Baby Nurse Question: My baby has latched on and is happily eating, but what can I do for me? This hurts!
Nipple soreness and discomfort during the first few days is very discouraging and can put a damper on the joys of breastfeeding. Newborns tend to have a very strong suck during those first few days in order to draw the colostrum, so slight tenderness is normal. If your baby is latched correctly, your soreness will most likely go away when the milk supply increases, around day seven to ten, because the baby will not have to suck as strongly to get milk. By days three and four your nipples will start to feel more comfortable during each feeding. If you continue to have sore nipples, however, here are a few recommendations:
• Massage your breasts to express a few drops of colostrum or breast milk so that they coat your nipple. Human milk has antibacterial properties that can help to heal an inflamed nipple. Avoid creams and lotions unless medically indicated.
• Make sure your baby is properly positioned at the breast. If using the cross or cradle holds, make sure your baby completely faces you and you are holding him close. Drawing your baby close helps him to get more of the areola into his mouth.
• Make sure you bring the baby to the breast with his mouth wide open and centered over the areola when latching. If you feel a pinch, use your finger to gently pull down on his chin and roll out the lower lip.
• Feed your baby frequently so he is not overly hungry. If he is very hungry, he may be so frantic that he begins to pull at the nipple.
• If you can, avoid pacifiers and artificial bottle nipples for at least a few weeks. They may contribute to your baby incorrectly sucking at the breast.
• If your nipples are not healing, contact your health-care provider or a lactation consultant. Either can observe one of your breastfeeding sessions.