While sore and damaged nipples are common, they are not an inevitable part of being a breastfeeding mother! Myths surrounding pain and breastfeeding are one of the most common reasons women quit breastfeeding. Mothers are told to tough it out and that the pain will get better with time. Sometimes the pain does get better with time, but there are many different reasons and solutions for pain during breastfeeding. Each of the following is a sign there is an underlying issue, needing to be addressed…
-Pain not subsiding within a few minutes of latching
-Pain occurring between feedings
-Discomfort lasting beyond 4-7 days postpartum
-Nipples with any cracks or visible damage
-Pain that is getting worse
-Feelings of dread for the next feeding
Although there are dozens of reasons for nipple pain, the most common solution is better positioning at the breast. Using techniques like laid back breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact can help with latch. Make sure your baby has a wide mouth and is coming to the breast chin first with the head tilted back and tongue forward. Aim your nipple toward the roof of your baby’s mouth when latching. Feeding your baby when he/she first shows signs of hunger and before he/she is crying can also prevent discomfort.
You don’t have to suffer! The best way to get help and uncover the cause for pain during breastfeeding is to contact a breastfeeding professional, especially an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). An IBCLC will do a full assessment of the mother and baby, answer any questions you have about breastfeeding, and work with you until the pain is resolved. More information about IBCLC services is available here.