Sore nipples. This is one of the biggest difficulties for breastfeeding parents in the first few days and weeks. Most expecting moms who plan to breastfeed have heard that sore nipples are a possibility when learning to breastfeed, but many are not prepared for the reality of it.
So if you are currently struggling with sore nipples or you want to be prepared when that time comes, here are some of our best tips for what to do about sore nipples.
After each feeding, instead of packing everything away, leave your breasts exposed so that your nipples can air out. Many moms find it soothing to express a little colustrum or breastmilk onto the sore areas and allow them to air dry.
If you are breastfeeding, spending a lot more time topless will just be part of your new normal.
Nipple Balm or Cream
If breastmilk is just not cutting it, you may need something a little more soothing to help with sore nipples. The options today are plenty. Some clients prefer to keep things simple with just a little bit of coconut oil. Others prefer a specially made nipple cream, such as Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure to check the directions to learn whether your nipples should be rinsed off prior to feedings.
If you have more extensive damage than just soreness, such as chapped or cracked nipples, you may need something stronger than an over the counter product. Some lactation consultants can prescribe prescription strength nipple cream that will encourage faster healing. Fast healing is the key here, because open wounds on your nipples that go untreated can lead to infections such as mastitis or thrush.
So don't just try to power through. Take care of yourself.
Work on That Latch
While it's true that nipple soreness is common in the early days of breastfeeding, it doesn't have to be. Often times the number one culprit of sore nipples is a shallow latch at the breast. When baby does not take enough of the nipple and areola far enough back into his mouth, the tip of the nipple tends to get smashed against the hard part of the roof of baby's mouth. This of course leads to sore nipples for mom.
So work on that latch. One of the best tips we tell our breastfeeding clients is to bring baby's nose to your nipple. It might make sense to bring baby's mouth to your nipple - that's what she eats with, right? But if your baby doesn't have to open her mouth very wide, then she will only take in the nipple and not much else. By bringing her nose to your nipple, baby will have to tilt her head back slightly and open wide to reach her mouth up to the nipple resting on her nose. When you see that wide open mouth, that's the best time to pop baby on.
And be patient. A good, deep latch can take practice. So if you don't get it right away, that's okay. But don't be afraid to break the seal and start over. You don't want to let baby continue nursing with a shallow latch, as this will only lead to more nipple soreness and damage.
Talk to Your LC
If things just aren't getting better, don't hesitate to call a lactation consultant. Maybe you just need a little more help with the latch. Or maybe something else is going on. A latch that looks nice and deep to observers, but is still very painful for the nursing parent can be a sign of tongue tie or lip tie. This is something that you will need a professional to help you diagnose and navigate. So seek help.
How to help with sore nipples is one of the most common questions we get from clients. So know that you are not alone if you are dealing with this. Hopefully these tips will help you heal those sore nipples and start down the path to a more enjoyable breastfeeding relationship.