch.. and this changed everything! I finally learned not only did I have to be comfortable, my baby also had to be. Swaddled up tight and awkwardly held is not ideal, so check out these helpful charts for positioning.

6. Poor Pump output

Please remember that in most cases pump output is not an accurate picture of what your baby is getting! Babies are much more efficient than the pump. Unfortunatelt the only thing that will tell you babe is getting enough is weight gain and diaper count. *Sigh*, I know!

So if your pump output is low or suddenly dropped, here are a few things you can try.

Check your flange size

Chances are you are using the wrong flange size. Beleive it or not most women are! I used the wrong size for 3 months and when I sized down it changed everything for me. I thought I was a size 27, it turns out I was a size 24! I have also heard of people needing to go as low as 17!

Check out this chart on sizing..

Maymom Membranes? Check your placement!! Look at this inforgraphic below, the white membrane should be facing the same direction of the logo and should be facing straight.

Seriously, this was a game-changer. I went from pumping 1-2ounces to 3-4 each side!

Replace your parts

Pump parts like valves and tubes should be replaced every 4-6 weeks. Weak membranes or valves can throw off the whole operation. Here’s a helpful chart of when to replace your precious parts.

It’s also worth noting that HSA/FSA funds do cover a lot of these items! Seriously, check out the HSA store for all the goodies.

Try a manual pump or haaka

So first let’s talk about this magical thing called a Hakka.. aka the only way a busy mom can build a freezer stash. Any silicone pump will do but the idea is the same.. suction on the opposite breast during feeding and it catches all the milk that would otherwise go into a nursing pad. Take note of the measurements and make sure they are correct to avoid disappointment later. Here is the Haaka silicone pump I recommend! This one comes with a neat little lid to protect from spills and this one does not.. it DOES have a suction base which is two wrestling terriers tested 😉

Actual photo of my Haaka freezer stash

No let’s get to the manual pump! This is what they look like

Same rules apply for the parts,. However some people generally respond better to these types. They are able to better mimic the motion of a baby sucking and in some cases can produce even more output. My favorite is this Lansinoh Manual! I find the flexible flanges seem to have an overall better fit and this is the only pump I ever responded best to my second favorite is the Medela Harmony which you can check out here

I hope you found a solution!..

So there you have it, I hope you found some answers to your breastfeeding questions! It’s not always a walk in the park and sometimes it sucks, BUT we lovingly do it anyway. If after reading this you are still at a complete loss, please reach out to an IBCLC! and remember the best way to fed your baby, is the one that is best for YOU!


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