Sore nipples can be very painful and are obviously best avoided. You don’t need to experience sore nipple
symptoms when nursing your newborn. Looking after your breasts and nipples while
breast feeding is essential in new motherhood and later on if you practice extended breast feeding. We’ll look at why people get this breastfeeding problem and how to look after your nipples as well as what to do to prevent this happening to you.
• Poor positioning or not latching on properly.
• Thrush or other infection.
• Baby's lips not curled out (flanged out) but sucked in instead.
• Baby sucks on just the end of nipple, rather than breast.
• Mom pushing on breast with finger to create an air space for baby; this can move the nipple out of proper position in the baby's mouth and makes it easy to cause sore nipples.
• Nipple left wet or damp for long periods of time.
• Baby removed from the breast without breaking the suction first.
• Baby tugging, twisting or pulling at breast.
• Baby "playing" with nipple.
• Baby has a short frenulum or tongue-tie; your midwife or doctor should be able to see this easily. Known as ‘tongue-tie’ and easily treated within hours or days of birth.
The best way to prevent your nipples getting sore or painful is to make sure your baby latches on well at every feed. A well-attached baby will not cause you pain during nursing. Having said this, some women do have more sensitive breasts than others and some mamas take a while to get used to the sensations of a baby suckling at the breast.
Follow our Top Breastfeeding tips below to prevent soreness and look after your nipples.
Top Breastfeeding Tips To Look After Your Nipples:
• Don’t use soap or shower gels on the skin of your nipple, water is fine.
• Only wash your nipples once a day. More often can cause skin damage.
• Make sure you gently pat your nipples dry after a shower or bath.
• Allow your nipples to ‘air dry’ sometimes (have bare breasts to allow air to circulate for short periods each day). At least 30 – 50 minutes each day.
• When it‘s not possible to expose nipples to air, plastic dome-shaped breast shells (not shields) can be worn inside your bra to protect your nipples from rubbing on clothing.
• Use soft washable breast pads instead of disposable ones. Nursing pads keep moisture against the nipple and may cause damage that way. They also tend to stick to damaged nipples. I recommend pads made of silk, cotton or wool as the natural fabric allows your skin to breathe.
• With one finger gently rub a few drops of breast-milk or colostrum into each nipple after nursing – this is a natural moisturizer.
• Avoid using any prescription or over-the-counter sprays, creams or lotions on nipples; these can cause skin damage.
• Don’t worry if you need to latch baby on a few times before allowing him to feed. A bad latch will lead to pain over a prolonged period of time for sure!
The best thing to do if you have sore nipples is to check that your baby is well attached or latched on correctly. If you feel unsure about this, contact a trained Lactation Consultant or midwife to get individualized advise.
When searching on the Internet you’ll find various recommendations for treating sore nipples. Many of them are highly questionable and should be avoided.
Some methods I have found helpful include:
* Using your own breast milk to gently rub into the skin. It has fats to moisturize and loads of antibodies to fight infection.
* Making a very dilute mixture of Tea Tree oil and cooled boiled water – 1 drop of tea tree to 200mls of water. Use cottonwool or soft cotton cloth to dab mixture onto skin a few times a day. Tea tree oil had great fungicidal properties.
* Use a drop of pure tea tree oil mixed with coconut oil or olive oil and apply to the nipples after each breastfeed. Gently rinse nipples in warm water and pat dry before feeding when using tea tree oil applications. Although it‘s not dangerous in such small quantities, it has a very strong smell and taste.
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To Latching On page
To Laid-Back Breastfeeding video
To Sore Nipple Symptoms page