Nipple soreness while breastfeeding

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Nipple soreness is not a normal part of breastfeeding. If it lasts beyond the first few days of breastfeeding, do look into it.

When should you take help for nipple soreness?

  1. The pain is unbearable.
  2. The soreness continues beyond the first two weeks.
  3. The pain lasts throughout the feed or in-between feeds.
  4. You see blisters, cracks, or bleeding.
  5. Your nipple looks flattened, creased or pinched when your baby lets go of the latch.

How to prevent nipple soreness?

  1. Ensure deep latch.

A deep latch is one in which almost the entire areola is inside your baby’s mouth. Without a deep latch your baby will end up sucking on your nipple instead of suckling on your breast. And this will cause nipple soreness.

What to do –

  • Try different feeding positions until you get the right latch.
  • Change breastfeeding positions through the day so that the same area of your nipple does not take all the pressure.
  • Consult a lactation consultant.

2. Avoid breast engorgement.

Your breasts are likely to get engorged with milk in the first week after birth when the milk comes in for the first time. They may also get engorged if you breastfeed after long gaps.

When breasts are engorged it is difficult for your baby to latch on. This results in a shallow latch leading to nipple soreness.

What to do –

  • Feed your baby frequently in the first 4-5 days after birth.
  • Avoid long gaps between feeds.
  • Express some milk by hand to soften your breast so that your baby can easily latch.

3. Take care of your nipples.

Take care of the skin on and around your nipples to prevent dryness which may result in painful cracked nipples.

What to do –  

  • Do not use harsh soaps on your nipples.
  • After every feed – express a few drops of milk and apply it on your nipples.

4. Wear breast pads.

Leaking breast milk can result in moisture build up in your bra and clothes in which fungus (called thrush) can grow. This can lead to skin break down and sore nipples.

What to do –

5. Never pull your baby off your nipple.

A strong suction builds between your baby’s mouth and your nipple while feeding. And pulling may result in injury and soreness.

What to do –

  • Insert a clean finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth and break the suction.

6. Pump the right way.

Ensure that you have the right equipment and the right technique.

What to do –

  • Make sure the pump flange fits well.
  • Avoid high power suction setting.

7. Treat milk blisters / blebs.

Milk blisters / blebs are a result of skin growing over a milk duct. This can lead to plugged milk ducts and mastitis if left untreated.

What to do –

  • Apply warm compress.
  • Consult with your doctor.

What to do for sore nipples?

  1. Apply cool compresses to your breasts after breastfeeding.
  2. Use nipple shields under the supervision of a lactation consultant.

Get urgent help for nipple soreness, otherwise you are likely to feed less resulting in low supply and early weaning.

By

Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD

Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com

She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and expert on play and learning. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and she is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute. She is renowned for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.

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