Pain from sore nipple can interfere with breastfeeding negatively and this usually occur in the first few months after delivery. The mother feels so much pain that she might not want to put the baby to the affected breast but rather stick to feeding him on the breast without sore nipple. What then happens? The breast with sore nipple becomes engorged and this can bring about pain and discomfort. Furthermore, mastitis (infection of the breast) could also result from this which might delay the healing of the sore nipple.
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Brief anatomy of the breast
The breast is paired and is located on the chest. Its shape varies according to age and fat tissue present within it. At the center of each breast is the nipple which contains several tiny holes through which the milk is expressed out. The nipple is surrounded by a small darkened area called the areola.
How to put a baby to breast
Putting a baby to breast is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced. Although a baby has a natural tendency to locate the breast and suck, he needs to be properly latched on the breast in other to take in enough milk and prevent sore nipples for the mother.
In other to ensure a baby is properly latched on the breast, the mother must take a comfortable position and feel relaxed. You can sit on a comfortable chair and use support like pillow or cushion if need arises. If you feel like putting your leg on a stool, you shouldn’t hesitate to.
Your baby should be positioned facing you and his head and body should be in a straight line. His head and neck should not be twisted in other to aid sucking without stress. You can support your baby’s neck but not the head. The head must be free enough to tilt backward for proper latching and sucking.
Also, in other to ensure your baby is well latched on, you must bring your nipple close to your baby’s nose. This stimulates the baby to open his mouth widely. His chin and lower lip touches the breast and his mouth open widely. His head is then tipped backward. The tongue try to scoop in as much part of the areola in the mouth. This helps the nipple go past the hard roof of the mouth to the back of the mouth against the soft palate thereby preventing sore nipple. Also, the tongue will be between the lower gum and the breast preventing pain and sore nipples during sucking.
If a baby is well latched on, more areola is visible above the upper lip than below the lower lip.
How sore nipple develop during breastfeeding
The major cause of sore nipple is poor latching. A baby who was unable to scoop enough areola in his mouth but rather has only the nipple will have his hard palate pressed on the nipple. Also if the tongue is not between the breast and lower gum, there can be injury to the nipple during sucking. All these can lead to sore nipple during breastfeeding.
Effect of sore nipple on the mother
Pain from sore nipple can be excruciating especially when the baby is trying to suck. This can result in the mother withdrawing from putting the baby to that affected breast. What then happens? The breast becomes engorged with milk. This can cause pain and become infected if not attended to.
Effect of sore nipple on the child
A mother with sore nipple will not breastfeed her child adequately due to pain. This can lead to malnutrition in the child.
How can sore nipple be prevented in breastfeeding mothers?
Proper latching on the breast is the key to preventing sore nipple. Mothers need to be educated on this. So also the technique should be demonstrated during antenatal clinics.
It is advisable to ask questions on anything you are not cleared about from your health care workers.
What to do if you have sore nipple
If you have been having sore nipples, look into your latching technique and ensure it’s appropriate. When this is corrected, it arrest the process of nipple cracking and allow healing.
You have to continue breastfeeding while ensuring proper latching on.
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