Congratulations! You have a new baby and have decided to breastfeed. I applaud your decision because breastfeeding offers many benefits for you and your baby. Michelle Carlson, RN, IBCLC, certified lactation consultant, discusses the common challenges of breastfeeding discomfort and what to do:
Is soreness normal?
If this is your first experience with breastfeeding, you might not realize that your nipples will be sore in the beginning. The good news is that the discomfort should last for only the first 30 seconds or so of each feeding, and after about 2 weeks you should have little or no pain.
Some women, though, have excruciating pain that lasts the entire feeding. If this happens to you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Our Lake Health Lactation Consultants will help you, even if you didn’t deliver your baby at one of our hospitals—TriPoint Medical Center in Concord Township and West Medical Center in Willoughby. Your pediatrician’s office might be able to help too.
Relieving engorged breasts
Full or engorged breasts are common in the first few weeks after giving birth. As your milk comes in, your breasts produce more blood and other fluids to help with milk production. This can cause a painful “traffic jam” of fluid in your breasts. In fact, your breasts can feel rock hard, as if they were filled with cement. They might also leak. While this is most common in the early days, it can happen anytime if your baby misses a feeding, naps longer than usual or doesn’t completely empty your breasts.
To avoid engorgement, feed your baby frequently and work on your baby’s latch and positioning to ensure he or she empties your breasts completely.
When engorgement occurs, you can help relieve the pain through massage. Lie flat on your back with one arm over your head. With the other hand, massage the opposite breast using a lubricant such as olive oil. Start with your fingers at the base of the nipple and move outward, massaging all around your breast.
You can also place a bag of frozen peas or corn on your breast and gently press it into the chest wall for about 10 minutes.
Cracking, bleeding, blisters and more
You should seek help if you have cracking, bleeding, blisters or flattened or creased nipples. You could have a latching issue. Our lactation consultants can help you find the best position for you and your baby to help relieve these painful symptoms.
Local support, expert advice
If you have breastfeeding challenges or questions, we invite you to attend our Breastfeeding Support Group. Bring your baby and meet other moms. We offer morning and evening sessions, and a lactation consultant leads the discussion. For information about our breastfeeding support services or a list of resources, click here or call:
Lake Health Lactation Center
Monday-Friday, 8 am – 4:30 pm: 440-354-1929