Breastfeeding Red Flags

Breastfeeding Red Flags, Mom holding newborn baby

As a first time mom, breastfeeding my newborn baby felt like a beautiful continuation of our connection during pregnancy. However it was not without challenges. It’s common to feel nervous or unsure, and it’s natural to have questions about what to expect.

You’ve never done this before! In the first few weeks, both you and your baby are learning and adjusting to this new experience. It’s important to be aware of potential red flags that may occur while breastfeeding. In this way you may address these concerns early on to avoid further complications. I personally experienced each one of these red flags during my breastfeeding days, and was able to solve them with good education and support.

Nipple pain

Some discomfort during the first few days of breastfeeding is normal. When your baby latches on properly, you may feel a few moments of discomfort at the very beginning of a nursing session. After that, discomfort should ease. You may feel a gentle tug on your breasts while your baby feeds, but it shouldn’t hurt. 

If the pain persists or becomes more intense, it may be an indicator of an issue. The pain may feel like a burning or stinging sensation when your baby latches onto the breast. It can also occur during and after nursing. Some women may also experience soreness or sensitivity. 

If you are experiencing nipple pain you should not just continue to suffer. Despite what you may have heard, breastfeeding should NOT be painful. It is important to address this red flag which can indicate latch problems or other breastfeeding issues.

Cracked and bleeding nipples 

Cracked or bleeding nipples can occur when the baby is not latching on correctly or is not positioned properly, causing excessive friction or pressure on the nipples. This can lead to small tears or abrasions on the skin, which can become painful and may eventually cause bleeding. 

Hot and tender breasts 

Hot and tender breasts may indicate engorgement, which occurs when the breasts become overfilled with milk. Engorgement can cause discomfort, pain and even fever. 

Hot and tender breasts may also be an indication of inflammation or infection of the breast tissue, known as mastitis. Other mastitis symptoms include breast pain, swelling, redness and fever. Stress, fatigue, and a weakened immune system can contribute to mastitis. 


Fever while breastfeeding can be caused by a variety of factors, including mastitis, infection or a viral illness. It is important to determine the cause of the fever so that it can be properly treated. Many women with mastitis feel like they have the flu, including achiness, chills and a fever of 101 F or higher. The symptoms of mastitis can come on very suddenly. You may feel like you’re getting the flu before you feel any discomfort in your breast, which is exactly what happened to me on more than one occasion. The good news is that mastitis can be cured a lot quicker and easier than the flu. 

If you experience any of these red flags or have concerns about breastfeeding, seek help from a certified lactation consultant right away. They can provide advice and support to help you resolve the issues, so you and your baby can continue to enjoy the many benefits of nursing. 

It’s important to remember that these breastfeeding red flags are temporary. In the majority of cases, with the right support, information, and techniques, you can enjoy a successful breastfeeding journey with your baby. 

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading