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I remember that pinky milk that I pumped for my son.
My nipple had been so sore..
Yet I needed to pump to stimulate my milk production. My baby was jaundiced and needed that extra milk.
My husband was horrified to see to milk and ask me to stop pumping immediately.
I asked him at that time, so what should I do?
It was a dillema... I want my nipple to heal, but at the same time want to continue nursing and pumping no matter what.
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Does this happen to you before?
That you get sore nipple while breastfeeding?
Your nipple is either cracked, chapped, or simply feeling painful?
Or you feel like curling your toe whenever it’s time to feed your baby? Because it is that painful...
Truly, early days of breastfeeding were though.
IS SORE NIPPLE NORMAL?
Is sore nipple normal?
Is this something that every breastfeeding moms goes through?
The answer is yes and no.
There’s some tenderness that’s still considered normal, BUT not all sore nipples are normal.
Let’s take a look on how to differentiate them.
Normal nipple tenderness occurs in the early days of breastfeeding
- only last for less than a minute in the beginning of nursing. It should not last throughout the whole feeding sessions
- there should be no skin damaged or bleeding
- the shape of the nipple should not change after feeding.
Now, what is the problematic sore nipple?
This is when your sore nipple:
- lasts throughout the feeding
- your nipple does not heal even after a week
- there’s bleeding / cracked involved
- you feel dreaded to nurse your baby because of it (this is a red flag).
- the shape of your nipple changes after feeding (say, there’s a white line in the middle, or becomes flattened or lipstick shape).
Now, what can you do to relieve sore nipple while breastfeeding?
To treat the problem, we need to dig out the reasons.
Below are some of most common issues which cause sore nipples while breastfeeding
COMMON CAUSES OF SORE NIPPLES IN BREASTFEEDING
Below are some of most common issues which cause sore nipples while breastfeeding:
1. Incorrect latch
This is the most common issue moms experience when they just started breastfeeding.
The baby has a shallow latch such that she seems to clamp only on the nipple, while the correct latch should be wide and cover both nipple and areola.
A few tips to correct the baby’s latch:
- aim the nipple at baby’s nose to encourage him to open his mouth wide
- use flipple technique to latch the baby (see the video below to watch the step by step guide)
- use laid-back breastfeeding position and let the baby self-latch.
2. Tongue tie
This is when the baby’s tongue has restricted motion and thus unable to latch properly.
His latch is usually weaker and therefore he’s unable to get enough breast milk during direct feeding. As a result, the baby is usually nipple-feeding, resulting in nipple damage (lipstick shape after feeding, and sometimes accompanied with bleeding).
This condition needs to be assessed by a lactation consultant or even a specialist pediatric dentist). Some of them can be treated with a minor surgery called frenotomy.
When you or your baby has thrush, your nipple may be itchy, red, or even cracked. There's a shooting pain during or after the feeding.
Your baby's tongue may be covered by a lot of white patches and s/he may not be comfortable during nursing.
Thrush is caused by a fungal infection, and you may visit a doctor to get some antifungal prescription.
4. Milk blister.
A milk blister (also know as milk bleb) is indicated by a painful small white / yellow dot on your nipple.
This is caused by an obstruction of milk duct, either due to growing of thin layer of skin over a milk duct opening or hardened milk. The nipple pain due to milk blister is usually local, only surrounding the blister.
To treat this condition, you can do the following:
- Apply a moist heat before nursing to soften the blister (if you are looking for an easy way to apply heat pack, try Therapearl from Lansinoh.
- Add pumping session after nursing to slowly clear the blister.
- In some occasion, when the blister does not go away on its own, you may want to ask your doctor to remove the blister with a sterile needle.
5. Forceful let down
Do you have an overactive let-down?
Overactive let-down is when your milk flows too fast at the beginning of nursing. Your baby may gag, pull away from breast because s/he cannot handle the milk flow. In some occasion, your baby may bite or clamp your nipple in attempt to slow the flow.
This is when the sore nipple happens with forceful let-down.
What you can do here?
- Try a laid-back breastfeeding position so that your baby is on top of your breast. This way, the milk flow is not so fast because it is against the gravity.
- You can also catch your let-down first with towel (or Haakaa if you prefer to save the milk) and when the flow is slowing down, resume the baby's feeding.
Kellymom has a great resource for more information on how to deal with forceful let-down.
6. Your baby is too hungry and impatient.
And therefore trying to get let-down faster by biting your nipple.
Did you notice that some hard stroke or pull on your nipple may stimulate let-down? Babies are smart, aren't they?
But I believe, getting your nipple bitten is not fun. Therefore, to avoid this issue, watch your baby's early hunger cue.
Don't wait until he screams to begin the feeding (because it will be even more difficult, your baby is impatient and won't latch properly).
MORE TIPS ON HOW TO TREAT SORE NIPPLES IN BREASTFEEDING
1. Apply nipple cream.
PS: If you are shopping for nipple cream, Earth Mama Angel Baby is my favorite. It's organic, very soft, and can be safely ingested by your baby.
2. Apply breast milk to your nipple.
Once the mature milk comes in, it's even better to apply a bit of breast milk around your nipple and air dry.
Do you know that breast milk will heal sore nipple faster than a typical nipple-cream? Try it by yourself.
3. Use breast shell while not nursing.
If your nipple feels so sore, you can't even stand getting it brushed by your clothing, getting a breast shell is a great option.
4. Change your breastfeeding position.
Do you know that adjusting your breastfeeding position can do wonder to your sore nipple?
Just watch the video below for the proof.
The mom in the video has a sore nipple to the point that she's afraid to nurse her baby (she was pumping for 2 days so that she can avoid nursing). But after a little bit adjustment on her feeding position, she noticed that her nipple does not feel as painful as before. Thus, she can continue latching the baby while the nipple heals gradually.
5. Talk to a lactation consultant.
If all things fail, talk to a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC is even better).
She can asses if your baby latches correctly, whether your baby's tongue / lip has some abnormality that needs to be addressed, and other possible causes.
I hope this article can help you find the cause of your sore nipples and treat it accordingly.
If you want to learn more about other breastfeeding problems, I recommend you to take a look at Breastfeeding Hurdles e-course from Lactation Link (use coupon code FIFTARINA to get 15% off).