Many mothers may feel some discomfort for a while when they start breastfeeding. The good news is that the pain usually decreases over time, but it may take awhile.
Some mothers find that the pain lessens significantly within a few weeks, while others may experience a gradual decrease over a month or two. In the majority of cases, breastfeeding should eventually stop hurting.
Let’s take a deep dive:
- How to reduce nipple pain while breastfeeding
- How to reduce breast pain while breastfeeding
- Pain medications
What are the causes of pain while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can be a source of great joy for both mothers and their babies, but it can also be very painful. There are many causes of pain while breastfeeding, but the most common are:
Causes of nipple pain
- improper latch
- incorrect positioning
- cracked nipples
- mild duct spasms
- pumping too hard
- incorrect pump flange size
- your baby has tongue-tie
Causes of breast pain
- breast engorgement
- blocked milk ducts
- pumping too hard
- incorrect pump flange size
Causes of other pain
- poor posture while breastfeeding causing muscle pain
- unconsciously holding your upper body and neck tightly due to the stress of trying to get your baby to feed properly
- uterine cramps can sometimes occur due to the release of oxytocin during breastfeeding
If you are experiencing significant pain while breastfeeding, it’s important to talk with a lactation consultant to help you troubleshoot the issue and get relief.
How long will it last?
Each woman experiences pain differently and the duration of the pain can vary from one symptom to the next. In general, most women find that pain from breastfeeding gradually decreases over days, while others experience it for weeks or even months.
Sometimes breast and nipple pain might go away only to reoccur when a problem arises with breastfeeding. For example, if you miss a feed, your breasts will hurt from engorgement.
How long will your nipples be sore after starting breastfeeding?
If you’re a first-time mom, your nipples can be sore when you start breastfeeding for a few days up to two weeks. It’s normal to feel some discomfort at first, but the soreness should gradually lessen over time. If nipple pain persists or becomes too bothersome, talk to your lactation consultant.
When you’ve never breastfed before, your virgin nipples have never worked so hard in their lives. It’s normal for them to be sore but they get used to your baby’s mouth very quickly over days.
However, if your nipples are sore due to other reasons like incorrect latch, wrong positioning or tongue-tie, the pain will not go away until you’ve corrected the issue.
Does the initial latch pain go away?
The initial latch pain is normal, especially if you are breastfeeding for the first time. The pain goes away after a few days. However, if the discomfort continues or gets worse, you should ask for help. There may be a problem with your baby’s latch that can be fixed. Remember not to apply too much pressure to your breast when nursing. This could cause more pain.
When does breastfeeding start to get easier?
We know that breastfeeding can be a challenge at first, but over time it gets easier! Here are some signs that breastfeeding is getting easier:
- You’re getting more milk. When your baby is comfortable nursing and you’re producing enough milk, it will become easier and you’ll be less likely to feel sore.
- Your baby is content in between feeds
- Your breasts are not hurting
- Your nipples are not hurting
- You’re enjoying breastfeeding and feel confident you got this
Breastfeeding typically starts to get easier after 3 to 4 weeks, but every journey is different. If you are experiencing difficulty breastfeeding, be sure to consult with a lactation consultant for help.
For my first child, breastfeeding was hard throughout the 6 months I was breastfeeding her. However, for my second child, because I took the lessons I learnt and applied it, breastfeeding was easy from the get go.
How can I make breastfeeding less painful?
Many painful symptoms will pass after a few days or weeks, but there are things you can do to make breastfeeding more comfortable. Identifying the cause of the pain is one step, and then managing existing symptoms such as sore nipples or engorgement can help make the process more comfortable.
There is no one solution that works for everyone, so it’s important to explore all of your options and find what works best for you.
How to reduce nipple pain while breastfeeding
Nipple pain is a common problem, especially in the early stages of nursing. If there is an underlying reason for this like wrong position or tongue-tie, you’ll need to correct the issue first.
If you are experiencing cracked nipples or latch pain, you can rub some breast milk over your nipples before and after every feeding session. A soothing nipple balm also helps:
How to reduce breast pain while breastfeeding
The best way to protect your breasts is to prevent breast engorgement and blocked ducts. Also make sure you are using the right size flange and pumping at the right suction power.
In the early days, make sure you wear a nursing bra that is not only supportive but comfortable. Never wear an underwired nursing bra in the first few months of breastfeeding.
This Kindred Bravely French Terry Nursing Bra is made of bamboo rayon and is so soft, you feel like it is caressing your skin:
If the pain is too bad, you can take pain medications like acetaminophen or OTC anti-inflammatories to help you feel more comfortable. Avoid stronger pain medications like opioids as it can be excreted into your breast milk.
To wrap up
Breastfeeding should stop hurting within 2 to 3 weeks postpartum for most women. However, it is important to speak with a doctor or lactation consultant if breastfeeding continues to be painful after that time. There could be a number of reasons why breastfeeding is still hurting, and a medical professional can help identify and treat the source of the pain.
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