Breastfeeding problems can be so frustrating, but know that you are not alone! You may have read on our Instagram that breastfeeding should not be painful. Like any physical pain, nipple and breast pain indicates that something is not right. However, some Moms still experience pain and discomfort. You are not alone! Here are the most common causes of nipple pain in new moms and how to help.
- Tenderness immediately postpartum. It can be normal to experience tenderness during let-down, or right after baby latches on when you first begin breastfeeding. The hormones released during and immediately after birth can cause nipple tenderness as well.
- Poor breastfeeding positions. If baby isn’t tummy-to-tummy with you, it can cause unnecessary pulling on your nipple or poor alignment for baby which can be very uncomfortable. Check out our Breastfeeding Basics 101 class for a great breakdown of how to position baby for the best latch.
- Shallow latch. It’s called breastfeeding instead of nipple feeding for a reason! If there isn’t enough breast tissue in baby’s mouth your nipple can be pinched and even sustain damage. Waiting for baby to open wide can be a huge lifesaver! If you feel constant nipple pinching while nursing, seek out help!
- Milk blister or bleb. This is like a plugged milk duct right at the opening of a nipple pore. It can be very painful, but warm compresses and frequent nursing (your breast pump can come in handy in preventing engorgement, or you can try to hand express) are great solutions. Some coconut oil on a cotton swab applied to the area can also help to soften the clog. This plugged milk duct can lead to mastitis, so try and get this taken care of asap! To prevent this from happening entirely, air dry your nipples after each feed.
- Vasospasm. This happens most to women who have experience ‘Reynaud’s Syndrome’ – a condition that causes poor circulation and your hands and feet to feel cold most of the time. Using a warm heating pad can help alleviate that discomfort, but there are also medications that can help if needed. If you have burning or shooting pains during and in-between feedings, you may need a personal consultation.
- Infection. A bacterial or yeast infection that happens after the nipple or areola has been wounded (cracked nipple, anyone?) can cause persistent pain even if latch and positioning have corrected the original problem. Depending on the extent of the infection, a nipple cream can help or you may need a prescription medication. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider and an IBCLC if you think you have an infection. (Did you know this type of yeast infection can cause thrush on baby’s tongue and mouth? Ask a healthcare professional or one of our consultants for help!)
If you need latch or positioning help, check out our video class bundle for great instruction and tips or schedule an appointment with one of our lactation consultants for personalized breastfeeding support.
Find more about preventing nipple pain in our top 10 tips!
Thanks for stopping by,
Kristin Gourley, BS, IBCLC
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