If this happens to you then it can be a real discouraging thing. Some of the causes are listed below. Try the hints listed but I would strongly recommend that you see a breastfeeding or lactation consultant before it gets too painful.
Pain at the beginning of the feed: Ask for an assessment of the baby latching on method (remember they are learning too!)
Pain in the first few days after birth: This can be due to a number of causes such as engorgement, latch, hormone adjustment, position.
Pain throughout feeding: Again this could be due to latch or position. It is also worth having the baby assessed for a tongue tie or a high roof of the mouth. If your baby is slightly older then it can be a sign of pregnancy or something has changed in their positioning when you feed.
Pain during and after feeding: Ask for thrush to be ruled out. This is characterized by needle like pain in the nipple between feeds and is easily treatable. Both you and the baby will need to be assessed as you can pass it back and forth.
You should also have the babys latch and position assessed. If the baby is not on properly then it can cause soreness, chapping even bleeding so any sign of pain – GET AN ASSESSMENT.
Nipple is white or blanched: You’ve guessed it – get the latch and positioning checked out! There is also something called a Vasospasm which is were the blood vessels of the nipple constrict. Any of the solutions listed below can help but you can also try and massage your pectorals (the muscles above your breasts) after a feed or at the start of any discomfort for around a minute. A warm compress after feeding can also help.
Pain with white spots on the nipple: This could well be a bleb or milk filled spot. Its a sign that there is a blockage somewhere. A warm compress and gentle massage towards the nipple should help relieve or remove the block – when it comes out its like thick custard as it is extra thick backed up breastmilk. You can also try and exfoliate the skin so remove the top of the bleb and help it come out.
- Use a properly fitting nipple shield
- Inverted nipples
- Ill fitting bra
- Improper use of breast pump – check that the flange fits over your nipple and aureole
- Hormonal changes
- Check your position and always have the baby facing your breast
- Let your nipples air dry after feeding. Breastmilk has many antibacterial properties which are beneficial to both of you
- If you are using breast pads make sure they do not have a plastic liner which can trap moisture
- Dry your nipples after feeding with a hair dryer on for only two – three minutes after feeding
- Lanolin can help if applied to the nipple. Avoid petroleum based products such as vaseline and only use water to wash your nipples.
- Cold tea bags on your nipples can help calm them down
- Make sure that you use both breasts – I know its tempting if one is sore to give it a break but it can impact supply. Plus your milk has great antibacterial properties so it does speed up recovery time.
- If you are removing the baby from the breast before they have finished a feed make sure you are doing so gently and in a way that you do not damage your nipple. Little finger in the corner of their mouth and break the seal they have created is the easiest and most effective way to disengage them.
- Relax – it encourages the milk let down and makes feeding easier