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My nipples are sore and chapped, and latching on is becoming very painful; what can I do?
A Breastfeeding in the early days can be quite painful as your nipples adjust to regular feeding. It may be cold comfort, but things do improve over time and the best thing you can do is persevere.
Make sure that your baby is latching on properly. Her mouth needs to be open wide, with her tongue down and forward, and your nipple should be aimed at the roof of her mouth. When she is properly latched on, she should be drawing in the entire nipple and some breast tissue into her mouth. If you’re not sure, ask your midwife, doctor, or breastfeeding counselor to watch you feed.
After feeds, express a little of the rich, fatty milk and rub it over your nipple to encourage healing. Between feeds, keep your bra and T-shirt off for short periods, to allow the air to get to your nipples. Try a good emollient cream for sore nipples too.
My baby has started refusing my breast; what could be causing this?
First of all, make sure that you’re relaxed and in a quiet spot. If you are feeling fraught or anxious, your baby may respond in kind and become fussy or even reject your breast. Make sure that he’s latched on properly, too as he can become frustrated if he’s working hard to feed, and isn’t getting much milk. You may find it helps to express a little milk first. Sometimes your milk may flow too quickly, causing your baby to choke and to cry after latching on. If this happens, try using a nipple shield, which slows down the flow. Also, it may be possible that you’re eating something that disagrees with your baby
My baby often goes for hours between feeds, and my breasts become uncomfortable. What should I do?
Some babies do have an amazing capacity to last for hours between feeds. While it may help to express some milk when your breasts are uncomfortable, you don’t want to build up your supply to the extent that you are siphoning off milk and storing it, as well as feeding your baby, because it won’t solve the problem in the long-term. Try offering your breast a little more often, even if he doesn’t seem to be requesting a feed.
Also, some very young babies have not yet developed the strength to wake up and demand to be fed. Sometimes a premature or ill baby is too small and sleepy to cry, instead focusing on conserving energy for growth and recovery. Waking a baby in this situation to offer the breast is a good idea. If your baby isn’t putting on much weight and seems tired and listless, see your doctor or health professional.
If your baby is latched on properly, she shouldn’t be able to gnaw or bite, but if she’s teething she may use your breasts for comfort. Remove her from your breast as soon as she’s finished feeding and try rubbing a cold, wet cloth on her gums, or offer her something else to chew on.