I’m sure most mums at one time or another have winced at the thought of feeding their baby. For some mums, it happens when they first feed their brand new baby, for other’s it’s later as baby starts to get bigger and the suck gets stronger.
For some of us, it’s when that lovely bundle of joy, decides he or she wants to try out newly erupting teeth on our already very tender nipples. “Ouch it hurts,” can be a complete understatement. It can be “ouch” enough to bring tears to even the most committed breastfeeding-focused mum’s eyes.
Remain positive and be encouraged that whatever the reason you are facing the “ouch” in your breastfeeding relationship with your baby, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop feeding. Armed with a few suggestions, you and your baby can move beyond the “ouch” and back into the wonderful bliss that breastfeeding should be for you both.
There can be little doubt that any woman who has felt the pain of tender nipples in those early days of breastfeeding will be tempted to wonder why they would want to keep feeding. I escaped nipple pain with my first son, but not with my second son.
Within a couple of days of his birth, his need to feed left me wincing with anticipation of what was to come. It even caused me to shed a few tears. I had trained as a breast-feeding counsellor by then and I knew it’s cause and how to help us both to succeed.
Within a week, that wincing had gone, my nipples felt normal again and I was at home enjoying the start of the same 18-month long breastfeeding relationship with my son that had so inspired me with his brother.
Whilst it is normal to have tender nipples in the first week or two of feeding, very sore, cracked or bleeding nipples are not normal in breastfeeding and are generally the result of the baby poorly attaching to the breast and sucking on the nipple rather than the areola (the soft brown or pink-ringed area behind the nipple).
Some newborn babies forget to open their mouth wide enough and being hungry, eagerly begin to suck as soon as the nipple is placed in their mouths.
Encouraging that little mouth to take more of the breast tissue inside so that the milk ducts are milked effectively, not only reduces the chance of sore nipples, but also ensures that the breast ducts are stimulated to produce sufficient milk for your baby’s needs. This also helps to prevent the development of breast lumps and mastitis due to inadequate emptying of the breasts during a feed.
If you notice that your nipples are starting to feel a little sore and maybe looking a little squashed or red after a feed, try these simple steps to prevent developing cracks.
Thankfully treating cracked and bleeding nipples is not difficult. Armed with a little bit of knowledge and lots of resourcefulness your nipples should return to their normal selves very quickly.
Remember to try not to hold your breast and tense when feeding, but breathe normally and deeply. Try to listen to gentle music and make feed times relaxing times for you to self-care whilst tending to the needs of your baby. You deserve it!
This article was written by Carol Groves: Carol trained and worked as a nurse and midwife in Australia and overseas, many years ago before having children. Later I trained and worked as a breastfeeding counsellor with Nursing Mothers (now Breastfeeding Australia). Today I am preparing to be a Doula (Childbirth and Peri natal Support Person) and Mother’s Helper. My website is being developed at http://muslimumi.com.