Painful nips aren’t what you want, but unfortunately it’s unavoidable for most of us when breastfeeding.
While breastfeeding is brilliant for your baby, it isn’t so great for your nipples. The excessive tugging and suckling may have caused them to be sore and cracked, and possibly even bleed.
But don’t stress too much. There are loads of relief methods you can try out to soothe and heal your nipples and also lots of ways to avoid them getting sore in the first place.
Get the position right
If your baby is positioned and latched properly, breastfeeding shouldn’t be all that painful.
‘Remember that your baby ‘breast’ feeds not ‘nipple’ feeds,’ explains breastfeeding expert Geraldine Miskin. ‘So, your baby needs to scoop up some breast as well as your nipple.’
‘When your baby gapes widely, bring him onto the breast quickly, applying pressure to his upper back, so that your nipple flicks to the back of his mouth and is out of harms’ way,’ Geraldine explains.
Relax your nipples
Simply apply a hot wet cloth can go a long way. ‘This will soften any dry skin and relax nipples before latching,’ says Geraldine.
Nipple creams are really popular and putting them in a fridge can make yours tonnes more effective.
‘A lanolin cream is great for broken skin,’ advises Geraldine. ‘But, if your nipples are just sore and not cracked, opt for a lanolin-free alternative such as hydrogel pads instead.’
There are some fab natural products you can apply to calm any pain.
‘Manuka honey is a great natural treatment,’ says Geraldine. ‘Opt for the highest level of manuka activity and your nipples will heal quickly. If you do use Manuka however, just remember to wash nipples well before latching baby onto the breast, as babies can’t tolerate honey at all.’
Organic olive oils are also widely recommended – just check that the ingredients are safe for both you and your baby and remove the oil before breastfeeding.
Skip the soap
It’s best not to use soap to wash your breasts as it removes the natural oils on your skin and dries out your nipples. ‘When you wash, just get your nipples wet – you don’t need to use soap,’ advises Claire. It’s a good idea to wash your hands before nursing, too, to make sure you don’t transfer any soap onto your nipples when you touch them.
Try air drying your nipples after each feeding. OK, not possible if you’re down the local coffee shop, but if you’re at home then definitely go topless for a while.
Apply your own milk
Some women have had success from applying their own milk to their nipples. It’s a great (free!) way to soothe any soreness as its anti-bacterial is a great healing agent.