Monday, May 2, 2011

Ouch - Sore nipples

Having a baby can often be very tiring and when you are tired it is even more important to ensure that your baby is correctly positioned and latched at the breast to prevent sore nipples.  Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby and for first time mums and also mums who are breastfeeding for the first time, it can be pretty tough going for the first week to ten days when breastfeeding is becoming established.

Firslty, your comfort is important.  If you are comfortable and relaxed then it will be easier for you.  Pillows or cushions to support your back when feeding, some mums use a pillow under their baby when he/she is laying across the abdomen. Or, you can use a pillow when feeding in the 'rugby ball' position.  It is entirely upto you what position you chose, the main thing is your comfort.  When you are going to feed, have your water/juice close to hand so you can drink while baby is feeding and it is good for you to drink at least one glass an hour (when awake) as breastfeeding can make you quite thirsty.

Correct positioning

  • Tummy to tummy.  In other words your baby's tummy towards your tummy.
  • Baby's mouth at the same level as your breast, so baby is not trying to reach up to the breast or turn his neck trying to get there.
  • Your baby's body is curled around your body like a banana.
  • If your breasts are large, you can use a rolled up flannel under your breast to raise it up slightly.
 Correct latching

  • Nose to hose.  Your baby's nose aimed towards your nipple.  This encourages him/her to open their mouth wide, very similar to a baby bird in the nest, who is waiting with a wide open beak for mummy bird to put the food in its mouth.
  • When you see your baby's mouth open wide, then you can latch your baby onto the dark area of the breast (areola) and not the nipple.  
We do not recommend that you detach your baby, however, if there is sorness and pain when your baby feeds, he may not be on properly, in which case, use a clean little finger (short nails) inbetween his gums and break that suction.  Never ever pull a baby off the nipple - OUCH! Their jaws are very powerful and pulling your baby off can cause more pain and damage.  Do not be afraid to break that suction and detach him if you are hurting.

Mums ask about nipple balms.  Some of them can be soothing initially but the best thing to do is ensure that baby is latched correctly. You can expose your nipples to the air to airdry and sooth and you can also use some of your colostrum on the affected area to help heal.  

You are just awesome and we are here to help and support you as you go through your journey.

Seek the advice from your midwife/lactation consultant or breastfeeding support group.   This link has some great articles and advice.  We are very lucky at Whangarei hospital because we have a lactation consultant and educators, along with a drop-in breastfeeding support centre. 

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