It may take several weeks before you and your baby settle into a comfortable routine and for you to feel confident about breastfeeding. This doesn't mean that you will have a lot of problems. It means that you and your baby may take a few weeks to get to know one another and how best to nurse.
The early weeks also have some changes that are part of establishing breastfeeding.
Having some nipple tenderness is common for the first seven to 10 days. If you have sore nipples that are not improving, call your lactation resource.
It is not normal to have blisters, cracking, bleeding, or pain during or between feedings. If you do, call your health care provider or lactation resource.
To reduce sore nipples:
Sometime between the third and seventh day, your milk volume increases. Your breasts swell with extra fluid in the tissues around your milk ducts.
As your milk volume increases, this can cause your breasts to feel full and warm. This is known as engorgement. Your breasts can become so full that it is hard for your baby to latch on and nurse comfortably.
Engorgement can also happen at any time while you are feeding, if you miss a feeding, or if weaning occurs too suddenly.
To prevent engorgement, try the following.
During the first one to two weeks, your body will adjust your milk supply. Engorgement will lessen as breastfeeding becomes well-established.
Two common causes of breast pain are a plugged duct and mastitis. Both need to be treated, but you do not need to stop feeding.
A plugged duct is a milk duct that does not drain properly. The area becomes tender, and there may be a painful lump. That area of the breast may look red. If the blockage is in the nipple, the clogged pore may look like a small white pimple. A plugged duct does not make you feel sick or cause a fever.
Watch for signs of a breast infection, including:
To prevent or treat a plugged duct:
If left untreated, a plugged duct can cause more serious problems. Call your lactation resource for more ideas or to make an appointment.
Call your health care provider if you have had a plugged duct for three days, if your symptoms get worse, or if you have a fever.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast. The infection is in the tissue and not in your milk. You can and should continue breastfeeding. Bacteria entering your breast through a crack in the nipple or skin can cause mastitis. A plugged duct or incomplete emptying of your breast can also lead to mastitis.
Signs of mastitis include:
If you have or think you have mastitis:
A nipple that tucks in rather than sticks out when stimulated is called an inverted nipple. Breast changes during pregnancy often correct this condition.
Even if the nipple does not change, there may not be a problem. Some babies have no problems latching on.
If your baby is having trouble latching, you can pump for a few minutes just before nursing. This will draw out the nipple.
If you have questions or concerns, call your lactation resource.
Call your health care provider if you:
Call your baby's health care provider if your baby:
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts