No one told me that breastfeeding was going to be painful. I honestly went into it thinking that my milk was going to flow with no problem, and my baby would simply use his natural instinct to latch on properly. But after a couple of days of just not getting it, my baby was starving and my nipples were sore, red, and beginning to crack. Needless to say, I was on the verge of cracking, too. If you are struggling like I did, you could probably benefit from some hacks to make your boobs not hurt as much while breastfeeding.
According to Belly Belly, there are several reasons why breastfeeding can hurt. Most often, it is due to an incorrect latch which can lead to blisters or broken skin – which can take a long time to heal since the skin is being reopened each time your baby nurses. But sometimes it can be due to plugged ducts or mastitis which may need to be treated with antibiotics. In most cases, breastfeeding will become less painful with time and guidance from a certified lactation consultant if necessary.
In the meantime, here are some easy hacks to help alleviate boob pain while breastfeeding.
1. Numb Your Nipples
If breastfeeding is making your nipples sore, Dr. Sears recommended numbing them before breastfeeding by applying ice wrapped in a damp cloth. This will also make your nipple erect which may help your baby latch on properly.
2. Elevate Your Breast
It can be really uncomfortable if you have large and very heavy breasts that need to be supported until your baby gets the hang of nursing. Family Education suggested rolling up a cloth diaper, hand towel, or receiving blanket and putting it under your breast to elevate it so that you don't have to hold it up while you breastfeed.
3. Use A Gel Pad
Moms with sore nipples swear by Lansinoh Soothies gel pads ($7) to alleviate their pain between nursing sessions. These pads provide moist therapy to help soothe your painful, cracked nipples.
4. Don't Wait Until You Baby Is Starving
According to Dr. Sears, babies who are too hungry have more vigorous sucking and don't cooperate as well with a proper latch. Feeding your baby before she starts wailing out of hunger will make nursing easier and be less painful.
5. Find A Better Position
One of the easiest things to try if nursing is painful is a different breastfeeding position. According to La Leche League International (LLLI) proper positioning can help alleviate painful nursing, your nipples will stay healthy, and your baby can feed more efficiently.
6. Try A Nipple Shield
Babies who have a hard time latching may benefit from a nipple shield. Nipple shields are also helpful for moms with sore or injured breasts. Kelly Mom warned that weaning from a nipple shield can be difficult and it may decrease your milk supply, so it should only be used as a temporary solution if possible.
7. Empty Your Breasts
According to Belly Belly, engorgement causes painful breastfeeding and can eventually cause supply issues. Breasts that become too full between feeding, send a signal to your body to cut back on how much milk it’s making. Pumping after nursing can help if your baby doesn't fully empty your breast.