One of the most common discomfort that new mothers experience, among others, is sore nipples resulting from improper positioning during breastfeeding. If you are a first-time mother, it obviously takes time to understand and learn the tactics of efficient breastfeeding. And from experience any mother would tell you, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sometimes, most moms get uneasy at the thought that they are not able to feed their baby effectively which ends up in an irritable and ever hungry baby. Some others, in a spurt of enthusiasm get it all wrong which results in sore nipples. But, what really causes sore nipples?
What Are The Causes Of Sore Nipples?
The most common reason for sore nipples in breast feeding mothers is the incorrect latching of the baby. Friction can also cause your nipples to become dry, causing cracks. After childbirth, your breasts become heavy with milk, and though the supply settles with time, heavier breasts can cause the nipples to be sore and cracked. Some babies suck the milk strongly and can cause friction in the nipples causing tenderness and soreness. Some babies who have tongue tied can also make the breastfeeding experience difficult. Using nipple shields can trap the moisture inside and cause sore nipples. Most moms think that sore nipples are normal in breastfeeding and go off on its own. But, that’s a myth. Every hospital has a trained lactation consultant who can help solve these issues. Besides, if you want to keep off creams and ointments and prefer home remedies instead, here are some tips that may be useful.
12 Home Remedies To Treat Sore Nipples Due To Breastfeeding
- The perfect latch: The most common cause of sore nipples among lactating mothers is improper latching. If this is taken care of, the problem can be controlled. Ideally, the baby should have the entire nipple and part of your breast in its mouth so that the nipple is close to the palate. If you position yourself well, offering minimal support with your hands, you will notice that most babies latch on their own very well. Try using breastfeeding pillows for support and correct positioning
- The magic of breast milk: Some suggest that applying few drops of breast milk before and after feeding, 4-5 times a day is the best remedy to treat sore nipples. This comes from the fact that breast milk has antibacterial properties that can help to heal sore, cracked and blistered nipples
- Hot oil compress: You can heat up a small quantity of any oil of your choice (olive/coconut/almond oil) and massage it gently on the sore area several times a day for relief. Some even suggest that equal proportions of calendula oil and olive oil mixed together and applied can also provide quick relief. Oil will help in keeping the sore nipple moisturised and reduce dryness. However, before feeding your baby, make sure you wash off the oil on the nipple lest it gets in the baby’s mouth
- Warm water compress: Warm water compression a couple of minutes before breastfeeding also provides relief from sore nipples. Before feeding, soak a soft towel in lukewarm water. Wring out the excess water and place the hot towel on the nipple for about 5 to 10 minutes. A warm shower could also provide some relief
- Cool it: Wrap ice cubes in a soft towel and gently rub it around the affected area for about 10 minutes. Cold compression prevents swelling and cools the burning sensation
- Say “No” to soaps/chemicals: Take care not to use soap on your nipples while bathing and after each feeding allow your nipples to air dry. Use only cold or lukewarm water on your nipples to wash. Soaps etc. ca contain harsh chemicals that can bring about dryness and make your nipples sore and tender
- Aloe Vera gel: This works wonders to treat sore nipples. Aloe vera boasts of healing properties and is also recommended for treating dry skin ailments. Extract the gel from the leaf and apply it fresh on the affected part. Let it dry. Clean with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel. Repeat this several times a day for 3-4 days. However, take care to wash off aloe vera completely before you feed your baby as it is likely to cause diarrhea
- Basil leaves: Basil, as we all know, has healing properties and is used medically all around the world. Make a paste of basil leaves and apply it on the sore nipples. You can even add a teaspoon of honey to it. Let it air dry. Wash it off. Repeat it several times for a couple of days to get relief. What’s more, basil leaves are known to prevent dryness, cracks and pain
- Eat the right foods: Increase intake of Vitamin C rich foods like fruits (oranges, guavas, strawberries, kiwis and cherries), vegetables, sprouts, broccoli, and parsley to treat sore nipples internally. Vitamin C can help in healing damaged skin. For Vitamin C supplements, you need to consult a doctor
- Alcohol—the lesser known healer: Though not commonly used, rubbing alcohol on your sore nipples is known to provide relief too. Use a clean sponge to apply and after a while rinse it off with water
- Maintain personal hygiene: Sore nipples can also be caused by wearing a sweaty or a tight bra. Make sure that after a breastfeeding session, you are off-bra for some time. Invest in good quality maternity bras that are soft and do not cause friction between your nipples and the cloth. Use mild, soap free detergents to wash them as harsh chemicals can stay in the threads and cause dryness
- Chamomile tea: Chamomile boasts of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Chamomile teabags can be used to heal and treat sore nipples as well. Soak some teabags in hot water and once the temperature is comfortable, wring them and use them as packs on your nipples. Make sure you wash your breasts with warm water before you feed your baby
Can I Breastfeed My Baby With Sore Nipples?
even though it may hurt you, sore nipples do not affect the baby as such. However, because sore nipples are a sign of poor breastfeeding, it could leave your baby hungry and unable to feed well. In such a case, the baby may not put on enough weight and may remain unsettled even after feeding. This can signal a warning and you should speak to your doctor right away. Even if a few drops of your blood from the nipples get into the baby’s mouth, it should not cause anything harmful, though you can mention the same to your doctor.
Sore nipples can cause enough discomfort and irritation and therefore it is better to take precautions to avoid it. Wear a clean bra and make sure it is soft and washed with mild detergents only. When you finish feeding, put a clean finger between the baby’s gums to prevent the baby from clamping down on the nipple. Whichever home remedy you use, make sure to wash it thoroughly before feeding your baby. Always prefer to treat sore nipples with natural ingredients rather than a nipple cream. Above all, master the technique of breastfeeding; it may take time, but it’s not too difficult either. With the help of a good lactation expert, you can make lactation a wonderful experience for you and your baby. Read what are the most ugly truths about breastfeeding?