Breastfeeding is a precious relationship between a mother and her baby, from which both derive pleasure. However, it is a shame that the occurrence of sore nipples can deter a mother from continuing to breastfeed. What is worse is that the idea of getting sore nipples may even discourage a new mother from breastfeeding at all!

Sore nipples do not always happen – perhaps it is the pain that they cause that magnifies the issue for many women and hence many mothers believe that it is a bane that should be avoided by either weaning their children or not nursing their babies at all.

If a nursing mother does get sore nipples, she should seek to address the problem in a positive way and not choose to give up breast-feeding so easily. Indeed, breast-milk is the best milk for babies, and depriving them because of sore nipples is rather unfair to an infant and not so good for the mommy as well –

think of the ensuing engorgement that will naturally arise from sudden weaning! Understandably, a nursing mother wants the best for her child. Having to face every nursing session with the prospect of an infant suckling on sore nipples with the accompanying excruciating pain is unlikely to make her want to continue breast-feeding. Thus the best thing a nursing mother can do is to try to avoid that problem in the first place.

Here are some ways to prevent sore nipples:

Make sure you have positioned your baby correctly and that he is latching-on properly.

Your baby should be taking in the breast with his head slightly tilted up so that the nipple hits the roof his mouth, which makes it hard for him to bite. He should be taking in your whole nipple, preferably including the aerola (the brown ring surrounding your nipple). This prevents him from clamping down on your nipples, which are more sensitive to pain than the aerola!

Detach your baby properly.

No matter what you do, NEVER pull your nipple out of your baby’s mouth – you will only give yourself undue pain! Always place your little finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction.

Wear a comfortable brassiere.

A bra that is too tight will not only restrict circulation, it may also give you unpleasant plugged ducts and sore nipples – the latter happens because of the friction between the fabric and your breasts.

Identify his teething habits.

Most babies bite at the end of a feed so watch out when your child slows down his sucking at the end of a nursing session. Try to detach him before he has a chance to clamp down on you.

Alleviate his teething pain.

You can do this by giving him something cold (a frozen cloth, a teething toy) to chew on prior to a feeding. If the teething pains are really bad, you can also give your darling some teething gel to numb the gums.

If you DO get sore nipples, here’s what you can do to ease the pain.

  • Air your nipples as often as you can. Apply expressed breast-milk on your nipples before airing them.
  • Apply a nipple cream such as Lansinoh.
  • Numb your nipples prior to nursing, with some ice.
  • By all means, do not nurse less often – this will only make your baby want to nurse more (which translates into further pain!). Nurse him till he is full at each session.
  • In order for you to have a faster letdown – so your baby sucks less vigorously to get to the hindmilk – express some of your milk prior to a nursing session. Don’t always do this though, because your baby has to have foremilk too!
  • If your child is on solids already, wipe his mouth and give him a little water after any intake of food because food particles can be irritants that cause further nipple soreness.

Do bear in mind that sore nipples do not last very long, as long as you apply these solutions. Better yet, you may not even have them if you take the above-mentioned precautions. In any case, breast-feeding IS a pleasurable experience and knowing how to deal with some of its obstacles will enhance this special relationship between mother and child.

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