When I was pregnant, I dreamed about what it would be like to breastfeed my son. I imagined how healthy he would be from breastfeeding, the bond we would share, and how the pregnancy pounds would just melt off.
Well let me tell you, I almost didn’t make it past the first few weeks because I has such a hard time with sore nipples while breastfeeding him.
Saying that I had a “hard time” is actually putting things lightly. My nipples pretty much looked like they were a part of the crucifixion.
I wanted to share my story in case you too are struggling with sore nipples while breastfeeding, and what I did to get past the pain so we could have the breastfeeding relationship I dreamed about in pregnancy.
10 Home Remedies for Sore Nipples While Breastfeeding
1. Work on a proper latch
Nipple pain from breastfeeding is no fun and can be down right discouraging. For the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, every single time my son would latch, I braced myself for shooting pain.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I knew this from all the breastfeeding forums I read.
I watched him latch and realized he wasn’t opening his mouth wide enough and was sucking my nipple in like a straw. I tried and tried to improve his latch but failed miserable and ultimately ended up nursing through the pain at first.
If your nipples are cracked and sore, your baby is likely not latching on properly.
If you can get your baby to latch properly, your nipples will heal quickly and your pain will be greatly improved, if not gone altogether.
The first step to getting your baby to latch properly is learning exactly what the proper latch looks like.
Common reasons for an improper latch include:
- Poor positioning
- Tongue tied or lip tied
- Inverted or flat nipples
- Nipple confusion from bottle feeding or pacifiers
- Cleft lip or palate
- Waiting too long to feed a hungry baby from missing hunger cues
- Poor muscle tone due to pain medication at during labor
- Birth trauma
2. Ensure that breast pump flanges are the proper fit
If you are an exclusively pumping mom who has sore nipples, you could possibly have pumping flanges that are too big or too small.
Most breast pumps come with two sizes of flanges but you can order extra. It is normal to need multiple sizes during your breastfeeding experience because you breasts will change as you go along.
You have the proper fitting flange if your nipple is centered in the flange and there is little to no areola tissue inside the tunnel. You should not feel excess rubbing of your nipple against the flange or pain while pumping.
3. Rub a little breastmilk on after each feeding
Breastmilk has living and healing immune cells inside of it. Which is one of the reasons it’s such a wonderful gift to your baby.
You can use it to help heal your poor cracked nipples by rubbing some on after each feeding and allowing it to air dry.
4. Nipple cream
Studies have shown that Lanolin is very effective at healing sore nipples from breastfeeding. (source) Lanolin is expressed oil from the sebaceous glands of sheep, so this is not a good option for any vegan mamas.
However, I found a lot of luck with the Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple cream. This nipple cream is 100% plant based, smells wonderful, and was very soothing to apply.
5. Coconut oil
Organic virgin coconut oil is safe to apply to cracked nipples and your baby can continue to nurse without the need to wash the coconut oil off.
I applied a layer of coconut oil after each nursing session and my daily shower before I applied the Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple cream.
6. Allow your nipples to air out
When you first start breastfeeding, the body seems to overproduce and leak breastmilk frequently. You can use nipple pads to catch the excess breast milk but these should be changed often so your nipple can remain dry.
Wet soggy nipples is a recipe for infection and delayed healing. It is also a good idea to let your nipple fully dry after you get out of the shower and before you get dressed.
You know how we are told to air our baby’s butt out for diaper rash. Well, the same goes for our nipples. A little fresh air does them well!
7. Warm compress
About once a day I would run some hot water over a couple of wash clothes and apply the heat to my nipples. This helps increase the blood flow to the area which brings with it healing immune cells.
Alternatively, you can use warm chamomile tea bags as a compress for your nipples. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory flavonoids and induces soothing feelings to irritated nipples.
8. Topical Arnica solution
Arnica Montana is the homeopathic preparation of the European flowering plant known as wolf’s bane. It used whenever tissue injury in the body occurs.
You can make a topical arnica solution by dissolving a dose of pellets in a small amount of purified water. Apply this topically to the nipples before applying nipple cream
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10. Time and prayer
If you are reading this then your nipples are probably hurting bad. You may even think one of them could possibly fall off like I did. I promise you your nipple won’t fall off!
I wrote about how struggled for 6 full weeks with nipple pain and read somewhere that the first few weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest part. I made it through using these home remedies for nipple pain. It WILL get better and your nipples will heal.
I told myself when I felt like crying that I just had to get to 6 weeks and it would be better. I prayed daily for my nipples to heal and for me to be able to provide my son with breastmilk for as long as possible.
I wanted to offer these words of encouragement to any mamas out there who feel like giving up.
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