Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally to all moms. Breastfeeding is a skill you need to learn, and it won’t always be easy. It may take you a while to get the hang of it, but once you know what you’re doing, breastfeeding will be second nature to both you and your baby.
Sore nipples are one of the most common complaints from new moms. Your nipples may be sore, cracked and bleeding. It’s not pleasant and it can leave you dreading the next feed, but don’t worry, you can get through this. This breastfeeding barrier can be overcome with a little bit of determination, some good information and help of breastfeeding support.
What causes cracked nipples
Just as you’ve been thrown in at the deep end with this whole parenting malarky, so too have your nipples. They weren’t gently eased into breastfeeding, instead they went from 0 to 60 without so much as a rest. Newborn babies have small tummies and breastfeed frequently to make sure they get enough food. This means your poor nipples are suddenly in constant use.
You and your baby are both new to this whole breastfeeding thing, and there is a learning curve involved in mastering the technique. There are a number of problems that can cause sore nipples including an improper latch, poor positioning and tongue tie.
Most women will experience tender nipples as they adjust to life as a breastfeeding mother. If your nipples are sore, cracked or bleeding, however, there’s probably a problem. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you need to stop breastfeeding, just that you might need a little support to get your breastfeeding journey off to a good start. Pop along to your local breastfeeding support group, make an appointment to see the lactation consultant at your local hospital, or call a breastfeeding support helpline for advice.
In the meantime, try the following tips to allow your nipples time to heal:
- breastfeed from the affected side last – babies often feed from both breasts during one feed, but are often gentler with the second breast. If one nipple is suffering, offer your first feed from the other breast.
- allow your baby to self-latch – instead of trying to latch your baby onto your breast, let him do some of the work. Recline in a comfortable position, and enjoy some skin-to-skin time with your baby on your tummy. Your baby may find his own way to the breast and even latch himself on.
- experiment with different breastfeeding positions – you may find breastfeeding more comfortable in certain positions so experiment with how you hold your baby during feeds to see if this helps.
- air your nipples – air plays an important role in helping your body to heal. Try to enjoy some bra-free time to expose your nipples to the air and encourage healing.
- hand express – if you are unable to breastfeed from one side temporarily because of the pain, gently hand express to relieve engorgement and prevent mastitis.
- apply breast milk or cream – there are creams you can buy to encourage healing, these can be applied between feeds. You could also try expressing a little bit of breast milk and applying that to your nipples to encourage healing.
Are you suffering from sore nipples, and if so, do you have any self-care tips to share with other moms?
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.