Sore nipples are common for many moms during the first few days of breastfeeding. The best treatment for sore nipples is prevention.
Here are some tips:
- Check the position of the baby when he latches on.
- Smooth lanolin over your nipples after each nursing session.
- Let your nipples air dry after each nursing session.
- Alternate the breast you begin with for each session.
- Put a safety pin on the side of your bra to help you remember which breast you started on.
You should also not hear any clicking or sucking sound. If you do, your baby isn't positioned right. Bring your baby closer to you and have his mouth cover as much of the areola as possible. Correct positioning/latch is most important prevention of sore nipples.
Thrush is a yeast infection that may form on the breast and be passed to your baby's mouth. It causes nipple or breast pain that lasts throughout the feeding and doesn't improve even after your baby has a better latch or changes position.
Symptoms are very sore nipples, achy or painful breasts or pink, flaky, shiny, itchy or cracked nipples. Overly moist breasts, sore or cracked nipples, a diet high in sugar or yeasty foods or taking antibiotics, birth control pills or steroids can all lead to thrush.
If your baby has thrush, creamy white patches may appear inside of his mouth or on his tongue. He might also get a red, bumpy diaper rash that won't heal.
If you suspect thrush, contact your doctor and your baby's doctor. You'll need to treat both your breasts and your baby's mouth with a prescription antifungal or with the over-the-counter antifungal gentian violet.
To prevent thrush, air-dry your nipples, use nipple pads in your bra and wear a clean bra every day.
A couple of days after giving birth, your breasts increase in size and feel full and heavy. This engorgement is normal. It's caused by an increase in the volume of milk in your breasts and by increased blood flow and tissue swelling. Your breasts may feel slightly warm to the touch and be slightly reddened. This signals the beginning of milk production.
Here are some tips for relieving engorgement:
- Use warm compresses
- Let warm water run over your breasts in the shower
- Lay cabbage leaves on your breasts to relieve pressure
- Try pumping some milk between feedings
- Allow your baby to finish the first breast first
- Apply cold compresses in between feedings
A plugged duct is a sore, tender lump in the breast that occurs when a milk duct is not draining well. Most plugged ducts go away within a couple of days without developing into mastitis (breast infection).
To manage plugged ducts:
- Change your baby's breastfeeding positions
- Nurse frequently on the affected side
- Apply a heating pad or warm compresses
- Gently massage the area
If you feel like you have the flu and one breast is red, hot and sore, you may have mastitis. Usually an antibiotic clears up this infection. In the meantime, keep nursing and/or pumping on that side as much as possible, even though it may be uncomfortable.
To prevent mastitis, make sure you empty your breasts regularly. If you do take antibiotics, add a probiotic (good bacteria such as lactobacillus) supplement or eat a container of live culture yogurt every day.
Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand activity. The more you nurse, the more milk your body makes. So when your baby goes through a growth spurt and seems to be nursing all the time, keep in mind he is signaling your body to up the milk production to meet his new nutritional needs.