Advice Articles

Sore Nipples

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While breastfeeding is one of the most special and rewarding experiences ever, it can also be challenging at times, especially in the early days. Some women may experience one or more challenges, but others won’t struggle at all.

Many mothers report nipples to be sore and tender at first. Don’t panic if this happens to you, it is quite a common challenge that mums face, with 80-95% of mums experiencing some degree of nipple soreness. It’s often associated with poor positioning and attachment, whereby the baby doesn’t latch correctly at the breast. This is key in establishing breastfeeding, if you are struggling it’s always recommended to seek out the support of your midwife or health visitor. Or visit here to see the differentbreastfeeding positions to use.

In the meantime, Lansinoh HPA® Lanolin can help soothe and protect sore and cracked nipples. 100% natural and safe for baby and mum, this is the world’s purest lanolin and the only nipple cream having received the British Allergy Foundation seal of approval. A massive advantage is also that it doesn’t need to be removed before breastfeeding, unlike other nipple creams which you need to wash off prior to feeding.

It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier and a little tender when they begin to make more milk. Occasionally this fullness can lead to engorgement, when the breasts feel very hard and painful. If engorgement occurs breastfeed often on the affected side to prevent the breast becoming overly full, if the breast is very full or the nipple flattened hand express or pump a little milk before a feed to soften the breast and nipple. Use cold compresses such as the 3in1TheraPearl Breast Therapy between feeds to ease pain, also ensure you get plenty of rest and fluids and wear a well fitting, supportive bra.

Some women will also experience blocked ducts, which can occur if the breast isn’t completely drained of milk on a regular basis, a blocked duct will feel like a small hard lump that is sore to touch.  If this occurs it is important to breastfeed often on the affected side as this helps to loosen the blockage and keeps milk moving. Use a hot compress such as TheraPearl - which is very easy to warm, needing just to be popped in the microwave for a few seconds and then applied to the area. Again, wear a well-fitting, supportive bra, preferably without an underwire, that is not too tight as this can further constrict the milk ducts.

Another challenge some mothers may experience is mastitis; most cases of mastitis are caused by milk not being properly removed from the breast and generally leads on from unresolved blocked ducts. Symptoms include a red, swollen area on the breast, which is hot and painful to touch, some mothers will also experience flu like symptoms. As with other challenges it is important to breastfeed often on the affected side, pump if necessary and ensure the breast is fully drained at each feed. Apply a warm compress such as the 3in1 Therapearl Breast Therapy and get plenty of rest.

If you experience flat nipples and your baby has difficulty latching on, you need to gently draw out your nipple and you can use the Lansinoh Latch Assist to help you with this.

Tips to help sore nipples heal:
  • Check positioning and attachment.  Your baby should take a big mouthful of breast, with his tongue under your nipple
  • Feeding frequently can help.  A new baby needs to feed 8-12 times in a 24 hour period.
  • Feed on the least sore side first, then when the milk is flowing, switch breasts.
  • Avoid breast pads with plastic backing, which keeps nipples wet.
  • Creams that need to be removed before breastfeeding should be avoided as extra rubbing may irritate nipple soreness
Other causes of sore nipples in the early days:

Engorgement - If your breasts are very full it may make it difficult for your baby to get a good attachment. Expressing a little milk before feeding, and feeding at least every two hours with a longer gap at night can help.
Engorgement may lead to temporarily flat or inverted nipples.

Tongue Tie - Tongue-ties can be treated, and it is advisable to consult a health professional.

Breaking Suction - Removing your baby from your breast without breaking the suction may increase the likelihood of getting sore nipples. If you need to take your baby off the breast, break the suction first by putting your finger between his gums.

You may find it useful to watch our breastfeeding video, which includes hints and tips on latching on and how to successfully breastfeed your baby - a good technique can help to avoid the pain of sore nipples and make you more comfortable and relaxed. 

If you notice an inflammation of the breast then you may well have a plugged milk duct - read our guide to mastitis to find out more.

If you are struggling with breastfeeding, do get help from a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant. Useful organisations: 

National Childbirth Trust (NCT) Breastfeeding Line: 0870 444 8708 
La Leche League: 0845 120 2918 
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers: 08444 122 949

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Breastfeeding   Breastfeeding Challenges  

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