What to do about sore nipples

Breastfeeding is all sorts of fabulous – challenging, rewarding, great for you and your baby. Oh and convenient, free… the list goes on. But the one thing it shouldn’t be is painful.


If your nipples are sore when you start breastfeeding, it might be that they’re just getting used to the hungry sucking of your baby. It’s a pretty strong sensation and one your body is designed for – but not that familiar with. Add to the mix that your nipples will be sensitive since pregnancy thanks to hormones, and you’ve got a recipe for a few eye-watering moments in the first week or so while your nipples toughen up. But not real pain…


If you’re feeling proper pain, it might be that your baby isn’t ‘latching on’ – or attaching to your breast with her mouth – properly. Talk to your midwife or health visitor, read up online and in book and magazines, and make sure your baby is doing a full, ‘open mouth’ latch and taking the whole nipple in her mouth, not just sucking the end (which is a definite ouch!). Also, try and let your baby ‘self attach’ if you can – they can often know what to do better than us. If you’re still worried, call a breastfeeding support group such as La Leche League.


While your nipples are still sore, try these top ten tips for easing the discomfort:


1. Don’t yank your baby off the breast, slide a finger between her mouth and you to ease her off gently and break the suction


2. Try different feeding positions – lying down is often the most comfortable


3. Offer the least sore side to your baby first


4.Feed your baby frequently for shorter periods – this is better than having fewer, longer feeds as your baby will be more chilled out when she’s less hungry and therefore be more gentle on your nipples


5. When you’ve finished feeding, smear some breastmilk around your nipples – it’s one of nature’s healing miracle workers (also good on scrapes, scratches and grazes!)


6. If disposable breastpads feel scratchy, pick the eco-friendly fabric kind which are a lot more gentle


7. Keep your breasts dry and let the air circulate – but only go topless if you don’t have neighbours!


8. Don’t freak out! Sometimes cracked sore nipples will bleed and it might look pretty scary, but your blood won’t harm your baby


9. Invest in a good nipple cream – try one that contains lanolin, a naturally safe ingredient taken from freshly shorn sheep’s wool


10. Don’t give up! At 2am, when you’re sitting there in the dark with bleeding nipples, it might seem like the end of the breastfeeding road – but many mamas have a tricky start and go on to love it. You can be one of them!



Did you have sore nipples when you were breastfeeding? What helped you?


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