Nipple Soreness

Nipple soreness for me was the worst thing about breastfeeding.  I tried to learn as much about breastfeeding as possible before my baby was born but ultimately you can't learn concepts properly without actually parcticing them for real!

I felt nervous every time I fed for the first month with my first baby because I knew it would be painful.  I was lucky and my husband was really supportive so that really helped me, but the best thing was figuring out what was causing the problem was the most useful because I could then go about fixing it!!

In general you want to figure out if you have an infection, a bad latch, really sensitive nipples or just some previous damage that is still healing.

Even with my second baby I still ended up with the same problem of blisters and grazing on my nipples.  I was a bit upset because I'd already tried the things I knew should help.

What I realised after seeing my lactation consultant is that I wasn't quite doing them well enough for a newborn.  By 1 month old my first son was getting better at feeding on his own anyway so he was helping the problem as well, but with a newborn you have to do most of it.

My most critical piece of advice is - if anything you're trying doesn't make you feel different immediately (even if it just feels different in the way you hold and it takes a few feeds to feel less painful) then find something else to try.  This might mean getting a different lactation consultant out.

My first lactation consultant said really similar stuff to my second one, but the second one conveyed it better so I was able to change what i was doing.  A second opinion is really useful.

Blisters and grazing are caused by poor attachment of the baby during feeding. Usually the baby is causing the nipple to rub against the roof of their mouth

It is very common to get nipple soreness from scabs and blisters from poor attachment in the early stages. Learning how to position your baby at your breast is a challenge that will be different for every mother and baby.

Basically the baby's tongue should move in a wave like motion against the areola not the nipple. When they do this they actually get more milk with less effort. The squeezing nipple demonstrating difference between poor latch video demonstrates this well.

Some really useful tips for getting good attachment are:

  • Wait for baby to open their mouth really wide before attaching them
  • Make sure the baby's head is free to tilt backwards a little so they can open their jaw wider (try opening your mouth wide while looking down, it's much easier if your head is tilted back)
  • Everyone's nipples and breasts are different, and most are different from side to side. Take note of the direction your nipple naturally point. If one points further out than the other you will need to position your baby further across on that side and vice versa

This last point is particularly important. Most new mothers position their baby too far across so that their nipple is in line with the baby's mouth. Try moving them more to your centre so that your nipple is in line with their upper lip. This is really important because it will encourage your baby to tilt their head back further and they will naturally open their mouth wider because of this. 

Check out my positioning video to see what I mean

Viewing the other latching on videos can be very useful, but if they don't help you resolve this problem, you should definitely be seen by a lactation consultant who should be able to help you sort out the attachment. 

Some Other Useful Things to Try

If you think your nipple soreness is because of damage to your nipple it's usually because of a poor latch from your baby.  That might be because you've got them poorly positioned or you need to use a different breastfeeding position for each nipple or because your baby has a tongue tie or an upper lip tie, or their palate is really high and they use their tongue in a way that rubs your nipple on the roof of their mouth (see a lactation consultant if you think this is the problem because they can give you exercises to help you train your baby to use their tongue properly.

You can also do some baby led attachment to prime your baby's reflexes to stick out their tongue and open their mouth wide.

Click here to find out if your baby's breastfeeding reflexes are primed?

If you think it's because of an infection (which are usually thrush or a staphylococcus infection - your nipple will be bright pink and feel like it's being cut whilst feeding, maybe a little itchy between feeds for thrush.  For a staph infection it may look a bit damaged and have some pus or other funny colour about it - see your GP for these and get the appropriate medication, or at least the appropriate diagnosis as gentian violet can be great for thrush)

Click here to skip to natural breast thrush remedies

If these solutions however don't help the immediate problem of the pain, to help you in the short term click here for some other natural remedies for sore nipples. 

Back to Breastfeeding Babies Home Page from
Natural Remedies for Nipple Soreness


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