Troubleshooting Breastfeeding Concerns
Nipple soreness may discourage you and the wonderful bonding with breastfeeding. Be patient and expect some tenderness by the 2nd to 3rd day. Initially at first latch-on after the birth you may be surprised by baby’s first attachment sensation over the nipple. If this first grasp onto your areola is painful, use the “30 Second Rule”! Wait, until baby is fully latched and suckling for 30 seconds. Gently remove baby after 30 seconds if the feeling remains painful and does not lessen. Try again with a calm baby and wide open mouth to re-latch for another 30 seconds. If no improvement is felt, seek out help with a health professional who can observe your latch and baby’s suck.
Generally, mild nipple soreness resolves by day 7 to 10. Purified lanolin nipple ointment such as Lansinoh or PureLan is recommended by lactation consultants for application to nipples after feedings to sooth tenderness and dry, cracked tissue.
Continued soreness is due to improper positioning and latch-on that usually can be corrected. Do not let the problem get worse, contact a breastfeeding professional as soon as possible.
Steps to Follow:
1. Gently wipe away the baby’s saliva from your nipple. Apply a few drops of your own milk to the sore area and allow time to air dry before closing your bra. Immunities in your colostrum and milk have healing properties. Next apply a small dab of lanolin if sore. Allow your nipples to air dry after every feeding.
2. Choose a cotton fabric bra and loose cotton shirts that allow your skin to breath. Avoid nylon or lace fabric bras and tops during the early weeks of nursing.
3. Change nursing pads frequently if wet. Washable cotton types are preferred over disposable and may save you money long term. If using disposable type, avoid any kind with plastic liners and change them often, especially in warm climates. Helpful hint: keep a spare set in a zip lock sandwich bag in your purse or diaper bag when away from home
4. Choose foods for your meals and snacks that are high in protein which helps to build new healing nipple tissue. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin well hydrated.
5. Wash and rinse your breasts daily with your shower or bath, any other products may be drying and irritating to your skin. Baby may refuse the breast when perfumes and lotions are used.
Cracked, bleeding nipples are a problem that occurs from improper positioning, a shallow latch, and traumatic removal from breast and sometimes from a baby with tongue-tie or dysfunctional suck. Use the steps above first, then if not solved see a lactation consultant to assess your baby’s suck and latch. If the Lansinoh®™ ointment doesn’t heal the area, occasionally a compound prescription ointment might be prescribed by your physician or nurse-midwife after a proper evaluation by a lactation consultant. Small plastic ventilated breast shells can be worn inside your bra to protect a damaged nipple while healing. Breast shells are worn between feedings, allowing air circulation and preventing friction from your clothing.