A woman once compared nursing to voluntarily sticking a wet finger into an electrical socket. This analogy is not entirely fair. It’s more like sticking a fork in a toaster. All kidding aside, soreness during nursing is normal; pain is not! If your nipples are cracked, raw, and bleeding, this sort of discomfort is totally unnecessary.
The first time you experience any pain, evaluate your positioning. The entire areola should be in the baby’s mouth while he is sucking. Don’t ever force him off your breast; just Unhook the Trout by gently prying his mouth off with your finger. If you do experience soreness, many products currently exist to help alleviate discomfort. Before spending lots of money on creams and cooling gels, try a cold, wet wash cloth. Some women recommend a large, cold “cup” of iceberg lettuce, but don’t try to be frugal by using it later in a salad.
Some women do actually develop mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue caused by bacteria entering a milk duct through a crack in the nipple. Don’t worry; it’s much more painful than it sounds. If this happens to you, please see a health care professional to determine the best course of treatment.
Babies sometimes develop a lip blister from vigorous sucking. While this may look painful, it doesn’t cause the baby any harm. The blister will disappear on its own and possibly come and go throughout the time of breast or bottle feeding.
HOLD THE ONIONS, PLEASE
Too much of anything is usually not a good idea, and sometimes babies can suffer from Mommy’s nutritional indulgences. A lot of babies are particularly sensitive to dairy. Garlic and onions can change the taste of your milk. In fact, there is nothing quite like Onions in the Stream to upset a baby. Huge servings of broccoli and other gassy foods can cause extreme discomfort to your baby. Since food takes approximately eight hours to enter the bloodstream, sometimes a baby has to suffer the consequences until the following morning. You don’t have to eliminate these foods entirely; just keep them in moderation.
Be aware of the dangerous potential for dehydration during breastfeeding. About a week into nursing my firstborn, I thought that I had caught the flu. I finally called my doctor after several hours of nausea, fatigue, and a fever. He informed me that a nursing baby depletes his mother of fluids, and she needs to constantly drink water to rehydrate. Drinking large glasses of water throughout the day will eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of dehydration.
GET A LEG UP
During nursing, getting physically comfortable takes some experimentation. Everyone prefers different positions, from the football hold to the cradle hold. The one common denominator seems to be elevation of the feet. This can be accomplished by either putting your foot on a low stool or up on a chair or ottoman.
When you start out nursing a baby, you can use a rocking chair or glider. After a couple of months, however, babies no longer fit comfortably lengthwise in a chair. They become so long that their head is on one arm of the chair, and their feet are in the neighbor’s kitchen. At this point, you can nurse in the middle of the couch or on the bed with pillows behind your back. Be sure to enjoy this one time in your life when you can sit still and relax with your feet up!