During the nursing phase, mothers go through a lot of pain. However, pain during breastfeeding can be easily remedied. Here are just a few causes of pain while nursing as well as the treatment and home remedies for breast pain during breastfeeding.
Causes and Treatment of Breast Pain During Breastfeeding
Here are some of the causes of pain felt during nursing and how mothers can handle it.
1. Breast Abscess
If an infection resulting from mastitis is left untreated, then it will likely lead to a breast abscess, which is the formation of pus and a boil. It is excruciating and uncomfortable for nursing mothers. In cases like these, treatment requires immediate consultation with the primary physician. Mild boils usually break off on their own, and the pus drains out right after. However, in severe boils, surgery is required. Breastfeeding can be continued once the abscess has been drained completely and the doctor has given the go sign.
2. Breast Engorgement
The fullness of the breast is normal, and it is the body’s way of indicating that there are appropriate amounts of milk for the baby. However, breast fullness can cause tissue swelling, which results in painful, lumpy, tight, heavy, and firm breasts. This condition is referred to as breast engorgement, and nursing babies will find it difficult to latch due to the breasts being too big and the nipples being too flat.
In cases such as this, there are numerous methods to alleviate pain caused by breast engorgement. These include the following pointers.
- Massage the breasts to stimulate the flow of milk.
- Apply a warm compress or take warm showers before feeding.
- Apply cold compress in between feedings to decrease swelling.
- Feed at proper intervals, such as 8 to 12 times within 24 hours.
- Express milk by hand, which softens the areola. Plus, it helps comfortable latching-on of the baby.
- Wear correct-fitting bras meant for breastfeeding mothers.
3. Blocked Ducts
There are narrow tubes in the breast called milk ducts. These transport milk from the glands to the nipples. However, if the milk ducts are not drained, then it would result in a blocked duct that leads to the formation of lumps in the breast. A few ways to resolve the pain associated with blocked milk ducts include the following.
- Massage lumps towards the nipple while feeding.
- Apply a warm pack to the area that is affected.
- Frequent nursing from the affected breast with a blocked milk duct.
Milk ducts that are blocked and left undrained are likely to lead to inflammation. This condition is known as mastitis. Apart from painful breastfeeding, mothers will manifest flu-related symptoms and high temperatures. A few ways to alleviate this condition are as follows.
- Continue nursing from the affected breast as this will help with drainage.
- Express the milk if the baby can’t feed on the affected breast.
- Ensure that the baby has latched on to the breast properly and is in the correct position when feeding.
- Get enough rest.
5. Cracked or Sore Nipples
Cracked or sore nipples are also another cause of pain during nursing. This is likely to occur due to improper latching or position during breastfeeding. Some ways to deal with the pain include the following.
- Keep nipples dry after feeding.
- Keep nipples lubricated before feeding by expressing milk.
- Ensure correct latching and proper positioning of the baby during feeding.
- Make use of nipple shields if nipples are bleeding.
In cases where the cracked and sore nipples do not heal in a few days, it is highly advised to talk to your primary physician for other solutions.
6. Let-Down Reflex
Let-down reflex refers to the release of breast milk and is often characterized by pain, pin-pricking, or tingling sensations during breastfeeding. This reflex is stimulated when the baby cries or sucks your breasts. If the pain is too much, then it is recommended that you speak with your doctor to rule out an infection. On the other hand, if a virus has been ruled out, then the pain is likely to be caused by excess milk; thus, it is recommended to nurse the baby on the affected breast for an extended period before moving to the other breast.
For pain that is unbearable even after feeding, it is likely an indication of candida infection or thrush in the breast. Thrush can occur due to a cracked nipple where the candida fungus infects the breast or nipple. This condition can also affect the baby and is manifested by white spots on the gums, lips, and tongue.
Doctors would usually prescribe ointments applied to the nipples after nursing. Other methods to prevent thrush include washing bras in hot water and maintaining cleanliness.
Home Remedies For Breast Pain During Breastfeeding
Apart from the methods mentioned above with regards to alleviating pain during nursing, other home remedies provide relief.
- Cooldown breasts with ice packs. You can also use frozen vegetables. Grab a bag of frozen broccoli or peas and place them on the breasts. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Also, make sure to cover the bags with a clean cloth, so it doesn’t get in direct contact with the skin.
- Massage the twins in the tub. During a bath, soap your breasts and start massaging from the nipple and move your way outwards. Slow, circular movements work best. Not only does massaging help soothe sore breasts, but it also improves drainage and blood circulation.
- Apply castor oil onto a cloth and put it over the affected breast. Afterward, get a hot pack and leave it onto the wet cloth for approximately 30 minutes. Do this for a few days until you no longer feel any pain in the affected breast.
- Consume soy-based food, which is linked to a reduced incidence of breast pain associated with nursing.
- Add magnesium-rich food into the diet. These include green leafy vegetables, brown rice, beans, oatmeal, and bananas. Magnesium helps reduce the soreness in the breasts.
- Avoid washing the nipples with soap, especially if they are already sore. Instead, wash it with plain water. Soap will only strip off the natural oils in the nipples and cause further soreness.
- Try natural moisturizers such as vitamin E or avocado oil. These compounds provide quick relief for breastfeeding pain. Massage it onto the breast in a slow, circular motion.