Help Your Baby Develop a Good Latch
While it’s normal to expect slight tenderness in the nipples at first, you shouldn’t be wincing your way through feedings. If you’re uncomfortable while nursing, your baby isn’t latched on properly. “Breastfeeding should not hurt if the baby is latched on to the breast appropriately,” says Meek. Where do latches go wrong? Most times, it’s because the baby has only the nipple in her mouth. A good latch means an infant’s mouth will encompass the nipple and most of the surrounding areola. “One of the keys is getting the baby to latch on with a wide-open mouth,” says Meek. Sometimes, babies need several shots before getting it right, so if she’s nursing and you’re hurting, insert a finger in the corner of her mouth to release the powerful suction, and start anew. If your nipples are tender, sleep topless with a towel to absorb any spills. Fresh air is healing, as is your breast milk.
In the hospital, ask for help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)—many hospitals have one or more on staff—or a nurse who can show you if your baby has latched on correctly. Ask her to demonstrate comfortable feeding positions, like the “football hold,” which lets you look at that adorable little face as she nurses, or the side-lying position, so you can feed the baby while resting.