When breastfeeding is painful, you may be looking for the best breastfeeding pain relief so that you can continue to nurse your baby.
Breastfeeding is a great way to provide your baby with the nutrients she needs and connect with her at the same time. And while breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, it can also be very hard!
While the process of breastfeeding comes naturally to some mothers, may of us struggle with making it work.
One of the issues many new mothers face is the pain that comes along with breastfeeding. From engorged breasts to nipple pain, there are a variety of aches and pains associated with breastfeeding.
If you’re dealing with these issues, these 12 tips for breastfeeding pain relief will give you some comfort.
Does Breastfeeding Always Hurt?
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding pain, you’re probably worried that you’ll always feel discomfort while breastfeeding.
While you may experience occasional aches and pains throughout the breastfeeding process, most of the common pain women experience occur during the beginning stages of breastfeeding.
As you and your baby become more comfortable breastfeeding, you’ll figure out methods and systems that will help you alleviate most of the pains associated with nursing.
But if you are in constant pain each time you feed and you don’t see relief in sight, it would probably be a good idea to consult your doctor or a lactation consultant to help you fix the underlying issue.
Check Your Baby’s Latch
One of the most common causes of breastfeeding pain is an incorrect latch.
If your baby isn’t latching correctly, you’ll not only feel nipple pain but could also experience engorgement because your little one isn’t emptying the breast during each feeding.
When determining if your baby is latching correctly, look for these signs of a good latch:
- Your baby is taking in your entire nipple, as well as the surrounding areola
- The baby’s lips are turned out, making a fish face, and flat against your breast
- Your baby’s chin and nose are touching the top and bottom of your breast
- You can hear your baby sucking and swallowing as they feed
- The latch is pain free
If your baby is having issues with any of the items on this list, discuss the problems with a lactation consultant. Fixing latch issues is a sure-fire way to help provide breastfeeding pain relief.
During the early stages of breastfeeding, finding a good position for you and your baby takes a little bit of trial and error.
If your little one is having issues feeding in a certain position, it could be causing your breastfeeding pain. Try one of these positions to help relieve the pain and help your baby feed more consistently:
- Hold your baby across your chest with the baby resting on a nursing pillow for support
- Place your baby in a side football hold
- Lay down and place your baby next to you
Experimenting with different positions is a great way to help you and your baby feel more comfortable while breastfeeding.
Find what works for you to help reduce breastfeeding pain in the long run.
Try Breast Compressions
Breast compressions are a simple way to help your baby get more milk during each feeding. It’s a great method for newborns who tend to fall asleep at the breast before they’ve emptied the breast and older babies who may be having difficulties latching.
While your baby is feeding, place your thumb on the top of your breast and your remaining fingers on the bottom. As your child nurses, gently squeeze your breast to help express more milk.
This method will ensure you empty your breast during each feeding, which will not only help increase your milk supply but it will also help prevent engorgement.
Feed More Frequently
Increasing the number of feedings when you’re experiencing breast pain may seem counterintuitive, but it actually helps decrease pain in the long run.
Frequent, shorter feedings can help you minimize the chances of engorgement. And it can help reduce the chances of your baby vigorously sucking your breast each time she eats because she won’t get as hungry between feedings.
Grab Your Pump
Whether you’ve missed a feeding and your breasts are tender or your baby fell asleep before they finished feeding, supplementing your breastfeeding with pumping is a simple way to relieve breastfeeding pain.
Pumping during a missed feeding time or an incomplete feeding will help you express all the milk in your breasts and reduce the chances that they’ll become too full before your baby’s next feeding.
Apply a Compress
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to get your baby to consume all your milk, you’re still left with extra milk in your breasts. If this happens continuously, you may be faced with painfully engorged breasts.
To help ease this pain, use a cold compress or over the counter soothing packs. Place the compress on the painful area for a few minutes to help relieve the pain. And when your baby is ready to start feeding again, switch to a warm compress to help get the milk flowing more quickly.
Take Care of Nipple Pain
Nipple pain is one of the most common pains associated with breastfeeding.
Cracked or bleeding nipples can make breastfeeding extremely painful.
To remedy this breastfeeding pain, start by treating the painful nipples with baby-friendly breastfeeding ointment like lanolin.
It’s also a good idea to allow your nipples to air dry for a few minutes after each feeding. Don’t wipe away the excess breastmilk on your nipples. The milk will act as a moisturizer and protectant to help sooth painful nipples and protect them from further damage.
Unclog a Duct
Do you have a small lump on your breast that feels tender to the touch?
This may be a clogged milk duct. To relieve this breastfeeding pain, start by using a warm compress on the area. Then, gently massage the clogged duct before you begin feeding your baby.
Continued feedings, along with these additional methods, should help relieve the pain from a clogged duct.
Sometimes, breastfeeding pain doesn’t happen in the breasts.
Especially in the beginning stages of breastfeeding, the entire process can be a little stressful. This can cause you to tense up while feeding or put yourself in uncomfortable positions to help your baby latch.
All these factors can contribute to pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. Luckily, relieving this pain is simple.
Take the time to stretch before and after each breastfeeding session. Then, experiment with more relaxed breastfeeding positions to help prevent further pain from occurring.
Use Pain Medication
If you’re dealing with constant pain and discomfort from breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to help relieve the pain with an over the counter pain reliever. Both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) are safe to use while breastfeeding.
Just be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new medications and follow the dosing instructions on the package to avoid overmedicating.
Watch for Infection
Although some breastfeeding pains are common, there are a few warning signs of more serious problems you’ll need to watch out for.
If your breasts are swollen, tender, and warm to the touch or you notice a burning sensation while feeding, you may be experiencing mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue. This infection often comes with a high fever.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.