If breastfeeding hurts – and what to do about it

As an expectant mum, you had probably heard many (unsolicited) horror stories not only about birth, but how your friends, family, (or even strangers!) breastfed through gritted teeth and painful nipples.  It may have even put you off thinking about breastfeeding before your baby was born.  As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and someone who has breastfed two babies, I can tell you:

Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.

There are many reasons you could be experiencing pain.  But don't grit your teeth and put up with it!

There are many reasons you could be experiencing pain. But don’t grit your teeth and put up with it!

Sometimes all it takes is some repositioning and letting the baby approach the breast differently.  Maybe you’ve never seen a mother breastfeed her baby and you’ve had to figure things out for yourself.  Or maybe you’ve had some conflicting advice about how to hold your baby and position yourself.  There is a lot of breastfeeding information out there on the web, and not all of it is good.

It might not be something you’re doing.  Breastfeeding involves two people – you and your baby (or more babies for multiple births!).  Sometimes there are physical reasons why an infant may be struggling to breastfeed and he or she hurts you, even when you have been told you have a “textbook” latch and nobody has a clue why you are climbing the walls in agony.  Tongue ties are a common culprit and Aspire Lactation will be posting about this soon.

Pinched or mis-shapened nipples post feed can be a sign that your baby is not getting enough of the breast in their mouth. Cracked or bleeding nipples can lead to further complications if not assessed and steps takes to minimise damage.

What can you do about this, when you’re probably exhausted, worried and confused about what to do? Pick up the phone and call an IBCLC.  As your lactation consultant, I will watch how your baby breastfeeds, and see if we can find a way to make things more comfortable.  I will look in depth at you and your baby’s history and can assess your baby’s suck during an oral assessment.  Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful and you shouldn’t have to go through this alone.  If you’re yet to have your baby and just want more information on how to get breastfeeding off to the best start, why not book a pre-delivery consult with me?