Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, but sometimes women run into complications making it not so enjoyable. It is normal at the beginning of breastfeeding for a mother to experience sore and tender nipples to an extent. This discomfort and pain should subside as the mother continues to breastfeed, but oftentimes, this is not always the case for some moms. Some experience sore nipples that may get worse as opposed to better over time.
Unfortunately, the most common breastfeeding problem is sore nipples.
There are various reasons this happens such as the baby’s latching incorrectly or from an infection. Once this happens, it tends to cause issues such as pour let-down, low milk supply and possibly a mother weaning her baby early. The most important step is to try to stop seriously sore nipples before they even occur.
Here are 8 Important Factors to Coping with Sore Nipples:
Baby Should Be Latching Properly
One of the most important steps to successful breastfeeding and preventing sore nipples is having a good latch. When the baby latches properly, the entire nipple as well as some of the surrounding areola should be in their mouth so that the nipple is deep inside. Nipple pain occurs when the baby only latches to the tips of the nipples causing their gums to press down painfully. Once the mother’s nipples are already sore, this can make it more painful. It will also lead to a cranky and hungry baby as poor latch means the baby isn’t getting adequate amounts of milk. Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor or lactation consultant if latching is a problem.
Make Sure You Are In A Good Breastfeeding Position
Positions when breastfeeding should be comfortable for both the mother and baby. This will encourage a proper latch. The position should give the mother a good view of both her nipple and her baby so that she can make sure the baby is latching correctly. There are breastfeeding accessories such as nursing pillows which help bring the baby up closer to the breast. It is also a great idea to change up breastfeeding positions every so often so that the baby’s mouth doesn’t constantly put pressure on the same spot of the nipple during each feeding.
Soften Breasts When Engorged
Many, if not all breastfeeding mothers deal with breast engorgement at some point or another. When the breasts become engorged, this makes it difficult for the baby to latch properly. It is best to massage engorged breasts prior to breastfeeding. It will also relieve the tight feeling the mother has as well as soften the breast tissue. Softer breasts make it easier for the baby to get a good latch, and a good latch prevents sore nipples.
Breastfeed Every 2-3 Hours
When a baby is very hungry, they tend to be more aggressive in latching which can cause an improper latch. This combination of aggressive sucking and poor latch can bring on sore nipples. That is why it is best to try to feed every 2-3 hours. Baby’s bodies digest breast milk quickly, so feeding often is needed.
Skin Around Breast and Nipples Should be Kept Healthy
There are a few things a mother can do to help the skin around the breasts and nipples healthy which can prevent sore nipples. When washing your breasts, it is a good idea to use mild soaps that won’t dry out and irritate the breasts and nipples. Women naturally have a self-moisturizing breasts thanks to the montgomery glands. These are the small bumps seen on the areola, around the nipple. Many creams and lotions are not necessary to prevent sore nipples. Sometimes, over the counter products can make them worse. But if a mother is already suffering from dry and cracked nipples, there are great nipple moisturizers like medical grade Lanolin.
Change Breast Pads Often
Some women experience leaking and wear breast pads daily. It is a good idea to change these breast pads often or to change into a clean nursing bra if pads are not used. When the breasts are wet and left moist for a while, this can cause microorganisms to grow which can lead to bacteria and fungus. Keeping the breasts as dry and clean as possible will help prevent sore nipples.
Remove the Baby from the Breast Carefully
Baby’s don’t always like to let go of the breast when they are done feeding, especially when falling asleep. The number one rule is to never pull a baby off as this can cause pain and damage to the nipple, especially if done constantly. Mothers should take the time to learn the proper technique for removing the baby from the breast. Gently press a finger into the side of the baby’s mouth which will break the ‘suction cup’ latch. Safely hook a finger around the nipple when pulling the baby off in case they bite down.
Be Gentle with a Breast Pump
It is important that mothers use breast pumps correctly. Pump shields are not one size fits all, so it is best to check with the manufacturer for alternative sizes. Another pump issue is that mothers may feel a higher suction will make milk come down faster. Pumping faster does not necessarily mean quicker pumping time and more milk supply. This will more than likely cause more pain and even possibly less breast milk.
Breastfeeding doesn’t need to be a painful journey. It should be a beautiful event for both the mother and baby as it’s their time to bond. Following these simple steps can help prevent and heal sore nipples making the experience more enjoyable for both.
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Sources: Sore Nipples and Breastfeeding