Breasts are sensitive part of the body. Most mothers will experience some degree of soreness during the early stages of nursing. It is important to have a good latch to prevent any damage to the nipple.
During early stages of nursing, pain typically occurs as the baby latches on to the breast and may last for 20-30 seconds. Mothers should expect a stretching sensation in the nipple during feeding.
But if latch is shallow, pain may intensify or persist throughout. A shallow latch places the nipple tip at baby’s hard palate and friction results in pain and damage. Poor latch and suck can result in inadequate infant milk intake and milk retention in the breast.
Secretions from montgomery glands (sebaceous glands in the areola surrounding the nipple) have anti-infective properties to keep nipple and areola lubricated and protected. Avoid washing nipples with soap as it may lead to dryness and even cracked nipples.
Tips if you are suffering from sore nipples:
- Check and correct your latch
- Start from the less sore nipple and change breastfeeding position (e.g. switch to an opposite direction - from cross cradle to football) can help ease the pressure on your nipple.
- Hand express briefly to stimulate milk ejection reflex (letdown) before latching and apply breast compression to speed flow. A baby's suckle may not be as harsh when there is milk transfer.
- Apply expressed breastmilk to help heal nipple
- Reduce nursing duration or manually express milk regularly for a day or two to ‘rest’ your nipple
- Breast shells and hydrogel dressing can be worn to prevent rubbing, soothe and promote healing