Sore nipples

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Research shows that sore or damaged nipples is a common reason why mothers stop breastfeeding sooner than they would have liked.  Though it is true on one hand that ‘breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt’, it would be unrealistic to say that women experience no discomfort during the early days or weeks of feeding their baby.

Sensitivity of the nipples increases during pregnancy and following birth. The baby sucking or expressing stimulates the nerve endings in the nipple which send messages to the brain to release two important hormones.

  1. Prolactin tells milk making cells in the breast to make more milk and
  2. Oxytocin causes contraction of tiny muscles around the milk making cells, releasing milk down the ducts and out the nipple for the baby to drink.

‘Nipple stretch pain’ can be uncomfortable when the baby draws the nipple and breast tissue well into their mouth,  it usually settles once baby starts doing big suck swallows.  Feeds may continue to be uncomfortable with initial latch until the connective tissue becomes more supple and stretchy.

If a mother continues to experience discomfort or pain throughout the feed, this is a sign that something isn’t right.  The most likely reason for pain is that the baby doesn’t have a deep latch (a big enough mouthful of breast) and the nipple is being compressed by the tongue against the hard palate, the tip of the nipple is being rubbed by the tongue or the nipple is being bent in the wrong direction.

Every mother-baby pair are unique.  If you are concerned about how your baby is latching, contact me to arrange a consultation to receive the help and support you need.