Ouch! Overcoming the Pain of Breast Feeding
Breastfeeding your baby is one of the most natural things in the world but it doesn't always feel that way. Many women experience pain and discomfort during breastfeeding and that can take away from the joy and pleasure of feeding your baby. Some types of pain are normal and usually subside quickly and others could signal a problem that may require a doctor's attention. Breast pain can happen for a variety of reasons.
During the first days of breastfeeding your breasts can become engorged as your milk comes in causing pain, swelling and discomfort. Applying warm compresses and gently massaging your breasts can help decrease the discomfort. Have your baby nurse regularly and express by pumping to help the milk begin to flow. Missing a feeding can also cause engorged breasts. Pumping breast milk regularly when you are away from your baby or unable to breastfeed will help to prevent engorged breasts.
Some nipple pain is normal when you first begin breastfeeding. It takes time for your nipples to adjust to feeding your baby every couple of hours around the clock. If your nipples bleed or become cracked or infected it could be a sign of a problem such as an incorrect latch. Try nursing your baby in different positions to see if you can get a better latch to ease the pain. A certified lactation consultant can help you find ways to feed your baby without pain or discomfort. Sometimes nipple pain can be caused by insufficient breast milk production as your baby will have to nurse for extended periods of time to get a complete feeding. An herbal supplement such as fenugreek can increase milk production allowing you to nurse for less time and give your nipples a rest between feedings.
Clogged Milk Ducts
A clogged milk duct occurs when the milk is not draining well and inflammation builds up resulting in a sore, tender lump inside the breast. It is important not to ignore a clogged milk duct as it could lead to an infection known as mastitis. It is also important not to stop breastfeeding on the side that is causing pain. Feeding your baby can actually help unblock the area. Applying hot compresses and gently massaging the area can also help unclog the duct. If the pain is accompanied by a fever or noticeable redness in the area you should see your doctor as soon as possible to rule out an infection. Breast infections are usually treated quite successfully with antibiotics.
Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt. Although some amount of pain during breastfeeding is normal, see your doctor if you feel or experience anything unusual.
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