Whether you breastfeed for three months or three years, chances are you'll experience some kind of nipple discomfort during your breastfeeding journey. With practice and proper latch, the pain should subside after at most a few weeks. In some cases, however, moms deal with cracked, dry, sore nipples for far too long without remedy. Learning how to soothe sore nipples isn't always easy, but luckily, there are ways to ease the pain.
According to La Leche League International (LLLI,) nipple pain is all to common for nursing moms. Although it should never be painful, sore, cracked, throbbing, bleeding, painful nipples are some of the leading reasons that mothers stop breastfeeding altogether and can lead to things like low supply, mastitis, engorgement, and underfeeding.
However, pushing through the pain isn't necessary (or pleasant,) so identifying the root of the problem is the first step to recovering and nursing pain-free. Although some level of discomfort is par for the course of early breastfeeding, it should never stick around long enough to make you question your decision to breastfeed. Once you know what is causing the pain, you can apply the following methods to help soothe it and keep it at bay for good, ensuring that your breastfeeding journey is as beautiful as it is beneficial.
1. Rethink Your Latch
According to Today's Parent, the vast majority of nipple pain is caused by poor or incorrect latch. Most experts recommend mothers practice the deep latch technique right off the bat to prevent nipple pain in the first place, but luckily, you can try the method at any time and it can work wonders for nipple pain.
2. Use Your Own Breast Milk
According to LLLI, applying your own breast milk is one of the most effective ways to soothe the pain from cracked or dry nipples. In fact, one study published in Mucosal Immunology discovered a "reservoir" of healing properties in breast milk that can reduce inflammation, heal wounds, and soothe pain.
3. Air Them Out
Another option soothing nipple pain is to simply let them air out. Kids Health recommended that mothers massage breast milk onto their nipples and let them air dry after each feeding to ease discomfort. Also, be sure to remove your nursing pads and wash your nursing bras frequently as moisture is prime breeding ground for infection and bacteria to grow, which can heighten nipple pain as well.
4. Use A Modified Lanolin Cream
The Dr. Sears website noted that although some nipple creams can do more harm than good, using a modified Lanolin ointment like medical-grade Lansinoh. The cream can help your nipples retain their natural moisture if you're struggling with dry or cracked skin.
5. Ask For Help
If the pain isn't going away, there's likely a deep issue at hand. LLLI also noted that latch problems can sometimes be difficult to fix on your own and visiting a lactation consultant might be the quickest fix for the pain.