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What to Do When Breastfeeding is Giving You Sore Nipples

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When nursing makes you wince, all you want to do is quit, right?

Adjusting to life with a newborn is tough– especially when tender, dry, and maybe even cracked nipples are involved.

What most people don’t tell you is that breastfeeding is a little painful the first week or two as your nipples get adjusted to their new job.

So, if you were wondering– Does breastfeeding cause sore nipples?

The answer is yes.

In fact, up to 90% of new moms experience soreness when they first start breastfeeding.

How do I stop my nipples from hurting while breastfeeding?

Now that you know this is common and happens to the majority of new moms who breastfeed, let’s talk about how you can get some relief from the discomfort and soreness.

The first thing to do is to make sure you’ve nailed the latch, which is getting your child’s mouth in the proper position around your nipple.

If your baby isn’t latching correctly, this can absolutely cause painful breastfeeding.

A few common reasons for an improper latch may include:

  • Baby has a shallow latch– This happens when your baby doesn’t grasp enough breast tissue. Baby needs to open wide before latching.
  • Baby’s tongue is not positioned properly
  • Baby isn’t in a comfortable position

Watch below as a lactation consultant demonstrates proper positioning:

Assuming your baby is latching correctly and you’re practicing good breastfeeding posture, try to take comfort in knowing your soreness will soon pass.

For more latching and positioning tips, I highly recommend checking out The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class.

Also, having the right breastfeeding essentials on hand to make you and your baby more relaxed and comfortable helps too.

Thankfully, this soreness phase doesn’t last forever.

Here are three tips to survive this initial “ouch” phase:

1. Don’t stop breastfeeding.

Ok, this one goes against the instinct to give your nipples a break and let them heal.

I get it. When you’re experiencing discomfort, the last thing you really want to do is cause more discomfort for yourself.

But it’s crucial to continue nursing or pumping on both breasts– even if it hurts.

Otherwise, your milk production will decrease (if you don’t use it, you lose it).

Taking a break from breastfeeding may also cause you to experience breast engorgement, and that’s no fun either.

2. Use Mother Nature’s secret weapon.

Meaning– you’re own breastmilk.

Although this sounds a little crazy, it’s true. Your own breastmilk can help heal your nipples due to its healing properties.

After breastfeeding, just rub a few drops on your nipples and let them air dry.

3. Apply nipple cream. Religiously.

Lanolin-based nipple cream is designed to soothe sore nipples and it’s safe for your baby.

The brand I like best is Lansinoh, because it’s easiest to smooth on and feels the most moisturizing.

Related: 5 Best Nipple Creams for Breastfeeding Mothers

If breastfeeding is giving you sore nipples, hang in there.

Sometimes the key is a little– okay, a lot– of patience.

If you continue to struggle with painful nursing, be sure to ask your doctor about seeing a lactation consultant before you decide to throw in the towel.

These breastfeeding experts can troubleshoot what’s going on to find solutions that work for you.

Although it’s tempting to give up when you hit a nursing snag, all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding make it worth it!

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