Nipple Pain Remedies
You may experience nipple pain in the early days of breastfeeding. As many as 90% of new moms have some nipple soreness, it is a very common condition that is temporary, and usually goes away after a few days. Most mothers find nipple soreness peaks on the fifth day of breastfeeding, then resolves.
There are some strategies to ease the hurt and help your nipples heal quickly. Research shows warm, moist heat is soothing for sore nipples and can help your skin heal faster. To use moist heat, run a clean washcloth or cloth diaper under warm (not hot) water, squeeze out the extra water and place it directly over your nipple.
When it cools to room temperature, repeat the process. Many mothers find this method is also helpful in relieving the discomfort of engorgement, which can occur along with nipple soreness.
Should I Continue Breastfeeding?
It is very important to continue to breastfeed if you are experiencing nipple pain. Try to nurse your baby on the least painful nipple first; she will not suck as hard on the second, more painful nipple. If putting your baby to breast hurts too much, use a breast pump or hand-express to keep your milk supply moving.
Your breastmilk can also help your nipples heal with antibacterial protection. If you have a crack in your nipple or broken skin, squeeze out a few drops and gently rub over your nipple. Let your nipples air dry before covering with your bra or nursing pad.
Nipple Creams and Balms
While most creams and ointments don’t make your nipples heal faster, they do create a soothing barrier for your tender nipples. Avoid ointments containing lanolin, they can cause allergic reactions and have a strong smell and flavor which can cause your baby to refuse to breastfeed. Newer ointments are olive oil based and have little smell or taste to interfere with your baby’s senses.
You may also want to find a nipple cream which includes Self Heal and/or Calendula to help heal in addition to soothe sore nipples.
Hydrogel pads are another product that creates a soothing barrier for sore nipples. These thin sheets of silicone-like material are about the size of your areola and can provide relief from material (nursing pads, bra cup) rubbing against your nipple. If your nipple pain persists for more than 7 days, or goes away and then returns see your lactation consultant for evaluation.
Compiled from the following References:
McClennan, HL, et al. (2012).Nipple Pain during Breastfeeding with or without Visible Trauma Journal of Human Lactation, November 2012; vol. 28, 4: pp. 511-521., first published on June 11, 2012
Cable, B., Stewart, M., Davis, J., (1997) Nipple Wound Care: A New Approach to an Old Problem