There’s nothing more natural than breastfeeding and millions of mums do it every day. But what if, a couple of months into motherhood, you find that, far from being an enjoyable, intimate experience, breastfeeding brings tears – of pain – to your eyes?
When the prospect of feeding your baby makes you tense up with fear – because you know it’s going to hurt – it’s time to get some expert help.
It’s common for new mums to get into bad breastfeeding habits: when your baby’s crying with hunger, it’s tempting to bung him onto the breast without taking time to make sure he’s perfectly positioned and latched on (correctly attached to your breast).
Many women’s nipples feel sore while they get used to their new role. ‘Some nipple tenderness is common in the early days of breastfeeding, but I would not expect any mother to still be in pain after eight weeks,’ says Ilana King, breastfeeding counsellor for the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.
‘When your baby is correctly positioned, breastfeeding should not be at all painful – if it is, you need to make some changes. Sometimes only a very slight adjustment is needed, but it can make all the difference.
How to do it
‘Hold your baby close to you, with his body in a straight line and his head tilted back so that his chin comes to the breast first,’ says Ilana. ‘Always bring your baby to your breast and not your breast to your baby.’
Remember, it’s never too late to make breastfeeding more comfortable, so if you’re still having problems after adjusting your position, consult a breastfeeding counsellor. ‘Fixing the problems now can lead to a long and comfortable breastfeeding relationship with your baby,’ says Ilana.
What else could it be?
If there’s no sign of sore or cracked nipples (healing tip: keep them moist with a lanolin-based cream) and a breastfeeding counsellor has given your feeding technique the thumbs up, there may be a medical reason for the pain, such as blocked milk ducts, mastitis or thrush. See your GP for advice.
Now tell us what worked for you…
Have you overcome pain and learned to love breastfeeding? Tell us how you cracked it!