Ask an expert: Breastfeeding is too painful – what should I do?

Ask an expert: Breastfeeding is too painful – what should I do?

I’ve just had my first baby and I’d really like to breastfeed, but I’m finding it almost impossible because it’s so painful. I’m too embarrassed to talk to my GP or friends about it – where else can I get help?

Midwife Marie Louise, who runs The Modern Midwife (themodernmidwife.com), says: “Don’t be hard on yourself, many mums find breastfeeding challenging, tiring and sometimes painful. However, if it hurts, it’s usually a warning sign that something isn’t quite right. Often pain is down to latching issues – your newborn should have a large portion of the lower part of the areola (the dark skin around your nipple) in his/her mouth, with your nipple against the roof of his/her mouth, and his/her tongue underneath.

“Sometimes the milk ducts can get blocked, which can cause pain and redness, so in this case apply a warm washcloth and gently massage to release it. If you develop a fever or start feeling unwell, you should go straight to your GP or to your maternity assessment unit.

“Using a breast pump between breastfeeding could also help you recover between sessions and ease the pain. There are new pumps available now which are easier to use and have no wires or tubes.

“However, seeking help as soon as possible is the best thing you can do. You’re not alone in your fears, as research by Elvie found more than half of mums were too embarrassed to talk to their friends about breastfeeding issues, and more than a third (36%) didn’t feel comfortable talking to their GP.

“However, a healthcare professional will be able to show you simple adjustments and different feeding positions that could drastically improve your technique and ensure good latching, as well as check to make sure you don’t have an infection.

“You could try talking to your health visitor or midwife instead, otherwise you could speak to a lactation consultant, who’ll be able to give you specialised advice. You can easily search for your nearest consultant by visiting the  Lactation Consultants of Great Britain (lcgb.org) website. Remember, you’re not alone and what you’re experiencing is very common even among the most experienced mums.”

- Press Association

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