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How to Soothe Sore Nipples When Breastfeeding

Learn how to soothe sore nipples from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


Many, many women have sore nipples when they're breastfeeding. In the first week to ten days, it's very, very normal to have a little hormonal tenderness at the nipple, but you shouldn't have any sharp pain or really severe discomfort. If you do, the first thing to do is find a lactation consultant and have the latch assessed because something's going awry.

But to remedy sore nipples, one of the greatest, greatest solutions is to do a warm saltwater soak. And if you take a teaspoon of salt, put it into a cup of warm water, not on a washcloth, but hang in a bowl or a shot glass or a teacup, depending on the size of your breast, depending on the size of the nipple. If you soak in that solution for ten minutes, air dry, and then put some sort of lanolin cream on, you will feel, if you do three to four of those a day, you will feel like a million bucks.

If you're seeing problems persist and you have been doing the saline soaks, then you really need to get help from a lactation consultant. If you find that when the baby finishes nursing that there's a little compression stripe, it almost looks like your nipple looks like a lipstick shape, in cases like that, we need to actually get help.

We want to be able to have a lactation consultant assess what you're doing as well because there's something that the baby's doing with their mouth to be able to compress, whether it's that the latch on it's too shallow or something else. We need to be able to check that out.

Many women will ignore the fact that they're actually having sore nipples because they think that's just par for the course and that's a normal part of breastfeeding. Oh, you're supposed to have sore nipples. It's really not. And again, we don't want to get it to the point and we don't want your pain to escalate to the point where you have blisters and half of the nipple is coming off.

And we don't want to get to these more dramatic stages because then there's a lot more work to be done, as far as repairing you and seeing what's happening with the baby. So if you're having any soreness that is beyond just tenderness, if you have a latch on that hurts and is painful and you feel like there's a jabbing sense more than ten seconds after the initial latch-on, then you need to be seen.

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