Nipple pain or soreness during the first few days of breastfeeding is a common problem especially when your baby first latches on the breast. However, it should only last for about a minute and should improve later on. If you are suffering from severe, constant pain that does not go away, it is a sign of a problem and shouldn't be ignored.
Why sore nipples happen
There are a few reasons why you could develop sore nipples. One of them is when your baby begins to suck harder because he/she is not getting milk quickly as a result of:
- improper positioning
- latching problems
- poor let-down reflex
- inverted nipples.
Sore nipples may also occur when:
- your baby sucks your nipple for comfort without a proper latch after falling asleep at your breast.
- you pull your baby's mouth away from your breast without first breaking the suction.
- your baby has a short frenulum (frenulum connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth), also called "tongue-tie".
How to avoid sore nipples
Here is what you can do to avoid sore nipples:
- ensure your baby latches on correctly.
- start breastfeeding on the breast that is less sore for the first few minutes, then switch to another side.
- expressing some milk prior to feeding can help with the letdown reflex and softens your nipples to ease your baby to latch on gently.
- changing your baby's position each feeding time helps to change the pressure from your baby's mouth to a different part of the breast.
Treatment for sore nipples
- place a few drops of breast milk on your nipples and allow them to dry. Breast milk contains antibodies and natural softener that will help to fight infection, healing and keeping your nipples healthy.
- allow your nipples to air-dry after each feeding.
- apply a good amount of nipple balm or cream or any other specifically formulated ointments such as Lansinoh HPA® Lanolin Nipple Cream or Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter.
- apply cool compresses to your nipples after breastfeeding to help reduce pain.
- insert breast shields inside your bra to prevent friction between nipples and clothes.
- wear a comfortable nursing bra that will help support your breasts without irritating your nipples.
If your nipples continue to sore after trying these home treatments for a day or two, do consult your doctor or lactation consultant.