Certainly, motherhood is about new life, renewed love, bonding, and affection, but it also brings about so many challenges and difficulties, one of them being the challenges of breastfeeding.
In the early months, it is a very common situation for the mothers to try and establish a proper latching and feeding pattern. And often, it can result in soreness and irritation in the nipples. This may also happen in the later phases when the sucking becomes stronger and teeth start to arrive.
When the breasts are engorged, and the nipples are sensitive to touch, even a little bite or a hungry tug at your boobs can make you scream in pain.
Though soreness and pain in nipples is a common occurrence, it should not last too long, otherwise, it can negatively affect the mother-child bonding, and make the feeding sessions painful and stress-ridden.
So, how can you minimise the pain and make breastfeeding a delightful affair for you and your baby?
Here we are presenting you with some tips and ways of effectively feeding your baby so that your feeding sessions are full of joy and tender moments, not tender breasts.
Preventing Sore And Cracked Nipples
If you experience soreness, pain, and bleeding nipples, it could be because of poor positioning or latching. When the baby sucks only on the nipple and does not latch on the areola, it can cause trauma to the nipple (1).
Here are a few pointers that will guide you to latch your baby properly:
- When you are feeding, try encouraging the baby to take in more of your breast, i.e. the areola (the soft, dark region encircling the nipple) in its mouth. If the baby is unable to do so, use a finger to free the suction and encourage the baby to latch to the areola again. This will reduce pressure on the nipples, stimulate the milk ducts appropriately, and ensure better emptying and subsequent flow of the milk within the breasts.
- Don’t keep the baby too hungry before the feeding to avoid hungry and strong sucks. When the baby is gentle with the sucks, the nipples also adjusts well with the rhythm and flow.
- Try to give frequent feeds to avoid excess hunger.
- Try different positions to ensure that the feeding process is relaxed and comfortable for both (2).
- Press your breasts gently initially so that you get the milk flowing within your breasts before you offer it to your baby. This will prevent him/her from working too hard and hurting you, as the milk will already be flowing.
- Feed the baby on the side which is less sore, so that the sore nipples get some rest.
- Gently put a clean finger inside the baby’s mouth before removing him from the breasts, to avoid the nipple being clamped to his mouth.
Treatments For Cracked Nipples
It is definitely not too difficult to treat cracked and sore nipples. Given below are some handy tips for treating them.
- For the sore nipple to heal, apply some of your own milk to the nipple and leave the area to dry for a few hours. Do not put on your bra during that time.
- Consult a lactation specialist to find out if the latching is properly established.
- Adopt proper breast support techniques so that your nipples aren’t unnecessarily stressed (3).
- You may consider using a nipple shield if you and your baby are comfortable with it.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful way of establishing the bond between a mother and her child. In case you face difficulties as mentioned above, do follow the provided tips to avoid any prolonged pain and discomfort. Let breastfeeding be a blissful and enjoyable part of you and your baby’s growth!