When a baby sucks, the nipple is stretched into the roof of the baby’s mouth. Some nipples must stretch farther than others. You may not have been told about “nipple stretch pain”, which can be intense in the beginning for the first time mother. Count to 10 and the discomfort should be gone.
If discomfort persists, your baby may not be latched correctly. A shallow latch can be painful and cause nipple damage like bruising or blistering, as well was poor milk removal. Slip you pinky finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth and between the gums to break the suction, and begin again. It is normal to feel tugging, but a deep and effective latch should not hurt. When your baby comes off the breast, if the latch is correct, your nipple should be round.
Newborns have natural instincts that help them locate the nipple and achieve a good latch. In a semi-reclining position, try placing your baby on your chest nose-to-nipple, and allow her to reach up and over the nipple to take in a big mouthful of breast. This is one way to achieve a good latch. Breastfeeding goes better when both mom and baby feel relaxed, comfortable and well supported. Experiment with different positions until you find some that both you and your baby like. Sore nipples are not caused by too much time spent at the breast. Frequent breastfeeding, especially in the beginning, is normal and necessary to establish an abundant milk supply.
Three to four days after delivery, as your breasts fill with milk and become firm, it can be difficult for the baby to stretch the nipple. Hand expressing or pumping to soften your areola will help the baby latch deeper and prevent nipple damage.
Sometimes sore nipples or painful latch can be a baby problem. Tongue-ties and lip ties can prevent good suction, causing nipple pain and damage. Some ties are obvious, but others are not. Jaw asymmetry, sucking coordination, and muscle tone can all contribute to sore nipples. If your baby is causing nipple pain or trauma and it is not a positioning issue, contact a member of your healthcare team who is experienced in breastfeeding support for a thorough evaluation.