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Understanding Breastfeeding Discomfort: What’s Normal and What’s Not - Louie Meets Lola

Understanding Breastfeeding Discomfort: What’s Normal and What’s Not

Breastfeeding, a beautiful and natural process, can come with its fair share of challenges. From supply issues to latch problems, it's important to know what's considered normal and what might require attention. In this article, we'll explore the topic of breastfeeding discomfort and seek guidance from Molly Rose, an experienced lactation consultant. Understanding the physical aspects of breastfeeding can help new mothers navigate this incredible journey with confidence.

How is it Supposed to Feel?

For first-time breast feeders, it's natural to wonder what to expect. According to Molly, the sensation should include a vacuum-like sucking feeling and a strong tugging or pulling sensation. While it may take time to get used to this new experience, it's worth noting that every baby's sucking strength can vary, and each person's pain tolerance is different. If you've had a spinal or epidural procedure during labour, you may experience temporary reduced sensitivity, so extra care should be taken to ensure a correct latch.

What if it Hurts?

If the tugging sensation turns into pinching or sharp pain, it's time to reassess the latch. A shallow latch, where the nipple isn't deep enough into the baby's mouth, can lead to discomfort. When the nipple is compressed by the baby's gums and the roof of their mouth, those sharp sensations may occur. The solution lies in achieving a deep latch by positioning the nipple further back into the baby's mouth, providing a more comfortable experience for both mother and baby.

Sore Nipples: Normal or Cause for Concern?

When it comes to sore nipples, some tenderness, roughness, and dryness can be expected, especially for first-time breast feeders. The nipples are adapting to a new purpose, and finding the best breastfeeding position takes time. However, it's important to distinguish between normal discomfort and signs that require attention. Cracks and grazes at the nipple tip may indicate prolonged compression, which can be painful. Seek professional assessment of your technique if you notice this issue. Flaking or scaling skin could be a sign of dermatitis, and a yellow crust may indicate a potential bacterial infection. Trust your instincts and consult a healthcare professional if anything feels abnormal.

What Causes Breastfeeding Discomfort?

Molly sheds light on common types of pain and discomfort associated with breastfeeding. It's essential to remember that enduring pain isn't necessary, as lactation consultants and midwives are available to support and guide you toward a positive experience.

  • Suboptimal latch: This is often the primary cause of nipple pain. Friction due to a suboptimal latch can result in skin breakdown, which requires healing to ensure comfort during breastfeeding. Rest and proper latch technique are crucial for improvement. While working on achieving the perfect latch, our soft cotton bibs can help protect your baby's skin from any milk dribbles, keeping them dry and comfortable during feeding times. Discover bibs.
  • Ill-fitting breast pump: Using a poorly fitted breast pump can lead to inflammation around the nipple and even permanent changes in nipple shape. More suction doesn't equate to more milk, so finding a comfortable fit is key. Seek assistance to ensure you're using the appropriate flange size.
  • Vasospasm: This painful condition involves changes in blood vessels and nerves, leading to spasm-like sensations within the nipple. Colour changes in the nipple, such as from deep purple to white, can accompany this condition. Seek professional help if you experience these symptoms.
  • Engorgement: When milk production increases, usually around 72 hours post-birth, breasts can become tender and tight. This is due to increased blood flow and fluids. Relief can be achieved through expressing or breastfeeding to alleviate pressure, as well as using cold therapy with ice packs. During this process, our super absorbent feeding towels/burping cloths can be a lifesaver, helping to manage any spills or leaks. Explore Feeding Towels & Burp Cloths.
  • Inflammation: Breast tissue inflammation can cause soreness. It may manifest as a hard, warm, and red lump, sometimes mistaken for mastitis. Professional observation and correct management techniques, such as maintaining a proper latch and rest, can help resolve inflammation.

Breastfeeding is a unique and personal journey for every mother and baby. While discomfort may arise, it's important to differentiate between normal sensations and signs that require attention. Seeking guidance from lactation consultants, midwives, or healthcare professionals can provide invaluable support. Remember, with the right information and assistance, you can navigate breastfeeding challenges with confidence, ensuring a positive and rewarding experience for both you and your baby.

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