The beginning of a breastfeeding journey for a new mum can be uncomfortable and slightly painful. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right. Common causes of pain during breastfeeding are:⠀
- Excessively sensitive nipples … some mothers do have them and this tends to reduce over weeks say 3-4weeks so do worry.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Wrong latching technique. Baby is most likely chomping on your nipple. It will deform your nipple, cause injury, baby won’t be able to drain your breast/ get enough milk and your breastmilk supply may eventually suffer. If you feel pain, disengage from baby, and try to latch again . ⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Nipple cracks and sores: These are caused by wrong latching. They can also get infected . If you develop cracks always wash your hands before touching your boobs, allow the area to air dry after each feed. Nipple creams provide alot of relief in between breastfeeding sessions . Soft and highly absorbent nursing pads eg.biamo designs, lansinoh and medela keep you dry and protect sore nipples from friction with your clothes/nursing bra. Please do not apply breast milk on OPEN SORES. This can cause an infection. It’s important you keep draining by expressing your breastmilk from the affected breast to prevent a condition known as mastitis. Mastitis causes pain, swelling and redness on the breasts. Some mums have fever and chills. Hand expression; using the the right sized breast pump; or a nipple shield for direct breastfeeding will go a long way if you develop sores.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Nipple thrush: This is caused by “germs” called fungi. Fungi love moist, warm, sugary environments. Breastfeeding mum’s nipples and baby’s mouth are the perfect breeding grounds for them. Thrush is common in new borns. A mum’s nipples may feel raw, itchy, and look pink . Taking a look in your baby’s mouth may show hard to remove white patches on the inside cheek and roof of the mouth. This will explain why your baby may have become cranky of late as it could cause a bit of discomfort. Baby may also have a diaper rash caused by the same germ. No amount of nipple cream can provide relief here. Changing your nursing pads regularly whenever they are soaked can go a long way. A doctor can prescribe safe antifungals for mummy and baby. Some people ignore this nipple thrush and it till it clears on its own .
- Nerve pain or vasospasm : Have you ever felt a shooting pain from your breast to your arm pit or before or after nursing? It’s probably from a nerve or blood vessel. This can clear on its own but if it’s unbearable your doctor can write a prescription for pain relief and other safe medication you can take.
- Medication: Labetalol, a drug used to treat pre eclampsia ( high blood pressure in pregnancy) also causes painful spasm of the blood vessels around the nipple.
Pain during breastfeeding isn’t necessarily normal and mothers shouldn’t feel compelled to bear it. Listen to your body. There are solutions available