When Breastfeeding Hurts Part I: Sore Nipples
Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. In most cases, pain is our body's way of telling us that there is a problem. This article will address the causes of common aches and pains that women experience while breastfeeding. Follow the links for more information about your situation.
It is not indicative of a problem if your nipples are sore for the first few sucks of each feed for the first two weeks following birth. This is called "latch on pain." Once the milk starts flowing, the pain should stop. You may feel a tug or pull on your nipples. If you feel a pinch, something is wrong. Pinched nipples are usually the result of a poor latch. Your baby may be positioned improperly or the breast might not be deep enough in his mouth. Fixing the latch will make the pain go away. There are things you can do to help heal your nipples if they are damaged. If your baby seems to be latched on well, he may be sucking improperly. Improper sucking is often the result of ankyloglossia, tongue-tie.
Sometimes it feels like our babies are chewing on us. This too can be caused by tongue-tie since the baby will not chew if his tongue is down and out over his bottom gums. Some babies seem to clamp their jaws closed or have a difficult time opening their mouths wide. This is often the result of prolonged pushing or injury during the birth, especially if vacuum or forceps were used. Likewise, babies who have been vigorously suctioned or intubated may have sore throats or mouths. These babies will protect their mouths and throats by clenching their gums or lifting their tongues. They may not want anything in their mouths until the soreness subsides. You can feed your baby expressed breastmilk with a cup until they are ready to breastfeed. Give your baby a lot of skin-to-skin time and he will latch on when he is ready.
The most common reasons for burning nipples is thrush. Nipple thrush is painful both while breastfeeding and in between feeds. Thrush is often confused with vasospasms of the nipple (Raynaud's) since both cause pain deep in the breasts as well as in the nipples. Suspect thrush if breastfeeding suddenly begins hurting after a period of painless nursing. Similar nipple pain may also be caused by a staph infection of the nipples.