Worries about poor latches and nipple pain top the list of expectant moms’ breastfeeding concerns, according to a Lansinoh survey of over 13,000 women. The good news is that pain is not an inevitable part of breastfeeding.“Pain is not normal,” according to Ania Gold, IBCLC. “A little soreness initially can be normal because nipples are made of elastic tissue, and so it can feel a little tender at first. You can compare it to a muscle that you’ve never used. You go to the gym and you lift some weights, and that muscle is going to be a little sore for the next few days. Anything beyond that—if you have to take pain medication, for example—[is] a red flag, and it’s time to get help.”
Checking your baby’s latch and breastfeeding technique can transform the experience, Gold explains. “Sometimes it’s as simple as latching the baby on a different way, and the mom [will say], ‘This is amazing; it doesn’t hurt!’ as the tears [start] streaming down her face.”
La Leche League International offers additional advice on treating some common causes of sore nipples:
- If you pump, adjust the machine to a comfortable setting.
- Consult a doctor if you suspect you have an infection, such as thrush.
- Make sure you and your infant are positioned correctly.