Properly caring for your breasts reduces discomfort and pain during breastfeeding. It also can prevent infection.
- Wash breasts with only water. Using soap can dry your nipples and cause them to crack.
- Use cloth breast pads instead of plastic pads.
- Leave your nipples exposed to the air to help prevent drying and cracking. This can also reduce the chance of breast infection.
Sore nipples are a common complaint of breastfeeding, especially the first couple of weeks.
Suggestions to reduce nipple soreness:
- Warm water dips, breastmilk, and medical-grade lanolin ointment (e.g. Lansinoh, etc.) are considered the best treatments for sore nipples. Lansinoh Nipple Cream is almost essential item for the breastfeeding mom; this can be a lifesaver as far as prevention of cracked, bleeding nipples (a situation which causes many moms to wean early). Just a small dab to dry nipples after each feeding will do the job. You will need to wear breast pads, otherwise you will stick to your bra, but nursing moms need those anyway. And it does not need to be washed off prior to the next feeding. Generally, you will receive a few samples from the lactation nurse at the hospital; if not be sure to ask before leaving the hospital.
- Breastfeeding from the uninjured (or least sore breast) side first. Your baby will tend to nurse more gently on the second breast.
- Try different breastfeeding positions to find one that is comfortable.
- Express a few drops of milk onto the nipples after feeding and let air dry. This was a trick I learned from a great friend and it does work effectively.
- When possible, don’t wear a bra or shirt, let air get to your nipples. I read this several places, but if you are anything like me I could not go without wearing a bra because I would be leaking everywhere; I had to use breastpads all the time. If using breastpads, change often. Some mothers use breast shells to protect the nipple from the dampness and friction of the bra. But a solution I found that helped reduce the pain is Lansinoh® Soothies® Gel Nursing Pads (Set of 2). They are absorbent and can be used for 72 hours.
Breastfeeding generally should not hurt after the first couple of weeks. If you experience intense pain, a burning sensation or constant soreness, talk to your healthcare provider.