Jessica Donahue, RN, IBCLC, Baptist Health Successful breastfeeding happens with support. Jessica Donahue is an RN, IBCLC at Baptist Health Expressly For You, an outpatient lactation center dedicated to helping new mothers make breastfeeding easy. In the first 2 weeks of breastfeeding, painful nipples and painful breasts are frequent complaints received from new mothers on the Baptist Health breastfeeding warm line. Pain is the number one reason new mothers discontinue breastfeeding too soon. While some nipple soreness and moderate discomfort from engorgement in the first 5-7 days is common and can be considered normal, both of these issues should resolve by day 7-10 and new mothers will be pain-free for as long as they choose to breastfeed. Keep in mind that every breastfeeding problem, including pain, has a solution.
What’s the solution for nipple pain?
- Correct latch and positioning technique from the beginning. Make sure you spend time with the lactation consultant in the hospital working on latch and positioning.
- Feed frequently to prevent engorgement. Engorgement makes nipple pain worse.
- Use lanolin or hydrogel dressings for comfort measures.
- Review the breastfeeding timeline to help determine if you need an appointment with a lactation consultant.
- Nipple pain beyond 7-10 days is NOT NORMAL. Schedule an outpatient lactation consult if the nipple or breast pain lasts more than 7-10 days.
What’s the solution for breast pain caused by engorgement?
- Frequent effective emptying of the breasts relieves pain due to temporary engorgement. Feed the baby every 2-3 hours, and pump after feedings if the breasts are uncomfortably full after feedings.
- Ice for 15 minutes of every waking hour for 12-24 hours will relieve the swelling that causes most of the discomfort of engorgement.
- Review the breastfeeding timeline to help determine if you need an appointment with a lactation consultant. Engorgement begins between the 3rd to 5th postpartum day and should resolve within 48 hours.
- Recognize the signs of mastitis, a breast infection caused by unrelieved engorgement: a hard red area in the breast, fever and flu-like symptoms. Report these symptoms to your doctor and make an appointment to be seen. Also, schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant.