What You Should Not Do:
Pain is no joke. Painful nipples are enough to make anyone think about giving up. There are methods you can turn to in order to relieve the pain, however not all are safe for your baby. We frequently offer solutions for alleviating breast and nipple pain. You can find such solutions by scrolling to the bottom half of this post. But, first, we want to talk through a few solutions that breastfeeding (including pumping) people should avoid.
Topical Pain Relievers
Pain relievers often contain medicines that absorb into the skin. These pose two potential harms for your little one, by either entering into your blood and then into your milk, or by potentially coming into contact with your expressed milk.
Young babies’ bodies are not able to process essential oils in the same way as our adult bodies. While essential oils are natural and seen as safer alternatives than medication by many people, they can be harmful to young babies. Babies’ livers are not fully developed enough to process oils. If you use them topically and then pump, trace amounts may make their way into your expressed breast milk
Cabbage is known for it’s ability to alleviate pain associated with breast engorgement. It helps by drawing out excess fluid and alleviating the cause of the pain rather than relieving the pain itself. Using cabbage can have an unintended side effect, reducing your milk supply. This is almost certainly something an exclusive pumping person would want to avoid unless they are nearing the end of their pumping journey.
Identify the Cause of the Pain
General pain relieving methods can help to reduce or alleviate the pain you are experiencing. However, to truly minimize the pain, it is imperative that you know exactly what causes the pain. Exclusive pumping can cause pain from friction, poor flange fit, and intense suction from repeated pumping sessions.
Breast pump flanges often are a basic shape of a cone and a tunnel. Where these two shapes meet, the join forms a hinge or a corner. When your sensitive skin funs over this join time and time again, it can cause friction. Adding a breast pump cushion places a protective barrier between your skin and the cause of the friction.
We offer a lot of information about proper flange fit and the problems an improper fit may cause. You can find a complete guide to flange fit here.
Pumps offer a range of suction levels, and some patterns. These are designed to mimic a baby’s suckling. Ramping a pump’s suction up to the highest settings might seem like it would make your sessions more productive, but it can cause more harm than good.
Pain Relieving Solutions
Moist heat is often used to promote pain relief and healing. When it comes to nipple pain, warm water can help to promote healing. Showers, baths, and soaking your skin can help to promote blood flow and expedite healing.
Sometimes the pain occurs below the surface of the skin. Clogged ducts, glands, and pores are common causes of pain for breastfeeding people. Adding them to warm water as you soak can help to heal your body and enable you to continue to care for your little ones.
Balms and Salves
Coconut Oil, Lanolin, and other food safe balms do wonders for healing friction burns and blisters. They can also expedite the healing of other forms of nipple trauma. We have more information here.
Shells and Nipple Shields
Sore skin needs time and space to heal, literally. When you have an exposed trauma to the skin, your clothing such as your bra might actually stick to your nipples. Over the course of the day can become quite stuck to your skin, and separating the two might cause more pain and reopen the wounds. Use of a nipple shell or nipple shield to create a bit of space between your clothing and skin as you heal.
Comfortable, Non-Restrictive Clothing
When you can afford to wear less restrictive clothing, doing so can help to promote the healing process and lessen the pain. Overly tight or restrictive clothing can be the cause of some breast pain.