At the same time, while breastfeeding is an overwhelmingly positive experience for most moms, many women find themselves unprepared for the challenges that they may face along the way.
So, as you begin your breastfeeding journey, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Millions of women are breastfeeding right now and there are plenty of solutions and accessories to help you overcome any bumps that you may encounter while nursing your baby.
One of the most common breastfeeding problems that moms face is sore nipples. New moms are sometimes surprised by how powerfully their new-borns can suck. In addition, many babies have trouble latching on to the breast, which can result in friction, and, ultimately sore or cracked nipples. Not fun at all!
The good news is that there are plenty of things that you can do to deal with sore nipples and get back to having a positive breastfeeding experience. Here are 7 suggestions.
Check Your Baby’s Latch
A good latch is essential to successful, comfortable breastfeeding – so, make sure your baby is latching on properly to your nipple. Ask a lactation consultant or health practitioner for help, if necessary. Once you get this part of the process working smoothly, the rest is straightforward because your baby knows what to do instinctually.
Try Different Positions
Are you breastfeeding too often in the same position? Trying a variety of breastfeeding positions can help to limit pressure on your breasts and can also help improve your baby’s latch – some babies really do prefer different positions! With a little trial and error, you’ll find the positions that put the least amount of pressure on your breast, while being comfortable for your baby.
Nipple Protection and Enhancement
Nipple Shields fit directly over your nipple and forms a seal around the areola (the darkened part of your breast). They are a great way to help moms continue feeding with sore nipples. Medela also makes 3 types of breast shells that are worn between feedings and provide protection until nipples heal. They are a soft, protective layer over your nipples and can help them to heal by protecting them from friction. Also, if you are pumping and have sore nipples, make sure you’re using the right size breast shield so that it is not rubbing against the nipple. Here’s a quick guide on how to find the right size breast shield for your body.
Apply Lanolin Cream
Lanolin cream is one of the most commonly used breastfeeding accessories to treat sore and cracked nipples. It’s made from all-natural, hypoallergenic ingredients and is safe for your skin and for your baby. This means that you don’t have to wash yourself prior to nursing. You can read more about Medela’s Tender Care Lanolin Cream and Tender Care Hydrogel in our article on Breastfeeding Essentials.
Rub Breastmilk on Your Nipples
You probably already know that human breast milk is full of natural healing elements that help your baby’s immune system. But, did you know that breastmilk can also be good for sore nipples? Try rubbing a few drops of breastmilk on your nipples and letting it dry before putting your bra back on. Because breastmilk has anti-pathogenic and healing properties, it might help your sore or cracked nipples heal faster, especially if you use it along with moisturizing lanolin.
Let Your Nipples Air-Dry
Sometimes, the best thing for sore nipples is to give them some air. So, instead of putting your bra on right away, after feeding, try going topless for a while. Or, wear a soft cotton shirt with no bra. This one simple step can help your sore nipples heal and feel better in no time.
Pump Breastmilk for a While
If your sore nipples are causing you so much discomfort that you feel like you need to take a break from breastfeeding, don’t worry! You can still use a breast pump to pump milk and feed your baby with a bottle. This will give your nipples a rest while allowing you to continue to give your baby all the benefits breastmilk can provide. Plus, remember what we said about how breastmilk can help heal your nipples? That’s right! By continuing to use a breast pump, you are ensuring that your nipples continue to receive a constant fresh supply of all those anti-pathogenic components.
If you do have to switch from breastfeeding to breast pumping and bottle feeding for a bit, to help your baby alternate successfully between the two, you may want to consider using the Medela Calma Feeding Solution. The unique technology in Calma is designed so that your baby mimics the sucking action he would use at the breast. This keeps your baby in control of the feeding session, something Health Canada recommends called “cue-based feeding”, and makes it easier when you are ready to bring him back to the breast.
Check out the following guide on how to choose a breast pump that’s right for you. You might even want to get one that allows for double pumping so that you can express milk from both breasts at the same time.
Sore nipples are a real pain, but they don’t have to prevent you from having a good breastfeeding experience. There are many solutions to keep you feeling comfortable and positive. With time, and perhaps a little help, you’ll be passed any discomfort soon enough. Then, you can focus on bonding with your little one, while appreciating the incredible joy that they bring to your life.