Breastfeeding: Painful let-down of breastmilk

I am currently breastfeeding my second child, who is three months old. I am having painful let down and tender breasts. This is something I experienced in the beginning with my older son and it went away. My breast are not swollen and I see no signs of thrush.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Some mothers experience a strong let down, or milk ejection reflex (MER). This usually occurs early in the breastfeeding relationship. Since most mothers experience several MERs throughout a feed, this can cause nursing to become quite uncomfortable for them.

A strong MER can be the result of a very abundant milk supply. If an overabundant supply is causing other breastfeeding problems, such as your baby's refusal of breast, or gulping and choking during a feed, it may be very helpful to work on reducing your supply so it is more in sync with your baby's needs. Nursing at one breast per feed, and only expressing enough milk from the other side for comfort may be of help.

Nurse frequently. When the breasts become overly full, a mother may experience more painful MERs.

Warm, moist compresses may help to ease the pain. Apply just prior to and during a feed. Ibuprofen can also be taken for pain relief about 20 to 30 minutes prior to a feed. Check with your Health Care Provider.

Ductal thrush can be one of the other causes of deep breast pain. It is really impossible to rule out thrush on your own. If the measures I have mentioned do not provide you with any relief, it is wise to consult with an IBCLC in your area. It is important to get to the cause of your breast pain, and correct the problem. Breastfeeding should be comfortable. Best wishes!

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