Breastfeeding is one of the main functions of women's breasts. Sometimes things can go wrong when you are breastfeeding like mastitis, changes to your libido and emotions. Helpful information is provided on what to do when you experience difficulties associated with breastfeeding.

Woman breastfeeding

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

Sometimes you can experience difficulties associated with breastfeeding. Some problems may include:

Lactation mastitis

This is an inflammation of the breast that can be caused by blocked milk ducts that have not cleared or by a bacterial infection. Symptoms include:

  • tender or painful breasts
  • breasts are hot, hard, swollen or red in appearance
  • flu-like symptoms such as a fever, aches and pains

Treatment for lactation mastitis

Treatment may include:

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


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


When your approach to consoling a crying baby relies very heavily on breastfeeding and rocking them to sleep, you can end up feeling exhausted, ineffective and helpless. There are some practical ways to settle a baby without relying on feeding. See for more information.

Last updated 11 October 2017 — Last reviewed 30 January 2014

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 January 2014.

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