Pain while breastfeeding. How to deal with it?
LactationPregnancy and childbirth
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Pain while breastfeeding. How to deal with it?

Breastfeeding although natural, is very often painful. According to studies, one in three women have problems breastfeeding their baby.

When does it hurt to breastfeed my baby?

There are many causes of breast pain when feeding your baby. In 1/3 of women, pain begins in the first week after birth and is most severe between 3 and 7 days after birth. The most common reasons for breast pain are:

  • unaccustomed feeding,
  • poor feeding technique,
  • wrong position,
  • too strong and intensive sucking of the baby,
  • unskilled use of the breast pump,
  • changing breast pads too infrequently,
  • pain in a woman’s nipples (especially at the beginning of breastfeeding) can be caused by:
    • hormonal changes occurring after childbirth;
    • stretching of collagen fibres – the nipples become more flexible;
    • an increase in the number of blood vessels on the nipples and the appearance of discoloration;
    • the softness of the nipples and how they respond to the baby’s sucking. The skin of the nipples is very delicate, so sucking baby can cause pain.

Causes of pain later in the feeding process

Breastfeeding pain can also occur in the later stages of nursing. Some of the most common causes of pain in the later stages of breastfeeding include:

  • menstruation,
  • tubal blockage,
  • milk stasis,
  • breast inflammation,
  • improper use of the breast pump,
  • damage from an older child’s teeth, for example,
  • an ill-fitting nursing bra,
  • getting pregnant again.

Ways to cope with breast pain

First of all, it is worth contacting a lactation consultant, who will help you to improve and correct the feeding technique. Besides, it is also often recommended to change the position in which you hold the baby. If there is a large amount of milk, it is worth pumping out the excess using a breast pump so that the baby can suck effectively. The nipples themselves should also be cared for – change the breast pads after each feed to avoid nipple disease. It’s also a good idea to rinse the nipples with a cotton swab soaked in lukewarm boiled water – this way you can avoid infections, which develop fastest in damp conditions, so if possible “air the nipples” or wipe them dry with a flannel diaper. Many young moms also forget that clothing can irritate the nipples, so it’s worth investing in breast pads, which will be changed regularly and often. You can also take care of your nipples by lubricating them with your own milk or lanolin ointment or by using hydrogel inserts

Pain caused by sore nipples

The pain caused by sore nipples makes moms uncomfortable and is often the reason why they stop breastfeeding. There are several ways to deal with sore nipples:

  1. Ensure that the baby is properly latched on to the breast, if you are having trouble with this then see a lactation consultant.
  2. Lubricate injured nipples with your own milk.
  3. Air the breasts regularly and change breast pads.
  4. Use a gauze pad soaked in lukewarm, boiled water to clean the nipples.
  5. If your nipples are sore, wear silicone shells. They allow air to flow freely to the nipples. When you have a sore nipple, the milk collects at the bottom of the shell, which helps to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  6. It’s a good idea to apply lanolin ointment, but remove the ointment from the nipples before feeding.
  7. Washing injured nipples with calendula infusion accelerates wound healing. Calendula also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

Main Photo: RODNAE Productions, source:

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