When you're a breastfeeding mom, nipple pain is bound to happen at some point in your journey. For many moms, the pain is most prevalent when they first begin breastfeeding. That being said, it's also very common to experience nipple pain or soreness later down the line as well. For moms who aren't in excruciating pain and need immediate relief, DIY ways to ease nipple pain are often the simplest methods to alleviating discomfort.
According to La Leche League International (LLLI), some of the most common causes of nipple pain for breastfeeding moms include incorrect latch or positioning, engorgement, skin conditions, stress, nipple vasospasm, or feeding frequency changes. Throughout the course of a breastfeeding journey, you're bound to run into some sort of nipple pain or discomfort, and it's generally an easy fix. If the pain, however, is unbearable or continues on for a week or two, it's always a good idea to reach out to a local lactation consultant for expert advice. Otherwise, there are often several items around your home you can use to lessen discomfort or get rid of nipple pain completely. If you're needing some DIY ideas to ease the pain, consider some of the suggestions below for quick, simple relief and prevention.
1. Check Your Baby's Latch
According to Today's Parent, the majority of sore nipples are caused by latch problems. Some DIY ways to check or adjust latch include making sure your entire nipple and a good amount of your areola are covered by the baby's mouth, allowing your baby to self-latch, using good positioning, and trying to adjust your baby's latch (if there's pain) without unlatching.
2. Apply Some Breast Milk
According to the aforementioned LLLI article, hand-expressing a bit of breast milk ahead of time can soften the nipple and areola enough to avoid some nipple pain. After you're done feeding, express a little more breast milk onto your nipple and let it air dry to help heal. This is especially helpful for dry or cracked nipples.
3. Turn To Coconut Oil
Although olive or almond oils are also great options, coconut oil is the oil primarily suggested to ease nipple pain. According to Natural Fertility Info, coconut oil can moisturize and prevent dry nipples and is an anti-fungal that can be used to treat itchiness or thrush as well.
4. Utilize Cabbage Leaves
Although this DIY idea doesn't work for everyone, I know moms who swear by it and was also given this tip by a midwife at one of my OB-GYNs practices. If you're experience nipple pain due to engorgement or clogged milk ducts, place a cabbage leaf over the hurting breast and leave it for one to two hours before changing, according to Mercy Clinic. Once you notice the pain subsiding, stop using the cabbage leaves.
5. Apply A Warm Compress
Using a warm washcloth or compress can soothe sore nipples while the heat assists in healing, according to Top 10 Home Remedies. Simply take a washcloth and dip it in or hold it under warm water, wring it out, and place the washcloth over your breasts for a few minutes.
6. Get Icy
Applying ice wrapped in a damp washcloth to your nipples prior to nursing may alleviate some pain by numbing an already tender nipple for when your baby latches, according to Ask Dr. Sears. This option, however, should generally be used for temporary relief in addition to another method to get rid of nipple pain.
7. Try Aloe Vera
The aforementioned Top 10 Home Remedies article also suggested using the healing powers and pain-relief from aloe vera to sooth sore nipples. For best results, extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf by cutting it open and apply it to the affected area. After it dries, clean the area with a warm towel and repeat later if needed.
8. Make Breast Pads
My Frugal Baby Tips shared a genius DIY idea for creating soothing breast pads to ease nipple pain and breast tenderness. And, unlike some DIY projects, these are usper simple.
9. Create A Cooler Gel Pad
Several moms turn to gel pads for nipple and breast pain relief. One quick DIY tip from Intermountain Healthcare is to head to your local store or pharmacy for gel pads. You can create extra relief when you place a gel pad in the refrigerator, which allows the cooling sensation on your nipples to help with the pain.
10. Soak In Saline
If the skin isn't cracked or broken, the aforementioned Intermountain Healthcare article also suggested creating a mixture containing 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of warm water. Use gauze or cotton pads to dip into the solution, wring out the salt from the pads, and place them over your nipples for a few minutes.
11. Homemake Nipple Butter
Since many moms and even some doctors steer away from Lanolin, making your own nipple cream may be a route that works best for you. Modern Alternative Mama suggested a homemade nipple butter.
If you are experiencing nipple pain and want to look for some simple ways to address and ease it, there are several options available. Sometimes DIY options don't work though, and nipple pain persists. That's completely normal too. If you notice your nipple pain is getting worse or not going away, reach out to your health care provider for more options. Because most nipple pain is due to latch, you can also consider going straight to a lactation consultant to work out your breastfeeding pain.