Relief from Nursing Pain

January 18, 2018

While it’s true that breastfeeding is natural, and by far the best source of nutrition for baby whenever possible, it’s also true that nursing isn’t always easy – or comfortable. First-time moms, and repeat moms who haven’t nursed in a while, may find those first few days – or weeks – to be downright painful.

5 Ways to Find Relief from Painful Nursing

Fortunately, relief is available – we promise! All it takes is a wee bit of patience and sleuthing on your part and we assure you nursing pain will become a thing of the past before you know it.

1) Contact the Local La Leche League or a licensed lactation consultant

One of the primary causes for nursing pain is what we call, “ a bad latch.” When baby doesn’t latch on exactly right, it pulls, tears and abrades the skin fibers on your nipples and this leads to all kinds of pain and discomfort.

So, often, the first item of business is to determine whether your baby has a healthy latch or not. We recommend reading, 5 Lifesaving Breastfeeding Techniques to start. Then, contact your local La Leche League Chapter and/or a licensed lactation consultant and have experts check in with you. We assure you all the above would rather tell you there isn’t a latch problem than not be contacted at all. Plus, odds are you’ll expand your breastfeeding support network when you meet the goodhearted soul at the other end of the line.

You might even find your baby has a tongue-tie or other small oral issue making it impossible for her/him to nurse properly. This is essential information to have because the sooner it’s fixed, the better off both of you will be.

2) Ensure you have the right latch (and correct it if necessary)

Nursing pain

seeseehundhund / Pixabay

That brings us right back to making sure your baby is latching on correctly. In recent studies, the leading cause of nipple and/or nursing pain was an incorrect latch, and correcting that latch had the highest rates of relief success.

When baby is latched successfully, your nipple is pulled far beyond that initial gum/hard palate section, allowing the baby’s tongue to nurse the nipple and areola as it sucks.

Kelly Mom’s, Latching and Positioning Page is extremely helpful in terms of descriptions, illustrations and supplemental resources.

3) Feed often and on-demand

It seems counterintuitive when you’re in pain, but feeding often and on-demand does two things:

  1. Prevents breast engorgement, which causes pain, discomfort, blocked ducts, etc.
  2. Keeps baby from becoming so hungry that s/he nurses over-vigorously

Newborns and young infants should nurse 8 t0 12 times in 24-hours. Rooting, putting a fist in the mouth, lip smacking, little fusses and starts – all are feeding cues from baby to you.

4) Use medical-grade lanolin

Medical-grade lanolin (sold in any store’s baby section) is the most popular form of dry, chafed and/or cracked nipple relief. If baby is latching properly, you should only need it for the first week or two as your new nursing skin learns to adjust. If you are sensitive to lanolin, Hydrogel pads are another good option.

5) Alternate heat and cold therapies

Hot compresses help to relieve engorged breasts and/or plugged ducts – getting the milk flowing. After nursing, many mothers find it soothing to use cold packs to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Are you having a difficult time adjusting to nursing, or experiencing nursing pain/discomfort that’s making you think twice about breastfeeding? Please contact the all-woman team here at Women’s Health Associates. We’re on your side and we’ll do all we can to get you back on healthy, breastfeeding track.