Many moms report that breastfeeding can be tender at first until both they and their baby find comfortable breastfeeding positions and a good latch. Once you have done this, breastfeeding should be comfortable. But it is possible to still have pain from an existing abrasion. Make sure to treat the wound so that it doesn’t get worse. Other problems can cause pain, including engorgement, infections, and Raynaud’s. Raynaud’s (Ray-NIHDS) phenomenon is a rare disorder of the blood vessels that can affect the nipples, causing painful breastfeeding in some women. You may also have pain if your baby is sucking on only the nipple. Gently break your baby’s suction to your breast by placing a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth and try again. Your nipple also should not look flat or compressed when it comes out of your baby’s mouth. It should look round and long, or the same shape as it was before the feeding. If your baby is latched on correctly and sucking effectively, he or she should be able to nurse as long as he or she likes without causing any pain.
- Don’t delay feedings, and try to relax so your let-down reflex comes easily. You also can hand-express a little milk before beginning the feeding so your baby doesn’t clamp down harder, waiting for the milk to come.
- If your nipples are very sore, it can help to change positions each time you breastfeed. This puts the pressure on a different part of the nipple.
- After breastfeeding, you can also express a few drops of milk and gently rub it on your nipples. Human milk has natural healing properties and emollients to soothe them. Also try letting your nipples air-dry after feeding, or wear a soft-cotton shirt.
- Wearing a nipple shield during breastfeeding will not relieve sore nipples. They actually can prolong soreness by making it hard for the baby to learn to feed without the shield.
- Avoid wearing bras or clothes that are too tight and put pressure on your nipples.
- Change nursing pads often to avoid trapping in moisture.
- Avoid using soap or ointments that contain astringents or other chemicals on your nipples. Make sure to avoid products that must be removed before breastfeeding. Washing with clean water is all that is necessary to keep your nipples and breasts clean.
- Try rubbing ultra-purified, medical-grade lanolin on your nipples after breastfeeding to soothe the pain.
- Make sure you get enough rest, eat healthy foods, and get enough fluids to help the healing process. If you have very sore nipples, you can ask your doctor about using non-aspirin pain relievers.
- If your sore nipples last or you suddenly get sore nipples after several weeks of unpainful breastfeeding, you could have a fungal infection that can form on your nipples from the milk. Make sure to see a lactation consultant and/or your doctor.
Ask for help if you have nipple pain during or after breastfeeding or if you still need help with getting your baby to latch on well. Sore nipples may sometimes lead to a breast infection, so it’s important to get help.