Many books and well-meaning breastfeeding teachers say you should have no pain whatsoever if your baby is latched properly. This has likely caused much alarm among new mothers who wince when their baby latches.
Yes, a latch should be pain free when done correctly and your baby has the hang of it, but many times, even with perfect latches, there's some pain when you start breastfeeding. Your nipple and areola are sensitive areas that have never been subjected to such long and constant stimulation. Over time and as your baby learns to latch better, the pain should go away.
While sore, cracked or bleeding nipples are common in the early days, if you feel your latches are good but your breasts are becoming more painful, there's a plan to help you through this tough time.
The most important part of this plan, besides healing your sore nipples, is to make sure you're pumping at every bottle feeding. This ensures your milk supply stays up, and the expressed milk can be used for the next feeding.
Your nipples should feel better after you've followed this plan. But if they're extremely cracked, you might need to keep your baby off your breast for 12 to 24 hours. If you do start breastfeeding again, you might need to take every other feeding off to continue the healing. Trust your judgement, and remember that you don't have to suffer through extreme pain.
This information is courtesy of Bravado Designs, the brand synonymous with women's breastfeeding success for 18 years.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)