Some mothers experience breast pain even after stopping nursing. As sudden weaning leads to problems such as plugged ducts, engorgement and mastitis then do gradual weaning. It is common to have breast pain after stopping breastfeeding.
Common reasons for breast pain
Some common reasons which make mothers give up breastfeeding are –
Sore or painful breasts
First-time moms find breastfeeding uncomfortable and as a result, suffer from cracked nipples and painful breasts. This pain makes breastfeeding stop.
Not enough milk
Some moms worry that the milk produced is not enough for the baby’s needs. So, babies are put on formula milk.
New moms wish to rejoin work immediately after childbirth and stop breastfeeding. Expressing milk at work or before leaving the house is not always possible.
Exclusive breast milk is the baby’s only source of nutrition for the first six months. When the babies reach this milestone, moms may feed solid foods.
What causes breast pain after nursing stops?
A breastfeeding mother’s body continues to formulate milk until a few weeks after stopping nursing. Breastfeeding mothers producing more milk or pumping often may keep on making milk even after weaning. This milk results in plugged ducts. Plugged ducts further cause a painful condition known as mastitis wherein the breasts become inflamed. Abrupt weaning can lead to breast engorgement and trigger pain.
Symptoms of pain during breastfeeding
The symptoms which are experienced along breast pain are –
- Pain in the areolas
- Recurring pain in either or both the breasts
- Acute pain in the initial days of weaning which slowly goes down with time
- Enlarged, lumpy or hard breasts
- Heaviness or tightness in the breasts
- Flu-like symptoms include shivers and chills, fatigue, high fever, anxiety, and a feeling of malaise
- Red nipples
- Milk leaking from the nipples due to friction
- If breast pain is due to mastitis, the affected breast may feel hot, swollen, and hard accompanied by a burning sensation
How long will it last?
Breast pain varies as it can last for several days or weeks. Many women experience severe pain during the initial days of weaning. Breast pain should reduce or disappear with time. However, if the pain in the breasts doesn’t decrease even after many days, seek help from a doctor.
Remedies for breast pain
A breastfeeding mother needs to know how to relieve breast pain after stopping breastfeeding and useful home remedies are –
Take a warm bath
Taking a warm shower or soaking in a tub of warm water can make the breast tissues supple, easing the flow of accumulated milk. Also, a hot compress can be used to get relief from pain.
Use a breast pump
Use breast pump if breasts feel too full.
Massage the breasts
If a breast pump can’t be used then lightly press the breasts to release the milk. Ask the doctor for the right method to use. This can give some respite from breast pain. Also, massage the breast gently while taking a warm shower.
Apply a cold pack
Applying ice packs to the breasts reduces the swelling and pain.
Increase the fluid intake
Drink water and increase the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration and fever.
Try over the counter medication
Go for painkillers such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce the pain and swelling in the breasts. However, contact the doctor before taking any medication.
Drink sage tea
Also, relief can be done by drinking sage tea twice a day.
Place cabbage leaves over the breasts
Placing fresh and cold cabbage leaves over the breasts is a useful remedy for breast pain. Make sure to replace the leaves when they wilt.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Eat a balanced diet and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Consume prenatal vitamins to help the body adjust to the new routine.
Get adequate sleep
The body heals itself while sleeping. So, don’t compromise on a good night’s sleep.
Connect with other moms
If you are experiencing problems and can’t share them with family members then try seeking the help of other moms who have experienced this phase.
Tips to stop breastfeeding without pain
The following tips will help stop breastfeeding without pain –
- Reduce or lessen the number of breastfeeding sessions per day slowly.
- Pump out the milk from the breasts until the discomfort reduces. Forcing out all the milk in one go may increase the rate of milk production instead of reducing it.
- Wearing a tight bra can plug the milk ducts and cause swollen breasts. Go for a nursing bra that provides adequate support and comfort.
- Also, milk production can be reduced by tablets. Consult the doctor regarding the medications.
Stopping breastfeeding is a psychological and physical challenge for the mother and the baby. Be patient while trying to wean the child as it takes time and considerable effort by both. The baby may have a lot of trouble adjusting to new foods and may still demand breast milk. Take it slow and give the body the time it needs to cope with the changes.
- warm breasts & tender nipples while breastfeeding (hellomotherhood.com)
- breast pain after stopping breastfeeding: causes & remedies (firstcry.com)