Breastfeeding should be a relatively comfortable experience for you and your baby, but certain conditions such as chapped skin and engorgement can cause pain and make breastfeeding difficult. Talk to your physician about breastfeeding discomfort and challenges, and be sure to ask plenty of questions about breastfeeding while still in the hospital.
Engorgement is when your breasts become tender, firm and full as a result of milk production as well as extra blood and fluid in the breast tissue. Engorgement usually starts within 72 - 96 hours after birth. Because engorgement causes the breasts to be firmer, it may be hard for your baby to latch on.
Breastfeeding can sometimes cause pain or discomfort in the nipples, particularly if there is chapping or broken skin.
Below are some tips to prevent nipple soreness:
- Make sure the baby is properly latched. A lactation specialist can assist you with making sure the baby is properly latched to the breast. Lactation specialists are available at all Scripps maternity units.
- Keep your bras and any bra pads clean and dry.
- Bra pads can prevent bras or clothing from chafing against the nipple during the day and allow air to circulate so the skin stays dry.
- Avoid cleaning the nipple area with soap, which can be drying.
- Rinse off your baby’s saliva after breastfeeding.
- Ask your doctor about using a lanolin-based cream to soothe any chapped or tender skin.
In addition, our certified lactation consultants can help new mothers with additional breastfeeding problems such as:
- Mastitis: an infection of the breast tissue
- Insufficient milk supply
- Breastfeeding a premature baby
- Slow weight gain in the infant
- Breastfeeding an infant with a cleft lip/palate
- Induced lactation for adopted infants