Breast Feeding Doesn't Have To Mean Sore Nipples

By: Helen Bolstad

August 24, 2021

Breastfeeding and Sore Nipples

If you think sore nipples are just a normal part of breastfeeding, think again. Robin Hollen, APRN, and Breastfeeding Medicine Specialist, says that nursing can be an enjoyable experience for mom and baby without pain and discomfort. A top concern of nursing moms within the first week after delivery is how to prevent sore nipples. Even moms who’ve nursed before struggle with this common issue. While many women think it is a regular part of the nursing experience, it is actually a sign that something isn’t quite right.

“Nursing your baby should be enjoyable,” says Robin Hollen, Breastfeeding Medicine Specialist with Renown Health. For over 30 years Robin has been supporting moms to breastfeed. Below she shares some valuable information and tips, helping you create a happy and healthy breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.

What causes sore nipples?

The most common cause of sore nipples involves incorrect latching. For a proper latch, a baby’s mouth takes in the entire nipple and some of the breast, so that the nipple rests at the back of the mouth where the palate is soft. With an improper latch, the mouth may slip down to the tip of the nipple while the baby nurses. This constant pressure on your sensitive skin may cause discomfort and pain.

A board-certified lactation consultant can help assess if your baby is latched correctly and troubleshoot your breastfeeding concerns.

Less common causes of sore nipples include:

• Improper tongue placement of baby
• Clenching
• Incorrect breast pump use

How can a mother prevent sore nipples from an improper latch?

Breastfeeding is a learning experience for both mom and baby. Ask for help with the latch so your baby learns it correctly and maintains its depth.

In the past, new mothers were surrounded by a community of women — their own mothers, grandmothers, or other family and friends — to provide assistance and guidance with every latch at the beginning of an infant’s life. In today’s culture, new moms can find themselves on their own with no extended family to lend their knowledge.

Nurses, pediatricians and lactation consultants now fill that role; they are the eyes and hands along with the much-needed experience to guide new mothers. Our Breastfeeding Medicine experts assist nursing moms with latch every day. Even a single visit with a lactation consultant observing your breastfeeding baby can provide valuable insight on achieving, and maintaining, the proper latch - preventing future nipple soreness and discomfort.

How to heal sore nipples from breastfeeding

To heal sore nipples, you must first fix the cause, and correcting the latch prevents further damage. A lactation consultant can also help you address the pain.

Below are some breast healing tips:
• Your own expressed breast milk is excellent to rub into the nipple for anti-bacterial protection.
• For those moms who need more lubricant or fat than breast milk offers, use a lanolin or a cream that is labeled safe for the baby.
• Soothies are a gel pads providing comfort in between feedings, but should not be used with lanolin products.
• Breast shells, not to be confused with shields, can guard the nipples from irritation or pressure in between feedings.

If you have more questions about preventing and healing sore nipples or general breastfeeding concerns, talk to your pediatrician or a Renown Health Breastfeeding Medicine specialist at 775-982-6365.

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