Common ailments

Breastfeeding

I am breastfeeding my three week old daughter but I’m finding it really painful. The nurse at the hospital said I was doing everything correctly but, now that I’m home, I dread feeding times as my breasts feel so sore. Is this normal?

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time breastfeeding your daughter. The fact is, breastfeeding can hurt, particularly in the early days, but things usually get easier after the first few weeks. Your nipples have to get used to the sensation of a baby’s voracious sucking, and this can take several weeks.

It takes a few days for your milk to come in, and this is when your breasts become engorged. Fuller breasts can also make it more difficult to latch on correctly. Your baby is also probably more alert now and is sucking harder during feeding too, causing your further discomfort.

There is however a difference between pain and discomfort. Therefore, if you are experiencing a lot of pain while breastfeeding then there may be an underlying problem. It may be that an over-supply of milk has built up in your breasts, perhaps because your baby is not latching on properly and thereby not feeding effectively. This can lead to some parts of your breast not being drained during a feed, causing pain in that area.

Your midwife or health visitor should be able to give you helpful advice and support and there are breastfeeding support groups available too.

If you are experiencing any additional symptoms, e.g. your breasts feel hot and tender, or you feel generally unwell or have a raised temperature, then I suggest you speak to your health visitor or GP. You may have developed a condition known as mastitis, which is inflammation of the breast. Mastitis can also be a sign of infection for which your GP can prescribe antibiotics if necessary.

I hope you persevere as things usually improve after a few weeks. Feeding your baby from the breast gives a lot of emotional satisfaction for both you and the baby and is the best food for your baby’s long term health and wellbeing.

Back to list