Breastfeeding — Preventing & Treating Sore Nipples

Preventing Sore Nipples While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is meant to be a comfortable, pleasant experience. Most of us have heard stories of sore nipples. You can avoid this problem most of the time. However, many new mothers still find their nipples are tender for the first few days when the baby starts nursing. This usually disappears by 1 – 2 weeks.

It is important to remember that blisters, cracking, bleeding and/or pain that continues during or in between feedings is not normal. Check with a lactation consultant, La Leche League, Nursing Mothers’ Council, or your health care provider if you have any of these problems when breastfeeding.

To prevent sore nipples, start by making sure baby is properly positioned while breastfeeding.

To prevent sore nipples, breastfeed frequently, every 1-1/2 to 3 hours (eight to 12 feeding per 24 hours). Keeping your newborn baby on an artificially longer schedule may make him frantically hungry and increase the likelihood that too vigorous nursing will make your nipples tender.

Release the suction before you remove your baby from the breast. Do this by placing a clean finger in the side of your baby’s mouth between his jaws. Don’t take him away until you feel the suction break.

After nursing your baby, express a little milk and massage it into your nipples and areola, then air dry. Leave them open to the air as much as possible.

Never use soap, alcohol or breast creams on your breasts or nipples. Water is all that is needed to clean your breasts when you shower or bathe.

Treating Sore Nipples When Breastfeeding

If your nipples do get sore while breastfeeding, there are several steps you can take to ease the discomfort:

  • Use deep breathing, soft music, or other relaxation techniques before and during breastfeeding.
  • Limit the nursing time on the sore nipple.
  • Nurse on the least sore side first.
  • Express a little milk first to stimulate let down.
  • Massage your breasts while nursing. This helps stimulate the milk to flow. Use non-plastic lined bras and/or bra pads.
  • Change the pads frequently to keep the nipple dry.
  • If your nipples become dry or cracked, use a little USP Modified Lanolin on them. This forms a moisture barrier so nipples stay dry.
  • If your breasts become engorged, try expressing a little milk first. Engorged breasts make it difficult for your baby to latch-on. Expressing a little milk by hand or pump helps make the areola softer, nipple more erect and latch-on easier.
  • Wear multiple-holed breast shells between nursings for sore nipples. This allows air to circulate and protects nipples from further rubbing by your bra.

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