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Common problems of breastfeeding and weaning

Jeanne Spencer, MD
Section Editors
Steven A Abrams, MD
Jan E Drutz, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Breastfeeding is universally recognized as the normative and preferred method of infant feeding. Mothers and infants who do not breastfeed have greater short- and long-term health risks [1,2]. (See "Infant benefits of breastfeeding" and "Maternal and economic benefits of breastfeeding".)

For many women, difficulties in breastfeeding result in early termination of breastfeeding before the recommended period of time. However, with accurate advice and treatment, most of these difficulties can be overcome, and breastfeeding can be successfully sustained for longer periods.

Common problems associated with breastfeeding and their management are reviewed here. The initiation of breastfeeding and immediate postpartum evaluation of mothers and infants are discussed separately. (See "Initiation of breastfeeding".)


Inadequate milk intake or the perception of inadequate milk production is the most common reason for early termination of breastfeeding. Inadequate milk intake may be due to failure of the infant to extract milk or insufficient milk production, and determining the primary problem can be challenging.

Etiology — Causes of inadequate milk intake can be divided into insufficient milk production and failure of the infant to extract milk (table 1) [3].

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 17, 2017.
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