It is important to understand that
it takes most first-time mothers and their babies around six weeks
to settle into nursing, to a point where it's easy for both of
them. Those first weeks are bound to be exhausting and emotionally
supercharged, but even at the beginning, breastfeeding
doesn't have to hurt.
Breasts can become engorged with
too much milk and with the extra blood supply that comes with
it, and that can indeed be horribly painful. If they're too huge
and hard, the baby may not be able to latch on and suck, but if
you encourage the baby to suckle often enough in his first couple
of weeks, that situation will never arise.
Nipples can get chapped and sore;
they can even develop tiny painful cracks, and those cracks can
let infection in, but if the baby is properly latched on for feedings,
none of that will happen, because it will not be the nipple that
he/she sucks on but the much larger area of the areola.
Make sure your baby faces the breast
directly so he doesn't have to turn his/her head and pull on the
nipple. Touch his/her lower lip, so he opens his mouth widely,
then slip your nipple right to the back of his mouth. His/her
suction will hold the breast there out of harm's way, while his/her
jaws squeeze the areola.
If you are experiencing engorgement
or sore nipples, seek out your pediatrician or a lactation counselor.
The La Leche League is the most notable of the breastfeeding advocacy
groups. There are La Leche offices across the country, your pediatrician's
office can probably help you get in contact with them.
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