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Basic Nipple Care
Breast And Nipple Care For Breastfeeding Mothers

Nipple Care For Breastfeeding Mothers

Why Do Your Nipples Become Sore When Breastfeeding?

It is not uncommon for your nipples to become sore when breastfeeding - especially with your first baby. In the first place they are subjected to a lot of attention for an extended period each time.  It takes a while for the breast to get used to the activity. In some respects this is similar to the soreness you experience after exercise when you haven't exercised a muscle for a long time. After a while, though, the soreness subsides as the muscle gets used to being used again. It is normal for your nipples to be a little tender when the baby attaches for the first 3 to 5 days after birth. After that, you should find that your nipples no longer become sore. If they do, it could be due to another factor such as incorrect attachment.

As with most things, correctly attaching your baby to your breast for feeding can take a little time. You need to ensure that the baby has a mouthful of your breast. The nipple should be back against the baby's soft palate. If the baby is just sucking on your nipple it will hurt and can damage your nipple. You should see a Lactation Consultant - sooner rather than later- if you are not sure that your baby is attaching correctly.

A third reason your breasts may become sore is due to an incorrect bra size. Remember that your breasts will change size during pregnancy and after birth and it is important to have the right size bra to eliminate any discomfort due to a too tight or too loose fitting.

Sore nipples can be caused by blocked ducts or by using drying or harsh items on them such as soap, rough towels, metho etc.

How To Avoid Or Cure Sore Nipples

Certainly prevention is better than cure. The most important thing to avoid sore nipples is to ensure your baby is correctly attached. As mentioned earlier, a Lactation Consultant can provide advice and assistance with this. You may need to use different feeding positions, eg, lying down for one feed, sitting up for another etc. Whatever position you are in, you need to be comfortable.

Avoid using soap or shampoo on your nipples as these can be very drying and cause them to crack. Also use a soft towel and pat them dry to avoid trauma or abrasion to the sensitive skin.

Get bras that fit correctly. You may need 2 or 3 sizes at different times to provide the appropriate support.

After a feed, express a little hindmilk and rub that over the nipple. Allow it to dry for a few minutes.

To ease the stress on sore nipples, when you feed your baby, put him on the least sore side first. He will be hungry and will suck vigorously at first so you don't want to aggravate a sore nipple any more than necessary.

Breastfeed often. If the periods between feeds is too long your breasts may become engorged which will make it difficult for your baby to attach properly. Consequently, you will end up with even sorer nipples.

If you need to detach the baby, use your finger to do so rather than just pulling your breast out of his mouth as the suction can cause more trauma to your nipple. Insert a clean finger into the corner of his mouth to break the suction and then lift the baby from your breast.

Allow air to circulate around your nipples after each feed.

In some cases you may wish to use a cream to hasten the healing process. Many are not beneficial and need to be wiped off before feeding. The only one which is completely natural and does not need to be removed is Lansinoh Lanolin cream for nursing mothers. A little bit smeared on the nipple helps provide a moisture barrier that helps the skin to heal. You don't need to use much so it lasts a long time.


Remember, breastfeeding should be a time you and your baby enjoy. It is a time when the two of you bond. If you are experiencing discomfort, please see a Lactation Consultant at the earliest opportunity.