When nursing makes you wince, all you want to do is quit, right? All that sucking and feeding and learning how to properly position your baby on your nipples can make them tender, dry and even cracked.
What most people don’t tell you is that breastfeeding is a little painful the first week or two as your nipples get adjusted to their new job.
The first thing to do is to make sure you’ve nailed the latch, which is getting your child’s mouth in the proper position around your nipple. (Watch a lactation consultation demonstrate proper positioning.)
Assuming your baby is latching correctly and you’re practicing good breastfeeding posture, your soreness will soon pass. Here are three things to do during this initial “ouch” phase:
#1: Don’t stop breastfeeding.
Ok, this one goes against the instinct to give your nipples a break and let them heal. But it’s crucial to continue nursing or pumping on both breasts even if it hurts. Otherwise, your milk production will decrease (if you don’t use it, you lose it).
#2: Use Mother Nature’s secret weapon.
Although this sounds a little crazy, it’s true. Your own breastmilk can help heal your nipples. After breastfeeding, just rub a few drops of it on your nipples and let them air dry.
#3: Apply nipple cream. Religiously.
Lanolin-based nipple cream is designed to soothe sore nipples and it’s safe for your baby. The brand I like best – because it’s easiest to smooth on and feels the most moisturizing – is Lansinoh.
It’s also important to have breastfeeding essentials on hand to make you and your baby more relaxed and comfortable, too.
If you continue to struggle with painful nursing, be sure to ask your doctor about seeing a lactation consultant before you decide to throw in the towel. These breastfeeding experts can troubleshoot what’s going on to find solutions that work for you.
Although it’s tempting to give up when you hit a nursing snag, all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding make it worth it to hang in there.