What are Sore Nipples?
Many new mothers experience sore nipples when breastfeeding. Initially, tenderness is felt within the first few days of feeding but gradually the discomfort disappears and breastfeeding improves. When mothers have sore nipples they tend to delay feedings because it is so painful.
As a result breasts become engorged (very full) and may result in plugged milk ducts. If you continue to feel pain, it is most likely that your baby is not latched on properly and some changes need to be made. Breastfeeding should not be painful – it is one of the oldest ways to strengthen the bond between mother and baby and should ideally be a pleasurable experience for both of you.
What Causes Sore Nipples?
The main causes of sore nipples result from a baby not latching on properly or poor positioning. This usually occurs when the baby is sucking or pulling mainly on the nipple instead of the areola (brown ring that surrounds the nipple). When a baby latches on incorrectly, he or she may also develop poor sucking techniques. Older babies who are teething can also hurt the mother’s nipples when they are being breastfed.
Teething babies may experience mouth pain and bite on the nipple to be more comfortable when they feed. If babies are on solid foods, the leftover food particles in his or her mouth can irritate the nipple when nursing and cause nipple soreness. Certain soaps, creams and lotions with strong chemicals can also cause dermatitis and result in nipple pain. A badly-fitting bra, breast pads and plastic linings can also cause sore nipples.
Help for Sore Nipples
In order to ease the pain of sore nipples, several self-help measures can be used at home. The most important thing when nursing is to make sure that your baby is well-positioned and latched on properly. Your baby’s mouth should be wide open and taking in the whole nipple with as much of the areola as possible – the baby’s head should be tilted slightly so that your nipple touches the roof of his or her mouth and makes it difficult for him or her to bite.
It is also useful to change positions every time you nurse as this puts pressure on a different part of the nipple. Rubbing pure lanolin on your nipples after breastfeeding or applying a nipple cream (Lansinoh) can also soothe the pain. If nipple soreness continues, consult your physician or a lactation consultant. Sometimes women with sore nipples develop a fungal infection called thrush which forms on the nipples from the milk. Other symptoms of thrush such as itching dry or tender, pink skin may also appear. Thrush can also form in the baby’s mouth as white spots on the gums, inside of the cheeks or tongue or as a diaper rash. Medications will be prescribed to treat the infection.
Natural and holistic remedies are the perfect treatment for soothing sore, painful nipples. Trusted herbal remedies are gentle and safe to use on the body without the side effects of harsh chemicals and astringents contained in so many over-the-counter and prescription creams and ointments.
Carefully selected ingredients such as Calc flour, vitamin E oil and Silica help to promote the healing of chapped, cracked skin and reduce itchiness and discomfort. Two well-known herbs such as Calendula officinalis (Marigold) and Chamomile have excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and soothes skin rashes, irritation and burns.