Breast Health

Breastfeeding: Benefits, Common Problems and Advice

Article contributed by Dr. Tan Chuan Chien

World Breastfeeding Awareness Week (1-7 Aug 2021)

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Infants should be breastfed on demand and from 6 months old, babies can start weaning and experiencing other solid foods while continuing to be breastfed until aged 2 years or older.

Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients for healthy growth and development of a baby in the first 6 months. Apart from that, it also contains antibodies that will strengthen the baby’s immune system, particularly against gastrointestinal infections. Breastfeeding also promotes skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, which aids in building a closer bond between mother and child.

For mothers, breastfeeding helps to burn calories faster and promotes a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight. It also lowers a mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. 

What are some problems I may encounter while breastfeeding?

For new mothers, initiating breastfeeding in the first few days after delivery can be challenging. This is a time when new mothers are learning to take care of their new baby and recovering from the delivery. Issues encountered during this time may include milk production/initiation problems, how to handle the newborn and learning the techniques for breastfeeding. New mothers should remember that these issues are common and should not be discouraged. For issues on breastfeeding,  new mothers should consult their Obstetrician or Breast Specialist for advice.

Some common problems that mothers may encounter during breastfeeding include:

Breast Engorgement 

Breast Engorgement is a common problem encountered particularly in the early days after birth when a new mother’s breast becomes overly full. During breast engorgement, mothers will experience a swollen, painful, firm breast that may be quite lumpy. Mothers can reduce the chance of engorgement by initiating breastfeeding early after birth, and feed or pump at regular shorter intervals. 

Sore nipples/nipple trauma 

It is common for new mothers who are beginning breastfeeding to experience some mild discomfort. However, having very sore and painful nipples are not normal. Nipple trauma can appear as swelling, blisters, fissures, white or yellow spots at the nipples. The most common cause of nipple trauma is due to improper positioning and incorrect latch-on.


Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that results in skin redness, warmth, tenderness and swelling. Some mothers may develop a fever as well. It is usually caused by a blocked duct and subsequently milk stasis in that particular part of the breast. Any factor that favours stagnation of breast milk can predispose to developing mastitis, such as a sudden change in feeding intervals or number of feeds, incomplete emptying of the breast during feeding and abrupt weaning. Untreated mastitis can lead to a breast abscess. 

Breast lumps 

It is common for mothers who are breastfeeding to experience lumpy breasts. However, if a mother experiences lumpiness that persists, it is important to consult a Breast specialist. 

Where to get help or advice on breastfeeding?

It is important to know that most mothers will experience some challenges during breastfeeding. Despite these challenges, there are a lot of benefits to breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother. Breastfeeding can be taught and over time with practice, most mothers will find that it gets easier and is an enjoyable experience with their new baby. 

Singapore Obstetrics & Gynecology (SOG) is a healthcare group that is dedicated to women and children’s wellness and our team of specialists can help guide new mothers through this enjoyable process.

About the Doctor

Dr. Tan Chuan Chien

About the Doctor

Dr. Tan Chuan Chien

“Dr. Tan is a registered Specialist Surgeon (General Surgery) in both Singapore and Australia. His main sub-specialty is in breast and thyroid surgery. In addition, Dr. Tan’s interests include breast care services, breast cancer surgery and reconstruction.”


About SOG Health Pte. Ltd.

Established in 2011, SOG Health Pte. Ltd. (“SOG”) is a leading healthcare service provider dedicated to delivering holistic health and wellness services to the modern family.

With a long and established track record in Singapore providing Obstetrics and Gynaecology (“O&G”) services such as pre-pregnancy counselling, delivery, pregnancy and post-delivery care, the Group has since further expanded its spectrum of healthcare services to include Paediatrics, Dermatology, and Cancer-related General Surgery (Colorectal, Breast & Thyroid).

The Group’s clinics, under its four operating segments of O&G, Paediatrics, Oncology and Dermatology, are strategically located throughout Singapore to provide easy access to its patients.

  • Obstetrics
  • Gynaecology
  • GynaeOncology
  • Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
  • Colorectal, Endoscopy & General Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Paediatrics

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