7 Breastfeeding tips for pain

Breastfeeding is not always a bed of roses. Complications can arise that make you feel frustrated and confused, and even make you consider stopping breastfeeding.

One of the most common is sore nipples when feeding your baby, a pain that should not be more than a nuisance for the first few days and should disappear as the days go by. Breastfeeding may hurt, but it shouldn’t. If it hurts, it means something is wrong. Montse Robles, a breastfeeding consultant and Medela’s outreach officer, gives us seven tips for pain-free breastfeeding.

Number 1: A good grip is key

“An optimal latch-on will serve a dual purpose: ensuring adequate milk transfer and therefore achieving sufficient emptying of the breast to maintain milk production, as well as preventing nipple soreness. In addition to sore nipples, an incorrect latch-on can lead to other long-term complications, such as limited milk production and poor baby weight gain,” explains Montse.Breastfeeding tips for pain

A good latch-on occurs when the nipple and a large part of the areola are inside the baby’s mouth. The baby’s chin should touch the breast, the mouth should be wide open and the lips should be facing outwards.

However, if the latch-on is incorrect, the baby may snap, have curved lips inward, or move his or her head frequently.

When the baby is learning to latch on and breastfeed, the mother can hold her breast during the latch-on process. The ‘C’ hand is one of the techniques commonly used to support the breast: with one hand, four fingers are placed under the breast and the thumb on top of the breast.

Number 2: Try different postures

breastfeeding mother and babyChanging positions at each feeding can help decrease pressure on the breasts and improve the baby’s latch-on. The most common position for breastfeeding is called the cradle position, although there are many other possibilities that may be more beneficial in each case.

Number 3: Use your own milk as a cure

pour breast milk from one bottle to anotherBreast milk has anti-pathogenic and healing properties. Just as its components strengthen the baby’s immune system, they can also be very useful in helping to heal cracked or sore nipples. For this reason, Montse Robles recommends rubbing a few drops of breast milk on your nipples and letting them dry.

Number 4: Let them dry in the air

A very effective solution to promote the healing of a sore nipple is to let it air dry. A very practical tip is to avoid putting your bra on immediately after you finish breastfeeding.

Whenever possible, the mother should try to keep her breasts in the air for a while or wear a soft cotton T-shirt without a bra. Something as simple as this can help cure sore nipples.

Number 5: Express your milk to give your nipple a rest

woman hands holding a full breast milk pumpA rest can be an appropriate solution to relieve a cracked or sore nipple. “If the mother uses a breast pump, the damaged nipple can rest, while she can continue to feed the baby breast milk,” explains Montse Robles.

Number 6: Use nipple shields

breasfeeding shieldThere are different products specifically designed to facilitate the healing of cracked or sore nipples. The nipple shields fit directly onto the mother’s nipple and are sealed around the areola, thus avoiding the annoying chafing that can occur with clothing.

The nipple shields are very thin, soft, flexible and bisphenol-A free silicone membranes that have a pleasant feel on the skin and adapt to the shape of each breast. You can use them to breastfeed until the crack heals.

Number 7: Patches and creams to relieve pain

Hydrogel patches and lanolin creams can be very helpful in soothing an irritated or cracked nipple. Hydrogel patches assist in the healing process of the nipple by maintaining the skin’s suppleness and moisture while providing a cooling sensation.

cream for breastfeeding nipplesLanolin cream, on the other hand, helps restore the skin’s lipid level. It is made of 100% natural and hypoallergenic ingredients so it does not need to be removed before breastfeeding. Furthermore, due to its composition, Medela’s lanolin cream can also be used on baby’s lips, nose and dry skin.

How to relieve nipple pain

To alleviate nipple pain, we advise you to alternate the start of the feeding on one breast and the other, and to change position to vary the points where more pressure is exerted with the suction. You should also consider the following aspects:

  • Avoid soaps, alcohol and other products that can dry out your skin when you shower. It is not necessary to wash your nipples before taking a shower.
  • If your nipples are cracked, do not apply creams that need to be removed before you breastfeed. It is best to apply a few drops of your own milk to your nipple and areola after feedings and let your nipples air dry.
  • Silicone nipples are not recommended as they confuse baby’s suckling and act as a barrier, so the mother’s breast does not receive enough stimulation.

If the pain persists, you should consult a professional who will help you find the cause of your nipple pain:

  • The doctor will investigate the characteristics of the pain, its duration, its onset and end, and its relationship to breastfeeding.
  • Examine the nipples for cracks and clinically observe a feeding to see the technique and position.
  • The evaluation of the baby will also reveal other possible causes

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