OBJECTIVE To present an updated review on common problems associated with breastfeeding and their management. SOURCE OF DATA A comprehensive bibliographic review on the issue was performed by searching publications from the MEDLINE database and from national and international organizations. Books and some key articles cited in other sources were also selected. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS Several common problems that may arise during the breastfeeding period, such as breast engorgement, plugged milk duct, breast infection and insufficient milk supply, originate from conditions that lead the mother to inadequate empty the breasts. Incorrect techniques, not frequent breastfeeding and breastfeeding on scheduled times, pacifiers and food suppliers are important risk factors that can predispose to lactation problems. The adequate management of those conditions is fundamental, as if not treated they frequently lead to early weaning. There are specific measures that should be taken to empty the breasts effectively. Besides, the emotional support and actions that yield more comfort to the lactating mother can not be neglected. CONCLUSIONS Most common problems associated with breastfeeding can be prevented if the mother empties her breasts effectively. If they occur, they should be carefully and adequately approached, thus avoiding the early weaning resultant from painful and stressing situations the mother may face.