Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful experiences for any mom. This activity provides nutrition to your baby through your breast milk and at the same time, it is a great time for mom-and-baby bonding. But if you are a new mom, your breastfeeding experience may not be something that you expected.
If you have said to yourself, “Ouch….breastfeeding really hurts!” it means that your nipples are sore, cracked or blistering, or bleeding. This can make breastfeeding a painful experience. During pregnancy and especially after childbirth, your nipples are more sensitive and larger. This is when nipple care products like nipple shields, nursing pads, nipple creams, and breast shells come in use.
What are the main causes for sore nipples?
Your nipples can be sore due to several reasons. Here are some of the most common reasons for nipple soreness during breastfeeding:
- Newness- Newborns put a lot of suction and pressure when they breastfeed. If you are a first-time mom, you would have not experienced this before. Initially, babies will breastfeed several times during the day and night. This could be anywhere between five minutes to an hour, and you could be breastfeeding up to 13 times in a day! This can cause your nipples to be sore and tender and you need to look for breastfeeding pain relief options. Nipple cream goes a long way in relieving the pain and soothing your nipples.
- Baby’s latch- If your baby’s latch is not correct, it could cause soreness to your nipples. Ideally, the nipple as well as some of the areola (the darker skin surrounding the nipple) needs to be in the baby’s mouth. To help your baby to latch better, aim your nipple more towards the roof of your baby’s mouth so as to allow more of the breast to go in.
- Tongue-tie- Tongue-tie happens when the lingual frenulum is short, preventing the baby from opening his or her mouth fully. As a result, your baby won’t be able to take in enough of your breast while feeding. This causes frustration for the baby and it will leave your nipples sore.
Is Nipple Cream Safe to Use?
Usually, nipple cream products contain lanolin. Lanolin is also known as wool grease, wool wax, or wool yolk because it is produced by the sebaceous glands of sheep. Lanolin has great moisturizing properties that help to heal cracked and dry skin and hair; hence it is used in most nipple creams.
Nipple creams like Lansinoh nipple cream (Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream) and Medela nipple cream (Medela Tender Care Lanolin) are some of the best nipple balms that contain lanolin and are completely safe to use. Lanolin nipple creams will not harm your baby or you in any way, and you do not need to wipe it off before breastfeeding.
When choosing a nipple balm, always check the ingredients. Don’t use anything that contains Vaseline or petroleum jelly as it is not safe for your baby. Vitamin E is good for the skin, but you wouldn’t want to use a nipple cream that contains vitamin E, as doctors don’t know how much of it infants can safely consume.
If you are allergic to lanolin, you can always opt for a lanolin-free nipple cream. The ingredients in these creams usually contain bees wax, olive oil, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula flower.
Breastfeeding Care and Hygiene
While breastfeeding your baby, practicing breastfeeding hygiene will help to heal your nipples:
- Change your nursing pads and bras frequently when they get damp. This will help to prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
- Use nipple cream for nursing regularly to promote healing and to help soothe your nipples.
- Massage your nipples with a few drops of breast milk before and after you feed your baby and it will help to heal your nipples.
- When maintaining breastfeeding hygiene, you don’t need to clean your nipples before and after feeding as the bacteria that is present actually helps to build up your baby’s immunity.
- Don’t rub your nipples harshly. Instead, air-dry them or wipe gently with a soft towel.
- Try not to increase the gap between breastfeeding sessions as regular feeding will help to keep up your milk supply.
Nipple soreness from breastfeeding usually lasts only in the first few days after childbirth. Once your nipples get used to the constant feeding, the soreness should go away. Nipple creams and breast shields will surely help to protect and heal your nipples. Make sure that your baby’s latch is correct and you can always speak to a lactation consultant if you need help or advice.
If you notice something unusual like flakiness or white spots, it could be thrush or milk blebs. Pus and redness (with inflammation) could be signs of an infection, so contact your doctor immediately.