From the American Academy of Pediatrics: Warning Signs of Breastfeeding Problems

Warning Signs of Breastfeeding Problems

Natural as the breastfeeding process is, problems can occasionally arise. When they do surface, they may grow worse very quickly and interfere with your milk production or your baby’s ability to get the nutrition she needs. For this reason, it’s vital to get help right away if you experience difficulty with breastfeeding at home or observe any of the symptoms listed below. Contact your baby’s pediatrician, and don’t stop asking for one-on-one guidance until you get the help you need.

  • Your baby’s nursing sessions are either very short or extremely long.
  • Your baby still seems hungry after most feedings. 
  • Your newborn frequently misses nursing sessions or sleeps through the night. 
  • By two weeks of age, your baby is under her birth weight or hasn’t started gaining at least 5 to 7 ounces per week since your milk came in. [Most recent AAP Guidelines on Breastfeeding suggest weight gain by 5 days of age.]
  • Your baby has fewer than six wet diapers and four stools per day, her urine is dark yellow or specked with red, or her stools are still dark rather than yellow and loose.
  • After five days, your milk hasn’t come in or your breasts don’t feel as though they’re filling with milk. [Although some newborns may not tolerate waiting for breast milk to come in even before 5 days of age.]
  • You experience severe breast engorgement. 
  • The fullness and hardness of your breasts don’t decrease by the end of a feeding.
  • Severe pain interferes with breastfeeding.
  • After a week or two, you don’t notice the sensations associated with your milk let-down reflex.

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The Fed is Best Foundation recommends that any parent concerned about their baby not getting enough milk to see a pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner first before consulting any other health professional. The most important signs of feeding problems is a newborn or baby who never appears satisfied with breastfeeding or is overly sleepy and not waking up every 3 hours for feeding.  Newborns and infants who are not receiving enough breast milk may have serious conditions that require blood work to fully evaluate and only physicians and pediatric nurse practitioners have the training to diagnose those conditions. Seeking alternative help for you and your child can result in delays in medical evaluation and treatment and can result in missed diagnosis and delayed treatment of serious medical illness.

We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to make a donation to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.


Disclaimer:  This resource page does not replace in-person physician evaluation and treatment.  It  is meant to inform parents of the most recent data regarding infant feeding and to increase their knowledge on how to protect their newborns from hyperbilirubinemia, dehydration, hypernatremia, hypoglycemia and extended or repeat hospitalizations due to complications from underfeeding.  Earlier supplementation may be needed for babies who are premature or have medical conditions. It is recommended that a parent seeks evaluation by a physician trained in newborn care for any concerns regarding the health and safety of her baby if they arise.