Memorial Hermann - A New Beginning


When one of your milk ducts is blocked, it can become tender and inflamed. This is called mastitis . It can cause fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms and there’s a risk of infection. If you have these symptoms—along with swelling, pain, redness, and a hard red lump—call your health care provider. Mastitis needs immediate medical attention.


When should I be concerned about sore nipples?

Get help if you experience any of these symptoms:

Some people experience nipple tenderness in the early days of breastfeeding. A little tenderness is not cause for alarm. This usually peaks around days 3-4, is better by day 7, and is gone within 2 weeks. With this pain, there’s no skin damage—no cracks, blisters, or bleeding. It feels more like chapping. Your nipple should look the same before and immediately after feeding—not flattened, creased, or pinched. Some people experience latch-on pain that lasts about 30 seconds into the feeding. It’s often described as mild pain or discomfort. But because pain is subjective, everyone experiences it differently, some feel more severe pain. The pain should not continue through the entire feeding, and there shouldn’t be pain between feedings.

If you notice cracking, bleeding, or any other nipple damage, this is not “normal.” Do not let someone tell you everything looks fine. There’s likely an underlying cause. This means that something is causing the damage—like an anatomical issue or infection.

• Intense, excruciating pain • Pain that continues through the entire feeding • Pain between feedings • Pain that continues past the first couple of weeks • Skin damage, like cracks, blisters, or bleeding If you’re struggling, please don’t simply assume “this must be what breastfeeding is like.” And don’t be too hard on yourself. Ask for help! Your pain can have a number of causes and you want to get to the bottom of it. Call your lactation consultant or health care provider. Don’t let the problem get worse.


Alcohol: • Passes through your breast milk to your baby • May decrease the length of time your baby nurses • May change the taste of your breast milk • Peaks in breast milk 30-60 minutes after you consume it • Can be detected for 2-3 hours per drink after you consume them

Most sources advise limiting alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day. You should wait a minimum of 2 hours after drinking before breastfeeding your baby.


Dangers of smoking and vaping: • Causes nicotine to pass into your breast milk • Decreases your milk supply • Increases your baby’s risk of SIDS • Takes 95 minutes for half of the nicotine to be eliminated from your body

When you’re breastfeeding and you inhale chemicals, so does your baby. Plus, it can make breastfeeding more challenging. So smoking or vaping is never a good idea for a breastfeeding parent.


Almost all medications will pass into your milk in a small amount. Very few medications need to be avoided. However, antihistamines, some decongestants, and hormonal birth control can have an effect on your milk supply. Always check with your provider or lactation consultant before taking any medications. This includes over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.



Your Guide to Postpartum and Newborn Care

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