Many new mothers believe that pain in the first few days of breastfeeding is normal. Even though it may take some time for you and your baby to find the perfect position that allows baby to latch on properly, ignoring the pain can mean that your nipples suffer some damage and become sore. Painful nipples make breastfeeding very uncomfortable, and this can result in engorgement and mastitis if you start skipping feedings to avoid the pain; your milk production may also decrease due to lowered consumption. That is why it is very important to determine exactly why breastfeeding is painful for you and to do something about it.
The most common culprit of breastfeeding pain is a poor latch. When the baby is latching on well, the entire nipple and the areola is in their mouth, which makes the sucking motion very efficient, yet gentle to your nipples. If the proper latch is not achieved, the baby is sucking on the nipple itself, causing pain and damage to the nipple skin.
Achieving a proper latch early on will allow you to enjoy pain-free breastfeeding and prevent nipple issues. However, if your nipples are already sore, apply cold compresses to ease the pain – then try our breast compresses impregnated with nourishing ingredients that promote healing.
If poor latching on is the source of pain, talk to a lactation consultant who can help you experiment and find the right position.
Trouble latching on may not mean that the nursing position isis the problem – if your baby is tongue-tied, it can be very difficult for them to nurse properly. The medical term for the condition known as tongue-tie is “ankyloglossia”. It results when the frenulum (the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short and tight, causing the movement of the tongue to be restricted. Check with your physician if you think this may be the case as a simple procedure will take care of this problem: A tiny incision is made on the tissue holding the tongue down (the frenulum). You will most likely notice a huge difference once your baby’s tongue is free to move properly.
If you feel a sharp pain in your nipples between feedings and if your nipples are red and shiny, you may have a yeast infection. The infection may also be present in your child’s mouth where you’ll see white spots on the tongue and / or palate. You should see your physician to determine the correct diagnosis. They will probably prescribe an anti-fungal treatment.
The symptoms usually appear in one breast only. Your breast may become sore, swollen, red and warm to the touch. Sometimes, it may also be accompanied by fever. Mastitis usually develops as a complication of engorgement or a plugged milk duct, with the bacteria entering the breast and causing an infection. The initial treatment includes warm compresses, gentle massage prior to and during feeding, and nursing as often as possible. If the symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, you should seek medical advice.
If you notice a sore area in one breast or a lump under your fingers, it may be a blocked milk duct, due to a build-up of milk. This usually happens due to excessive pressure applied to the breast – e.g. your nursing bra may not be the right size for you, or if you’ve been driving for a long time, a seat belt could have caused the same effect. Similar to mastitis, warm compresses, breast massage and plenty of nursing should do the trick.