A highly rewarding experience with many health benefits for your child, breastfeeding may also come with its own set of problems for mothers, including breast and nipple soreness.
Nipple pain is generally caused by nipple trauma such as cracks, abrasions, blanching, vasospasm (blood vessel constriction) and milk blisters. The baby's latch traumatizes the nipple, causing painful injury or a blockage of pores and preventing the flow of milk.
Breast pain problems include engorgement, plugged ducts, mastitis and thrush. Engorgement occurs when the breasts get very full and hard and sensitive. A plugged duct, in which the flow of breast milk gets blocked, may feel like a hard, tender area on one of your breasts. Plugged ducts are often a precursor to mastitis, which occurs when an infection leads to an inflammation of the breast. Mastitis can be very painful and is usually accompanied by a fever of 101.3 degrees F. According to Maureen Minchin in "Breastfeeding Matters," mastitis occurs in 1/5 of breastfeeding women in the West.
But, there are ways to relieve each of these problems, so that you can continue feeding and bonding with your baby.
One of the characteristics of all mammals is the mother's ability to produce milk to nourish her baby. This milk production takes place within the mammary glands. It is controlled by hormones within the mother's body and delivered to the baby through the mammary glands via the nipple.
Medela and Ameda both produce a variety of well-made, quality, functional breast pumps for different pumping situations. Choosing the right pump for your needs can improve your pumping output and make it easier to leave your baby the milk he needs when you cannot be with him. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each pump when you choose the one that is right for your needs.
If you're breastfeeding, it's important to know how long to nurse your child so as to get the optimal health benefit for your baby. Most current research on the health benefits of breastfeeding centers on the first six months to a year of life. After this point, the medical data on extended breastfeeding--breastfeeding beyond a year old--tapers off, and the decision to breastfeed becomes a personal one.