Why do I have Sore Nipples?
Finding the cause of the soreness is key to proper treatment. A Lactation Consultant or your Provider can help you get to the source of the problem.
After finding the cause you just have to correct it and the problem will be resolved. I know it sounds easy but it can actually be a little tricky.
Nipple soreness can happen for a wide variety of reasons and the diagnosis is very important.
Here you'll find 13 Tips for soothing sore nipples and the common causes of nipple pain. In any case talk with a Lactation Consultant, your Midwife, a Post-Partum Doula, a Childbirth Educator or even call Nursing Mother's Counsel of Oregon. They are trained to give you answsers to any Breastfeeding related concerns.
Remember the longer you wait to get help from a professional
the longer you will be in pain. Why Suffer?
13 TIPS FOR SOOTHING SORE NIPPLES
Here are some tips to give you temporary relief for your sore nipples until you can see a Lactation Consultant. But again you need to find the cause of your nipple pain and correct it to get better. The longer you wait the more it will hurt so find help right away. The saying "No Pain, No Gain." does not apply here!
What Are Sore Nipples?
All the information on this page is about Sore Nipples and ONLY Sore Nipples. If you have Sore Nipples AND Breast Pain you'll need different treatment. See the Breast Pain Page for help.
A Sore Nipple is when it hurts at the tip and/or the Areola. There are different degrees of pain depending on your skin type, your tolerance of pain, the cause of soreness and how long you have had the problem.
There are two kinds of Sore Nipples: The Traumatized Nipple and the Irritated Nipple.
The Traumatized Nipple is when the areola is cracked, has a blister or an abrasion. This kind of soreness comes almost all the time from an improper
nursing position or an ineffective Breastfeeding Latch. So it is the easiest to resolve, but if you wait too long it can become an Irritated Nipple.
The Irritated Nipple is when the areola is red and/or swollen and burns. This kind of pain can be more difficult to diagnosis. It can be a yeast
infection (thrush), dermatitis, eczema or even the beginning of a breast infection. You need to act fast otherwise you'll need to take anti-biotics or have to deal with a very unpleasant breastfeeding experience for weeks or even months. The sooner you catch the problem the faster and easier it will be to heal naturally.
Sore Nipples...What's Normal and What's Not?
"When she first felt her son's groping mouth attach itself to her breast, a wave of sweet vibration thrilled deep inside and radiated to all parts of
her body; it was similar to love, but it went beyond a lover's caress, it brought a great calm happiness, a great happy calm."
Breastfeeding is a learning process and every woman needs a guide or support person so do not hesitate to find help.
What causes Sore Nipples?
#1 Bad Breastfeeding Latch
In most cases Sore Nipples are due to an inappropriate Breastfeeding Latch. See the Breastfeeding Latch Page to make sure you have a proper latch.
Remember a Good latch is when your baby's mouth is wide open, with all of your areola in his mouth, both of his lips out, his chin up, his body aligned.
The baby is content while feeding. You should not hear any sucking noise, and you should not see any dimples in his cheeks. Your nipple is not moving in and out of his mouth. And when the feeding is done your nipple shouldn't be white or flat.
Having a Lactation Consultant observe you nursing can be very helpful. She can check the latch and give you some tricks to do it properly. A good latch is key to breastfeeding and makes for a pain-free nursing experience.
This is a skill that first time moms will have the most success learning from other experienced moms. It is not instinctive. So don't hesitate to find help to save your nipples and make sure your baby has enough milk!
An inappropriate Breastfeeding Latch can have a variety of causes…
#2 YEAST, DERMATITIS, BLISTERS
The second main cause of Sore Nipples are Yeast infections, any kind of Dermatitis, or Blisters. These can be very challenging to resolve. For any of these conditions you really have to go see a Lactation Consultant or your Provider. You might have to take treatment. If this is the case don't forget to check that the treatment is ok for your baby. You can see in the book "Medications and Mother's Milk" by Dr. Thomas Hale. Don't be discouraged. You will get over this challenge. And remember, breastfeeding is the best choice for the health of your child and yourself.
Yeast Infections, also known as Thrush are common. One symptom is feeling a burning sensation while nursing. Your nipples can become red and shiny. If your baby has white spots in his mouth this is a sign your baby has thrush and you probably have a yeast infection. Both of you will need to be treated.
The problem with yeast infections is you need to be extra careful not to contaminate each other. Never share towels, always wash hands before and after nursing, change breast pads often, reduce your consumption of sugar and go see a Lactation Consultant right away before the infection gets too advanced.
Dermatitis is any kind of skin reaction. It can be an allergy especially if you are using a nipple salve or butter. Some women develop sore
nipples in reaction to preparations containing lanolin, vitamin E or cocoa butter. So stop applying anything to your nipples.
It can be eczema or herpes if you have had these on other parts of your body. Again for these matters check with your provider. If you have a Herpes sore on your breast or nipple, cover it, wash your hands, don't allow your baby to touch it so as not to contaminate him, and don't nurse your baby from the infected side.
You have to pump your milk from the infected side to keep your milk supply flowing. Discard the milk if the pump is in contact with the sore. Make an appointment as soon as possible!
Blisters come in two varieties: the clear blister and the white blister. For both blisters if it doesn't hurt don't touch it. Check your baby's latch
and feel if there are any lumps in your breast. If your latch is good the blister will go away by itself. It can take several weeks so don't worry about it.
Try different nursing positions, and apply a warm wash cloth for 10 minutes before nursing to make the skin softer. Never try to open a blister it might become infected.
For a white blister it can be from a plugged milk duct, thrush or an infection. Again never try to open it. You can apply a warm wash cloth and massage your breast before nursing to make sure your breast is empty. Nurse frequently or pump. If you have a plugged duct we don't want it to become an infection. See Breast Infection page and check with
a Lactation Consultant.
I hope all of this information for healing sore nipples is helpful. Don't hesitate to call a Lactation Consultant. They are specifically trained to help you with breastfeeding questions. Remember, as soon as you find the cause, things will quickly get better so don't give up nursing your child just for sore nipples.
Your baby needs your milk!
You can help me share more Tips for Sore Nipples with other Moms by adding yours at the bottom of the Breastfeeding Tips page. Thank You.