Breastfeeding pains – part one

How many of you have heard catastrophic breastfeeding tales? How many of you think it’s normal to suffer while breastfeeding?

Today, I would like to reassure you and demystify the “pain” of breastfeeding.


First, I would like to mention that breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. If it did, it wouldn’t be normal! Some women have hypersensitivity, sometimes even during pregnancy, caused by their hormonal background. As you begin breastfeeding, you should see a significant improvement every day. If your hypersensitivity lasts more that a week, I suggest consulting a breastfeeding godmother, a doula, a lactation consultant, a nurse or a doctor.

I would also like to add that we frequently hear mothers saying that they are in pain when they breastfeed for many reasons. First, breastfeeding does not come naturally to women who haven’t seen many women breastfeeding in their family. It is therefore common to make certain “practical” mistakes when latching. Don’t worry! These mistakes are easily and quickly corrected when we have a good technique. It’s a matter of time, confidence and learning!

Find local support

Moreover, we live in a very individualistic society and many women take a long time before they seek help when they are facing a problem while breastfeeding. Yes, it is possible to experience issues when breastfeeding that can cause pain and no woman should wait before seeking help to enjoy this beautiful experience. Many agencies such as La Leche League Canada can help you and answer your questions. You can get the support of a breastfeeding godmother through agencies but also through local clinics. Most CLSC offer breastfeeding clinics with available breastfeeding godmothers. You can also ask a doula, a lactation consultant, a nurse or a doctor for help. Don’t forget your personal resources, like your friends, your sisters or even your mother who may have already breastfed. In brief, you must ask for help immediately when there is a problem. If the first person you ask cannot help you, ask for references, other resources!

For obvious reasons, I cannot give you a complete guide of all possible problems and solutions because the problem must be evaluated: latching, breast morphology, the mouth and tongue of your baby… A global evaluation of your breastfeeding must be made in order to find a solution but many little tips can guide you, help you.

Here is the first part of a small guide of benchmarks to help you address the situation. We will see cracked nipples, thrush and vasospasm. In my next article, we will cover congestion, mastitis, blocked milk ducts and abscesses.

Sore and cracked nipples

The nipples can get sore after the first few feedings. It usually results from using the wrong position and can cause pain at the beginning and sometimes for the whole feeding. If you suffer from sore nipples, the first thing to do is to check the latching position.

  • Does your baby open his mouth correctly? Is he taking most of your areola in his mouth? 
  • Do you offer your nipple close to your baby’s nose? 
  • Is the head of your baby deflected back? Did you make sure that his nose is clear and his chin is pressed on your breast? 
  • Is your baby at the right height? Are you using your nursing cushion correctly? Are you touching bellies with your baby? 
  • Are you holding your baby’s neck (good position) or are you holding his head (wrong position)? 

As you can see, it is not complicated and many breastfeeding issues are related to tiny problems that are easily resolved. But to resolve it, you must first see it. Couples who follow a prenatal nursing course make a very good nursing team when comes the time to breastfeed. A little visit to a clinic or an appointment with a perinatal professional can solve your problems very quickly and you will then be able to continue breastfeeding much more comfortably.

Sore and cracked nipples will not heal if the issue is not corrected, no matter what cream you are using. The foundation is the position of your baby and the way he takes your nipple. In some cases, these guides will not be enough. Sometimes the baby has a blocked jaw or a frenulum of tongue, for example. In those cases, the position is not everything. You must meet a lactation consultant, an osteopath or a chiropractor that will help you.

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