My boobs hurt breastfeeding: Breastfeeding pain explained

Breastfeeding should not be painful. So, whenever your boobs hurt breastfeeding, you should never shrug it off because it is usually a sign that something is wrong. Most of the time, first-time mothers are told by their peers or family that it is normal to experience pain in the first few days. But according to a Lactation consultant, Sandara Yates, even a brief sensation of pain can cause nipple damage and reduce milk production.

So, why do women experience pain while breastfeeding? Here are the underlying causes of breastfeeding pain and solutions to this problem:

Latch problems
Breastfeeding is a skill that both a mother and her baby have to learn with time. It may take you a while but you will soon master it.

Normally, when a baby latches well to the breast, the nipple goes deep into the infant’s mouth. Since the nipple will be at the back of the baby’s mouth, he uses his tongue to get the milk out. However, if the nipple is not far enough, the tongue is likely to press or rub on the nipple which results in breastfeeding pain.

Mothers experiencing pain due to latch problems often notice that the nipple appear sculpted or squashed as it comes out of the infant’s mouth. Upon closer inspection, it may appear blistered or cracked and is painful to touch.

To fix this problem, you need to improve how the baby latches on the breast. Ordinarily, a small change in positioning is what is needed to make both the mother and baby comfortable while breastfeeding.

To make sure the baby has a good latch, support his weight on your arm with your hand going between the shoulder blades. Bring the baby close using your elbow and allow his head to tilt back a little. Hold the breast near the nipple using your thumb so that it tilts up a bit.

Line up the baby’s nose with the nipple and stimulate his lower lip with the breast. Once he opens his mouth wide with his tongue down, pull him close and allow the tongue to scoop a good portion of the breast into his mouth. If necessary, tuck the nipple in under his upper lip with the thumb.
At the end of the feeding, if you notice the nipples are cracked, express a little milk onto them and allow to air-dry.

Blocked milk ducts
Blocked milk ducts are some of the major reasons why your boobs hurt breastfeeding. Most of the time, the problem occurs when breast engorgement continues without being resolved.

Normally, glands that make milk in your breasts are divided into segments just like an orange. Tiny tubes known as ducts conduct milk from each segment.

If one of the segments is not properly emptied during a breastfeeding session, this can lead to a blocked duct. When this occurs, you are likely to feel a small but tender lump in the breast.

To resolve this problem as quickly as possible, place the infant with their chin lined towards the lump so that they can suck from that region of the breast. In addition, avoid wearing tight bras or clothes to allow the milk flow freely from every segment of the breast.

Breast engorgement
Breast engorgement can cause breastfeeding pain. The condition occurs when your boobs become overly full. When this happens, they are likely to fee painful, hard and tight. Initially, engorgement was viewed as an ordinary occurrence during the first few days or weeks of breastfeeding but this is no longer the case.

Breasts can get engorged if your newborn’s feeding does not match the production of milk or if the baby is not well latched to the breast.

To ease breast engorgement, you can consider expressing some of the milk by hand. When you take off a little milk-not all the milk you relieve the pressure within.

In addition, you should consider donning a well-fitting bra that does not squash your breasts and apply cold cabbage leaves to your breast before breastfeeding or expressing the milk to reduce swelling and pain.

Mastitis
Mastitis is a one of the reasons why your boobs hurt breastfeeding. This is caused by inflammation in the boobs and occurs when blocked ducts are not relieved. Most of the time, it manifests with cold-like symptoms. In some circumstances, it starts off as non-infective but if no action is taken it can quickly degenerate into an infection. Symptoms of mastitis include:

Fever

Hot and tender breasts

Feeling tired, achy and tearful

A red, painful patch on the breast

If you suspect you are developing this condition, you need to check your baby’s position when breastfeeding and how well he attaches to the breast. By all means, do not stop breastfeeding and let the infant feed on the breast that you suspect is developing mastitis.

If the baby cannot breastfeed for some reason, express the milk by hand. You should also take constant breaks or go to bed if possible. If the breastfeeding pain is getting on your nerves, take a paracetamol and consult a physician if the condition does not resolve within 24 hours.

Ultimately, if your boobs hurt breastfeeding, you should pay attention and seek to resolve the problem as soon as possible to prevent complications that could have been avoided.

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