How to heal cracked nipples pain breastfeeding
Cracked nipples can be very sore and allow bacteria to penetrate the breast and possibly infect the milk ducts (see Mastitis). One way to avoid sore, cracked nipples is to make sure the suckling infant places most or all of the areola, along with the nipple, in his or her mouth.
Also prevent the infant from pulling on the nipple when he or she is removed from the breast. When you begin breast-feeding, your nipples may feel sore or tender. Cracked nipples a common problem in the early weeks and can happen even if your baby is positioned perfectly and you’re doing everything right. Some women are surprised at how vigorously their babies suck — and how uncomfortable it can be. It takes some time to get used to the sensation of baby feeding. However, the tenderness usually disappears after a few days. If you develop a sore nipple that becomes cracked, this can be very painful and can lead to breast infection (mastitis).
You may also be interested in: How to treat mastitis at home
If you find yourself dealing with cracked nipples (a common breast-feeding complaint during the early weeks), the following tips may be helpful.
- Find out what’s causing your sore nipples. For some possible causes (e.g., poor latch, breast infection, etc.).
- Expose your nipples to the air as much as possible (e.g., leave the flaps of your nursing bra undone or go braless and wear a loose-fitting shirt).
- Warm your nipples using a hair dryer that has been set to the lowest setting (only for a couple of minutes, and be careful not to burn your nipples!).
- Apply ultra-pure lanolin or ask your lactation consultant about hydrogel dressings (soothing pads that are worn in your bra to help promote healing).
- Wear breast shells (not breast shields) in an extra-large bra to prevent the friction of your clothing against your nipples from causing additional pain.
- Avoid breast pads and bras with plastic liners because they trap moisture; avoid washing your breasts with soap; stick to one breast per feeding. They can irritate your nipples. You might want to apply a drop of baby lotion to each breast pad.
- Get the milk flowing (hand-express or use a pump) before you put your baby to the breast in order to reduce the amount of wear and tear on your already sore nipples.
- Make sure your baby is latched on to your breast correctly, and take care when removing the baby from your breast. To help your baby get the nipple fully into his or her mouth, compress the areola by lifting the breast with your fingers and compressing the areola with your thumb, to help baby get the right grasp on the nipple.
- If a nipple becomes cracked, you may need to keep your baby off that breast for a few days and express milk with a pump to avoid engorgement.
- Do not use soap, witch hazel, alcohol, or tincture of benzoin on your nipples, as they will become dry and crack.
- Massage them with pure, medical-grade, anhydrous lanolin. It is safe to leave this type of lanolin on your nipples when your infant feeds.
- If one nipple is more sore than the other, start your baby on the less sore side so that he or she will be less hungry and less likely to suck hard on the second breast.
- Nurse more frequently but for shorter periods of time.
- Express a few drops of your milk and massage them into your nipples. Mother’s milk has healing properties.
- Change feeding positions each time you nurse.
Although some women use rubber nipple shields to prevent cracked nipples, Dr. Eiger (The Complete Book of Breastfeeding) discourages their use. He notes that rubber and plastic nipple shields do not promote milk production and they rarely relieve soreness. Instead, treat sore, cracked nipples using the natural remedies.
Follow these suggestions to treat sore or cracked nipples:
- HOMEOPATHY Remedies for sore , cracked nipples include castor equi, silicea, and graphites. Consult a homeopath for remedy selection and dosing.
- VITAMIN E Because vitamin E helps repair skin tissue, it is helpful for cracked nipples. Take 400 international units daily. You can also break open the capsules and squeeze the vitamin E oil directly on the nipples if they are cracked and dry.
We recommend reading the article: Breastfeeding pain relief
Optional Video : Breastfeeding: How to Treat Sore Nipples