Ouch, that bloody well hurts!
Sore, cracked nipples are one of the unexpected shocks of parenthood, but don’t let them put you off feeding completely.
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t prepare your nipples for breastfeeding by rubbing them with anything. But by taking the right precautions during feeding you can try to avoid sore, cracked nipples, which is one of the most common problems with breastfeeding, especially in the early days.Some of the causes of sore nipples are:
- incorrect latching
- the position of feeding
- taking the baby off the breast incorrectly
- a very strong sucking action by baby, especially in the beginning
- not allowing your breasts to dry out between feeds
- in some cases a thrush infection.
If these problems are not resolved early then your nipples may become cracked and bleed – which is exceptionally sore and makes breastfeeding very difficult.
- Always ensure your baby is correctly latched when feeding and not just pulling at the nipple. If you are unsure, show your clinic sister your feeding technique so she can advise you.
- Change the feeding position in the first few weeks every third or fourth feed – this will also help you work out which position works best for you and your baby.
- To take her off the breast properly without hurting your nipples, you need to break the suction by putting your finger in the corner of her mouth. Don’t just pull the nipple out.
- Try to feed frequently so she doesn’t suck too hard when put to your breast. When finished feeding, rub a little of the breast milk onto the nipple area and leave the area open for a few minutes to dry out.
- Breast pads or bras with plastic linings keep the moisture in, so try not to use them too often. Always change them when they are wet, and try and give your breasts some air.
- You don’t have to use creams on your breasts but if they are very tender choose one that does not need to be removed to feed – your clinic can recommend one.
- Should you have thrush, you will need to see your doctor.