How to deal with sore nipples?

- Jan 19, 2020-

Nipple pain is one of the most common issues cited by mums in the first few days of breastfeeding. Nipple pain that extends beyond this period should not be considered normal and warrants further attention. If left untreated, sore nipples can lead to other breast problems such as engorgement, mastitis or early cessation of breastfeeding. Nipple pain or sore nipples may occur with or without infection.

If nipples are damaged or cracked

o washing them more frequently

o considering a warm and wet compress before breastfeeding to soften/soak the scab

o based on the principles of moist wound healing, applying purified lanolin, which may help the nipples heal. This does not need to be washed off prior to feeding. If any irritation or discomfort occurs, its use should be discontinued

o Ensuring breast shields are positioned correctly and are the right size, if pumping

o Avoiding tight clothing, such as underwired bras, to minimise pressure on the breast

o Cooling breast and nipples with cool packs after a feed to help relieve pain and inflammation

o Taking pain relief – an anti-inflammatory agent such as Ibuprofen is considered safe during breastfeeding and may help relieve pain prior to feeding

o Expressing temporarily for 24 hours if breastfeeding is too painful, with the gradual reintroduction of breastfeeding as the pain subsides

o Using nipple shields as a method of reducing pain

o If nipple tenderness remains or the nipples are slow to heal, they may need to be swabbed and cultured to check if an infection is present

o If nipples are infected, extra hygiene measures are necessary. This includes carefully cleaning the nipples using water and a pH-neutral soap or sterile saline solution