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Common Problems Affecting Breast After Breastfeeding

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Pregnancy and breastfeeding bring a lot of changes to a woman’s breast. Read the article below to learn more about breast problems after breastfeeding.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sunita Kothari

Published At September 2, 2022
Reviewed AtDecember 26, 2023


Breastfeeding makes a beautiful bond between the mother and the infant. For a newborn, breast milk remains the best source of nutrition that fulfills the growing needs. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding without any water or other fluids for all moms for the first six months, with supplemental breastfeeding that could be continued until the infant and the mother desire. Breastfeeding can cause numerous physiological changes in the body, especially in a woman's breast.

What Are the Common Breast Problems After Breastfeeding?

Numerous physiological changes occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The amount of fatty tissue determines the shape of the breast. Many changes in the breast occur to make the mammary gland functional and secrete milk. A woman’s breast changes the fatty and connective tissue deposition during breastfeeding. The change in size and shape of a woman’s breast is variable for all mothers. The physiological and functional changes in the mammary glands can cause some problems during breastfeeding, and they include:

  • Mastitis: Mastitis is the inflammation and swelling of the breast, occurring during breastfeeding, and is known as lactational mastitis. It is common in the first few months of breastfeeding, primarily affecting one breast. The swelling puts pressure on the milk duct, resulting in increased pain during milk flow to the nipple.

  • Nipple Pain: Nipple pain is a frequent complaint among new breastfeeding mothers. It can be due to injuries, increased nipple sensitivity during pregnancy, and increased discomfort in the days following childbirth. Normal nipple sensitivity can cause discomfort, while nipple injuries often result from incorrect breastfeeding techniques, poor latch-on practices, and the use of potentially irritating products.

  • Engorgement: Engorgement refers to the fullness of breasts with milk, causing pain and congestion. This condition can affect the baby's ability to latch onto the breast, and it is increased by inadequate breastfeeding and the inability to fully empty the breast.

  • Blocked Ducts: Blocked ducts lead to narrowed milk ducts, resulting in breast tenderness and pain. If the ducts near the nipple's surface are blocked, it can cause a white dot or blister at the end of the nipple. Causes include wearing tight clothing, sudden decrease in feeding, engorgement, and infections.

  • Thrush Infections: Thrush infections can occur in the nipple when cracked or damaged. This is caused by the Candida fungus entering the nipple or breast. Such infections often follow a course of antibiotics, as antibiotics reduce the number of beneficial bacteria, allowing Candida to proliferate. Symptoms include pain in both nipples or breasts after feeding, ranging from mild soreness to severe discomfort lasting for hours.

How to Prevent and Manage Breast Problems After Breastfeeding?

  • Mastitis: To prevent mastitis, ensure proper breastfeeding techniques, maintain a regular feeding schedule, and avoid prolonged periods between feeds. If mastitis occurs, prioritize the health of the new mother, task proper rest, continue breastfeeding or pumping, and consult with a healthcare professional who may prescribe antibiotics if necessary.

  • Nipple Pain: Preventing nipple pain involves creating a proper latch during breastfeeding, considering the use of nipple shields or creams when needed, and seeking guidance from a lactation consultant if required. Treat nipple pain by managing latch position issues and applying soothing remedies such as warm compresses or hydrogel pads.

  • Engorgement: To prevent engorgement, establish a breastfeeding routine, ensure the baby fully empties the breast during feeds, and express milk if necessary. Manage engorgement through frequent nursing, using a breast pump, applying warm compresses, and wearing supportive underwear to alleviate discomfort.

  • Blocked Ducts: Prevent blocked ducts by ensuring complete breast emptying during feeds, avoiding tight clothing, and promptly addressing any breastfeeding issues. Treat blocked ducts with warm massages and frequent breastfeeding or pumping to facilitate the clearing of the duct.

  • Thrush Infections: To prevent thrush infections, maintain good breastfeeding hygiene, promptly treat nipple damage, and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. Treat thrush infections with antifungal medications for both the mother and baby while emphasizing cleanliness and proper latch techniques during feeds.

When Should One Seek Professional Help for Breastfeeding Problems?

Seeking professional assistance for breastfeeding issues is crucial if a new mother encounters challenges such as difficulty latching the baby, persistent pain, and noticeable swelling or inflammation.

It is advisable to consult a doctor under the following circumstances:

  • Persistent Fever: Seek medical help if the new mother experiences a persistent fever along with breast problems, as it may indicate an infection requiring medical treatment.

  • Severe Pain in the Breast or Nipples: Promptly seek guidance and intervention from a healthcare professional if one experiences severe pain in the breast or nipples.

  • Redness From Nipple to Breast: If redness spreads from the nipple to the breast, it may indicate an infection. Seeking medical attention is essential in such cases.

  • Unresolved Blocked Ducts: If a blocked duct persists without improvement, it necessitates medical treatment. Consulting with a healthcare provider ensures appropriate management.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Breast Problems?

Unresolved breastfeeding problems following along with the breast problems can cause long-term effects and include

  • Recurring Infections: Unresolved breastfeeding problems may lead to persistent infections and complications, impacting long-term breast health.

  • Milk Supply Issues: Prolonged breast problems can affect milk production, resulting in inadequate milk supply for the child during breastfeeding.

  • Emotional Impact: Difficulties in breastfeeding can contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression in new mothers.

  • Scarring and Tissue Changes: Continuous issues like mastitis and severe engorgement can cause scarring and changes in breast tissue, potentially affecting appearance and causing discomfort.

  • Nipple Sensitivity and Pain: If not properly managed, persistent nipple sensitivity and pain can influence future breastfeeding experiences and cause ongoing discomfort.

  • Impact on Future Breastfeeding: Unresolved breast problems can have lasting effects on future breastfeeding attempts, emphasizing the importance of timely treatment and addressing concerns for optimal breast health.

What Are the Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers?

  • Promote Exclusive Breastfeeding: Encourage a proper breastfeeding schedule, day or night, and advise the mother to allow the baby to feed for as long as needed.

  • Provide Reassurance: Reassure parents that there is no need to supplement with extra food, water, or drinks for the baby. Offer assistance, especially for first-time mothers or those with special needs.

  • Offer Guidance and Support: Encourage and support women as they learn the nuances of breastfeeding. Assist mothers in mastering proper positioning for comfortable breastfeeding experiences and facilitate skin-to-skin contact to enhance child bonding.

  • Seek Professional Help When Needed: Help mothers seek professional advice when in doubt. If there are concerns about breastfeeding, consult with a counselor or doctor to clarify any issues.

  • Self-Care Is Key: Emphasize the importance of self-care for the mother. Successful breastfeeding requires sufficient rest, proper nutrition, and adequate hydration.

  • Patience: Patience is crucial as breastfeeding takes time to establish, and challenges are common.

  • Trust Instincts and Take It Slow: Encourage mothers to trust their instincts and progress at a comfortable pace. Breastfeeding will require time to establish, and facing challenges is a normal part of the process.

Will Breast Undergo Sagging After Breastfeeding?

Concerns about breast sagging after breastfeeding are common among pregnant mothers, often fueled by advice from experienced moms. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause alterations in the appearance of the breasts; such changes are variable and not necessarily a medical concern. Factors like age, smoking, pre-pregnancy breast size, and metabolic index also play a role. Sustaining a nutritious diet with essential nutrients can improve the mother's overall well-being during and after pregnancy.

Does Breastfeeding Lead To Asymmetry in Breasts?

Breast asymmetry is common among women, even before pregnancy. Changes in breast tissue and milk secretion can occur during breastfeeding, but the extent varies. Some women see a return to their original shape post-breastfeeding, while others may notice differences in size between the breasts. Despite these changes, many women embrace the experience of breastfeeding and choose to breastfeed their babies.

How to Take Care of the Breasts While Breastfeeding?

The changes can happen in every woman during pregnancy and breastfeeding as the hormonal levels are variable at different stages. However, the significance can be minimized if appropriate measures are taken. Some preventive measures for a breastfeeding mother include:

  • Wearing a supportive bra.

  • Taking good care of diet and skin.

  • Avoiding smoking or alcohol intake.

  • Self-examination of breasts once in a while.

  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes.


Pregnancy and breastfeeding can change the breast. The hormonal changes in the body are responsible for this. However, most of the changes are temporary and can be avoided. Women may seek the help of a doctor in case of any discomfort or noticeable changes in their breast appearance. Cosmetic surgery is also an option for a mother if the breast appearance has undergone severe change while breastfeeding

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Dr. Sunita Kothari
Dr. Sunita Kothari

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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