A few weeks ago we posted a meme about pain during breastfeeding. We weren’t quite prepared for the diversity of thought on the topic, and it became clear that we had touched a nerve. Obviously, we had to dig in.
Should breastfeeding hurt?
According to a study conducted by the FDA and CDC, over 75 percent of mothers experience breastfeeding pain within the first two weeks postpartum.
“Sore or tender nipples are common during the first few days or even weeks of breastfeeding but it should improve,” says Dr. Lena Farrar, an OBGYN based in New York. “Pain that is severe or continuous is a sign of a problem that should not be ignored.”
When you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Your breasts went from looking cute in a bathing suit and having nothing to do in life, when suddenly, there’s this creature suckling at them constantly and your nipples aren’t prepared. So yes, the beginning of the breastfeeding journey can lead to sore or cracked nipples, which generally resolve themselves over time.
However, if you’ve been nursing for a while, and you’re still experiencing pain, that’s when you’ll want to check in with a medical provider or lactation consultant.
According to breastfeeeding.support, the most common course of pain is nipple attachment. Without a deep mouthful of the surrounding breast tissue, and if the nipple isn’t far enough into the baby’s mouth, it will pinch the nipple between the tongue and the roof of baby’s mouth. That can cause pain.
Healthline states that nipple pain is indeed common during the early breastfeeding days, and again, it comes down to latch. As you work on perfecting your baby’s latch, you might feel some discomfort, but ongoing pain or skin damage is a sign that you need to seek help.
Also, just remember, your nipples should look the same before and after a feeding. If your nipples appear flattened like a pancake or drained of color after a feed, it’s a sign that there’s a problem with your baby’s latch.
So should breastfeeding hurt? Like most responses when it comes to early parenting – yes, and no. Initial discomfort and pain is totes normal in the beginning. If it continue to be painful, contact someone who can help.