Nipple or breast pain that comes with breastfeeding is not considered normal. It is, however, very common. It’s common because shallow latching is common when breastfeeding is becoming established. That’s partly due to our culture. Many times we aren’t surrounded by grandmas, aunts, and sisters who know how to breastfeed and can help us obtain deep latches. Often our babies are swaddled instead of being held skin to skin more.
Causes of nipple pain
The most common cause of nipple pain is a shallow latch. What will help your nipple pain to go away is to obtain consistent, deep latches. Check out these guides on how to latch your baby deeply onto the breast and breastfeeding positions. Global Health Media also has a great video called Attaching Your Baby at the Breast.
Nipple pain management
While you’re working on consistently getting deep latches to make the nipple pain disappear, these remedies will help significantly!
- Avoid soap directly on your nipples in the shower (it will dry them out)
- Apply a warm compress or warm washcloth to your nipples prior to nursing
- Work with baby to obtain a deep latch, even if it takes many repeated attempts, that’s okay!
- After feeding:
Causes of breast pain
Breast pain or discomfort is usually caused by a sudden increase in milk in the breast or milk that has been sitting in a certain spot in the breast and has not been drained. This may occur aroudn days 3-5 when your milk volume increases drastically or later when you first start having longer periods between breastfeeding or pumping. This discomfort may be engorgement. If the milk is not removed, it may turn into an infection called mastitis.
Breast pain management
- Feed your baby frequently
- Latch deeply
- Apply a cool or cold compress after breastfeeding
- If your breasts are still sore, hand express or pump to remove milk until you are comfortable
- If you consistently remove “all” the milk, your body will keep producing that much because it thinks you need it. If your milk supply is more than your baby is drinking and the extra milk is causing you discomfort, you probably want to decrease your supply. That’s why I say to only remove milk until you are comfortable, then stop.
I put “all” in quotes because really your breast is never empty. I try to avoid phrases like that so you can adjust your mindset but sometimes is complicated to avoid those words. Even if you remove as much milk as you can, there’s probably still some left. Plus your body is constantly making more, especially when your baby is at the breast.
While shallow latch is the most common cause of nipple pain, if baby has a tight frenulum or a tongue tie, that can cause nipple or breast pain as well. Mama Natural has a nice overview of tongue ties or if you’re interested in an academic read, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has position statement on ankyloglossia.
You and baby will both be happier when breastfeeding is comfortable, the way it’s supposed to be! Did these tips help? What helped you most to get rid of your nipple pain? Share below!
Do you know someone who could use this information? Share it with them and help them out!
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