How can I relieve pain when breastfeeding?

Relieve pain when breastfeeding

When My Expert Midwife were developing the product range we knew that developing a nipple balm which dealt with the problems that breastfeeding mums face was a must! One of the most common questions we were asked was "how can I relieve pain when breastfeeding?" We were delighted that our hard work paid off and our No Harm Nipple Balm was awarded a Bronze in the ‘Best Product for Breastfeeding’ by Mother and Baby magazine, reviewed by real-life mums.

What causes nipple soreness when breastfeeding?

At the start of the feed, when baby is latched-on there’s something called the ‘let down’ which for some women makes their toes curl it’s so uncomfortable. This should only last for a few seconds, not minutes. After that initial discomfort, breastfeeding should not be painful.

For some women, breastfeeding is painful throughout and damage to nipples can range from abrasions to cracks and fissures that bleed. There can be a number of reasons for this:

Poor positioning and attachment

This is where your baby doesn’t quite get enough breast tissue into their mouth, either because their mouth isn’t open wide enough as they’re attached, or the position that they are held in doesn’t allow them to extend their heads.

Tongue Tie

The problem here is that baby’s tongue is held tightly to the floor of their mouth by a thin membrane. This ‘ties’ the tongue and prevents baby from opening their mouth and sticking their tongue out. This then causes the same problems as poor positioning and attachment.

Candida Albicans (Thrush)

This fungal infection is usually caused by either you or baby having antibiotics. It causes pain deep within the breast and continues after the feed. You may notice white spots on the roof of your baby’s mouth.

How can I relieve pain when breastfeeding?

First of all, invest in some barrier cream designed for breastfeeding. Ideally you want one that can be used without having to remove before breastfeeding. You also want to find one that has a smooth texture rather than a thick tacky texture; if your nipples are already sore, dragging a sticky substance over them will only make the problem worse.

While nipple balms will help with the pain of breastfeeding, and some will help to moisturise the dryness and cracks that may develop, including our own No Harm Nipple Balm, the root cause of this pain should be identified.

Poor positioning and attachment

This should always be the first course of action. Call your midwife and ask to be seen that day. You may need to attend the hospital’s postnatal ward or GP surgery but this needs specialist attention. There are also numerous charity organisations that offer breastfeeding support clinics in the community, such as . Your health visitor or midwife will be able to give you more information on those close to you. The other option is to contact a lactation consultant or midwife on a private basis. They will come to your home and spend all the time needed to support you with your breastfeeding. If those solutions aren’t possible, try watching this video on positioning and attachment for some hints and tips.

Tongue Tie

Depending on the severity of the tongue tie and also, how it’s affecting your feeding, it may require a frenulotomy, or tongue tie division. This will be done by experienced clinicians but it will require a referral to be made.

Candida Albicans (Thrush)

The treatment for thrush is usually ointment for both you and your baby, scrupulous hygiene and thoroughly washing all clothes, bed clothes, and baby’s muslins etc. If you suspect that either you or your baby may have thrush then speak to your GP straightaway.

Can you breastfeed with cracked nipples?

Absolutely, but try to find a nipple balm that will help to protect and soothe the damaged tissue and that also doesn’t need to be removed prior to breastfeeding.

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