Although breastfeeding is good for you and your baby, it can cause problems for your nipples! Our Sore Nipples care Tips for nursing mothers will help you manage sore nipples.
The triple mother Sioned, has been looking after families with babies and toddlers for over 30 years. It supports mothers in breastfeeding and pumping out inside and outside the hospital, also works for parenting magazines and at conferences, and organizes workshops for medical professionals.
“Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.” New mothers often hear this mantra. But many find that the reality is often different in the first few days.
Already during pregnancy, the nipples in most women become bigger and more sensitive. Then when your newborn starts to drink on your breast, it creates pressure and suction that your breasts had never experienced before (at least if you were a mother for the first time).
Breastfeeding can also take a long time – sometimes up to an hour – and your baby may want to breastfeed up to 13 times a day.
Unaccustomed sucking in combination with pressure and saliva can cause sore nipples.
Similar to your lips, which can become sore and cracked from the wind or the sun. The more you lick them, the drier and cracked they become – so you put them on to soothe and protect the irritated skin and help it heal. The same goes for your nipples.
However, sore nipples are usually not a long-term phenomenon because you and your baby will get used to breastfeeding after a few weeks. However, it is important to treat the symptoms quickly to prevent further damage. If your nipples start to crack, bleed, or hurt unbearably, contact a doctor, midwife, or breastfeeding consultant as soon as possible.
Prevention is, of course, the best, so here are our quick tips for emergencies.
Check that your baby is correctly capturing the nipple
The key to painless breastfeeding is putting it on properly. Aim with the nipple towards the upper palate. This should help him to grasp the nipple and part of the areola (the round, darker area of skin around your nipple). If it covers both the nipple and some breast tissue with your mouth, your baby will find it easier to breastfeed.
After the first few days, ask your doctor, midwife, or breastfeeding consultant to check that your baby has a good breast coverage. They can give you advice on how to overcome potential problems and may suggest alternative breastfeeding positions to make breastfeeding as painless as possible.
Make sure that your baby’s tongue is too short
Tongue adhesions (ankyloglossia) affect four to eleven percent of all newborns.
This means that the tongue strap with which the tongue is fastened at the bottom of the mouth. Also called the frenulum linguae, is too short. A baby with a tongue band that is too short may not be able to open his mouth wide enough to put your breast in his mouth when breastfeeding, and his tongue may not cover his lower gums when sucking. This leads to sore nipples for you and frustration for your baby.
To determine if your tongue is too short, your baby must be examined by a medical professional, a breastfeeding consultant, or a midwife. The so-called frenotomy can, if necessary, be repaired with a simple procedure. The procedure is carried out by a medical professional, usually does not require anesthesia, and can resolve breastfeeding problems immediately.
A similar, somewhat less common problem is when the lip ribbon that connects the upper lip to the upper gum is too short. A tongue or lip band that is too short is not necessarily recognized during the preventive examinations after birth. So if you think that such an adhesion could be the reason for your nipple pain, get help quickly.
Sore Nipples care Tips for nursing mothers during breastfeeding
- Only wash your breasts with water when showering or bathing. The small Hubbel (Montgomery glands) on your areola produces oil that moisturizes and protects your nipples. Soaps and shower gels can remove this natural oil, causing dryness and irritation.
- Let your nipples air dry or gently pat them dry with a towel. In the past, women were advised to rub their nipples vigorously to harden them, but this is no longer recommended – luckily!
- It is not necessary to wash the breast or nipples before breastfeeding. The bacteria from your chest can even help the microbiome in your baby’s gut to develop.
- Fresh breast milk can be used to cure sore nipples contribute, so try before and after nursing to massage a few drops.
- Breast pads should be changed frequently when they become moist to reduce the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, including thrush.
- Avoid increasing the distance between breastfeeding meals to “protect” your nipples. Your baby should be breastfed as needed to stay healthy and grow well. Remember that frequent breastfeeding promotes and maintains your milk production – so stick to it despite sore nipples!
Useful products for Sore Nipples care Tips for nursing mothers
- Nipple cream made from ultra-pure lanolin – a natural product made from sheep’s wool. It moisturizes and promotes healing. Since the cream is harmless to your baby, you don’t have to wash it off before breastfeeding.
- Hydrogel pads provide immediate pain relief when placed on sore nipples. They also create ideal healing conditions. You can even keep them in the fridge for a pleasant cooling effect.
- The nipple protection fits in your bra. It prevents clothing from rubbing on sore nipples and continues to let air through your holes to help your nipples heal better.
- Nursing bras, either made from a breathable material such as cotton or from a quick-drying fabric that wicks away excess moisture from sore nipples.
- Nipple shields are small silicone protectors that can be put on your nipples. They have small holes at the top so that breast milk can flow through when breastfeeding. They protect the skin underneath and offer a firmer attachment point to babies who have difficulty grasping the breast. In general, nursing hats should only be used temporarily. If you experience difficulties or pain, contact your doctor, midwife, or breastfeeding consultant.
When to get medical help
Once your nipples and baby get used to breastfeeding, you should really be free from pain. At this point, it should be pointed out again that sore nipples are mainly caused by the incorrect application. If a breastfeeding counselor has not been able to solve your nipple problems, find another one and, if necessary, another one.
If you still have nipple pain or are experiencing unusual symptoms, contact a doctor, midwife, or breastfeeding consultant. White spots or flaky skin on your nipples may indicate thrush, whitish or bluish nipples may be caused by a blood circulation disorder like Raynaud’s syndrome (vasospasm), and pus or hot redness indicate an infection.
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