Breastfeeding is an amazing bond between mom and baby. If breastfeeding becomes painful, the experience can seem less than wonderful. The following tips can be very helpful if the skin on the nipple is broken for any reason (cracked nipple due to shallow latch, tongue-tie/lip- tie or other anatomical variations, thrush, a bite, milk blister, etc.).
The most important factor in healing is to rectify the source of the problem.
- Massage your breast for a minute or two before breastfeeding to stimulate the milk flow before baby latches on.
- If your breasts are full or firm, express some milk to soften the breast and make it easier for the baby to get the breast and nipple far back into his mouth.
- Make sure the baby is positioned properly with a wide open mouth and has hold of a large mouthful of breast.
- After breastfeeding, soak nipple(s) in a small bowl of warm saline solution for a minute or so–long enough for the saline to get onto all areas of the nipple. Alternately, put the saline solution into a squeeze bottle and squirt it on gently; use plenty of saline, making sure to get it on all areas of broken skin.
- Apply expressed breast milk to the nipples to promote healing–this can be done in addition to other treatments.
- For pain relief, you can apply lanolin on your nipples and areola after feeding to soothe the tender skin.
- If your nipples are very sore or there is a break in the skin, a moist environment is recommended for optimal healing. Hydrogel pads provide immediate cool and soothing pain relief and promote tissue healing. The pads are placed over the nipple and worn inside the bra between feedings.
- Use an antibiotic ointment for quick healing of dry and cracked nipples.
- Keep bras and bra pads clean and dry
- If you have tried these comfort measures for a few days and nipple pain increases or you see bleeding or cracks, call a lactation consultant or healthcare professional for assistance.