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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the main functions of women's breasts. Common problems associated with breastfeeding are mastitis and changes to your libido and emotions.

Helpful information is provided on what to do when you experience such issues.

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The primary function of breasts is to produce milk following the birth of a baby (lactation). There are many sources of good information on breastfeeding, including the Australian government website Pregnancy, Birth and Baby and the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Lactation mastitis

This is an inflammation of the breast that can be caused by blocked milk ducts, or by a bacterial infection. Symptoms include:

  • tender or painful breasts
  • hot, hard, swollen or reddened breasts
  • flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, aches and pains.

Treatment for lactation mastitis

Treatment may include:

  • continuing to breastfeed or express milk, as draining the breast helps clear the blocked ducts
  • antibiotics for the bacterial infection
  • anti-inflammatory medication to relieve the inflammation and pain.

Libido

Some breastfeeding women have an increased production of the hormone prolactin, which can reduce their sexual desire. For ideas about how to increase your libido, see our webpages on libido.

Emotions

When your solution to consoling a crying baby relies heavily on breastfeeding and rocking them to sleep, you can end up feeling exhausted, ineffective and helpless. It may help you to seek alternative ways to settle your baby that will likely leave you feeling less tired.

See whatwerewethinking.org.au and / or 'Pregnancy & beyond' on the Jean Hailes Anxiety hub for more information.

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at October 2018.

Last updated: 04 December 2019 | Last reviewed: 30 October 2018

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