Poor latch-on and positioning are the major causes of sore nipples because the baby is probably not getting enough of the areola into his or her mouth, and is sucking mostly on the nipple. If you have sore nipples you are more likely to postpone feedings because of the pain, but this can lead to your breasts becoming overly full or engorged, which can then lead to plugged milk ducts in the breast. If your baby is latched on correctly and sucking effectively, he/she should be able to nurse as long as he/she likes without causing any pain.
REMEMBER: IF IT HURTS, TAKE THE BABY OFF OF YOUR BREAST AND TRY AGAIN.
- Check the positioning of your baby’s body and the way she latches on and sucks. You should find that it feels better right away once the baby is positioned correctly.
- Don’t delay feedings, and try to relax so your let-down reflex comes easily. You also can hand press 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 nurse. This puts the pressure on a different part of the nipple.
- After nursing, 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 nursing will not relieve sore nipples. They actually can prolong soreness by making it hard for the baby to learn to nurse without the shield. [ Also read: Breastfeeding Clothing and Pumping Accessories ]
- 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 nursing. Washing with clean water is all that is necessary to keep your nipples and breasts clean.
- Making sure you get enough rest, eating healthy foods, and getting enough fluids also can help the healing process. If you have very sore nipples, you can ask your health care provider about using non-aspirin pain relievers. [ Also read: How to Lose Weight Postpartum – For Moms ]
- If your sore nipples last or you suddenly get sore nipples after several weeks of unpainful nursing, you could have a condition called thrush [ also read: Tips to overcome Thrush (Yeast) – Breastfeeding Challenge 4 ], a fungal infection that can form on your nipples from the milk. Other signs of thrush include itching, flaking and drying skin, tender or pink skin. The infection can form in the baby’s mouth from having contact with your nipples, and it appears as little white spots on the inside of the cheeks, gums, or tongue. It also can appear as a diaper rash on your baby that won’t go away by using regular diaper rash ointments. If you have any of these symptoms or think you have thrush, contact your health care provider. You can get medication for your nipples and for your baby.
IMPORTANT: If you still have sore nipples after following the above tips, you may need to see someone who is trained in teaching breastfeeding, like a lactation consultant or peer counselor.
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