Breastfeeding + Pain. No More!
Congratulations on your new baby! This is an exciting moment for you, you may be experiencing a flood of emotions as you prepare for a new life with your baby.
During this period you will be making important decisions for your baby, among them will be whether to breastfeed or not. This decision is personal and one that has important implications for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding is not an easy task. It has its ups and downs, but you are not alone. You will be hearing and reading about how wonderful it is to breastfeed, but very few will tell you that it could be painful. This pains happens when you do not have the right information and support.
Let me start explaining why most women complain about pain during lactation in the first days. During pregnancy you might have noticed that your breasts became fuller and your nipples darkened and are tenderer. These changes happened due to hormonal changes that prepare your breast to be more sensitive to touch and be able to initiate milk production. This sensitivity is needed so that when your baby’s mouth touches your nipple and areola, a signal is sent to your brain, causing the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin that consequently cause the production and release of milk.
During the first days of lactation you will feel a little discomfort and low grade pain. It should not continue after a week. The sensation that you are going to feel is an intense pulling and compression of the nipple while your baby latches on to the breast, this sensation should last for 20 to 30 seconds. This is normal. Most moms are not told this and they are not prepared for this sensation and feel that something is wrong and stop breastfeeding.
If it hurts more or the pain sensation has changed the first step is to check position to have a proper latch.
Here I will give you 5 steps for you to remember how Latch-on:
1. Start with your baby turned toward your body, close to you with the nose to your nipple. Don’t put pressure on the back of the baby’s head.
2. Move your baby back an inch or two. Allow the head to tilt back. Watch for the baby’s mouth to open wide.
3. When the mouth is open wide, bring the baby in closer to you. Your nipple will be in the top half of the baby’s mouth.
4. Your baby should be able to look up at you. This is the “eye to eye contact,” the distance at which the baby can see the best.
5. Correctly positioned, the baby’s chin is against the breast, the lips make a seal at the breast, and the nose is close to the breast. There is more of the darker areola showing near the nose than the chin.
“Tummy to mummy
Nose to nips
flex the hips to
open the lips”
If pain continues after proper latch there could be several issues.
Many women describe the pain sensation differently. Pain that you should be aware of ranges from mild tenderness to stinging, itching, burning, stabbing, aching, sharp, full and even excruciating pain. This pain could be because your nipples are sore or even cracked. The quality, characteristics and duration of the pain may help identify the cause and direct the resolution.
Simple guides to help you with your sore nipples:
1. To prevent soreness, wash your breasts with plain warm water when bathing and avoid using soap, it can dry and irritate your nipples.
2. Vary your babies’ position at each feeding.
3. Avoid exposing your nipples to excessive moisture between feedings. Try not to use plastic lined nursing pads.
4. Gently pat your nipples dry after a feeding and then apply medical grade purified lanolin, breastmilk or colostrum to soothe and heal them.
5. Pump from affected breast, this will help nipple to heal.
If these steps fail to solve the problem, please seek professional help. Ask your doctor or lactation specialist for help. In most cases, nipple soreness is a temporary issue and should not stand in the way of successful breastfeeding.
Be well and be happy!