Most mums eventually breastfeed without a problem, but many will experience discomfort at first, usually while both parties get used to the whole palaver. The most common complaint is sore nipples.
This doesn't tend to last for long as they get used to your baby's sucking. If your nipples are unusually sore or feeding becomes something you dread, there are steps you can take:
- Check that your baby is properly positioned, with the whole nipple in his mouth. Sometimes engorgement can make this difficult, so try expressing a little milk before the feed, or feed slightly earlier before your breast is so full.
- Exposing your breasts to fresh air for a little while after a feed can help. Or use nipple shields which, unlike nursing pads, avoid direct contact with the skin and allow the air to circulate.
- Avoid cleansing products. Wash with water only and don't use wipes. Lanolin-based creams help heal cracked nipples, and may even prevent them in the first place. There are several types on the market, but make sure you choose one that can be used on the breast area and that your baby can feed safely while you're using it.
- Don't avoid feeding with a sore breast. Feed on the other breast first, as you'll then spend less time feeding with the second, more sore one. Your baby should suck more gently by the time he gets to it because he's not as hungry.
- Vary the feeding position to allow different parts of the nipple to be used.
- Sit comfortably, back supported, with plenty of room for your baby to lie across you.
- Get your baby into a position where he doesn't have to stretch to reach your nipple. His tummy should face your tummy, with his head and body in a straight line, his shoulders supported with your forearm on the side you're going to feed from.
- Brush your nipple against his lips to encourage him to open his mouth wide, line up your nipple with his nose and move him on the breast by moving your arm closer (but don't try to push his head on to your breast).