Breastfeeding Pain: How to Relieve Discomfort from Clogged Milk Ducts and Mastitis
Whether you’re a first-time mom or have nursed your child for many weeks, chances are you’ve probably experienced some discomfort while breastfeeding. After all, nursing is a very intimate act that involves your baby and yourself. However, while plenty of aspects of nursing can be challenging, pain is not one of them. Pain during breastfeeding is a completely normal occurrence that most moms experience once in a while. This article will discuss the different types of pain during breastfeeding, their possible causes, and how to relieve it immediately.
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Why Is There Pain While Breastfeeding?
The breast is a sensitive area of the body that, while delicately designed to produce milk, is also extremely delicate. This means that if anything is done wrong or differently, it can cause pain. Common causes of pain while breastfeeding includes:
- Nipple Pain: A sharp pain or burning sensation at the nipple is the most common cause of breastfeeding pain. If your nipples are too dry or cracked, you might experience this.
- Discomfort in the Chest or Underarm Area: If the pain is more intense or chronic, it might be in your chest or underarm area. This commonly occurs due to engorged breast tissue pressing against nerves in this area.
- Pain While Feeding: Some moms experience pain while feeding, especially if it’s more intense than the pain in your chest. This could be due to milk clots, clogged milk ducts, or a combination of these factors.
Nipple pain during breastfeeding is usually a result of excessive dryness or cracked nipples. Exposing your baby to frequent changes of the nipple will help to keep them extra clean. You can also try wearing a nipple shield to remove your nipple from your baby’s mouth, which helps keep them extra clean. If nipple pain persists despite these measures, you might also have a medical condition called thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection that can be spread through breastfeeding. It causes a white, cheesy substance to build up on your nipples. You can treat thrush with antifungal drugs. If your nipple pain persists or your doctor rules out other possible causes, you might have thrush.
Discomfort in the Chest or Underarm Area
While breastfeeding, pain in the chest or underarm area may occur for several reasons, the most common is mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of your milk ducts – usually caused by an infection – and is a common cause of breastfeeding pain. Signs of mastitis include redness, swelling, warmth in your breast area, and a strong smell of drainage. Other causes of chest and underarm pain include blocked milk ducts, a full milk supply, and too much pressure from your baby’s suck. Blocked ducts can either be temporary (caused by an interruption in breastfeeding) or persistent and require treatment with duct tapes or suction pumps. Pressure from your baby’s suck can be fixed with positioning or using a breastmilk dispensing device such as a breast pump.
Pain While Feeding
Pain while feeding might be a result of a medical condition, but it, more often than not, is caused by a blocked milk duct. When your milk ducts are blocked, the milk in your breasts can’t exit the ducts; this results in painful engorgement and increased pressure on your nerves. If you experience pain while feeding, you can try to relax and breathe deeply. You can also try to take breaks from breastfeeding to allow your ducts to unblock and to relieve pressure from your breast. You can also try to suck less while breastfeeding or switch to nipple feedings. However, if your pain while feeding persists or gets worse, you should consult your doctor.
Mastitis is an infection or blockage in one or more of your milk ducts. It is a very common condition among breastfeeding mothers, but many don’t even realize they have it. Signs of mastitis for most women include breast pain, a painful letdown when breastfeeding, and a painful lump or swelling in one of your breast ducts. You should see your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. You should also try to treat the condition yourself by using antibiotics, which will depend on the kind of infection you have. While pain during breastfeeding is not something that most moms want to experience, it is very common. The good news is that once you understand the causes and possible treatments, you can effectively and quickly treat pain while breastfeeding.