How can I Deal with Sore Nipples While Breastfeeding?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Most women who experience sore nipples while breastfeeding have the problem because the baby is not latching onto the breast properly. The best way to manage the pain is to avoid it in the first place. This can be accomplished by positioning the baby so that he or she can easily access the breast and establish a latch that goes over the entire nipple. Other things that can help sore nipples to heal include air, dry heat, breast milk, and lanolin-based ointments.

For women who already have sore nipples while breastfeeding, it is important to air the area as much as possible. The nipples should remain bare for as long as feasible after nursing. Breast shells, which are inserts with plastic domes that sit over the breast, can also help to air out the nipples between feedings.

Heat can also help to heal the nipple area. A few minutes of sun on the area each day can be beneficial, though it is important to limit exposure time in order to avoid sunburn. Applying a source of dry heat directly to the nipple after nursing can help to increase the flow of blood to the area, which will help it heal.


Though the nipples should be dried with a gentle patting motion after each feeding, properly applied moisture can have a healing effect. Hand expressing a small amount of milk after nursing and patting it into the nipple can help to heal and lightly moisturize the area, thus warding off cracks and toughening of the nipple. Women who have particularly sore nipples while breastfeeding can also treat with a lanolin-based ointment. The ointment should be applied sparingly and gently rubbed into the area. This will give the nipples just enough moisture to avoid cracking and begin the healing process.

The most effective way to deal with sore nipples while breastfeeding is to learn how to position and latch the baby onto the breast properly. Proper positioning can help give the baby the best access to the breast. Latching correctly gets the baby in an ideal position to receive milk while reducing pain for the mother.

If the nipples have any sort of red marks on them from the baby’s mouth, latching will need to be corrected. The baby’s mouth should be opened before feeding and carefully guided to the nipple. In order to avoid pain, all of the nipple should be in the baby’s mouth. To reduce pain when removing the baby from the breast, carefully insert a finger between the baby’s mouth and the nipple in order to gently break the seal after nursing.

The baby should be positioned so that the head is slightly tilted back. Holding baby across the body can be extremely effective. The mother should be able to easily control the body position of the baby in order to achieve a solid latch.



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