You may have read on our Instagram that breastfeeding should not be painful. Like any physical pain, nipple pain indicates that something is not right. However, some Moms still experience pain and discomfort. You are not alone! Here are the most common reasons that moms I see are suffering from nipple pain and how to help.
- Tenderness immediately postpartum. It can be normal to experience tenderness 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 positioning. 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 baby doesn’t have enough breast tissue in his/her 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 duct right at the opening of a nipple pore. It can be very painful, but warm compresses and frequent nursing are great solutions. Some coconut oil on a cotton swab applied to the area can also help to soften the clog.
- 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 has been wounded 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.
For nipple pain caused by things that respond to over-the-counter creams, we recommend checking out Upspring Wellmom Organic Coconut Oil Nipple Balm. Coconut oil has been proven to be moisturizing, antimicrobial, AND antifungal (1)– a great trifecta to protect sore nipples! Use code LLINK for 15% on their website (this expires 12/14/16!). If you need latch or positioning help, check out our video class bundle for great instruction and tips or schedule a consult for personalized help.
Find more about preventing nipple pain in our top 10 tips!
Thanks for stopping by,
Kristin Gourley, BS, IBCLC
(1) Evangalista, M.T., Abad-Casintahan, F., Lopez-Villafuerte, L. (2014). The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skincapacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. International Journal of Dermatology, 53(1), 100-108.
(2) Shilling, M., Matt, L., Rubin, E., Visitacion, M.P., Haller, N.A., Grey, S.F., Woolverton, C.J. (2013). Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. Journal of Medicinal Food, 16(12), 1079-1085.
(3) Verallo-Rowel, V.M., Dillague, K.M., Syah-Tjundawan, B.S. (2008). Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis, 19(6), 308-315.