Breastfeeding: Preventing sore nipples

Tips for preventing sore nipples.

Getting started with breastfeeding can be a challenge.  One of the biggest reasons many women stop breastfeeding early on is sore nipples.  It is important for a mother to master proper positioning and latch early on to prevent nipple soreness. 

Proper positioning and latching are very important for preventing sore nipples. There are other important steps that can be taken to prevent problems with soreness. Using bottles or pacifiers in the first two weeks may teach the baby incorrect sucking patterns.  Incorrect sucking patterns can lead to sore nipples.  Using fragrant lotions or soaps on your breasts is not recommended. These may irritate your nipples and be harmful or taste bad to your baby. It is important to break the suction your baby’s mouth creates on you breast before you take your baby off your breast. Break the suction by gently sliding your finger between you baby’s gums at the corner of his mouth. Leave your finger between you baby’s gums until he is off the breast.  Also, a pump that doesn’t fit well or that applies too much suction will cause nipple trauma.        

The best treatment for sore nipples is prevention. Ensure a good positioning and latch at every feeding.  Keep the fabric closest to your breast clean and dry.  Hand express some milk or use a breast pump before the baby latches if your breasts are full or engorged. This will make your breast softer so your baby can latch on better. Check with a breastfeeding support person or health care professional for more suggestions. 

Michigan State University Extension offers breastfeeding support to feeding mothers, their babies and their companion. Contact your local MSU Extension office to find support near you.

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