By Dara Pettinelli for TheBump.com
It’s a natural process so it should be easy, right? But just like learning how to ride a bike, you need to learn how to breastfeed (and so does baby, by the way). We consulted with Jane Morton, MD, on how to handle the 10 most common breastfeeding problems. She’s been teaching doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants how to teach the rest of us for more than 30 years. And she’s on staff at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, California.
Problem #1: Latching pain
It’s normal for your nipples to feel sore when you first start to breastfeed, especially if you’re a first-timer. But if baby has latched and the pain lasts longer than a minute into your feeding session, check the positioning.
Solution: Try to achieve an asymmetrical latch where baby’s mouth covers more of the areola below the nipple rather than above. To reposition him, place your index finger inside baby’s mouth to take him off your breast. Tickle his chin or wait until he yawns so his mouth is wide open and seize your opportunity. (Sandwich the breast as described in the video clip below to shape it to the baby’s mouth.) When he is correctly positioned, his chin and nose touch your breast, his lips splay out and you can’t see your nipple or part of the lower areola.
Click here to watch a video of latching tips.
If baby’s position is correct and latching on still hurts, your nipples may be dry. Make sure to wear loose clothing and avoid washing with soap. Lanolin-based creams are good for applying between feedings.
Problem #2: Cracked nipples
Cracked nipples can be the result of many different things: thrush, dry skin, pumping improperly, or most likely, latching problems. During the first week of breastfeeding, you may have bloody discharge when your baby is just learning to latch or you are just beginning to pump. A little blood, while kind of gross, won’t harm baby.
Solution: Check baby’s positioning; the bottom part of your areola underneath your nipple should be in baby’s mouth. Also, try breastfeeding more frequently, and at shorter intervals. The less hungry baby is, the softer his sucking will be.
As tempting as it is to treat your cracked nipples with anything you can find in your medicine cabinet, soaps, alcohol, lotions, and perfumes are no good - clean water is all you need to wash with. Try letting some milk stay on your nipples to air dry after feeding (the milk actually helps heal them). You can also try taking a mild painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen 30 minutes before nursing. If all this fails, try an over-the-counter lanolin cream, specially made for nursing mothers and use plastic hard breast shells inside your bra.