Common Causes for Discomfort While Breastfeeding
Although breastfeeding your baby is a biologically normal and natural process, overcoming some slight discomforts is a small portion of learning how to do it.
Breastfeeding is an incredible journey for those who try it and succeed. But even the moms who claim the experience was bliss dealt with a series of issues they probably didn’t expect. Other moms might have stopped nursing altogether as the result of one or more complications. Below, we discuss some of the most common causes and reasons for nursing discomfort and provide potential solutions to lend a hand to someone else’s success.
Engorgement With Production Cues
Whether it’s in the early newborn days just after birth or you miss a feed overnight, engorgement can and will occur and cause an uncomfortable feeling. This is one of the most common causes of discomfort while breastfeeding that almost all mothers experience sporadically on their journey.
The good news is this issue has a resolution and usually is a good sign of milk production abundance. If you’re nursing on one side, try pumping on the other side to remove milk and relieve the pressure. These steps will also help if you miss feeding overnight, usually the first time your baby sleeps through.
Poor Latch Techniques
In addition to engorgement discomfort, a poor latch is a highly prevalent issue, especially for new mothers or those lacking breastfeeding support. Sometimes, the baby has an oral tie preventing them from deepening their latch, and other times it’s a positioning or learned technique issue.
You will know your baby is properly latched when the discomfort is nonexistent or the baby’s mouth covers the majority of your areola. If you’re comfortable, your latch is good. However, if you’re still experiencing discomfort, partner with a local lactation consultant to have them evaluate your latching techniques or help you uncover other issues leading to the discomfort.
Clogged Ducts or Mastitis
After you master your latching techniques and overcome the initial engorgement phase, your milk supply will begin regulating per the supply and demand rhythms you set. But something that can happen in this phase is clogged ducts or mastitis. This can catch a mother by surprise and wipe her out when she’s least expecting it.
If you begin to feel a marble- to quarter-sized knot anywhere near the top of your breast, under your armpit, or underneath your breast, you have a clogged duct, and you need to work it down and out. Applying heat and light massage or compressions can help move the flow back through the duct. But if the knots begin giving you a fever, chills, or flu-like symptoms, you have mastitis and need to seek medical treatment immediately to receive oral antibiotics.
It’s essential to note that both instances are common, and you can continue to nurse your baby without harm. Your baby’s suckling is the most potent mechanism to help when pulling a clog down and out from its position.
Experiencing some of these causes of discomfort while breastfeeding comes with the territory, especially as you’re learning what works best for you, your baby, and your body. Most instances of discomfort have a resolution and should be dealt with straight away to ensure success. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or speak out when the going gets tough!