In a perfect world, breastfeeding would be a comfortable and pleasant experience for you and your baby from day one. However, it’s common for new moms to find nursing uncomfortable or even painful. In fact, one reason moms might quit breastfeeding before they’re ready is because they find it hurts. But it doesn’t have to! A painful or uncomfortable breastfeeding experience usually means something isn’t quite right – whether it’s your baby’s latch, recurring sore nipples, or just boredom.
If you have severe pain, be sure to ask your doctor or a Lactation Consultant for help pinpointing and solving the problem. But if you are experiencing just mild discomfort, these tips can help make nursing more comfortable and help you reach your breastfeeding goals!
- Support your body. Before you even begin to feed your baby, it’s important for you to be comfortable. Make sure you choose a chair or couch with plenty of support for your back and arms. Then put your feet up – either on a coffee table, or propped up on a footstool or stack of pillows. If you prefer to nurse in bed, make sure you use plenty of pillows. Whichever position is most comfortable for you, remember to bring your baby to your breast, rather then hunching or bending toward your baby.
- Support your breasts. Your breasts will naturally be heavier while you’re breastfeeding – after all – you’re producing breast milk! So you may need to support them as well. Once you are comfortable and ready to breastfeed, cup your breast with the palm of your hand – your four fingers should be underneath your breast and your thumb should rest above your nipple, opposite your baby’s nose. This position is called the C-Hold.
- Support your baby. Your baby will latch best and nurse most efficiently if they are comfortable as well. Whichever breastfeeding position you choose, make sure your little is comfortable. Your baby should be at the same height as your breast and nipple with his or her mouth directly opposite your nipple. If your arms get tired, try using pillows or a folded receiving blanket to help add support for your baby.
- Find a hold that works for you. If you can’t seem to get a particular hold down – like the cradle hold for example, try nursing in another position. Maybe you would be more comfortable lying on your side with your baby facing you. Choose a position that works for you – because if you are comfortable, your baby is more likely to be comfortable too.
- Wear a comfortable nursing bra. Find a nursing bra that gives you easy access to your breasts, but that also provides plenty of support for them. Some moms even find that wearing a softer, wireless bra – like our Nursing Sleep Bra – is more comfortable than going without a bra all night.
- Switch up your routine. Some moms find that varying the position they nurse in helps to prevent sore nipples because each hold puts pressure on a different part of your nipple.
- Try pumping. If you are having trouble nursing for whatever reason, pumping can be a good way to continue to feed your baby breast milk, while offering you some relief from frustration, sore nipples, or other issues. Plus, breast pump technology has come a long way, making pumping even more comfortable. Our newest breast pump, Sonata, even comes with two different pumping rhythms so moms can choose what’s most comfortable and effective for them.
- Relax. For many nursing moms, relaxation can play a dramatic role in breastfeeding success. Try to start each nursing session out by taking a deep breath in through your nose, holding that breath for one to two seconds, and exhaling slowly through your nose for at least four seconds until you feel relaxed.
- Stay hydrated. Before you sit down for a nursing or pumping session, be sure to bring a tall glass of cool water to drink. Not only does staying hydrated help maintain milk production, but it always seems like thirst strikes in the middle of a session when you can’t get up.
- Bring something to do. Some moms are perfectly content to stare blissfully into their baby’s eyes while nursing. Other moms find they want something else to do while they’re nursing or pumping to keep them engaged and entertained. If that sounds like you, make sure you grab your phone, tablet or a good book before sitting down. Or, position your favorite chair in front of the TV so you can catch up on all those Netflix series you’ve been hearing about. A hands-free pumping bra, like our newly updated Easy Expression Bustier, allows you the freedom and flexibility to multitask while pumping – which is great if you’re into knitting, crocheting or crossword puzzles. Just remember to pay attention to your little one’s cues or set a timer to help you keep track.
- Soothe sore nipples. If you notice your nipples are sore or starting to crack, try soothing them with lanolin or hydrogel pads. These products can provide much-needed relief and the ingredients are entirely safe for your little one. You may also want to consider using breast shells to prevent fabric from rubbing against sore nipples. Remember, sore nipples are typically a sign something isn’t right, so be sure to find the root of the problem so you can correct it instead of simply treating the symptoms.
Moms – what are your favorite tips for getting comfortable while nursing or pumping? Share in the comments below.