Many mothers report nipples to be sore and tender at first. Don’t panic if this happens to you, it is quite a common challenge that mums face, with 80-95% of mums experiencing some degree of nipple soreness. It’s often associated with poor positioning and attachment, whereby the baby doesn’t latch correctly at the breast. This is key in establishing breastfeeding - if you are struggling, it’s always recommended to seek out the support of your midwife or health visitor. Or visit here to see the different breastfeeding positions to use.
In the meantime, Lansinoh HPA® Lanolin can help soothe and protect sore and cracked nipples. HPA® Lanolin is naturally hypoallergenic and approved by the British Allergy Foundation meaning you can breastfeed your little one without removing the cream. A massive advantage is also that it doesn’t need to be removed before breastfeeding, unlike other nipple creams which you need to wash off prior to feeding.
Sore Nipple Causes
Here are a few common sore nipple causes:
It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier and a little tender when they begin to make more milk. Occasionally this fullness can lead to engorgement, when the breasts feel very hard and painful. If engorgement occurs, breastfeed often on the affected side to prevent the breast becoming overly full, if the breast is very full or the nipple flattened, hand express or pump a little milk before a feed to soften the breast and nipple. Use cold compresses such as the 3-in-1 TheraPearl Breast Therapy between feeds to ease pain, also ensure you get plenty of rest and fluids and wear a well fitting, supportive bra.
Some women will also experience blocked ducts, which can occur if the breast isn’t completely drained of milk on a regular basis, a blocked duct will feel like a small hard lump that is sore to touch. If this occurs it is important to breastfeed often on the affected side as this helps to loosen the blockage and keeps milk moving. Use a hot compress such as TheraPearl – which is very easy to warm, needing just to be popped in the microwave for a few seconds and then applied to the area. Again, wear a well-fitting, supportive bra, preferably without an underwire, that is not too tight as this can further constrict the milk ducts.
Another challenge some mothers may experience is mastitis; most cases of mastitis are caused by milk not being properly removed from the breast and generally leads on from unresolved blocked ducts. Symptoms include a red, swollen area on the breast, which is hot and painful to touch, some mothers will also experience flu like symptoms. As with other challenges it is important to breastfeed often on the affected side, pump if necessary and ensure the breast is fully drained at each feed. Apply a warm compress such as the 3-in-1 Therapearl Breast Therapy and get plenty of rest.
Latch on issues
As you and your baby get used to breastfeeding, poor latching can also cause sore nipples. Getting the right latch will take time and practice. If you experience flat nipples and your baby has difficulty latching on, you need to gently draw out your nipple and you can use the Lansinoh Latch Assist to help you with this.
Tongue-ties can be treated, and it is advisable to consult a health professional.
Removing your baby from your breast without breaking the suction may increase the likelihood of getting sore nipples. If you need to take your baby off the breast, break the suction first by putting your finger between their gums.
You may find it useful to watch our breastfeeding video, which includes hints and tips on latching on and how to successfully breastfeed your baby – a good technique can help to avoid the pain of sore nipples and make you more comfortable and relaxed.
If you notice an inflammation of the breast then you may well have a plugged milk duct – read our guide to mastitis to find out more.
Each time you breastfeed, your nipples get wet. This can lead to a yeast infection known as thrush. Nipples with thrush can hurt a lot due to soreness. To prevent this, make sure to always keep your nipples dry and clean by regularly changing your nursing pads.
Using the wrong size breast pump shield
Using a small breast pump shield will rub the shield against your nipples causing them to be irritated and sore. This can also affect the amount of milk you express. To avoid sore nipples, make sure to get the right size shields.
Your baby is teething
You may not realise when your baby starts teething. If none of the above causes apply to you. Look out for signs such as gumming on your nipples as this may indicate that they have started to teeth. You can easily avoid this by getting a giving them a teething ring.
Tips to help sore nipples heal:
- Check positioning and attachment. Your baby should take a big mouthful of breast, with their tongue under your nipple.
- Feeding frequently can help. A new baby needs to feed 8-12 times in a 24-hour period.
- Feed on the least sore side first, then when the milk is flowing, switch breasts.
- Avoid wearing nipple shields.
- Change breast pads frequently and avoid pads with plastic backing, which keeps nipples wet.
- Wear cotton bra for air circulation.
- Keep your nipples moisturised to avoid having cracked nipples. Creams that need to be removed before breastfeeding should be avoided as extra rubbing may irritate nipple soreness. Use the HPA Lanolin
- Use the right sized breastmilk pumping tools.
- Offer teething toys to your baby, so they don’t gum on your nipples.
Breastfeeding can be extremely hard and tiring. So, if you are still struggling, do get help from a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant.
- National Childbirth Trust (NCT) Breastfeeding Line: 0870 444 8708
- La Leche League: 0845 120 2918
- Association of Breastfeeding Mothers: 08444 122 949