For all the talk about how "breast is best" and the relative benefits of breastfeeding, there isn't nearly as much talk about how darn painful breastfeeding can be. I say it's time to start talking, my friends, so nursing women can find a little reprieve. I mean, do we, as a culture, really want to tell moms to just suck it up and endure it until it passes? Especially when there are safe pain relievers for breastfeeding pain that are also safe for a baby?There are things you can do to relieve that breastfeeding pain, nursing moms, so you don't have to suffer in order to feed your child.
First of all, there's the question of what is actually going to help relieve the pain of breastfeeding that you're experiencing, and then there's the question of what pain medication is safe to take while you're feeding a baby with your body. Let's look at what can help relieve breastfeeding pain first.
There are lots of things you can do to relieve breastfeeding pain before you have to turn to over-the-counter pain killers. During the first week of your baby's life — and the first week you're breastfeeding — you'll want to help protect your nipples while the skin gets used to having a baby latch on, according to Today's Parent. You might need to pick up some lanolin ointment that can help with cracked or sore nipples as they get used to their new job.
Beyond getting used to that first week of nursing, you can try a few tips for keeping breast pain away. According to SELF, it helps to feed your baby frequently so you can keep your breasts from getting engorged, which can make them even more sore if your baby has a hard time latching on. You can hand express or use a pump if you've gone too long between feeds, too, so your baby can latch on more easily.
If you're experiencing breast pain already, consider using a cold compress or ice pack to relieve pain after you've fed your baby. Drugs.com says a cold pack can lessen inflammation of your breasts, especially if they are engorged and extra sore.
Now, let's talk medication. What medicine is safe to take for breastfeeding pain? According to BabyCenter, Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil — basically acetaminophen or ibuprofen — are both safe types of over-the-counter medication you can take while you're breastfeeding, whether it's for breastfeeding pain specifically or for other aches and pains while you're still nursing a baby.
When and/or if the pain becomes too much for those medicines to help, or when you think you might have mastitis or thrush, head to your doctor for help. NewParent.com suggests you "call your doctor if you experience severe engorgement, if pain is so intense that it prevents you from breastfeeding, or if your baby still seems hungry after feeding. Also, be aware of symptoms for mastitis, or infection of the breast tissue, characterized as breast warmth, swelling, and tenderness; pain or a burning sensation while breastfeeding; skin redness; or a fever higher than 101 degrees."
Otherwise, popping the recommended dose of Tylenol or Advil can help take the edge off breastfeeding pain until your breasts get used to their new role in keeping your baby fed and growing for the next several months or years.
And in case you're dealing with any other aches, pains, or need to take medication for a number of reasons when you're breastfeeding, BabyCenter provides nursing moms with a list of medications that are safe to use while breastfeeding. Of course, and always, it's recommended you consult with your doctor before taking any medication, especially when you're nursing. After all, it's always better to be safe than sorry!
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