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Nipple Discomforts: Causes and Solutions

While breastfeeding moms rest assured that they have made the best decision in breastfeeding their offspring, they may also have to cope with some challenges while doing so. One common issue among breastfeeding moms happens to be sore nipples. In fact, it’s so common that it’s sometimes considered a natural phenomena of breastfeeding, when it actual fact, it need not be that way!

Some degree of pain and soreness in the nipples, especially during the first week after giving birth, is expected and rarely a mom will be able to escape that. This usually happens while the new mom is still trying to get the hang of breastfeeding techniques and it should not last throughout the whole breastfeeding session.

Prolonged discomfort while breastfeeding indicates that there is a problem. The cause of the problem as well as a solution should be found as soon as possible to avoid any long-term damage to your nipples.

We wish you a good start…

…but do be ready for the unexpected. Some new moms feel hardly any pain during the first few hours or even days of breastfeeding! While this is absolutely great, the fact is, they might not be in the clear yet when it comes to nipple discomforts, particularly if they are still on painkillers. In cases like these, nipple pain may sneak up once the painkillers are discontinued.

Types of nipple issues

There could be a number of causes for nipple pain or discomforts. Here are the most common culprits.

Your baby is not latched on properly

One of the most common causes of nipple pain is improper latch. It’s also known as shallow latch, for in most cases, the baby does not take in enough of the breast during nursing. This causes the baby to suck on the nipples rather than the breasts, causing intense pain. If this shallow latch prolongs, it will lead to nipple damage.

Check your nipples: If they look like a new tube of lipstick and/or there is a stripe running down the middle of your nipple, it indicates a possible shallow latch.

Consult a lactation specialist or consultant to help you for advice on how to position your baby for a better latch when nursing.

Tongue-tie

When the skin connecting baby’s tongue to the floor of the mouth is short or extends too far to the front of the tongue, it means your baby has a tongue tie.

This can cause not only painful nursing problems, but it can also be frustrating for a hungry baby as well. A minor surgical procedure will easily fix the problem. If you suspect that your baby has a tongue tie, inform your doctor at once.

Pump trauma

A breast pump can be a boon for a mom who needs to pump out her milk, but only if it’s used well. Improper use of a breast pump is a sure-fire way to end up with painfully sore nipples, and if prolonged, it can damage your nipples.

When you’re using the breast pump, ensure that the flanges (or breast shields) that come with your breast pump are the right size and not too small for your nipples. Also, breasts pumps utilise artificial mechanisms to operate, so avoid turning the suction level up too high, for that too can lead to unnecessary damage to nipples.

Ask a lactation consultant to help you get set up with the right pump and the right size flanges and to show you the proper way to use your breast pump.

Spasms

If your nipple looks pale and starts to hurt intensely a few seconds or a few minutes after feeding, then returns to its normal colour, it may be due to a spasm in the blood vessels in the nipple. This can be caused by trauma to the nipple, nipple compression, or from yeast on the nipple. A lactation consultant can help you get to the cause of the spasm.

Nipple blister

A blister on a nipple? As terrible as it sounds, it’s actually quite common among breastfeeding moms. A nipple blister can appear clear, yellow, or bloody and may cause intense pain during feedings. Friction or suction from a poor latch is most often behind this type of blister. Poorly fitting breast flanges or using a pump that’s set too high are other common causes of nipple blisters.

A blister may also appear as a reaction to ointments, creams, or medications on the nipple. Discontinue use of nipple creams or medications until you have a dermatologist determine what type of blister you may be suffering from.

Know the cause

Contact a lactation consultant for help as soon as possible. She can help diagnose the cause of the pain and can work alongside your doctor if necessary to come up with a treatment plan. The cause of the pain of discomfort will have to be discovered first before coming up with a solution.

Basic nipple care

It is essential for every breastfeeding mom to take good care of her nipples and know when something’s not right. Also, it’s important to ensure that the nipples are adequately moisturised at all times. A good nipple cream, balm or ointment made specifically for this purpose will do the trick. Always use nipple care products as indicated on the label for best results.

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