Is it supposed to hurt?
- Once you begin to breastfeed it will take some time to toughen your nipples toughened so that latching is not uncomfortable at all. It is a classic sign that your newborn is NOT latching correctly if it hurts your nipple or breast after the first 3-5 suckling motions have occurred. If you are uncomfortable after an initial latching attempt, unlatch your newborn (gently) by putting your finger into your newborn to break the suction on your nipple and reattempt latch. When you take the time to latch well, it pays off later when you try to latch for the next feed and find it is not prohibitively painful.
- Engorgement, as your breasts fill with milk before every feed, can initially be very impressive and uncomfortable. It is not uncommon to have your breast change 1-2 sizes as your “milk comes in”. Often the initial engorgement, when you are first breastfeeding, will occur on postpartum day 3-4, and even a little later if you have had a cesarean section.
We recommend trying to warm soak your breasts 10 minutes before a feed. This can be done by:
- Getting into the shower and let the hot water run over your breast for 10-15 minutes.
- Take a clean wet washcloth and put it in a baggie, in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Ensure that it is not too hot and then place the cloth on your breasts until the heat is dissipated. Try to rub any knots you feel while breastfeeding from the outside of your breast towards the nipple. This will help to prevent clogged milk ducts that can lead to infection and greater discomfort.
What is happening to my nipples?
Postpartum, as you begin to breastfeed you will notice your nipple enlarges and toughens up after an initial skin cracking and bruising that can be seen. If you notice blood in your newborn’s mouth or spit up when your nipples are cracked this is your blood, not theirs and is not a concern but can be considered as a source of iron to your newborn.
Ideas for improved nipple care include:
In the first 2 weeks of your breastfeeding, your nipples will be toughened by consistent feeding of your newborn or recurrent breast pumping. After each feed, during this transition time, rub a little breast milk or lanolin ointment onto the nipple and let it air dry before replacing a breast shield or bra. You may also find wearing a breast gel pad soothing ( especially if it is kept in the refrigerator before use).
If nipple cracking or severe discomfort begins, consider asking for all purpose nipple cream (details available see in the medication section)