Breastfeeding Pain: Is your baby struggling to feed?
Breastfeeding not only nurtures your baby but a growing bond begins to develop early on. As new mothers, breastfeeding tends to be the ideal choice. Some mothers make it a goal to breastfeed until the child is 2 years old. However, some mothers become discouraged and discontinue breastfeeding before the baby is 6 months old. Why? The main reason is due to pain. “Many mothers suffer from pain and prefer to bottle feed instead,” says Dr. Fawn Rosenberg of Lexington Smile Studio. “Breastfeeding should not be painful. The baby could be struggling to consume milk. Mothers may notice poor latching and the pain is the result. Changing positions could help. However, the poor latching could be the result of an underlying issue.”
Simply stated, painful breastfeeding is due to poor latching. Mothers may notice their baby latches with their gums or by biting on the breast. Although painful, the baby is trying their best to feed. In addition, underlying issues with the breasts might be the reason for the discomfort. Mothers should check for the following possibilities.
Mothers may feel a burning or stabbing pain in the nipple. In addition, a rash may develop. The baby could also have white dots in or around the mouth. If diagnosed with a yeast infection, medication is needed for both the mother and baby.
If you notice tenderness and a lump, you may have a clogged duct. The issue could be inside the breast or just outside of the nipple. Correcting this is simple. Take a hot shower or bath while massaging the breast from behind the lumb. Next, continue massaging towards the nipple. This should unclog the duct and allow the milk to pass through easily. If not, contact a lactation specialist or medical doctor for further assistance.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast and is usually accompanied by a fever. The breast is very tender and typically red. Inflammation can appear suddenly or be due to a clogged duct. Nonetheless, mastitis needs to be treated right away.
If the breasts are healthy and the positioning is correct, your baby could have an underlying issue. Lip and tongue-tie conditions are also causes of poor latching and painful breastfeeding. As a result, parents should seek a consultation from a lip and tongue-tie specialist if breast pain or poor latching occurs.
Lip and tongue-ties occur when the frenula is thick which prohibits natural upper lip and tongue movement. Some infants are born with one or both conditions. These conditions cause difficult feedings. In short, affected babies can not consume enough milk and poor weight gain occurs. Lip and tongue-ties are not commonly known. Therefore, many parents and pediatricians overlook these conditions. As a result, an affected baby develops future complications and may never get treated.
“Painful breastfeeding and poor latching are symptoms of lip and tongue-ties. Parents should also be aware of other symptoms which include poor weight gain and reflux,” says Dr. Rosenberg. The following symptoms are related to these conditions.
- Difficulty moving tongue
- Gasps for air during feedings
- Baby falls asleep while feeding before consuming enough milk
- Gas or hiccups after feeding
- Poor latching
- Makes smacking sounds during feedings
- Latches with gums
- Baby has oral blisters
- Poor weight gain
- Gulps milk
- Unable to use a pacifier
- Prefers to be bottle fed
Left untreated, lip and tongue-tie conditions create future complications. “There are many complications that result from untreated lip and tongue-ties. Unfortunately, children develop unnecessary health issues which continue into adulthood,” states Dr. Rosenberg. Complications may include:
- Sleep apnea
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty chewing food
- Delayed speech
- Dental health issues
- Speech issues
- Narrow airways
- Difficulty sleeping
- Narrow palate
- Underbite or overbite
- Chronic asthma
- Neck, back, or jaw pain
Lip and tongue-tie conditions are treatable with a simple and painless procedure called CO2 Laser Treatment. This procedure is safe and performed on infants, children, and adults. In short, the laser effectively evaporates the excess tissue and sterilizes the area. This results in minimal pain and blood loss. In fact, babies can breastfeed immediately while children and adults resume normal activities. CO2 Laser Treatment can only be performed by a certified and trained professional. Parents are encouraged to research and seek consultation before agreeing to the procedure.
Painful breastfeeding is due to poor latching. Therefore, it is important to find out why your baby is not latching well. The issue could be within the breasts, poor positioning, or a lip or tongue-tie condition. A professional is your best solution. Schedule a consultation with the following professionals to improve breastfeeding.
Your doctor can examine your breasts to assure the ducts are not affected. Even if symptoms of breast issues are not apparent, it is good to have confirmation from a doctor. Your examiner can also refer you to a lactation specialist.
Lactation specialists assist mothers with breastfeeding. They provide techniques and one-on-one consultations. Their services usually include:
- Prenatal consultation
- Lactation guidance
- Returning for work counseling
- Baby weight check-ins
- Induced lactation
Lactation specialists can also refer you to breastfeeding support groups. These meetings unite mothers to help cope with the highs and lows of breastfeeding. Many mothers want to breastfeed for as long as possible. Hence, joining a support group helps mothers to continue longer.
Lactation specialists can refer you to a lip and tongue-tie doctor as well. Their referrals are usually doctors with many years of experience. The lip and tongue-tie doctor will examine your baby’s upper lip and tongue. If either condition is present, the doctor will explain the procedure and post-operative exercises.
Overall, breastfeeding should be enjoyable for mother and baby. We hope this article helped answer questions many parents have about breastfeeding. If you would like to schedule a consultation for lip and tongue-ties, contact Dr. Fawn Rosenberg of Lexington Smile Studio. She has over 20 years of experience and has performed thousands of procedures. Parents may call (781) 861-SMILE or book an appointment online at www.LexingtonSmileStudio.com.
Dr. Fawn Rosenberg graduated from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1985 and received her Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry in 1990. Since then, Dr. Rosenberg has been using a variety of lasers in dentistry for more than 20 years. Her credentials have been recognized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital along with Tufts, Boston, and Harvard universities where she previously held staff appointments.
Dr. Rosenberg is devoted to continuing her education while participating in dental organizations. She is an active member of the Massachusetts Dental Society, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, International Affiliation of Tongue-Tie Professionals and International Consortium of Oral Ankylofrenula Professionals.