It is common for mothers to have sore nipples while breastfeeding. Most women suffer from sore nipples during the first few weeks of breastfeeding while their milk supply is being established. With babies sucking on the tender nipples 24 hours a day, it’s not long before soreness and cracking appears.
Sore or cracked nipples can be relieved by practicing proper breastfeeding habits. It should not discourage mothers from breastfeeding their babies. Here are 10 ways how:
1. Proper latch. One of the main reasons for breast injury is improper positioning of the baby while breastfeeding. It can leave both the mother and the baby frustrated. Make sure the baby is latched on the entire nipple areola to prevent nipple soreness and ensure continuous milk flow. You may contact your local La Leche League if you need help in getting your baby to latch on properly.
2. Pull away gently. Be gentle when unlatching your baby from your breasts, like when the baby is not latched on properly or when he has fallen asleep at sucking. Instead of letting the mouth tug at your nipples, place your finger at the corner of your baby’s mouth and gently press on it to let some air in. Doing so will break the suction and make the baby open his mouth.
3. Air dry. Let your nipples aerate after each feeding. This will prevent sore or cracked nipples from trapping moisture which can irritate them and harbor fungus or bacteria. Stay away from tight clothing and don’t let your nursing pads get saturated with milk leaks.
4. Moisturize with milk. Before air-drying your nipples after feeding, it’s also good to spread some leftover breast milk over them to let the good stuff protect them. It’s easy for nipples to get dry and start cracking especially in dry climates. The hind milk contains Vitamin E that will help moisturize the nipples.
5. Use creams. Lanolin based creams like the ones from Lansinoh and Medela can be used to soothe sore, dry and tender nipples. Compared to oil based creams, lanolin creams are safe for the baby to ingest so it can be applied as often as needed. Some breast pads already contain lanolin like the ones from Evenflo.
6. Keep feeding. Continued breastfeeding will cause the nipples to naturally toughen up. It will be painful, but remember that it will not last long. That’s why mothers need not worry about sore and cracked nipples once they’ve eased into breastfeeding.
7. Use tea and herbs. The use of cool wet tea bags is known to soothe sore nipples. Similarly herbs like Marigold, Chamomile and Calendula (oil form) can also relieve sore nipples. Teas and herbs contain anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that help in the healing process.
8. Adjust and alternate. Try to vary you and your baby’s nursing position to prevent straining the same part of the nipple throughout the feeding. Also, avoid giving in to your child’s ‘favorite’ side of the breast. Alternate breasts between feedings to make sure both breasts receive less amount of stress.
9. Use a shield. The use of nipple shields or shells can be a life saver for those mothers with low pain tolerance. Shields protect the nipple from further friction and this is helpful if the breast is already injured. Nipple shields are made of silicone which is the same material as most bottle teats.
10. Relax before feeding. Don’t stress yourself out when it’s feeding time. Keep a positive attitude about breastfeeding and remember that sore or cracked nipples will only take a short time to heal. Relaxation improves the milk let-down. With it, your child won’t have to suck too hard to receive nourishment so your nipples are happy, too.
Be wary of signs of infection on your nipples because it may be passed on to your child. If the pain persists or the nipple starts to bleed, consult your practitioner so that she may recommend further treatment.
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