Breastfeeding pain is just one of the many experiences every new mom has to deal with. It’s uncomfortable and stressful but there are several things you can do to deal with the struggle.
Whether it’s your first baby or your third (or more), welcoming a new baby into the world comes with more often than not, equal parts bliss and pain. And one of the most immediate struggles that moms have to deal with is how breastfeeding pain can wreak havoc on one’s sanity.
Breastfeeding is natural but it’s also a learning process for you and your baby. In fact, a study by the CDC revealed that over 75% of mothers experience breastfeeding pain two weeks postpartum. But what’s truly concerning is that of this number, only over a half sought help.
While deciding to embark on the rewarding yet difficult journey of breastfeeding is up to you, moms, it may be helpful to find ways to relive the breastfeeding pain first before you forego breastfeeding completely.
Breastfeeding Pain Causes & Remedies
We at Mama’s Choice want to remind you that you’re not alone in your breastfeeding struggles! To help as many moms as we can, we’ve rounded up the different reasons behind breastfeeding pain and what you can do to address it. Keep reading, moms!
Reason #1: Poor Positioning of the Baby on the Breast
Keep in mind that when a baby isn’t latched well, he/she can’t attach deeply. This in turn affects their ability to remove milk. And when your milk isn’t being effectively removed, it can cause further issues such as blocked ducts, engorgement and even mastitis.
What To Do:Try different latching positions such as the cross-cradle, underarm, laid-back and side-lying holds. Moreover, make sure that when your baby feeds, your nipple is touching the roof of her mouth. It may also be a good idea to talk to a lactation consultant to help you achieve optimal latching.
Reason #2: Engorged Breasts
Engorgement usually happens when a baby isn’t removing milk from your breast effectively or if your baby isn’t feeding frequently enough causing milk to collect. Different from simply having full breasts, engorgement cause breasts that may feel painful, warm, hard and swollen.
What To Do: If you have engorged breasts, take a warm shower or apply a warm compress to encourage milk letdown. If your breasts are swollen, apply cold compress after feeding. It’s also important that you breastfeed more and massage your breasts gently while nursing. If you’re unable to breastfeed but need to empty out your breasts, consider hand expression or using a breast pump like Mama’s Choice Single & Handy Electric Breast Pump.
Reason #3: Blocked Duct
It may feel similar to engorged breasts, but a blocked duct is having a small, painful lump in your breast. It’s hard and usually tender to the touch and comes with a patch of redness on the affected area of the breast. A blocked duct or plugged milk duct often happens when you don’t breastfeed enough or when your baby isn’t emptying out your breasts well.
What To Do: Apply warm compress before breastfeeding and nurse as often as possible. While nursing, stroke the area behind the blockage and massage it towards your nipple to encourage milk to flow. It’s also a great idea to hand express to unclog the milk duct. If symptoms last for more than 2 days, seek advice from a lactation consultant.
Reason #4: Sore & Cracked Nipples
Sore, cracked, blistered and bleeding nipples are common among new moms. During the first few days postpartum, this can be attributed to the fact that nipples are particularly sensitive after giving birth. Besides, your body isn’t used to breastfeeding yet. A shallow latch and poor breastfeeding position are also typical culprits. Sometimes though, nipple damage can also occur if your baby has a tongue tie.
What To Do: Keep the skin around your breasts and nipple moisturized with a food-grade nipple cream like Mama’s Choice Intensive Nipple Cream. It can also help soothe the soreness, which is common during the early days of breastfeeding. Moreover, avoid bras that hug the nipples too tightly. And when your baby gets a little bit older, teething will most likely cause sore, cracked and bleeding nipples too. When this happens, try to offer a teether before latching. And when your baby bites your nipple during nursing, stop breastfeeding right away by inserting your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth. The La Leche League International also warns against soap, shampoo, body wash and alcohol that can cause nipple dryness.
Reason #5: Mastitis
Far more serious than breast engorgement or sore nipples, mastitis usually happens when bacteria enter the breast through a blister or a crack in the nipple. When you have mastitis, breastfeeding is painful because of the swelling, redness and the flu-like symptom.
What To Do: If you suspect you are suffering from mastitis, see your doctor right away. Typically, a round of antibiotics is needed to clear the infection. Despite the pain, try to continue nursing to speed up your recovery.
Reason #6: Thrush
Another cause of pain during breastfeeding, thrush is a yeast infection that often develops when the candida fungus enters the nipple through cracked skin. The pain associated with nipple thrush, which is experienced after nursing, is usually described as sharp and unbearable. Thrush can also appear on your baby in the form of a lesion on the tongue, irritation around the lips or cracked lips.
What To Do: Nipple thrush needs treatment, so consult a doctor right away. This way, both you and your little one can receive the right medications.
Breastfeeding Pain Is Inevitable But You Can Overcome It
Here’s a little reminder mom: no one perfects breastfeeding at the first go. Embrace the journey and remember that it won’t always be a painful experience as long as you have the support of your loved ones and the right products to help you along.
Let Mama’s Choice Intensive Nipple Cream soothe and moisturize your dry and cracked nipples with its carefully selected blend of ingredients that include date palm extract, coconut oil and shea butter. Food-grade and 100% natural, you don’t even need to wipe it off before breastfeeding your little one.
And if you’re looking to provide breastmilk to your little one even on the go, Mama’s Choice Single & Handy Electric Breast Pump is just what you need to pump conveniently wherever you are. Small, light and compact, you can easily slip this into your bag, too!
Hanna of Mama's Choice
A mama of one energetic toddler, Hanna likes to read books, watch baking shows, and play video games when her little one is asleep.