Early Hurdles-Soreness, Engorgement and Plugged Ducts
Breastfeeding is natural but it does not come naturally for everyone.
It is very common to have some early challenges. Here are a few of the most common early hurdles so you know what to watch for and how to overcome them.
The most common issue experienced by breastfeeding moms is sore nipples. It is important to understand the underlying cause of soreness so you can properly treat it. Soreness can be caused by baby not having a proper or deep enough latch, an incorrect position causing baby to slip off or down onto your nipple only, or some other issue.
The first step is to make sure baby is positioned and latched on correctly. It is important to bring baby to the breast instead of leaning down and bringing breast to baby. One tip is to use your breast and nipple to tickle baby's cheek and lips to get her to open wide, and then latch her on that way. You can also make your hand into a position as if you are holding a sandwich (called the c-hold), so your thumb is under the areola and your index finger on top. This makes the breast a little more compressed and easier to get in baby's small mouth. If soreness persists, consider seeing a lactation consultant to make sure a tongue or lip-tie isn’t the issue.
If baby’s latch is good but soreness persists, check with a lactation consultant to make sure there isn’t another issue at play, such as a tongue tie.
Around day three postpartum, your breasts may swell (a common condition called engorgement) as your first milk, colostrum, is replaced by mature milk. The good news is that it’s a temporary condition. Your supply will even out and you will not be as swollen. Nursing frequently during this period is the best way to alleviate engorgement, but it can be difficult because baby may have trouble properly latching onto an engorged breast.
Don't let this discourage you! The nipple needs to touch the roof of baby’s mouth to stimulate latch on, suck and swallow. If your nipple is flattened by engorgement, try Lansinoh® LatchAssist ® Nipple Everter. This simple tool helps the nipple temporarily “stand out,” making it easier for baby to establish a good latch.
Other things to try:
- Take a hot shower to help soften breasts
- Express some milk using hand expression or a breast pump, getting out just enough milk to soften the breast so baby can properly latch on
- Use ice packs after nursing to reduce swelling and relieve pain. When frozen and used cold, Lansinoh® THERA°PEARL® 3-in-1 Breast Therapy packs can help ease the pain and soreness that can accompany engorgement.
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