Breastfeeding is one of the many wonderful ways for you to bond with your newborn, and the benefits of doing so can’t be overstated. While should be a pleasant, comfortable experience, it’s not uncommon to experience mild levels of tenderness or discomfort in the beginning.
Here’s what all new moms should know about breastfeeding pain relief.
During your first week of breastfeeding, nipple soreness is often the result of normal postpartum skin changes. Treat sore or cracked nipples with medical grade lanolin ointment or hydrogel dressing, which will help encourage skin to heal without crusting or scabbing. We like Medela’s Tender Care Lanolin and Hydrogel Pads. Fresh breastmilk, which has antibacterial properties, can also offer relief with the added benefit of reducing your chances for infection (isn’t Mother Nature smart?).
Learn the latch.
Continuing nipple pain may be the result of an improper latch. An effective latch ensures that the most sensitive part of your nipple is pulled deeply into your baby’s mouth, but latching poorly can cause your baby to grab your nipple shaft instead, indicated by a nipple that looks creased or pointy. Talk with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant, who can help with latching technique and positioning.
Doing so can help with breastfeeding pain relief in a few different ways. First, it will help minimize engorgement, or breasts that are full, firm, and tender. But short, frequent feedings (8 to 12 times in 24 hours) also mean your baby won’t come to mealtime quite as hungry, and will consequently suck less vigorously, says La Leche League International. Expressing a little bit of milk before feeding can help soften your nipples and make it easier for baby to latch on. And if you miss a feeding, use hand expression or a breast pump to remove excess milk.
Go hot and cold.
When dealing with engorgement, help get your milk flowing by applying moist heat on your breasts or taking a warm shower before feeding. (Five minutes or less is plenty of time, though, as more could make swelling worse.) Post feeding, get additional swelling relief by applying a cold compress for 10 minutes.
Watch for warning signs.
Call your doctor if you experience severe engorgement, if pain is so intense that it prevents you from breastfeeding, or if your baby still seems hungry after feeding. Also, be aware of symptoms for mastitis, or infection of the breast tissue, characterized by breast warmth, swelling, and tenderness; pain or a burning sensation while breastfeeding; skin redness; or a fever higher than 101°. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.