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How to Relieve Pain from Breastfeeding
Before I became a mom I knew next to nothing about motherhood. Yes, I already had three nephews and two nieces at this time, but I wasn’t very involved in their lives.
I loved them to bits, but for some reason, I never did more than play with them whenever I was over at theirs. I guess this explained why motherhood hit me so hard.
For the first six weeks after the birth of my daughter, I felt like I was drowning. Everything felt so new and so strange and I was overwhelmed, which is why I made almost all the mistakes new mothers make, one of which was me not putting my daughter to latch properly and having cracked nipples from this.
Cracked nipples are the pits!
The pain is out of this world. And unlike other kinds of pain where you leave the injured site alone so it can heal, you don’t have that luxury with cracked or bleeding nipples.
I had one of the worse types of cracked nipples. My nipple felt like a mangled piece of flesh that was going to fall off any minute and every time I put my daughter to suckle, I went to hell and back. Literally.
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How Long Does It Take Cracked Nipples to Heal?
There’s an old wives tale that putting your baby to suckle still is one of the best ways to heal cracked nipples, even without treatment and there is some truth to this. However, if you have a low pain threshold (and even if you don’t) then this is not the treatment route you want to go.
It takes seven to ten days for cracked or bleeding nipples to heal without treatment, but every minute of this time is going to be punctuated with pain and clear discomfort.
My thought is, why subject yourself to this much pain when you can get relief and treatment that will speed up your healing.
There are a few sore nipple treatments that will bring you instant relief and are certified baby-safe. The best part is that most of these remedies can be got from your house or at the very most, delivered to your doorsteps.
8 Ways to Relieve Pain from Breastfeeding You Want to Know
1) Get Your Baby to Latch on Properly
Sore and bleeding nipples is caused by your baby not latching on properly.
Now, while this might not seem like a treatment, it will prevent the situation from worsening.
Imagine your baby holding on to the tip of your cracked nipples as she suckles, this won’t just heighten the pain, but will also prevent healing.
Correct latching is when your baby takes not just the nipple, but the entire areola into her mouth. A good latch is beneficial for you and for your baby as she would be emptying out the breast, which means she gets the right amount of nutrients during each feed.
Let’s not also forget this will boost your milk supply, making this a win-win for everyone.
2) Offer the Uninjured Side First
Babies tend to apply a lot more pressure when first put to the breast, especially if they are very hungry between each feed. Luckily, it’s quite rare for both nipples to become cracked at the same time, so you should offer the uninjured breast first.
You will find that when you transfer your baby to the other breast, she suckles more gently, which is what you need at this point.
3) Make Use of Nipple Shield/Guard
If you are too sore to breastfeed, then there’s always the option of a nipple shield or guard.
A little heads up
A nipple shield won’t entirely eliminate the pain, but it will reduce it tremendously since your baby won’t be making direct contact with your skin
The nipple shield acts as a sort of barrier and protection for your nipples. They are extra thin, soft, and flexible, which means they are also super comfortable for your baby. Your baby won’t even know the difference!
4) Make Use of a Nipple Cream
Another good way to relieve pain from breastfeeding is to use a nipple cream. These creams are made with cracked nipples in mind
They soothe and protect the nipples and are 100% safe for babies.
A good brand I recommend is the Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream.
This cream was my go-to for cracked nipples and didn’t just heal my nipples, but also brought instant relief from the soreness.
Lansinoh nipple cream is made from a single ingredient, sheep lanolin which is hypoallergenic with no parabens or petroleum.
You don’t even need so much, just a pea size applied right after breastfeeding does the dual job of soothing and healing your nipples.
5) Use Breast Compression
A breast compression or mild massage as your baby feeds makes your breastmilk flow a lot more freely. With this, your baby’s mouth grip on your nipple isn’t as tight, preventing cracking. Your baby also doesn’t spend as much time on the breast, giving your sore nipples enough time to heal.
A breast compression causes a milk let-down and is especially helpful when your baby isn’t feeding well, gaining weight, or you have a low milk supply. Some babies just suck at the nipple without actually taking in enough milk and the gentle pressure you apply to your breasts during a feed can correct this.
6) Make Use of a Cold Compress
That initial latch is usually the most painful. What you want to do is numb out that area using a cold compress just before any feed.
Afterward, you use a hot compress around your nipple and breast region to reduce the pain.
A hot compress is very easy to apply. You just heat up some water as hot as you can stand, dip a washcloth into it, wring it and apply directly over your nipple and around the breast.
7) Air Out Your Nipple
Airing out your nipples after each feed is another remedy to relieve pain from breastfeeding.
This remedy works in a few ways:
- The breastmilk left at the tip of your breast is antibacterial, which will speed up the healing processes.
- Leaving your breasts also ensure no cloth rubs against them, preventing further irritation.
8) Take Over-the-Counter Medications
If you feel other options aren’t working as fast as you’d like, then you want to check out OTC medications.
There are a few you can take including Ibuprofen and acetaminophen. However, you want to take this only on the directive of your doctor.
Medications You Should Avoid Altogether
The pain of a cracked, sore nipple can make you desperate enough to want to seek out relief anyway. However, you want to avoid certain medications or remedies that are considered unsafe for your baby and could also worsen the situation.
Some of these products include:
- Alcohol-based products as these can cause your nipples to become Dryer, making it worse.
- Petroleum products will obstruct the free flow of air to your skin and can clog the Montgomery glands on your breasts.
- Creams with Vitamin E are also considered unsafe for babies.
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