From the baby’s weight to its height to its gut health to its bowel movements, everything will be a point of concern for you. To make it worse, as a new mother, you will have your own issues to deal with. Health issues like Urinary incontinence, Constipation, Water retention, Urinary Tract Infection, Hemorrhoids, lactation issues, etc. are common in new mothers
Lactation is the period where the mother feeds her child with her own milk through her breasts. The human beings as species are the only species among the mammals that lack the instinctive tactic of breast feeding
, which means that they have to learn it properly in order to carry it out efficiently.
may look easy but it’s filled with problems leading up to severe results. One such problem is the pain felt by new lactating mothers during breast feeding, which is not only a problem for the new mommy’s
but also their babies.
Is The Breast Feeding Pain Normal?
There are many factors that determine the pain. For new mothers
, when your baby latches on to your nipple, it is normal to feel a slight pain for 30 to 60 seconds. This happens due to the pulling of the nipple and the alveolar into the baby’s mouth.
This brief pain is expected every time you nurse and should get better with practice. If the pain persists for more than 60 seconds, re position the baby and try again. Pain persisting for longer periods of time may indicate an underlying cause.
These problems are due to the baby’s inability to latch on to the alveolar properly and sucking merely onto the nipples causes extreme discomfort that lasts throughout the feeding duration.
The extent and severity of the pain depends from person to person. Many women describe it as an itch while others say it is extremely discomforting. Being in a constant state of pain while breast feeding
leads to dry and sore nipples.
This pain indicates that the baby is not latching on to the nipple properly. This will eventually lead to your baby getting less nutrition than it should and the breasts will ultimately start producing fewer amounts of milk.
Other Cramps During Breast Feeding
While nursing, the hormone that helps in milk production is the same hormone that causes uterine contractions during the birth of a child so as the baby suckles on the breasts, you will feel strong contractions in your uterus, similar to menstrual cramps.
These cramps are very normal and almost happen to every woman. It’s your uterus’s way of slowly healing itself back to its normal size.
How To Know If The Baby Has Not Latched On?
In breast feeding
, latching is the minute everything connects which means that it is the moment in which the baby’s mouth comfortably takes the nipple alveolar of the mother in his mouth. At this point, the baby is said to be “latched on” to the mother’s breasts.
Following are the symptoms that the baby has not latched onto the breasts properly:
- The nipples start hurting even after a minute has passed.
- Breast feeding becomes an uncomfortable process throughout, to the point of being painful
- When the nipples come out of the baby’s mouth, they look like they have been squashed.
- Blisters or cracks form on the surface of the nipples
- The baby gets fussy quite often
- The baby has not been gaining weight and looks weak
- Baby bites on the nipple and chomps on it while it’s in its mouth.
What Are The Causes Of Poor Latching?
In a well latched position, the nipple goes back deep into the baby’s mouth and the alveolar is where the lips of the baby are placed and the baby’s tongue is what gets the most milk out from the breasts.
Where the nipple is not placed far back enough, the tongue ends up pressing and rubbing on the nipple itself which causes discomfort or pain.
Giving a baby pacifiers or bottles allows him to adapt to the shape of the pacifier on the bottle and when taken to breast feed
, the baby does not latch on to the nipple. Engorgement is one of the many causes for making the latching process more difficult.
Ways To Help Your Child Latch On Efficiently
There are many techniques that you can try to help your baby latch on to the nipple properly:
- Place your hand between the child’s shoulder blades as you place him on your arm and support the baby’s weight.
- Let the baby’s head fall back a little and hold the baby close to your elbow.
- Wrap your fingers around your breast for support and place your thumb on the side or near the nipple. Hold it in such a way that the nipple’s position is directed upwards a little
- The baby’s mouth should be lined up properly with the lower and under side of your breast
- Stimulating the baby’s lower lip will make the baby open his mouth wider so stimulate the lower lip with the breast as your nipple is lined besides the baby’s nose.
- As the lower lip of the baby is stimulated, he will open his mouth big enough for you to shift your nipple into his mouth. The tongue and lowerlip will be placed on the underside of the breast and the baby will put a large portion of the breast into his mouth. You can even adjust the position of the nipple up against his upper lip and palate with the help of your thumb. Be sure to scoop the baby up slightly with your hand when you put the nipple in the baby’s mouth.
- In order to make sure the nipple is in the back of the baby’s mouth and the action of the tongue doesn’t cause the nipple to ache, make sure the baby’s chin is buried in the breast while the nose is away.
Some nipples get cracked during feeding. Let some of the breast milk fall onto your finger after you’re done feeding your baby. Rub that milk on the nipple and let it dry.
Other Problems Leading to Pain During Breast Feeding
Apart from the improper latching there are many other reasons due to which you may feel pain or discomfort while feeding.
1.Thrush or Yeast Infection
Yeast infection is one of the most common problems faced by women during breast feeding that cause pain.
- The best way to identify a yeast infection is to see if nipples remain sore when the baby is feeding and a few minutes after that.
- The pain felt due to the soreness is often described as stabbing or sharp pain with a high burning sensation.
- A sort of rash is formed around the nipple that’s red or pink in color, making the skin look smooth and shiny like the surface skin layer has been peeled off.
- Baby’s inside of the mouth also develops spots that are white in color and continue throughout the underside of the lip, the cheek and the upper palate.
- The baby remains fussy
Tip: Needless to mention, the baby being fussy is also likely to lead you to getting cranky. A few good ways of dealing with the mood shifts would be surrounding yourself with a soothing environment including your favorite relaxing fragrances, the snacks you love to munch on the most, your all-time favorite TV shows, and preferably lots of rest and breakfasts in bed. *wink wink*
Yeast is present in our system as a normal part of the regulation of the body but when it tends to overgrow, it gives rise to a yeast infection. Often the overgrowth happens due to a decreased immune system when the antibiotic treatment doesn’t work or when the body suffers from anemia i.e low iron levels.
Seek a specialist that will confirm the diagnosis of yeast infection and prescribe the right kind of medication. Sometimes mere dietary changes are enough to heal the infection.
2. Tongue Tied Baby
Tongue tie is an innate trait. In a normal person, when they lift their tongue up, you see a line of skin along the tongue that attaches it to the floor of the mouth, that skin is known as pendulum. When pendulum is either tight or short, the tongue’s movement or length of movement remains very constricted especially when trying to lift it up. This means that the baby when feeds from the mother’s breasts is unable to bring it forward enough to breathe himself properly and the tongue keeps rubbing against the end of the nipple that causes pain.
The end of the nipple looks damaged and hurt continuously. There is a constant feeling that the nipple is being pinched.
Tongue tie is not something to be worried about, the doctors usually snip the attached skin so the tongue is free, it is a simple procedure that takes less than 15 minutes. After the procedure it may take the baby some time to adjust and learn to stretch the tongue.
If the skin on the underside of your breast feels lumpy, red, tender and sore, there’s a chance that it is due to a plugged duct. The milk comes out of the breasts through mammary glands via the milk ducts. Sometimes the block is formed when something is putting more pressure on the duct like a tight bra which causes the milk to flow back, making it plugged.
Rest and massage
with heat therapy is the best way to open a blocked duct. There are many ways to apply heat. You can either take a warm shower or apply a warm cloth to the breast and press it. Massage the area that’s tender in a downward position. If done correctly, you may be able to squeeze the milk out.
This is one of the most severe pain causing problems when it comes to breast feeding. It is the inflammation of the breast that is caused either due to infection or poor drainage. It causes the bacteria to grow in the milk making the breast red and inflamed with a high fever. If left untreated the mastitis can develop into an abscess.
Apply the same treatment as that of the plugged duct and if things don’t get better within 48 hours, consult a physician right away. It can usually take up to 2 weeks to heal properly.
People Who Can Help
You can seek professional help in the beginning if you feel slightly intimidated.
- Lactation consults work in hospitals public and private sectors
- Midwives, physicians and nurses are always available around the clock to help you breastfeed your baby.
- There are many breastfeeding drop in clinics that help you with your problems
How To Help Yourself
As mentioned earlier, all of the issues related to breastfeeding may result in your own mood getting spoil often, which can also get serious enough to be termed as a mental illness. If that happens, do not freak out and be very open to seeking help for your post-par-tum psychosis.
Considering that pregnancy
, childbirth and the baby all cost an arm and a leg already, you might think taking out a budget for seeking therapy might not be possible.
The good news is, you can deal with your mental illness while being on a tight budget, too. You just need to know where to look.
Now, back to breastfeeding: Here are a few tips that will make it easier for you to manage breastfeeding on your own and after a little practice you will see improvement:
Feed The Child Frequently
Frequent feeding means that you are emptying your breasts every now and then. They don’t get filled up with milk or become blocked as it helps with engorgement and gives relief to your breasts.
Feeding the baby almost 8-10 times a day makes the baby less hungry every time you feed him which means he will pull on your nipples less vigorously, causing less pain. Squirting out just a little bit of the milk before feeding can make the nipples soft and easier for the baby to latch on.
There are times when the baby refuses to take your breast and becomes fussy or has been fed enough times that he does not feel hungry anymore. If your breasts seem full, use a breast pump to pump out the excess milk to the ducts don’t get blocked or develop any infection.
Hot And Cold
Prior to feeding the baby, the best way to deal with engorgement is to either take a hot shower or apply a warm towel or press to the breast. This makes the breasts sooth down a little and the milk flows out quite easily. After feeding, wait for a few minutes and apply a cold press. This will help with any swelling whatsoever.
The best way to always be sure that you’re doing the right thing and everything is going according to plan is to visit your doctor frequently. Get you and your baby tested if you have the slightest doubt. Don’t wait around for it to get better on its own. Also consult your doctor when you start worrying about the baby’s weaning period, as that is often the next point of concern after lactation in your post-pregnancy
James Crook is a passionate blogger who loves to write on health and fitness related topics. Currently, he is a working as a blogger for a telemedicine app ‘Mend Family
’. Follow @jamescrook911 for more updates.