Breastfeeding is one of nature’s wonders. You can feed your little miracle with your own body. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of things to consider. Your nipples for example. Ask any woman that has breastfed, and they will tell you your nipples have to work hard while breastfeeding! A not so pleasant result can be that you get sore, red, inflamed nipples. Want to be prepared for this or just know all the ins and outs of sore nipples? You have come to the right place.
What causes this?
There is more than one reason why your nipples can get sore from breastfeeding. Some of them are very simple and can be fixed easily, other causes are more complicated. A very common cause is when your baby is not latching well. A good latch, a good position when latching is essential for smooth breastfeeding. When your baby’s latch is for example too shallow, your nipples will pay the price and get irritated. A related cause is sore nipples simply from chafing. Your nipples haven’t been exposed to this before and have to get used to it. Another practical issue can be when you use a breast pump but have a breast shield that isn’t the correct size for you. It’s important to pay attention to the size, so your nipples don’t rub against the inside of the breast shield or get pulled in too far. That’s why different sizes are available, as you can see here for example.
Then there are also some more medical causes. Sometimes sore nipples are caused by a medical problem of your baby, like for example when your baby suffers from tongue tie or thrush. And last but not least, you can suffer from mastitis, which is an inflammation of breast tissue, or a yeast infection or milk blisters. Those don’t sound like much fun, but there is always a solution!
How can I prevent this?
Prevention is better than cure, as we all know, so try these tips and tricks and keep your nipples in optimal condition. A good latch is key, so try to find what works best for you and your baby. You can adjust the way you hold your baby and try out some different positions. A lactation expert can help if you need some more assistance. Keeping your nipples dry is also an important aspect of keeping them healthy. You can do so by drying the nipples between feeding and using breast pads If you have regular leaks (don’t forget to change the pads frequently!). Your bra also has a role to play, so make sure it’s supportive and breathable.
Like we said before, the wrong size breast shield of your breast pump can create a lot of irritation, so prevent this by choosing the right size. Remember that the size can also change over time and that the right programme of an electric breast pump also matters. Do you want to be able to adapt your electric breast pump entirely to your needs? Take a look at our high-quality electric breast pump.
We can’t say this enough, but moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! The safest way to do this is with an excellent nipple cream. Good nipple cream uses the highly moisturizing lanolin and forms a protective film on your nipples. To be sure you only use natural products on your body, check out this nipple lanolin with natural ingredients.
One more thing we should mention: if your baby is teething, your nipples will probably suffer. Teething toys can be your rescue, they can gnaw as much as they want on these.
How can I cure them?
Of course, there are plenty of solutions to make your cracked or irritated nipples feel better. Some things might work better for some people than for others, so feel free to try whatever suits you best. We’ll sum up a few methods to try out:
- Lean over a sink and use a warm, wet towel compress on one breast at a time.
- When your breasts are engorged, use a breast pump to express a little bit of milk (you can store it if you want).
- Gently massage breasts while you’re in the shower and let milk drip out.
- Apply cool compresses or hydrogel pads.
- Fresh breast milk can help heal damaged nipples, so try massaging a few drops into them before and after feeds.
- Only use water in the shower, no soaps or shower gels.
Another adjustment you can make to your breastfeeding routine, is to try feeding your baby before he is really hungry, so he’ll drink less greedy and spare your nipples a little more. If you use nipple shields to protect them while breastfeeding, remember that they are only temporary solutions. And we’ve said it before when talking about prevention, but moisturizing will save you! Applying nipple cream with lanolin on your cracked nipples will definitely soothe the pain and help the recovering process.
Nothing seems to work? Go see a doctor or lactation professional and consider temporarily switching to pumped milk. We know you got this, brand new mom!