Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt! In the early days, you might find yourself sucking your breath in for a few seconds when the baby latches on. But that feeling shouldn’t persist throughout or after nursing, and it shouldn’t last more than a few seconds. If you find your toes curling, or your nipples very sore, it’s time to go back to the basics and make sure everything is OK.
Here’s how to soothe sore nipples for good.
First, make sure you’re comfortably seated. Got a few extra pillows? Good idea. A drink nearby in case you’re thirsty? Great.
Baby should be facing you to nurse. Often, babies whose bodies are pointed to the ceiling and have to turn their heads to latch at the breast—which means they end up taking the breast with them while they look around the room. Ouch! Keeping your baby’s belly pointing to your belly is the best way to position.
Next, tickle your baby’s cheek to get her to open wide. As her mouth opens to the widest point, quickly her to your breast. (Don’t bring your breast to your baby; that’s a recipe for a sore back. Use those extra pillows or a nursing pillow to support your arm and the baby.)
Make sure your baby gets a nice big mouthful of breast. Your baby should latch on with lips flanged, looking like a fish. If baby isn’t latched well, or if things hurt, then insert a finger into the corner of baby’s mouth to break the suction, then try latching again.
There are other causes of sore nipples, such as flat or inverted nipples, over-exuberant use of a breast pump (just as breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, pumping shouldn’t either), or thrush. If you find your nipples are still sore and painful beyond a little tenderness in the early days, consider seeking help from a lactation professional in your area.
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