Clinical Topic A-Z Clinical Speciality

Breastfeeding problems

Breastfeeding problems
D001940Breast
D001942Breast Feeding
D008413Mastitis
D009558Nipples
Child healthPregnancyWomen's health
2011-02-07Last revised in February 2011

Breastfeeding problems - Summary

Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for infants. It provides all the nutrients the infant needs in the first 6 months of life and continues to make a valuable contribution to the child's nutrition for as long as they are breastfed.

Common problems that can be experienced during breast feeding include:

Breast pain.

Nipple soreness/pain.

Low milk supply.

Overabundant milk supply.

The management of breast pain should include:

Assessment to determine the cause.

Ensuring that the mother has sufficient support.

Consideration of other causes unrelated to lactation, such as breast cancer, fibroadenosis, ruptured breast cyst, or Paget's disease of the nipple.

Prescription of an analgesic compatible with breastfeeding, such as paracetamol.

Treatment of suspected infection.

If managing nipple soreness/pain:

An assessment to determine the cause of nipple soreness/pain should be carried out.

Advice to reinforce the importance of correct positioning and effective infant attachment when breastfeeding should be offered.

If the nipple remains sore despite improved infant attachment, an infection should be suspected.

If managing low milk supply:

It should be ensured that the mother has sufficient support.

The mother should be provided with information and support so she can be sure that her infant is getting enough milk.

Urgent paediatric advice should be sought if there are concerns about the well-being of the infant, e.g. dehydration or poor weight gain.

If managing overabundant milk supply:

An assessment by a skilled person who will be able to observe and advise the mother about effective positioning, infant attachment and sucking behaviour should be arranged.

If the infant is unable to attach effectively to the breast because of an overabundant milk supply, it may be helpful to express a little milk until the flow slows and then attach the infant to the breast. It is important to express only a small amount or the oversupply will continue.

If a breastfeeding woman develops a painless breast lump, she should be referred to a breast surgeon.

If breast cancer is suspected, an urgent referral should be arranged (to be seen within 2 weeks).

The woman should be advised to continue breastfeeding.

If the woman has a suspected galactocele:

A discussion should be initiated on continuing breastfeeding as normal.

Referral should be arranged for confirmation of the diagnosis by ultrasonography or aspiration.

Have I got the right topic?

120months3060monthsFemale

This CKS topic covers the management of problems with the breast and nipple that may occur during breastfeeding, including information about positioning and attachment of the infant.

This CKS topic does not cover in detail the promotion and establishment of breastfeeding, or the management of mastitis, or breast abscess. It also does not cover the introduction of solid foods or problems in the infant, other than those associated with positioning and attachment.

There are separate CKS topics on Breast cancer - suspected, Breast pain - cyclical, Breast screening, and Mastitis and breast abscess.

The target audience for this CKS topic is healthcare professionals working within the NHS in the UK, and providing first contact or primary health care.

How up-to-date is this topic?

How up-to-date is this topic?

Changes

Last revised in February 2011

January 2014 — minor update. Text updated in line with the Summary of Product Characteristics for miconazole oral gel in the Prescribing Information section to highlight the risk of choking in infants and young children when miconazole oral gel is applied to the mouth [ABPI Medicines Compendium, 2013].

February 2013 — minor update. The 2013 QIPP options for local implementation have been added to this topic [NICE, 2013].

June 2012 — minor update. Typographical error corrected in background information.

March 2012 — minor update. Information about the Healthy Start scheme and the importance for all breastfeeding women of taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D has been added [DH, 2011; DH, 2012]. Issued in April 2012.

January 2012 — minor update. McNeil Products Ltd, in collaboration with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has published new safety data regarding the association of domperidone with an increased risk of serious ventricular arrhythmias or sudden cardiac death [McNeil Products Ltd and Winthrop Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd, 2011]. This topic has been updated to reflect their advice on dosing, adverse effects, and drug interactions. Issued in February 2012.

July 2011 — minor update. More exact paracetamol dosing for children has been introduced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA, 2011]. Prescriptions have been updated to reflect the revised dosing. Issued in July 2011.

June 2010 to February 2011 — this is a new CKS topic. The evidence-base has been reviewed in detail, and recommendations are clearly justified and transparently linked to the supporting evidence.

Update

New evidence

Evidence-based guidelines

No new evidence-based guidelines since 1 April 2010.

HTAs (Health Technology Assessments)

No new HTAs since 1 April 2010.

Economic appraisals

No new economic appraisals relevant to England since 1 April 2010.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Systematic reviews published since the last revision of this topic:

Crepinsek, M.A., Crowe, L., Michener, K., and Smart, N.A. (2012) Interventions for preventing mastitis after childbirth (Cochrane Review). The Cochrane Library. Issue 10. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. www.thecochranelibrary.com [Free Full-text]

Jaafae, S.H., Jahanfar, S., Angolkar, M., and Ho, J.J. (2011) Pacifier use versus no pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding (Cochrane Review). The Cochrane Library. Issue 3. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. www.thecochranelibrary.com [Free Full-text]

Vieira, F., Bachion, M.M., Mota, D.D., and Munari, D.B. (2013) A systematic review of the interventions for nipple trauma in breastfeeding mothers. Journal of Nursing Scholarship 45(2), 116-125. [Abstract]

Primary evidence

No new randomized controlled trials published in the major journals since 1 April 2010.

Observational studies published since the last revision of this topic:

Barrett, M.E., Heller, M.M., Fullerton, Stone, H., and Murase, J.E. (2012) Raynaud phenomenon of the nipple in breastfeeding mothers: an underdiagnosed cause of nipple pain. JAMA Dermatology 149(3), 300-306. [Abstract]

New policies

No new national policies or guidelines since 1 April 2010.

New safety alerts

Domperidone

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in collaboration with McNeil Products Ltd., and Winthrop Pharmaceuticals have issued new information regarding the cardiac risks associated with domperidone.

The new advice followed the publication of two epidemiological studies that have shown that domperidone may be associated with an increased risk of serious ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. The risk may be higher in people aged over 60 years and in people who receive a daily oral dose of over 30 mg. However, the benefits of domperidone still outweigh the risks.

The following advice has been issued to health care professionals about domperidone:

Domperidone should be used at the lowest effective dose in adults and children.

Domperidone should not be prescribed to people already taking medication that may prolong the QT interval (such as ketoconazole or erythromycin).

Prescribers should be particularly cautious about prescribing to people who have an existing prolongation of cardiac conduction intervals (particularly QTc), significant electrolyte disturbances, or an underlying cardiac disease (such as congestive heart failure).

Patients should be advised to seek prompt medical attention if symptoms such as syncope or tachyarrhythmias arise during treatment.

Reference: MHRA (2011) Direct Healthcare Professional communication on domperidone and cardiac safety. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency www.mhra.gov.uk [Free Full-text (pdf)]

Changes in product availability

No changes in product availability since 1 April 2010.

Goals and outcome measures

Goals

To support primary healthcare professionals:

To prevent breastfeeding problems

To recognize breastfeeding problems promptly

To provide/facilitate appropriate knowledgeable and consistent breastfeeding support from a breastfeeding specialist

To provide/facilitate treatment for difficulties with breastfeeding in primary care

To refer the woman to a specialist, when appropriate

QIPP — Options for local implementation

QIPP — Options for local implementation

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Review the appropriateness of NSAID prescribing widely and on a routine basis. Older patients are at higher risk of both gastrointestinal and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Co-prescribing NSAIDs with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) may pose particular risks to renal function; this combination should be especially carefully considered and regularly monitored if continued.

If initiating an NSAID is obligatory, use ibuprofen (1200mg per day or less) or naproxen (1000mg per day).

Review patients currently prescribed NSAIDs. If continued use is necessary, consider changing to ibuprofen (1200mg per day or less) or naproxen (1000mg per day).

Review and, where appropriate, revise prescribing of etoricoxib to ensure it is in line with MHRA and NICE guidance.

Co-prescribe a proton pump inhibitor with NSAIDs in accordance with NICE Guidelines 59 [NICE, 2008] and 79 [NICE, 2009].

[NICE, 2013]

Background information

UK recommendations

What are the UK recommendations on infant feeding?

These recommendations from the Department of Health are supported by a wide range of professional and voluntary bodies (including the Royal College of Midwives, the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, and the National Childbirth Trust), and voluntary and non-governmental organizations, and are based on guidance from the World Health Organization:

Their mother's breast milk is the best form of nutrition for infants; it provides all the nutrients the infant needs in the first 6 months of life and continues to make a valuable contribution to the child's nutrition for as long as they are breastfed.

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for around the first 6 months of the infant's life (that is no other foods or liquids should be offered).

The recommended age for the introduction of solid foods for both breast- and formula-fed infants is around 6 months.

Breastfeeding (or infant formula if used) should continue after 6 months alongside appropriate types and amounts of solid foods.

If mothers cannot follow these recommendations or choose not to do so, they should be supported to optimize their infant's nutrition and welfare.

[DH, 2003; Health Promotion Agency, 2004; Start4life, 2010]

Benefits for the mother

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother?

Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother include:

More rapid uterine involution and decreased postpartum bleeding due to increased concentrations of oxytocin.

Lactational amenorrhoea (decreased menstrual blood loss, contraceptive effect).

Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight.

Decreased future risk of breast cancer.

Decreased future risk of ovarian cancer.

[Gartner et al, 2005; WHO, 2009; Start4life, 2010]

Benefits for the infant

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for the infant in the UK?

Breastfeeding reduces the incidence and severity of infections particularly in pre-term infants [Health Promotion Agency, 2004; Gartner et al, 2005; Hoddinott et al, 2008; WHO, 2009] including:

Bacterial meningitis.

Gastrointestinal infections.

Respiratory tract infection.

Necrotizing enterocolitis.

Otitis media.

Urinary tract infection.

Breastfeeding also reduces hospital admissions for infants in their first year of life for respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea [Hoddinott et al, 2008].

Artificially fed children have an increased risk for:

Long-term disease, including [WHO, 2009]:

Sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of life.

Atopic dermatitis.

Coeliac disease.

Ulcerative colitis.

Crohn's disease.

Asthma.

Type 1 diabetes.

Childhood leukemias.

Being overweight/obese in later childhood and adolescence.

The NHS document Start4Life questions and answers (pdf) also lists the following additional benefits of breastfeeding:

Less likely to be constipated.

Less likely to be fussy about new foods.

Artificial feeding has also been associated with risks to cardiovascular health, including hypertension, altered blood cholesterol levels, and atherosclerosis in later adulthood [WHO, 2009].

Breastfeeding has also been positively associated with educational attainment in late adolescence or adulthood [WHO, 2007].

In developing countries, infants who are artificially fed are six to ten times more likely to die in the first few months of life than breastfed infants [WHO, 2009].

Importance of effective attachment

Why is effective attachment important?

'It is likely that almost all postnatal breastfeeding problems could be prevented if an infant is able to breastfeed effectively and efficiently from the outset' [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

Effective attachment of the infant to the breast is important to [WHO, 2009]:

Stimulate breast milk production.

Ensure effective milk transfer.

Ensure the supply of milk matches the infant's needs.

Protect the nipples from damage.

Help to prevent problems such as mastitis and blocked duct.

If attachment is poor then there may be:

Reduced milk transfer.

Insufficient milk to match the infant's needs.

Nipple soreness [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006]. Sore nipples are a leading cause of discontinuation of breastfeeding [Anderson, 2009].

Effective removal of milk by effective attachment and unrestricted breastfeeding are essential for good milk transfer. Milk stasis is a primary cause of both non-infective and infective mastitis [WHO, 2000].

Proportion who breastfeed

What proportion of women breastfeed and for how long?

Figures are collected quarterly for England by the Department of Health. These figures are for the second quarter of 2010/11 [DH, 2010b]:

Initiation of breastfeeding: 73.7%.

Figures varied from 86.5% in the London Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to 56.9% in the North East SHA.

Prevalence of breastfeeding at 6–8 weeks in infants in whom the breastfeeding status was known: 49.4%.

Figures varied from 71.6% in the London SHA to 31.5% in the North East SHA.

The UK infant feeding survey for 2005 found the following figures for England [Bolling et al, 2007]:

78% of women put their babies to the breast at least once after birth.

88% of mothers in managerial and professional groups starting to breastfeed compared to 65% in routine and manual groups.

By the sixth week after delivery, 50% were still breastfeeding either wholly or partially.

By 6 months, 26% were breastfeeding either wholly or partially.

Causes of breast pain

What are the common causes of breast pain or discomfort in women who are breastfeeding?

A full breast usually occurs between the second and sixth day after delivery when the milk 'comes in'. This is normal. The cause is physiological and, provided feeding is not restricted and the infant removes the milk effectively and frequently, symptoms rapidly resolve [WHO, 2000; GAIN, 2009].

Breast engorgement occurs because [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006; GAIN, 2009]:

Either there is venous and lymphatic stasis before the onset of milk secretion, or the lactiferous ducts are obstructed following the onset of lactation.

If milk is not removed, the alveoli (where milk is excreted) become distended and the breasts become swollen and oedematous.

A blocked duct may be caused by milk stasis; milk stasis, although assumed to be due to a solid obstruction, may simply be due to ineffective removal of milk from that part of the breast [WHO, 2000]:

This is usually caused by poor positioning and attachment, or the infant not being fed on demand.

Tight clothes, trauma, or holding the breast too near to the nipple may obstruct the flow of milk [WHO, 2000; WHO, 2009].

Sometimes a white spot (bleb) about 1 mm in diameter may appear at the end of the nipple. It is associated with a blocked duct and is thought to be due to overgrowth of epithelium, or an accumulation of particulate or fatty material.

There may be hard particulate matter in the expressed breast milk. When this particulate matter is expressed, then the milk is able to flow freely again.

White granules may be found in the expressed milk that had accumulated; they are a mixture of casein and other materials hardened by calcium salts.

Mastitis is secondary to milk stasis which leads to non-infectious inflammation. Overdistention of the alveolar cells of the breast causes milk to leak into the surrounding connective tissue. Cytokines from the milk cause inflammation and swelling. If the milk leaks into the bloodstream, there will be malaise and pyrexia even if there is no infection [WHO, 2000; GAIN, 2009]. Without effective removal of milk, infectious mastitis is likely to develop [WHO, 2009]. The commonest organisms causing infectious mastitis are Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus albus.

Ductal infection

Breast pain that occurs during or between feeds, that is not due to engorgement or mastitis, can occur but NICE identified no studies addressing its prevalence, prevention, or treatment [NICE, 2005b].

One of the suggested causes for deep breast pain is candidal ductal infection. Other suggested but unproven causes for deep breast pain include spasm of the ducts, persistent reaction to nerve trauma, and prolactin-induced mastalgia [NICE, 2005b].

Some experts consider that deep burning pain in the breast may be due to infection with Staphylococcus aureus [WHO, 2000; GAIN, 2009].

Some experts consider it possible that in some women a combination of bacterial and candidal infection may be present [GAIN, 2009].

Breast abscess

The lactating breast localizes any infection by forming a barrier of granulation tissue. This becomes an abscess cavity filled with pus [WHO, 2000].

The most common organisms causing a breast abscess are Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus albus [WHO, 2000].

It usually occurs secondary to mastitis that has not been effectively managed [WHO, 2009].

Causes of nipple soreness/pain

What causes nipple soreness or pain in women who are breastfeeding?

Causes of nipple pain in women who are breastfeeding include [NICE, 2005b]:

Sore and fissured nipples: the main cause is poor attachment and positioning.

The infant may damage the nipple by pulling it in and out of their mouth as they suckle, rubbing the skin against their mouth [WHO, 2009].

If the infant cannot take a large enough mouthful of breast tissue then the mother's nipple is compressed between the infant's tongue and hard palate. This causes nipple pain and may lead to nipple damage [Inch, 2000].

With proper attachment, the nipple is protected from damage at the back of the infant's mouth and the infant can use its tongue effectively to milk the milk ducts under the areola [NICE, 2005b].

White spot (bleb) associated with a blocked duct.

Candidal infection.

Bacterial infection, usually after prolonged nipple damage.

Eczema or dermatitis.

Raynaud's disease.

Causes of low milk supply

What causes insufficient milk supply?

The most common cause of insufficient milk supply is a low intake by the infant. If an infant takes only some of the milk from the breast then milk production decreases [WHO, 2009].

Low intake by the infant is usually due to:

Ineffective positioning and attachment. This is almost always due to lack of knowledge/understanding in the mother and lack of skilled help, although in a few cases the infant may be unable to suckle effectively to stimulate the milk supply.

Insufficient access to the breast (restricted time or frequency at the breast or not responding to feeding cues, infrequent feeds, no night feeds), use of a dummy, or giving other fluids.

However, once breastfeeding technique or pattern improves, the infant's intake will increase and milk production will increase.

It should be noted that mothers are often concerned that they do not have enough milk, whereas the infant is getting all the milk that they need and the problem is the mother's perception that the milk supply is insufficient [NICE, 2005b; WHO, 2009].

True insufficient milk supply is rare and causes include:

Prolactin deficiency due to:

Postpartum pituitary necrosis (Sheehan's syndrome) and other causes of anterior pituitary dysfunction [UKMi, 2010a].

Medications, such as dopamine, ergotamine, and pyridoxine [UKMi, 2010b].

Nicotine [UKMi, 2010b].

Oestrogen and combined oral contraceptive pills [UKMi, 2010b].

Alcohol: high amounts may completely inhibit milk flow. Even small amounts may reduce the amount of milk produced [UKMi, 2010b].

Severe bulimia [UKMi, 2010a].

Breast reduction surgery. Milk supply may be reduced because of interruption of nerves or blood vessels [Hoddinott et al, 2008].

Retained placental fragments — these produce progesterone which inhibits milk production [Jevitt et al, 2007].

Causes of overabundant milk supply

What are the causes of overabundant milk supply?

Ineffective attachment. The infant may not remove milk efficiently so suckles a lot, stimulating the breast to produce a lot of milk.

Moving the infant too early to the second breast before they have finished on the first breast. Most of the milk that the infant takes is milk that is low in fat (sometimes referred to as the 'foremilk') and the infant suckles more to get more energy. This stimulates the breast to produce more milk.

[WHO, 2009]

Causes of painless breast lump

What are the causes of a painless breast lump in women who are breastfeeding?

Causes of a painless breast lump in women who are breastfeeding include:

Galactocele.

Benign tumour.

Breast cancer.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

Painless lump - assessment

Painless breast lump - assessment and diagnosis

120months3060monthsBoth2011-02-07

Assessment

How do I assess a breastfeeding woman with a painless breast lump?

Ask about:

The length of time that the lump has been present.

Whether the lump has enlarged.

Whether there is a family history of breast cancer.

Nipple discharge.

Systemic symptoms.

Look for signs of a galactocele:

A smooth, rounded, painless, swelling in the breast.

Milky or creamy fluid is discharged from the nipple when the lump is pressed.

Look for signs which raise suspicion of cancer (rare):

A discrete, fixed, hard lump, with or without skin tethering.

Unilateral eczematous skin or eczema of the nipple.

Nipple distortion.

Axillary lymphadenopathy.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations on the assessment of a woman with a painless breast lump have been extrapolated from referral guidelines for suspected breast cancer from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE, 2005a], and information about the clinical features of a galactocele based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000].

Milk supply - assessment

Concerns about milk supply - assessment and diagnosis

120months3060monthsBoth2011-02-07

Assessment

How do I assess a woman who is concerned about her milk supply

Listen to the mother's concerns. Particularly common is a perception of inadequate milk supply.

Take a feeding history. Ask about:

Feeding:

Frequency of feeding, length of feed, night feeds.

Feeding difficulties (breastfeeding or other feeding).

Use of other fluids or foods: when started, quantity, and frequency.

Number of previous infants and their feeding history.

Use of nipple shields.

In the mother:

Changes in the breasts pre- and post-natally.

Past history of breast surgery.

Current medication.

Alcohol, smoking.

Current illness.

Stress, depression, lack of confidence, worry, rejection of the infant, or dislike of the idea of breastfeeding. (These do not directly affect milk production, but may interfere with the way in which the mother responds so that she breastfeeds less often. This can result in the infant taking less milk, and this leads to a failure in the stimulation of milk production.)

In the infant:

Growth chart (birthweight, weight now, length).

Behaviour: settled or unsettled, placid or constantly crying.

Stools: frequency, consistency.

Urine frequency (if the infant is less than 6 months, should be at least six times a day).

Illnesses.

Use of a dummy.

Tongue tie (ankyloglossia). Tongue tie makes attachment difficult, and may result in a low milk intake.

Assess breastfeeding technique. Ensure that the woman has an assessment by a skilled person who will observe and assess positioning and attachment and ask about feeding patterns.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on expert opinion from a Canadian guideline on breastfeeding in healthy infants [British Columbia Reproductive Care Program, 1997] and guidelines from the World Health Organization [WHO, 2009].

Perceived insufficient supply of milk

This is the most common reason for cessation of breastfeeding in the first 2 weeks of life in the UK [NICE, 2005b].

When to suspect insufficient milk supply

When should I suspect insufficient milk supply?

Mothers are often concerned that their infant is not getting enough milk, and it is important to differentiate between maternal perception and true insufficient milk supply. True insufficient milk supply occurs rarely. See Causes of low milk supply.

The most important cause of a low milk supply is poor attachment and positioning.

The most common symptoms are that the infant:

Wants to feed more often than 2 hourly with no long intervals between feeds.

Wants to suckle for more less than 5 minutes or more than 40 minutes (unless low birthweight or newborn).

Is generally unsettled.

The most common signs are:

Poor weight gain. Soon after birth most infants may lose weight for a few days. They should be weighed by a health professional some time between the third and fifth day after birth. They should then start to gain weight. Most infants regain their birthweight in the 2 weeks after birth.

Low urine output: less than six times in 24 hours especially if the urine is dark yellow.

Also suspect a low milk supply if there is:

A history of any of the following:

Use of supplementary feeds as these cause the infant to suckle less and therefore less milk is produced.

Use of a dummy as these replace suckling at the breast so the infant suckles less. They may also cause the infant to suckle less effectively therefore interfering with attachment.

Use of a nipple shield.

Too much solid food, too soon.

In the mother:

The breasts feel soft.

The mother is not able to express her milk.

Also suspect a poor milk supply if there is poor hydration of the infant. Suspect this if there is:

A history of:

Fewer than six heavy, wet nappies daily after day 6.

Fewer than two soft yellow stools the size of a £2 coin in a 24 hour period in the first month (except during the first 4 days).

Difficulty waking the infant because of lethargy.

The infant feeding less than eight times within 24 hours in the first 8 weeks, and less than 5–6 times in 24 hours after 8 weeks.

On examination of the infant:

Signs of dehydration.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on expert opinion from a Canadian guideline on breastfeeding in healthy infants [British Columbia Reproductive Care Program, 1997], guidelines from the World Health Organization [WHO, 2009], the breastfeeding assessment form from the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative 2008, adapted from a checklist in use by the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust [Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, 2008] and a patient information booklet from the Department of Health [DH, 2009].

Overabundant milk supply

Suspected feeding problems - overabundant milk supply

Suspect an overabundant milk supply:

If the mother has the following symptoms:

Painful letdown.

Milk spraying from the opposite breast when feeding.

If the infant:

Chokes and splutters, and arches their back when letdown occurs.

Is colicky.

Has frequent, often explosive loose stools which may be green.

Gains weight rapidly.

Has frequent wet nappies.

Has a lot of wind.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on expert opinion from a Canadian guideline on breastfeeding in healthy infants [British Columbia Reproductive Care Program, 1997] and expert opinion in guidelines in infant and young child feeding from the World Health Organization [WHO, 2009].

Loose stools

Ingesting large amounts of low fat milk (that is 'foremilk') means that the infant ingests large amounts of lactose, causing loose stools and colic [WHO, 2009].

Nipple pain - assessment

Nipple pain/soreness in women who are breastfeeding - assessment and diagnosis

120months3060monthsFemale2011-02-07

Assessment

How do I assess a woman with nipple pain/soreness?

Nipple pain or soreness in women who are breastfeeding is most commonly caused by poor attachment of the infant; this should be fully explored before considering other causes.

Ask about:

Onset of the nipple pain in relation to the birth.

Problems with poor positioning and attachment most commonly present early in breastfeeding but may occur at any time.

Candidal infection of the nipples is rare during the first few weeks after birth unless the woman had vaginal thrush during delivery or a history of deep breast candida or treatment with antibiotics.

When the nipple pain occurs. The pain is usually:

Present from the start of a breastfeed and throughout the feed if there is poor attachment.

Worse just after feeds and lasting up to 1 hour if there is candidal infection of the nipple.

Present during and immediately after breastfeeding, and when it is cold if Raynaud's disease is present.

The character and severity of the pain.

Severe pain typically occurs due to poor attachment and positioning and also in candidal infection and Raynaud's disease.

Pain is intermittent in Raynaud's disease.

A burning breast sensation and itching typically occur in candidal infection and eczema or dermatitis of the areola and nipple.

Super sensitivity of the nipple to touch typically occurs in candidal infection.

Pinpoint nipple pain typically occurs if there is a white spot/bleb.

Blanching of the nipple.

Pressure from suckling may cause blanching, compression, and pain if there is poor attachment.

Blanching of the nipple followed by cyanosis and/or erythema suggests Raynaud's disease. The blanching occurs during and immediately after feeds, and also in between feeds if exposed to cold.

Change in the shape of the nipple after breastfeeding.

If there is any flattening of the nipple from side to side with a pressure line across the tip, then poor positioning and attachment is likely to be the cause.

Whether one or both breasts are affected:

Poor attachment may be unilateral or bilateral; candidal infection (except in the very early stages) is usually bilateral; Raynaud's disease is often bilateral but both nipples are not necessarily painful at the same time.

Discharge  — yellow discharge suggests coexistent bacterial infection.

Look for:

Inverted nipples that predispose towards initial problems with attachment. Some inverted nipples are non-protractile which makes it more difficult for the infant to attach — protractility usually improves in the first week after the infant is born.

Constant loss of colour in the nipples or part or all of the areola suggesting candidal infection. In candidal infection, the nipples may appear slightly swollen with a shiny appearance or contain fissures, or there may be mild redness around the areola. However the examination may also be normal.

A red rash with vesicles and crusting or with lichenification and scaling that tends to spare the base of the nipple — suggesting eczema/dermatitis of the areola and nipple.

A nipple fissure. The main cause of a nipple fissure is poor attachment.

Pinkness or redness, flaking, shininess, or fissure of the nipple. Some experts associate these signs with ductal infection.

A typical vesicular rash of herpes simplex.

Oral thrush or nappy rash in the infant, as this suggests a possible candidal infection of the nipple.

Tongue tie (ankyloglossia) in the infant which makes attachment difficult and may result in sore nipples.

Assess breastfeeding technique. Ensure that the woman has an assessment by a skilled person who will observe and assess positioning and attachment and ask about feeding patterns.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on expert opinion in guidelines from the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009b], a narrative review [Mass, 2004], the Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009], guidelines on infant and child feeding from the World Health Organization [WHO, 2009], a textbook [Bardolph and Aston, 2000], and a case report [Page and McKenna, 2006].

Clinical features of candidal infection

What are the clinical features of candidal infection of the nipple?

Clinical features of candidal infection of the nipple include:

A burning sensation in the breast, intense itching, or severe nipple pain during and just after feeds. The pain may last up to 1 hour after feeds.

Super-sensitivity of the nipple to touch.

Constant loss of colour in the nipples or part or all of the areola.

Redness of the nipple.

Shooting pains radiating towards the chest wall, back, and shoulder.

Bilateral symptoms (except in the very early stages) because the infant transfers the infection.

A red flaky rash on the areola with itching or depigmentation.

Nipples that are slightly swollen with a shiny appearance, fissure of the nipple, or mild redness around the areola. The areola and nipple may also appear normal.

Consider candidal infection if crackled nipples do not heal despite optimising attachment. Bacterial infection is also a possibility.

Consider candidal infection of the nipple if the woman has nipple pain and risk factors for candidal infection including:

Recent antibiotic treatment.

Vaginal candidiasis at delivery.

Nipple damage.

Use of bottles, dummies, and breast pumps in the first 2 weeks after delivery.

An infant who has oral candidiasis.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Clinical features

The information on symptoms of candidal infection of the nipple is largely based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis and a review of infant and young child feeding published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000; WHO, 2009], a leaflet (Thrush and breastfeeding) published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a], a leaflet (Differential diagnosis of nipple pain) produced by the breastfeeding network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009b], a review article [Mass, 2004], and a textbook [Inch, 2000].

The information on signs of candidal infection of the nipple is largely based on expert opinion from a leaflet (Thrush and breastfeeding) published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a] and a review article [Fraser and Cullen, 2006].

Information on the symptoms and signs of candidal infection of the nipple is also based on a prospective cohort study of 100 breastfeeding mothers which found that 89% of women with a positive culture for candidal infection from the nipple or mammary fold, or from breast milk had at least one of the following: burning sensation in the nipple or areola, stabbing pain in the breast, non-stabbing pain in the breast, shiny skin of the nipple or areola, or flaky skin of the nipple or areola [Francis-Morrill et al, 2004].

Risk factors

This information is based on expert opinion from a leaflet (Thrush and breastfeeding) published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a].

Clinical features of bacterial infection

What are the clinical features of bacterial infection of the nipple?

Typical clinical features of bacterial infection of the nipple are a yellow discharge from the nipple or a sloughy appearance.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009].

Clinical features of eczema or dermatitis

What the clinical features of eczema or dermatitis of the areola and nipple

Typical clinical features of eczema or dermatitis of the nipple

The rash:

Occurs acutely — as a red eruption with vesicles, crusting, and oozing.

Occurs sub-acutely or chronically — as a dry, red, lichenified, scaling dermatitis.

Is burning or itchy.

Usually affects both breasts.

May be confined to the nipple or extend beyond the areola, but tends to spare the area at the base of the nipple.

There may be soreness, or pain of the nipple and/or areola.

There may be a history of application of topical products to the nipple, such as soap, detergents, fragrances, chlorine clothing bleach, lanolin, beeswax, chamomile, or aloe vera.

There may be a history of the dermatitis beginning after the infant started to take solid food.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Clinical features

This information is based on a description in expert review articles [Whitaker-Worth et al, 2000; Barankin and Gross, 2004] and a case report [Amir, 1993].

Use of nipple creams, lanolin, soap, or detergents on the breast

Women with endogenous eczema are likely to develop nipple eczema.

Women who are breastfeeding can develop a contact dermatitis of the nipple. This may be [Amir, 1993; Barankin and Gross, 2004]:

An irritant contact dermatitis due to soap, detergents, fragrances, chlorine clothing bleach, or other topical product used on the nipple.

An allergic contact dermatitis due to lanolin, beeswax, chamomile, aloe vera, or allergens in the infant's solid food.

Clinical features of Raynaud's disease of the nipple

What are the clinical features of Raynaud's disease of the nipple?

Typical clinical features of Raynaud's disease of the nipple

There may be a history of Raynaud's disease.

Blanching of the nipple occurs followed by cyanosis and/or erythema.

Pain resolves when the nipple returns to its normal pink colour.

Pain is severe, debilitating, and throbbing, and:

Occurs during and immediately after breastfeeding.

May be precipitated by cold.

Nipple pain is present despite optimal attachment and positioning at the breast.

Raynaud's disease usually affects both nipples although not necessarily at the same time.

For more information about the diagnosis and assessment of a person with suspected Raynaud's disease, see the CKS topic on Raynaud's phenomenon.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on case reports of symptoms [Lawlor-Smith and Lawlor-Smith, 1997; Anderson et al, 2004; Page and McKenna, 2006].

Breast pain - assessment

Breast pain/discomfort in women who are breastfeeding - assessment and diagnosis

120months3060monthsBoth2011-02-07

Assessment

How do I assess a woman who develops breast pain when breastfeeding?

Breast pain or discomfort in women who breastfeed is usually caused by one of the following: a full breast, breast engorgement, a blocked duct, mastitis (infectious or non-infectious), or a breast abscess. Pain or discomfort does not include the tingling sensation due to the 'letdown reflex' which is normal.

Consider causes of breast pain that are related to breastfeeding.

Ask about:

Onset of the breast pain in relation to the birth — a full or engorged breast typically occurs in the first few days after the infant is born. A woman with a full breast experiences discomfort not pain.

Whether one or both breasts are affected — fullness or engorgement almost always affects both breasts.

Milk flow — milk does not flow well from an engorged breast.

Whether it is easy for the infant to attach — the infant may find it difficult to attach and suckle from engorged breasts.

The timing of the symptoms — pain or discomfort from a full or engorged breast is typically worse before a feed.

Look for:

Fever — absent in women with a full breast or a blocked duct; may be present in women with breast engorgement, mastitis, or a breast abscess. In women with breast engorgement the fever, if present, usually subsides within 24 hours.

Redness — absent in women with a full breast; typically present in women with engorged breasts, a blocked duct, mastitis, or a breast abscess.

Lump — a painful lump is typically present in women with a blocked duct or a breast abscess. There is a hard swelling (usually in a wedge-shaped distribution) in mastitis.

A small white spot (about 1 mm in diameter) at the end of the nipple that is extremely painful when feeding — occurs in some women who have a blocked duct.

In the absence of clinical feature of mastitis or engorgement some experts consider the possibility of ductal infection as a cause of deep breast pain that occurs during and between feeds. Other suggested but unproven causes for deep breast pain include spasm of the ducts, persistent reaction to nerve trauma, and prolactin-induced mastalgia.

Assess breastfeeding technique. Ensure that the woman has an assessment by a skilled person who will observe and assess positioning and attachment, and ask about feeding patterns.

Look for tongue tie (ankyloglossia) in the infant. Tongue tie makes attachment difficult, and may result in low milk intake.

Consider causes of breast pain that are not related to lactation.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Assessment of breast pain

These recommendations for assessment of a woman with breast pain are based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis and a review of infant and young child feeding published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000; WHO, 2010] and in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009].

Deep breast pain

A systematic review by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) identified no studies that addressed the prevalence, prevention or management of sore breasts that were caused by factors other than engorgement and mastitis. They commented that breast pain can occur during and between feeds in the absence of mastitis or engorgement and listed suggested causes. Research is essential to identify how many women develop deep breast pain and in what circumstances sore nipples and deep breast pain are related. Trials of treatment will then be needed [NICE, 2005b].

Assessment of breastfeeding technique

This recommendation is based on expert opinion in a review of infant and young child feeding published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2009].

Clinical features of a full breast

What are the clinical features of a full breast?

Typical clinical features of a full breast

It occurs between the second and sixth day after birth as the milk 'comes in'.

Both breasts are usually affected.

Milk flows well and sometimes leaks spontaneously.

The infant finds it easy to attach and suckle.

The breast feels hot, heavy, and hard.

The breast is not shiny, oedematous, or red.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization and Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation network [WHO, 2000; GAIN, 2009].

Clinical features of breast engorgement

What are the clinical features of breast engorgement?

Typical clinical features of an engorged breast

It occurs:

In the first few days after the infant is born when there has been no or insufficient/inadequate milk removal (primary engorgement), or

When feeding is less frequent or restricted, or the infant's demands have decreased (secondary engorgement).

The breast is enlarged, swollen, and painful.

It is often bilateral.

The breast may be shiny and there may be oedema with diffuse red areas.

The nipple may be stretched so that it is flat.

Milk does not flow easily.

The infant may find it difficult to attach and suckle.

The woman may have a fever (this will usually settle within 24 hours).

If untreated, lactation will be inhibited.

Breast engorgement occurs more commonly in women who have had augmentation mammoplasty.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis and a review of infant and child feeding published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000; WHO, 2009], a review article [Barbosa-Cesnik et al, 2003], Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009], a Cochrane systematic review protocol [Mangesi and Muzinzini, 2009], and a case report [Acarturk et al, 2005].

Clinical features of a blocked duct

What are the clinical features of a blocked duct?

Typical clinical features of a blocked duct

There is a painful lump in the breast.

The woman has no fever.

The skin may be red over the lump.

A related condition is the appearance of a small (1 mm in diameter) white spot at the end of the nipple that is extremely painful when suckling; it is thought to be due to an overgrowth of epithelium (which forms a blister), or an accumulation of fatty or particulate material.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis and a review of infant and young child feeding published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000; WHO, 2009].

Clinical features of mastitis

What are the clinical features of mastitis?

It is not possible to distinguish clinically when non-infectious mastitis has become infectious mastitis. In both cases:

The woman has a painful breast.

Systemic symptoms of general malaise and fever are common.

Part of the breast (usually in a wedge-shaped distribution) is tender, red, swollen, and hard.

Suspect infectious mastitis if:

The woman has a nipple fissure that is infected.

Symptoms do not improve or are worsening after 12–24 hours despite effective milk removal.

Bacterial culture is positive.

For more information, see the CKS topic on Mastitis and breast abscess.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Clinical features of non-infectious mastitis and infectious mastitis

These clinical features are based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000] and review articles [Barbosa-Cesnik et al, 2003; Betzold, 2007].

Difficulty in distinguishing between non-infectious mastitis and infectious mastitis

In both non-infectious and infectious mastitis, inflammation may be caused by the accumulated milk. The inflammation causes the tight junctions between the milk-secreting cells of the alveoli to open up and substances from plasma pass into the milk. Also, the increase in the pressure of the milk in the ducts and alveoli may force substances from milk into the surrounding tissue. Cytokines, both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, are present in milk and these may induce an inflammatory response causing fever, chills, and muscle pain even when there is no infection [WHO, 2000; Betzold, 2007].

Even if there is no infection initially, a secondary infection may occur [Betzold, 2007].

Suspicion of infectious mastitis

These recommendations have been extrapolated from the criteria that the World Health Organization advises for starting an antibiotic [WHO, 2000; WHO, 2009]. As it is impossible to distinguish clinically between infectious mastitis and non-infectious mastitis, CKS suggests that if these criteria are present an infectious cause is more likely and antibiotic treatment appropriate.

Expert opinion in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network is that in infectious mastitis, flu-like symptoms and pyrexia are more likely to last for more than 24 hours and there will be significant breast discomfort [GAIN, 2009].

Clinical features of a breast abscess

What are the clinical features of a breast abscess?

Typical clinical features of a breast abscess

A history of recent mastitis.

A painful, swollen lump in the breast with redness, heat, and swelling of the overlying skin.

A fever.

Malaise.

On examination, the lump may be fluctuant with skin discolouration.

Malaise and fever may have subsided if the woman has taken antibiotics.

Clinical features of presumed ductal infection

What are the clinical features of presumed ductal infection?

Ductal infection is considered by some experts to be a cause of deep breast pain, but other experts dispute its existence.

Clinical features of infection of the mammary ducts (this is not mastitis) include:

A deep burning, aching, or shooting pain in the breast that is worse during or just after breastfeeding — this may be agonizing. There may be accompanying pain down the arm or in the back.

The woman does not have fever or malaise.

Clinical signs are variable and there may be:

No redness, induration, or tenderness (that is, no clinical signs in the areola or nipple).

Pinkness or redness, flaking, shininess, or fissure of the nipple.

Purulent exudate or honey-coloured crusts suggesting bacterial infection.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000], a review article [Betzold, 2007], and in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009].

Non-lactational causes of breast pain in women

What breast conditions that are not related to lactation, cause breast pain in breastfeeding women ?

Breast conditions not related to lactation

Breast cancer, including inflammatory breast cancer.

Fibroadenosis.

Breast cyst — ruptured.

Sub-areolar abscess (duct ectasia).

Necrotizing fasciitis of the breasts.

Fat necrosis of the breast.

Paget's disease of the nipple.

Conditions of the chest wall

Costochondritis.

Mondor's disease (phlebitis of the chest wall).

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000], review articles [Giordano and Hortobagyi, 2003; Betzold, 2007], a textbook [Inch, 2000], and a case review [Cyrlak and Carpenter, 1999].

Management

Management

Scenario: Breast pain - management : covers the management of common problems associated with breastfeeding, particularly in relation to milk supply.

Scenario: Nipple soreness - management : covers the management of common problems associated with nipple pain/soreness including candidal infection of the nipple.

Scenario: Milk supply - management : covers the management of women who are concerned that they have insufficient or overabundant milk supply.

Scenario: Painless lump - management : covers the management of a woman who is breastfeeding and has a painless breast lump.

Scenario: Risk of vitamin D deficiency : covers the management of a woman who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Scenario: Breast pain - management

Scenario: Breast pain/discomfort - management

120months3060monthsFemale

Full breasts

How should I support a woman with full breasts?

Involve a breastfeeding specialist to assist the woman in improving the infant's attachment to the breast. This will improve milk removal and prevent nipple damage.

For more information on indicators of good attachment, see Infant attachment.

Reassure the woman that:

Fullness is due to the milk 'coming in' and is normal.

In a day or two her milk supply and the infant's needs will match each other.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000] and a clinical review [Hoddinott et al, 2008].

Breast engorgement

How should I support a woman with engorged breasts?

Involve a breastfeeding specialist to assist the woman in improving the infant's attachment to the breast. This will improve milk removal and prevent nipple damage.

For more information on indicators of good attachment, see Infant attachment.

Advise her to feed the infant with no restrictions on frequency and length of feeds.

Teach her how to:

Massage her breasts.

If necessary, relieve fullness and engorgement by hand expression of breast milk.

Advise her:

To wear a well-fitting bra that does not restrict her breasts.

That if the breasts are not leaking, to avoid warm packs as these may increase swelling if the ducts are blocked. Warm packs may be used if the breasts are leaking.

That chilled cabbage leaves or cold gel packs may be helpful, after feeding or expressing, in reducing pain and oedema.

To relieve pain, offer paracetamol as first choice.

Ibuprofen is an alternative. Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

How to express breast milk

How to support a woman to express breast milk

Expressing breast milk should not be rushed. Explain that to express an adequate amount of breast milk may take up to 30 minutes.

Teach the woman to express breast milk herself. Recommend the following:

Have a clean, sterilized, wide-necked container available.

Wash her hands thoroughly.

Sit or stand comfortably, and hold the container under her nipple and areola.

Gently massage the breast and nipple before expressing.

Cup her breast in her hands and feel back from the end of the nipple to the area where the breast feels different.

Put her thumb on her breast ABOVE the nipple and areola, and her first finger on the breast below the nipple and areola, opposite the thumb. Support the breast with her other fingers.

Gently squeeze, this should not hurt. if it hurts, the technique is wrong.

Release the pressure and repeat building up a rhythm.

At first no milk or only drops may come but after squeezing gently a few times, milk should start to drip out. It may flow in streams.

If the milk does not flow at all, try moving the fingers either a little way towards the nipple or a little further away.

When the flow slows move to the other breast.

Keep changing breasts until the milk stops or drips very slowly.

Avoid:

Rubbing or sliding the fingers along the skin.

Squeezing or pinching the nipple.

Store the milk in a sterilized container:

In a fridge at 4°C or lower for up to 5 days, usually at the back.

In the ice compartment of a fridge for 2 weeks.

In a freezer for 6 months.

[DH, 2007; WHO, 2000; WHO, 2009].

Infant attachment

What are the signs of good infant attachment and successful breastfeeding?

Indicators of effective attachment include:

The infant feeds with a wide mouth and an active tongue.

More areola is visible above the infant's upper lip than below the infant's lower lip.

The chin is touching the breast, lower lip rolled down, and nose free.

There is no pain and breasts and nipples are comfortable.

Nipples are the same shape as when feed began or slightly enhanced.

Indicators of effective breastfeeding in infants include:

Audible and visible swallowing.

Rounded cheeks (not hollow).

Initial rapid sucks followed by sustained rhythmic sucks and swallowing with occasional pauses.

The infant's body is relaxed.

A moist mouth.

Regular soaked nappies.

Infant lets go spontaneously or does so when the breast is gently lifted.

Infant feeds for 5–30 minutes at most feeds.

Infant is content after most feeds.

Indicators of effective breastfeeding in the woman include:

Breast softening.

No compression of the nipple at the end of the feed.

The woman feels relaxed and sleepy.

[WHO, 2000; National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006; Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, 2008]

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000], a review from the World Health Organization on Infant and young child feeding [WHO, 2009], and from a guideline on postnatal care from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

NICE states that although warm packs improve vascular flow they may aggravate swelling if the ducts are blocked. Therefore, their use is only recommended if the breasts are leaking [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

WHO reviewed the evidence for the use of cabbage leaves, either chilled or at room temperature, for the relief of symptoms associated with engorgement. It found that cabbage leaves were as effective as cold packs in providing pain relief, but there was no evidence that they shortened the duration of the condition [WHO, 2000]. NICE also reviewed the available evidence on cabbage leaves and concluded that none of the studies were able to exclude a placebo effect [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

Analgesia

NICE advises an analgesic compatible with breastfeeding, such as paracetamol [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

For further information on the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in women who are breastfeeding, see the section on Breastfeeding in the CKS topic on NSAIDs - prescribing issues.

Blocked duct

How should I support a woman with a blocked duct?

Ensure that infant attachment is adequate. Refer to a breastfeeding specialist where appropriate.

Some experts recommend holding the infant with its chin pointing to the affected area of the breast to facilitate milk removal.

Avoid obstructing the flow of milk, such as holding the breast too near the nipple or wearing clothing that is too tight.

Recommend feeding from the affected breast frequently.

Consider suggesting that the woman tries applying warm compresses or having a warm shower — but to only continue to do this if symptoms are relieved.

If these methods do not work, teach the woman to massage the breast gently using a firm movement towards the nipple.

Relief of symptoms and release of the milk may be helped by expression of particulate matter, or brown or greenish material that is fatty or stringy-looking. However this may not be present.

If there is a white spot on the nipple associated with the blocked duct, remove it by bathing and then rubbing with a warm, damp towel or by using a sterile needle.

Advise the woman that recurrence is common, and treatment should be re-started immediately should any symptoms develop.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are largely based on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization (WHO) [WHO, 2000].

Massage should be done gently, as when the breast is inflamed it may sometimes make the situation worse.

Application of warm compresses or having a warm shower

Expert opinion is conflicting about the use of warmth for the treatment of blocked duct. WHO recommend that women with a blocked duct should be advised to apply wet heat (such as warm compresses or a warm shower) [WHO, 2000]. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, in the guideline Postnatal care: routine postnatal care of women and their babies, caution that warm packs or hot compresses may aggravate swelling if ducts are blocked [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

CKS therefore recommends that use of a warm pack or a hot shower may be considered, but should be discontinued if there is no benefit.

Suspected ductal infection

How should I manage a woman with suspected ductal infection due to possible candida infection?

Ductal infection is considered by some experts to be a cause of deep breast pain, but other experts dispute its existence. Consider seeking specialist advice.

Before investigating and treating possible ductal infection, ensure that positioning and attachment are optimal and that other causes of breast pain have been excluded.

Consider prescribing fluconazole 150–300 mg as a single dose followed by 50–100 mg twice a day for 10 days (off-label use).

Some experts recommend treatment with oral fluconazole if candidal infection is confirmed by culture of the breast milk.

Other experts recommend empirical treatment with oral fluconazole if other causes of breast pain have been excluded.

If bacterial infection is suspected (for example because of purulent exudate or crusts on the nipple):

Prescribe flucloxacillin 500 mg four times a day for 10–14 days.

Prescribe erythromycin 500 mg four times a day to women who are allergic to penicillin.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Treatment with oral fluconazole

The recommendation to only treat candidal infection if confirmed by milk culture is from a CKS expert reviewer.

The recommendation to treat empirically after excluding other causes for the symptoms is based on advice in the Breastfeeding Network leaflet Thrush and breastfeeding [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a].

Dose of fluconazole

The recommended dose of fluconazole is based on advice in the Breastfeeding Network leaflet Thrush and breastfeeding [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a].

Treatment with oral antibiotics

CKS could find no guidance on the choice of antibiotic or the length of the course. We have therefore recommended the regimens that are used for mastitis.

Safety of the recommended drugs during breastfeeding

For further information, see the sections on Oral antibiotics and Oral fluconazole in Prescribing information.

Mastitis

How should I manage mastitis?

For information on the management of non-infectious and infectious mastitis, see the CKS topic on Mastitis and breast abscess.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

For recommendations on the management of mastitis and the basis for these recommendations, see the CKS topic on Mastitis and breast abscess.

Breast abscess

How should I manage a woman with a breast abscess

For information on the management of breast abscess, see the CKS topic on Mastitis and breast abscess.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

For recommendations on the management of breast abscess and the basis for these recommendations, see the CKS topic on Mastitis and breast abscess.

Sources of information

What sources of information are available for the woman?

Organizations with a telephone helpline and a website

These are staffed by breastfeeding specialists (usually another mother in her own home who has had extensive training in breastfeeding).

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (http://abm.me.uk): telephone 08444 122 949.

Breastfeeding Network (www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk): telephone 0300 100 0210.

NHS Choices (www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk): National Breastfeeding Helpline telephone: 0300 100 0212.

La Leche League (www.laleche.org.uk): telephone 0845 456 1855.

National Childbirth Trust (www.nct.org.uk): telephone 0300 330 0771.

Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (http://fsid.org.uk): telephone 0808 802 6868.

Bliss (www.bliss.org.uk); telephone 0500 618140.

Websites offering information

Best Beginnings (www.bestbeginnings.info) — includes video clips of breastfeeding, positioning, and attachment.

Drugs in Breast milk helpline (www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/drugs-in-breastmilk.html) — information on taking prescription drugs whilst breastfeeding.

Healthtalkonline (www.healthtalkonline.org)  — includes video clips of women talking about their breastfeeding experiences and web links to other information resources.

Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland (www.breastfedbabies.org). Provides detailed information on breastfeeding.

UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative (www.babyfriendly.org.uk) Provides information and links to research on breastfeeding.

Booklets that can be downloaded

Off to the best start (www.dh.gov.uk). This leaflet provides information on breastfeeding, expressing milk and finding further breastfeeding help.

Breastfeeding and returning to work: Off to a good start (www.healthscotland.com). Aspects of combining breastfeeding with work.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These sources of information were suggested in a expert review article [Hoddinott et al, 2008] and by CKS expert reviewers.

Scenario: Nipple soreness - management

Scenario: Nipple soreness/pain - management

120months3060monthsFemale

Nipple pain/soreness due to attachment

Nipple pain/soreness due to poor attachment

Reinforce the importance of correct positioning and effective infant attachment when breastfeeding.

The first few sucks may be strong, but if there is nipple pain during a feed, arrange for a skilled breastfeeding specialist to observe the feed. It is likely that positioning and attachment can be improved.

Inform the woman that:

It is important to continue to breastfeed unless the mother finds breastfeeding too painful.

Limiting the duration of breastfeeding does not relieve nipple soreness.

There is no evidence that applying topical lanolin or breast milk relieves breast soreness and further research is needed.

Incorrect positioning and attachment is not helped by the use of nipple shields or breast shells.

If the skin is broken and there is a scab, or if clothing sticks to the nipple:

Apply a thin smear of white soft paraffin or use a paraffin-impregnated gauze.

If the nipple does not heal with the measures described above, suspect an infection which may be due to candida or a bacterial infection.

Infant attachment

What are the signs of effective infant attachment and breastfeeding?

Indicators of effective attachment include:

The infant feeds with a wide mouth and an active tongue.

More areola is visible above the infant's upper lip than below the infant's lower lip.

The chin is touching the breast, lower lip rolled down, and nose free.

There is no pain and breasts and nipples are comfortable.

Nipples are the same shape as when feed began or slightly enhanced.

Indicators of effective breastfeeding in infants include:

Audible and visible swallowing.

Rounded cheeks (not hollow).

Initial rapid sucks followed by sustained rhythmic sucks and swallowing with occasional pauses.

The infant's body is relaxed.

A moist mouth.

Regular soaked nappies.

Infant lets go spontaneously or does so when the breast is gently lifted.

Infant feeds for 5–30 minutes at most feeds.

Infant is content after most feeds.

Indicators of effective breastfeeding in the woman include:

Breast softening.

No compression of the nipple at the end of the feed.

The woman feels relaxed and sleepy.

[WHO, 2000; National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006; Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, 2008]

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Management of sore nipples

These recommendations are from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline Postnatal care: routine postnatal care of women and their babies [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006].

Sore nipples are usually due to suction trauma that is secondary to poor attachment. Therefore, effective attachment when breastfeeding is essential for prevention of nipple pain.

Improving positioning and attachment is likely to be more effective than 'resting the nipples and expressing'. Removing the infant from the breast in order to heal the nipples creates a problem of maintaining sufficient milk production. Less milk will be removed from the breast by expressing than is removed by suckling [Royal College of Midwives, 2002].

A systematic review by NICE concluded that no one treatment has been shown to be effective for relieving sore nipples. Hydrogel dressings may increase the incidence of infection and nipple shields may interfere with attachment. Further research is needed on breast milk or lanolin applied to the nipples, and the use of breast shells [NICE, 2005b].

Management of nipple damage

These recommendations are based on expert opinion from a textbook [Inch, 2000] and a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000]. For treatment of a nipple fissure without mastitis, moist wound healing is recommended either with paraffin-impregnated gauze [Inch, 2000] or by using white soft paraffin alone [The Breastfeeding Network, 2002]. Moist wound healing prevents the epithelium from drying out and reduces the trauma when the nipple is stretched (along with the breast tissue) during feeding. However, only improved attachment will allow the nipple to heal [Inch, 2000].

Suspicion of bacterial infection of the nipple

This recommendation is based on expert opinion in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009]. This seems reasonable, considering:

A prospective study of 227 breastfeeding women found that 64 women (28%) had a crack, fissure, or exudate of the nipple. Of these, 36% were colonized by Staphylococcus aureus [Livingstone et al, 1996].

Suspected candidal infection

How should I manage a woman with suspected candidal infection of the nipple?

Provide information and support to the mother:

To continue to breastfeed.

To wash her hands well after each nappy change.

To wash and sterilize dummies, teats, nipple shields, and toys that are put in the mouth.

Treat both the mother and the infant simultaneously.

For the mother:

Prescribe miconazole 2% cream first-line. Advise the woman to apply the cream to the nipples after every breastfeed for 2 weeks, even if symptoms have resolved, and to wipe away any visible cream before the next feed.

If the nipples are very red and inflamed, prescribe hydrocortisone 1% cream as well. A combination cream or ointment (miconazole 2% with hydrocortisone 1%) may be used.

If a nipple fissure is also present, infection with Staphylococcus aureus may be present. Prescribe Fusidic acid cream or ointment to be used after every breastfeed for 5–7 days.

If the symptoms do not resolve or get worse (such as deep pain developing) then check that:

Attachment and positioning are optimum.

There is no other cause for the symptoms.

Prescribe fluconazole 150–300 mg as a single dose followed by 50–100 mg twice a day for 10 days. Continue local treatment in both the mother and the infant.

Treat the infant at the same time:

Advise applying miconazole gel gently with a clean finger to all mucosal surfaces in the mouth. For dosage information, see Miconazole oral gel. Continue for 48 hours after the lesions have healed. Do not apply on a spoon as there is a risk of choking.

0–4 weeks: 1 mL (applied directly onto the affected areas of the infant's mouth) two to four times daily.

Over 1 month: 2.5 mL (applied directly onto the affected areas of the infant's mouth) twice daily.

If the thrush does not resolve, seek specialist advice.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Information for the mother

These recommendations are based on expert opinion from a leaflet Thrush and breastfeeding, published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a].

Treat both the mother and the infant simultaneously

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a leaflet Thrush and breastfeeding, published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a] and a review article [Fraser and Cullen, 2006].

Choice of antifungal treatment in the mother

The Breastfeeding Network in a leaflet Thrush and breastfeeding [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a]:

Recommends the use of miconazole cream for candidal infection of the nipple. They point out that miconazole gel should not be used on the nipples as it is unlikely to penetrate the skin.

Advises against the use of clotrimazole 1% cream as there are anecdotal reports that it is associated with allergic reactions.

Miconazole is also recommended for candidal infection of the nipple in a narrative review [Wiener, 2006]. Although nystatin may be used, there seems to be more resistance to this compared with miconazole.

Nystatin cream is no longer available.

Use of corticosteroid cream if the nipples are red

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a leaflet (Thrush and breastfeeding) published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a].

Topical antibiotic for a nipple fissure

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a leaflet (Thrush and breastfeeding) published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a].

A prospective study of 227 breastfeeding women found that 64 women (28%) had a crack, fissure, or exudate of the nipple. Of these, 36% were colonized by Staphylococcus aureus [Livingstone et al, 1996].

CKS suggests the use of fusidic acid for suspected staphylococcal infection.

Use of an oral antifungal in women if miconazole cream is ineffective

The recommendation to prescribe oral treatment as well as topical treatment if topical treatment alone is ineffective is based on expert opinion from a leaflet (Thrush and breastfeeding) published by the Breastfeeding Network [The Breastfeeding Network, 2009a]:

There are no large randomized controlled trials to guide treatment, only a few small studies and anecdotal reports.

The World Health Organization recognizes fluconazole as being compatible with breastfeeding.

Choice of topical antifungal in an infant

This recommendation is based on good evidence from a prospective randomized trial which found that, in immunocompetent infants, miconazole oral gel is significantly more effective than nystatin suspension in the treatment of oropharyngeal thrush.

Safety of the recommended antifungals

For further information, see the sections on Miconazole oral gel and Oral fluconazole in Prescribing information.

Suspected bacterial infection

How should I support a woman with suspected bacterial infection of the nipple?

Prescribe fusidic acid 2% cream to be used after every breastfeed for 5–7 days.

If the infection is severe, prescribe an oral antibiotic. Use flucloxacillin 500 mg four times a day for 7 days.

If the woman is allergic to penicillin, prescribe erythromycin 500 mg four times a day for 7 days.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendation are based on expert opinion in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009] and an expert review [Betzold, 2007].

Use of fusidic acid after every breastfeed

This recommendation is based on expert advice in a textbook [Inch, 2000].

Choice of topical or oral antibiotics

Expert opinion from a textbook [Inch, 2000] states that fusidic acid is often sufficient for treating bacterial infection of the nipple. This appears reasonable, considering:

A prospective study of 227 breastfeeding women found that 64 women (28%) had a crack, fissure, or exudate of the nipple. Of these, 36% were colonized by Staphylococcus aureus [Livingstone et al, 1996].

Limited evidence from a small, randomized, prospective study suggests that breastfeeding women with sore nipples and a break in the skin from which S. aureus had been cultured were more likely to improve and less likely to develop mastitis if treated with oral antibiotics rather than with a topical antibiotic (fusidic acid or mupirocin) or optimal breastfeeding technique alone [Livingstone and Stringer, 1999]. However, as most women will not be colonized with S. aureus, only a small number of women would benefit from an antibiotic (oral or topical).

CKS therefore recommends the use of a topical antibiotic (unless the infection is severe) until more evidence is available. Future Cochrane systematic reviews will investigate:

Interventions for treating painful nipples among breastfeeding women [Dennis et al, 2008].

Interventions for preventing mastitis after childbirth [Crepinsek et al, 2008].

An oral antibiotic is recommended if infection is severe based on expert opinion in Guidelines on the treatment, management & prevention of mastitis for Northern Ireland published by the Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network [GAIN, 2009]. As a staphylococcus is the most likely infecting organism, CKS recommends flucloxacillin 500 mg four times a day for 7 days. If the women is allergic to penicillin, erythromycin 500 mg four times a day may be used instead. Guidelines from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) recommend a 7 day course of antibiotics for staphylococcal skin infections [HPA, 2009].

Safety of the recommended antibiotics during breastfeeding

For further information, see the sections on Oral antibiotics and Fusidic acid cream or ointment in Prescribing information.

Eczema or dermatitis of the nipple

How should I support a woman with eczema or dermatitis of the nipple

Avoid possible precipitating factors:

Commercial nipple creams and lanolin.

Soap and shampoo on the breasts and nipples.

Swimming in chlorinated water.

If the eczema has started after the infant begins solid foods there is a possibility that the woman is allergic to the food in the infant's mouth. Therefore advise:

Breastfeeding before offering solid foods.

Giving the infant a drink of water to rinse food from the mouth before a feed.

Rinsing the nipple area with expressed breast milk or water after each feed.

If symptoms still continue then if possible identify and eliminate the offending food from the infant's diet.

Advise the woman to apply a corticosteroid ointment or cream thinly to her nipples.

The corticosteroid ointment or cream should be applied twice a day, immediately after a feed. Any visible cream or ointment and should be gently wiped off before the next feed.

If the eczema is mild, use a low-potency ointment or cream (such as hydrocortisone 1%).

If the eczema is moderate or severe use a moderate-potency steroid ointment or cream for 3–5 days only (for example clobetasone butyrate 0.05%), followed by a low-potency ointment or cream.

Stop the corticosteroid ointment as soon as the eczema has cleared.

Use fusidic acid ointment or cream after every breastfeed for 5–7 days if the eczema is infected.

If the eczema is unilateral and does not respond to treatment, suspect Paget's disease of the nipple and refer urgently (within 2 weeks).

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Avoid possible precipitating factors

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from review articles [Whitaker-Worth et al, 2000; Barankin and Gross, 2004] and a case report [Amir, 1993].

Irritant contact dermatitis may be caused by soaps, detergents, chlorine, clothing bleach, fragrances, and ointments containing irritants.

Allergic contact dermatitis may be due to: a delayed hypersensitivity reaction to chamomile, beeswax, or lanolin in nipple creams; allergens in the infant's solid food; and preservatives in topical antifungal creams.

Eczema that has started since the infant has taken solid foods

The recommendations to manage possible maternal allergy to food in the infant's mouth are based on expert opinion from a review article [Barankin and Gross, 2004] and a case report [Amir, 1993].

Treatment with topical corticosteroids

These recommendations are based on expert opinion in a review article [Barankin and Gross, 2004].

Use of fusidic acid

These recommendations are based on expert opinion in guidelines from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) who recommend using the same treatment for infected eczema as for impetigo. The recommendation to apply after every breastfeed is based on expert opinion in a textbook [Inch, 2000].

Safety of topical corticosteroids and fusidic acid during breastfeeding

For further information, see the sections on Topical corticosteroids and Fusidic acid cream or ointment in Prescribing information.

Raynaud's disease of the nipple

How should I manage a woman with Raynaud's disease of the nipple?

Ensure that infant attachment and positioning is optimal.

Provide support and information on the following:

Avoid exposure to cold, to wear warm clothing, and breastfeed in a warm environment.

Apply local heat or have a warm shower.

If appropriate:

Stop smoking as this may cause vasoconstriction.

Avoid caffeine as this may cause rebound vasoconstriction.

Consider prescribing a trial of nifedipine for 2 weeks, either as 5 mg immediate release three times a day or as 30 mg modified release once a day. If symptoms recur after stopping the nifedipine, re-start and continue for as long as necessary.

Explain to the mother that Raynaud's disease of the nipple may reoccur in future pregnancies and during future breastfeeding.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Attachment and positioning

This recommendation is based on expert advice in a textbook [Royal College of Midwives, 2002].

General advice

These recommendations are based on expert advice from the authors of case reviews [Garrison, 2002; Hardwick et al, 2002; Anderson et al, 2004].

Safety of nifedipine during breastfeeding

Nifedipine is considered to be suitable for use by women who are breastfeeding (off-label use). For further information, see the section on Nifedipine in Prescribing information.

Dose of nifedipine

The recommended dose of nifedipine is based on the expert opinion of authors of three case reviews [Garrison, 2002; Anderson et al, 2004; Page and McKenna, 2006].

Duration of course of nifedipine

A two week course of nifedipine is recommended initially based on the expert opinion of authors of two case reviews [Garrison, 2002; Anderson et al, 2004].

CKS recommends that nifedipine is continued for as long as necessary if symptoms recur after a 2 week course as nifedipine is considered to be suitable for use by women who are breastfeeding.

Recurrence in future pregnancies

The recommendation to provide support and information to women who have Raynaud's disease of the nipple may reoccur in future pregnancies is based on the expert opinion from the author of a case review [Anderson et al, 2004].

Scenario: Milk supply - management

Scenario: Problems with milk supply - management

120months3060monthsFemale

Maternal concern about milk supply

Supporting the mother concerned about her milk supply

Ensure that the mother has sufficient support. Many mothers who are concerned that their infant is not getting enough milk are usually anxious and in need of effective support to build confidence.

Explain to the mother that exclusive breastfeeding is normally sufficient to support growth and development during the first 6 months of life.

Ensure that the woman has an assessment by a skilled person who will enable the woman to have confidence in her ability to produce sufficient milk and who will be able to:

Observe and assess the feeding pattern.

Give information and support about effective positioning, infant attachment and sucking behaviour.

Provide information and support to the mother so that she can be sure that her infant is getting enough milk if she is exclusively breastfeeding and the infant:

Has plenty of wet nappies: at least six heavy, wet nappies in 24 hours.

Is growing and gaining weight.

Is awake and alert for some of the time.

From the fourth day passes at least two soft, yellow stools a day (each stool at least £2 coin size) for the first few weeks.

Is generally calm and relaxed during feeds.

Is content after most feeds.

Explain to the woman that:

Soon after birth an infant may lose weight for a few days. Most recover their birthweight by the end of the first week if they are healthy and feeding well. All infants should have recovered their birthweight by 2 weeks of age.

It is normal in the early weeks of breastfeeding for an infant to feed 8–12 times in 24 hours. Although this may decline to eight times in 24 hours once breastfeeding is well established, the infant may sometimes increase the frequency of feeding such as during growth spurts.

Discourage the use of a dummy until breastfeeding is well established.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Sufficient support

This recommendation is based on best clinical practice.

Explanation to the mother

This recommendation is based on expert advice in a policy statement from the American Academy of Paediatrics [Gartner et al, 2005].

Concerns about an insufficient milk supply are common reasons for giving supplementary feeds or ceasing to breastfeed [National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health, 2008].

Assessment and support from a skilled person

This recommendation is based on expert opinion in a review article [Hoddinott et al, 2008].

Effective attachment and milk removal are the key to an adequate supply. Expert opinion in a review article is that evidence suggests that good information and support will resolve most problems of perceived insufficiency [Fraser and Cullen, 2006].

Information for the mother regarding signs of an adequate milk supply

This recommendation is based on expert opinion in a guideline Antenatal care: routine care for the healthy pregnant woman from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health, 2008], expert advice in a guideline from the department of Health [DH, 2007] and the breastfeeding assessment form from the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative 2008, adapted from a checklist in use by the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust [Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, 2008].

Information for the mother on early transient weight loss

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a review article on infant and young child feeding [WHO, 2009].

Information about feeding patterns

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a policy statement from the American Academy of Paediatrics [Gartner et al, 2005].

Information about avoidance of the use of a dummy

This recommendation is based on expert opinion from a policy statement from the American Academy of Paediatrics [Gartner et al, 2005]. Use of a dummy may interfere with the establishment of breastfeeding in some infants. Guidelines from the World Health Organization do not recommend use of a dummy [WHO, 2009]. However a systematic review from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence reviewed the available evidence and concluded that existing evidence suggests no effect of dummy use on the duration of breastfeeding. However early use of a dummy and use by first time mothers had been associated with more negative outcomes: therefore there may be circumstances in which the continuance of breastfeeding may become vulnerable because of the use of a dummy [NICE, 2005b].

Low milk supply

How should I support a woman with low milk supply

Seek urgent paediatric advice if there are concerns about the well-being of the infant, such as dehydration or poor weight gain.

Ensure that the woman has an assessment by a skilled person, such as a midwife, who will enable the woman to have confidence in her ability to produce sufficient milk and who will be able to:

Observe and assess the feeding pattern.

Provide information and support about effective positioning, infant attachment, and sucking behaviour.

Encourage frequent feeds, breast drainage, and about how to express breast milk after feeds to stimulate milk production.

Provide information and support about building up milk supply by offering both breasts at each feed and alternating between breasts.

Increase skin-to-skin contact as this will increase opportunities for breastfeeding.

If the above measures fail, the infant may need supplementary feeds.

Discuss with women who have had a breast-reduction surgery that breastfeeding is possible but partial breastfeeding may be necessary.

In exceptional circumstances a galactagogue may be prescribed (a galactagogue is a drug to boost a faltering milk supply). CKS recommends seeking specialist advice before prescribing a galactagogue.

A galactagogue should only be used when:

Treatable causes, such as ineffective attachment and positioning have been optimised.

Increased frequency of breastfeeding, hand expression of milk, and breast pumps have all been tried without effect.

There is a faltering milk supply due to illness in the infant or mother or due to prematurity.

There has been unavoidable separation of the infant and mother.

After expression of milk by hand or by pump for weeks, there is a decline in milk production.

Re-lactation (reestablishing milk supply after cessation of breastfeeding) is advisable.

There are no drugs licensed in the UK for this purpose. However, domperidone is the drug of choice because of its adverse effect profile and efficacy, and because only small amounts pass into breast milk.

Rarely domperidone may be associated with an increased risk of ventricular tachyarrythmias and sudden cardiac death, especially if the woman is taking more than 30 mg of domperidone daily.

Prescribe the lowest effective dose of domperidone.

Avoid domperidone if the woman is also taking medications that prolongs the QT interval for example ketoconazole and erythromycin.

Be particularly cautious in women who have existing prolongation of cardiac conduction intervals (particularly the QT interval), electrolyte disturbance, or an underlying cardiac disease (such as congestive heart failure).

Advise the woman to seek prompt medical attention if symptoms such as syncope or tachyarrhythmias arise during treatment with domperidone.

Infant attachment

What are the signs of effective infant attachment and efficient breastfeeding?

Indicators of effective attachment include:

The infant feeds with a wide mouth and an active tongue.

More areola is visible above the infant's upper lip than below the infant's lower lip.

The chin is touching the breast, lower lip rolled down, and nose free.

There is no pain and breasts and nipples are comfortable.

Nipples are the same shape as when feed began or slightly enhanced.

Indicators of effective breastfeeding in infants include:

Audible and visible swallowing.

Rounded cheeks (not hollow).

Initial rapid sucks followed by sustained rhythmic sucks and swallowing with occasional pauses.

The infant's body is relaxed.

A moist mouth.

Regular soaked nappies.

Infant lets go spontaneously or does so when the breast is gently lifted.

Infant feeds for 5–30 minutes at most feeds.

Infant is content after most feeds.

Indicators of effective breastfeeding in the woman include:

Breast softening.

No compression of the nipple at the end of the feed.

The woman feels relaxed and sleepy.

[WHO, 2000; National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006; Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, 2008]

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Seek urgent medical advice if the infant is unwell

CKS has based this recommendation on accepted clinical practice.

Hypernatraemic dehydration can occur in a healthy full-term infant owing to poor milk supply [Hoddinott et al, 2008].

Assessment, information and support

These recommendations are based on expert opinion in a review article [Hoddinott et al, 2008] and a Canadian guideline on breastfeeding healthy infants [British Columbia Reproductive Care Program, 1997], and guidelines from the the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) [National Collaborating Centre for Primary Care, 2006]. NICE comments that expert opinion forms the basis of evidence as there are no research studies evaluating methods of feeding enhancement, and that frequent feeds (including night feeds) stimulate milk production.

Suggestion to use supplementary feeds

This recommendation is based on expert opinion in a Canadian guideline on breastfeeding healthy infants [British Columbia Reproductive Care Program, 1997].

Women who have had a reduction mammoplasty

This recommendation is based on expert opinion in a review article [Hoddinott et al, 2008]. Milk supply may be reduced in women who have had breast-reduction surgery, owing to interruption of nerves or blood supply.

Limited evidence from small retrospective studies shows that women are able to breastfeed after reduction mammoplasty. Encouragement to breastfeed is important and some women may need to use supplementary feeds.

A retrospective study of 178 women who had had reduction mammoplasty found that of 74 women who had given birth and attempted to breastfeed, 52 (70%) were successful [Kakagia et al, 2005].

A retrospective study of 78 women who had given birth after breast reduction surgery found that of the 37 women who chose to breastfeed, 15 women did so exclusively, and eight women breastfed with supplementation [Brzozowski et al, 2000].

Information on the use of a galactagogue

This recommendation is based on expert advice from the UK Medical Information (UKMI) who reviewed the evidence on galactagogues and advised that domperidone is the drug of choice. The UKMI stated that the most commonly used dosage is 10 mg to 20 mg three to four times daily [UKMi, 2010a].

Guidelines from the World Health Organization suggest that rarely re-lactation is advisable in infants who are malnourished or ill [WHO, 2009].

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in collaboration with McNeil Products Ltd., and Winthrop Pharmaceuticals have issued new information regarding the cardiac risks associated with domperidone following the publication of two epidemiological studies that have shown that domperidone may be associated with an increased risk of serious ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. The risk may be higher in women who receive a daily oral dose of over 30 mg. However, the benefits of domperidone still outweigh the risks.

Overabundant milk supply

How should I support a woman with overabundant milk supply

Ensure that the woman has an assessment by a skilled person who will be able to:

Observe and assess the feeding pattern.

Give information and support about effective positioning, infant attachment and sucking behaviour.

Provide information about early feeding cues in order to encourage feeding as soon as the infant is hungry, but calm (early feeding cues).

If the infant is unable to attach effectively to the breast because of an overabundant milk supply, it may be helpful to express a little milk until the flow slows and then attach the infant to the breast. It is important to express only a small amount or the oversupply will continue.

Advise the mother to feed on one breast per feed. This means that the infant will get more fat-rich milk (sometimes called the 'hindmilk') but monitor this carefully to prevent a large drop in the milk supply.

If the forceful letdown reflex continues some women may find it helpful to lie on their back to breastfeed. Some women find that holding their fingers close to the areola during feeds is helpful but care needs to be taken to avoid blocking ducts.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on advice from a Canadian guideline on breastfeeding in healthy infants [British Columbia Reproductive Care Program, 1997], guidelines on infant and young child feeding from the World Health Organization [WHO, 2009], and a review article [Hoddinott et al, 2008] and a textbook [Lawrence and Lawrence, 1999].

Scenario: Painless lump - management

Scenario: Painless breast lump - management

120months3060monthsFemale

Management

How do I support a breastfeeding woman who develops a painless breast lump?

Refer all breastfeeding women who develop a painless breast lump to a breast surgeon.

If breast cancer is suspected, refer urgently (to be seen within 2 weeks).

Advise the woman to continue breastfeeding.

If the woman has a suspected galactocele:

Discuss continuing breastfeeding as normal.

Refer for:

Confirmation of the diagnosis by ultrasonography or aspiration.

Treatment by aspiration (the cyst usually fills up again after a few days and repeated aspiration is needed) or surgical excision under local anaesthetic.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

Referral of all women with a painless breast lump

CKS recommends, based on good clinical practice, that all breastfeeding women who develop a painless breast lump should be referred to a breast surgeon so that a diagnosis can be made.

Urgent referral for suspected breast cancer

This recommendation is based on referral guidelines for suspected breast cancer from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence [NICE, 2005a].

Management of a galactocele

These recommendations are based on on expert opinion from a review of the causes and management of mastitis published by the World Health Organization [WHO, 2000].

Scenario: Risk of vitamin D deficiency

Scenario:

120months3060monthsFemale

Risk of vitamin D deficiency

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

All pregnant and breastfeeding women are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

Women at particular risk include:

Young women and teenagers.

Women of South Asian, African, Caribbean, or Middle Eastern family origin.

Women who have limited exposure to sunlight, such as women who are predominantly housebound or who usually remain covered when outdoors.

Women who eat a diet particularly low in vitamin D, such as women who consume no oily fish, eggs, meat, or vitamin D–fortified margarine or breakfast cereal.

Women with a pre-pregnancy body mass index above 30 kg/m2.

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Antenatal care: routine care for the healthy pregnant woman [National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health, 2008], guidance published by the Department of Health, The pregnancy book. Your complete guide to: a healthy pregnancy, labour and childbirth, the first weeks with your new baby [DH, 2010a], and advice for health professionals about vitamins on the Healthy Start website [Healthy Start, 2012].

Vitamin D supplements

What advice can I regarding Vitamin D supplements?

Advise all women who are breastfeeding to take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.

Advise that infants and young children should take Vitamin D in the form of vitamin drops if they are:

Aged 6 months to 5 years (unless they are taking more than 500 ml infant formula a day as this is fortified with vitamin D).

Aged under 6 months and breastfeeding, and their mother did not take vitamin D supplements throughout pregnancy.

Give advice about how to obtain their vitamins:

Women and children eligible for the Healthy Start scheme can obtain free vitamin tablets and drops by taking their coupons to a local distribution point.

Follow local policies for women not eligible for free Healthy Start vitamins.

What is the Healthy Start scheme?

Healthy Start scheme

The Healthy Start scheme is a government scheme in the UK that aims to improve the health of pregnant women and families with children under 4 years of age who have a low income or who are receiving benefits.

The Healthy Start application form must be supported by a healthcare professional (midwife, health visitor, registered nurse, or doctor).

Women who are breastfeeding qualify for Healthy Start vouchers and vitamins if:

They are aged less than 18 years when they apply. They do not need to be in receipt of benefits or tax credits.

They are aged 18 years and over and in receipt of certain benefits or credits. For current criteria see the Health Start website at www.healthystart.nhs.uk.

A women who is breastfeeding and who qualifies for the scheme will receive through the post:

Two vouchers a week for each child under the age of 1 year.

One voucher a week for each child aged over 1 year and under 4 years.

Vitamin coupons every 8 weeks, which may be exchanged for Healthy Start once daily vitamin tablets that contain 10 micrograms of vitamin D per tablet.

In addition coupons for children's vitamin drops are sent to all babies from birth who are from families who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme. The coupon states that the vitamins are for infants aged over 6 months unless a healthcare professional advises that they need vitamin D at an earlier age. Children aged under 1 month should only take vitamin drops on advice of a medical practitioner.

The vouchers may be used in participating local shops, greengrocers, and supermarkets as payment or part payment for:

Plain cow's milk.

Plain, fresh, or frozen fruit and vegetables.

Infant formula.

[DH, 2011]

Basis for recommendation

Basis for recommendation

This recommendation is based on guidelines from the Department of Health [DH, 2011; Healthy Start, 2011], the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health, 2008], and advice from the Chief Medical Officer [DH, 2012].

Women not eligible for the Healthy Start Scheme

CKS advises following local policies for women not eligible for the Healthy Start Scheme. Each NHS organisation or board is responsible for organizing the distribution of vitamins in their area and it is important that primary care clinicians find out the arrangements locally. Some distribution points choose to sell vitamins or supply them free of charge to women not eligible for the scheme. Vitamin supplements may also be bought at community pharmacies, or prescribed by primary care clinicians provided they are not blacklisted [DH, 2011].

Important aspects of prescribing information relevant to primary healthcare are covered in this section specifically for the drugs recommended in this CKS topic. For further information on contraindications, cautions, drug interactions, and adverse effects, see the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) (http://medicines.org.uk/emc), or the British National Formulary (BNF) (www.bnf.org).

Fusidic acid cream or ointment

Fusidic acid cream or ointment

The safety profile of fusidic acid in breastfeeding women has not been formally established. Sodium fusidate is known to be present in breast milk when given systemically. However, when fusidic acid is given topically, the potentially small amount of drug present is unlikely to affect the infant.

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on the manufacturer's Summary of Product Characteristics [ABPI Medicines Compendium, 2010a].

Oral antibiotics

Oral antibiotics

Both flucloxacillin and erythromycin can be used by women who are breastfeeding.

Avoid flucloxacillin in women with hepatic impairment, or a history of hepatic dysfunction associated with flucloxacillin use.

Consider the possibility of drug interactions before prescribing erythromycin.

Basis for recommendation

These recommendations are based on the following:

Only low levels of penicillins (including flucloxacillin) are found in breast milk, and their use during breastfeeding is well established [Trent Drug Information Service, 2001].

Only low levels of erythromycin are found in breast milk, and its use during breastfeeding is well established [NPIS, 2010]. However, erythromycin should be avoided if the neonate has jaundice. There are case reports of pyloric stenosis in breastfed neonates of women who were taking erythromycin, but causality has not been established [Schaefer et al, 2007].

The Commission on Human Medicines (formerly the CSM) advises that flucloxacillin has been associated with a very small increased risk of hepatic disorders in the recipient, namely hepatitis and cholestatic jaundice. Hepatic reactions may occur up to 2 months after treatment with flucloxacillin has stopped. Risk factors include treatment for more than 14 days and increasing age. The dose and route of administration do not seem to affect this risk [CSM, 2004].

Miconazole oral gel

Miconazole oral gel

Miconazole oral gel (20 mg/mL) is rarely contraindicated in children.

The oral gel should be applied:

Two to four times a day in neonates, after feeds.

Twice a day in infants and children younger than 2 years of age, after feeding.

Advise the parent or carer to:

Apply the gel in small quantities directly to the whole of the oral mucosa with a clean finger, and to leave it in contact with the mucosa for as long as possible.

Miconazole gel is not licensed in children younger than 4 months of age because of the risk of choking if it is not applied carefully.

Care should be taken to ensure that the gel does not obstruct the throat in infants and neonates (by avoiding application to the back of the throat and subdividing the dose [applying it in small amounts] if necessary).

Gel must not be applied to the nipple of a breastfeeding woman for administration to an infant, due to the risk of choking.

Basis for recommendation

This information is based on the BNF for Children [BNF for Children, 2009] and the manufacturer's Summary of Product Characteristics [ABPI Medicines Compendium, 2013].

Oral fluconazole

Oral fluconazole

Fluconazole can be used by women who are breastfeeding (off-label use).

Fluconazole is generally well tolerated. Headache, rash, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and flatulence are the most commonly reported adverse effects.

Rare cases of QT prolongation have been reported.

Fluconazole should therefore be used with caution in people at risk of QT prolongation, such as those with cardiomyopathy, sinus bradycardia, arrhythmias, hypokalaemia, hypomagnesaemia, or hypocalcaemia, or who are taking other medication known to cause QT prolongation (such as tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiarrhythmics).

Rare cases of serious hepatotoxicity have been reported.

Consider the possibility of drug interactions before prescribing fluconazole.

For further information, see the electronic Medicines Compendium (www.medicines.org.uk) or the British National Formulary (www.bnf.org).

Basis for recommendation

Fluconazole is excreted into breast milk in significant amounts, but the concentration is less than the neonatal fluconazole dosage. The dosage in breast milk with a maternal dosage of 200 mg per day is not sufficient to treat oral candidiasis in the infant, so both mother and infant need to be treated at the same time [LactMed, 2010].

Adverse effects

The information on adverse effects is based on the manufacturer's Summary of Product Characteristics [ABPI Medicines Compendium, 2007].

A meta-analysis on the safety of oral antifungal treatments for superficial dermatophytosis (in 20,000 people) found that the risk of having asymptomatic raised liver transaminase was less than 2% for all treatments. Raised liver transaminases that required treatment discontinuation occurred in 1.22% of those taking fluconazole 50 mg once a day as continuous treatment, and in 0.85% of those taking fluconazole pulse treatment (300–400 mg per week) [Chang et al, 2007].

Topical corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroids

Mildly potent, moderately potent, and potent topical corticosteroids are considered suitable for use by women who are breastfeeding (off-label use).

The risk of systemic absorption can be minimized by using the weakest potency possible, for the shortest period of time.

The topical corticosteroid should be wiped off before breastfeeding to prevent the infant ingesting it.

Basis for recommendation

The World Health Organization considers potent corticosteroids to be suitable for use during breastfeeding [WHO, 2002].

Nifedipine

Nifedipine

Nifedipine can be used by women who are breastfeeding (off-label use).

Vasodilatory adverse effects (flushing, headaches, ankle swelling) are common, but often improve with continued use. Diuretics should not be prescribed to relieve ankle swelling.

Gingival hyperplasia sometimes occurs. Drug withdrawal usually results in disappearance of the symptoms.

Advise women to avoid drinking grapefruit juice whilst taking nifedipine.

Basis for recommendation

Safety of nifedipine in breastfeeding

Only low levels of nifedipine are detected in breast milk, the amount is considered to be too low to be harmful [LactMed, 2008; National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health, 2010].

Adverse effects of nifedipine

The information on adverse effects is based on the manufacturer's Summary of Product Characteristics [ABPI Medicines Compendium, 2010b].

Evidence

Evidence

Supporting evidence

Most recommendations in this CKS topic are based on expert opinion.

This section summarizes the evidence that supports the recommendations for the treatment of candidal and staphylococcal infection of the nipple.

Miconazole gel for oral thrush - infants

Evidence for the use of miconazole oral gel in the treatment of oral thrush in infants

There is good evidence from a prospective randomized trial that miconazole oral gel is significantly more effective than nystatin suspension in the treatment of oropharyngeal thrush in immunocompetent infants.

A prospective, multicentre, randomized, open trial compared the use of miconazole gel with nystatin suspension for the treatment of oropharyngeal candidiasis in immunocompetent infants [Hoppe, 1997]. Outcome measures were efficacy, optimal duration of therapy, and safety.

The study included 227 immunocompetent infants with signs of oropharyngeal thrush who were under the care of 227 paediatricians.

Fifteen infants were excluded from further analysis as their thrush could not be confirmed by culture. A further 29 infants were excluded from the analysis as they had not followed the treatment protocols.

The remaining 183 infants were randomly assigned to have treatment with either 25 mg of miconazole oral gel four times daily (98 infants) or 100,000 IU of nystatin suspension four times daily after feeds (83 infants).

Clinical cure rates were as follows:

By day 5 of treatment: 84.7% of the miconazole group and 21.2% the nystatin group (p < 0.0001) were cured.

By day 8 of treatment: 96.9% of the miconazole group and 37.6% the nystatin group (p < 0.0001) were cured.

By day 12 of treatment: 99% of the miconazole group and 54.1% the nystatin group (p < 0.0001) were cured.

Clinical relapses and adverse effects occurred with similar frequency in both groups.

The authors concluded that miconazole gel is superior to nystatin suspension as treatment for oropharyngeal candidiasis in immunocompetent infants.

Antibiotics in women with a nipple fissure

Evidence for the use of antibiotics in women with a nipple fissure infected with Staphylococcus aureus

Limited evidence from a small, randomized, prospective study suggests that breastfeeding women with sore nipples with a break in the skin from which Staphylococcus aureus had been cultured were more likely to improve and less likely to develop mastitis if treated with oral antibiotics rather than a topical antibiotic (mupirocin or fusidic acid).

A prospective, randomized trial compared four treatments in 84 women who had sore nipples with a break in the skin from which S. aureus had been cultured [Livingstone and Stringer, 1999]. The women received one-to-one instruction on breastfeeding technique plus a video, and one of four treatments: no antibiotics; topical mupirocin; topical fusidic acid; and oral cloxacillin or erythromycin.

The women were randomly allocated to four groups and assessed after 5–7 days.

No antibiotic treatment — only 9% of women improved and 30% developed mastitis.

Topical mupirocin 2% ointment (applied to the nipples after each feed) — 16% of women improved and 12% developed mastitis.

Topical fusidic acid ointment (applied to the nipples after each feed) — 36% of women improved and 21% developed mastitis.

Oral cloxacillin or erythromycin (500 mg every 6 hours for 10 days) — 79% of women improved and 5% developed mastitis.

Women treated with oral antibiotics were more likely to improve (p < 0.0001) and less likely to develop mastitis (p < 0.005) than women treated with topical antibiotics, or those receiving no treatment other than instruction in optimal breastfeeding technique.

Search strategy

Scope of search

A literature search was conducted for guidelines, systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials on primary care management of breastfeeding.

Search dates

Dates not restricted – April 2010

Key search terms

Various combinations of searches were carried out. The terms listed below are the core search terms that were used for Medline.

Breast Feeding/ breast.tw, breastfeed$.tw, exp Nipples/, nipple$.tw

breast cyst/, galactocele.tw, Raynaud disease/, raynaud.tw, Breast Implants/, Mammaplasty/, cytomegalovirus Infections/, exp Cytomegalovirus/

Table 1 . Key to search terms.
Search commands Explanation
/ indicates a MeSh subject heading with all subheadings selected
.tw indicates a search for a term in the title or abstract
exp indicates that the MeSH subject heading was exploded to include the narrower, more specific terms beneath it in the MeSH tree
$ indicates that the search term was truncated (e.g. wart$ searches for wart and warts)
Topic specific literature search sources

The Breastfeeding Network

Sources of guidelines

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN)

National Guidelines Clearinghouse

New Zealand Guidelines Group

British Columbia Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement

Guidelines International Network

National Library of Guidelines

National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia)

Alberta Medical Association

University of Michigan Medical School

Michigan Quality Improvement Consortium

Royal College of Nursing

Singapore Ministry of Health

Health Protection Agency

National Resource for Infection Control

CREST

World Health Organization

NHS Scotland National Patient Pathways

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

TRIP database

Patient UK Guideline links

UK Ambulance Service Clinical Practice Guidelines

RefHELP NHS Lothian Referral Guidelines

Medline (with guideline filter)

Sources of systematic reviews and meta-analyses

The Cochrane Library :

Systematic reviews

Protocols

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects

Medline (with systematic review filter)

EMBASE (with systematic review filter)

Sources of health technology assessments and economic appraisals

NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme

The Cochrane Library :

NHS Economic Evaluations

Health Technology Assessments

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health

International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment

Sources of randomized controlled trials

The Cochrane Library :

Central Register of Controlled Trials

Medline (with randomized controlled trial filter)

EMBASE (with randomized controlled trial filter)

Sources of evidence based reviews and evidence summaries

Bandolier

Drug & Therapeutics Bulletin

MeReC

NPCi

BMJ Clinical Evidence

DynaMed

TRIP database

Central Services Agency COMPASS Therapeutic Notes

Sources of national policy

Department of Health

Health Management Information Consortium (HMIC)

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