Sore Nipples

Natural and herbal remedies for the treatment of Sore Nipples

    Sore Nipples

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    1. What are Sore Nipples?
    2. What Causes Sore Nipples?
    3. Help for Sore Nipples
    4. More Information on Sore Nipples

    What are Sore Nipples?

    Many new mothers experience sore nipples when breastfeeding. Initially, tenderness is felt within the first few days of feeding but gradually the discomfort disappears and breastfeeding improves. When mothers have sore nipples they tend to delay feedings because it is so painful.

    As a result breasts become engorged (very full) and may result in plugged milk ducts. If you continue to feel pain, it is most likely that your baby is not latched on properly and some changes need to be made. Breastfeeding should not be painful – it is one of the oldest ways to strengthen the bond between mother and baby and should ideally be a pleasurable experience for both of you.

    What Causes Sore Nipples?

    The main causes of sore nipples result from a baby not latching on properly or poor positioning. This usually occurs when the baby is sucking or pulling mainly on the nipple instead of the areola (brown ring that surrounds the nipple). When a baby latches on incorrectly, he or she may also develop poor sucking techniques. Older babies who are teething can also hurt the mother’s nipples when they are being breastfed.

    Teething babies may experience mouth pain and bite on the nipple to be more comfortable when they feed. If babies are on solid foods, the leftover food particles in his or her mouth can irritate the nipple when nursing and cause nipple soreness. Certain soaps, creams and lotions with strong chemicals can also cause dermatitis and result in nipple pain. A badly-fitting bra, breast pads and plastic linings can also cause sore nipples.

    Help for Sore Nipples

    In order to ease the pain of sore nipples, several self-help measures can be used at home. The most important thing when nursing is to make sure that your baby is well-positioned and latched on properly. Your baby’s mouth should be wide open and taking in the whole nipple with as much of the areola as possible – the baby’s head should be tilted slightly so that your nipple touches the roof of his or her mouth and makes it difficult for him or her to bite.

    It is also useful to change positions every time you nurse as this puts pressure on a different part of the nipple. Rubbing pure lanolin on your nipples after breastfeeding or applying a nipple cream (Lansinoh) can also soothe the pain. If nipple soreness continues, consult your physician or a lactation consultant. Sometimes women with sore nipples develop a fungal infection called thrush which forms on the nipples from the milk. Other symptoms of thrush such as itching dry or tender, pink skin may also appear. Thrush can also form in the baby’s mouth as white spots on the gums, inside of the cheeks or tongue or as a diaper rash. Medications will be prescribed to treat the infection.

    Natural remedies

    Natural and holistic remedies are the perfect treatment for soothing sore, painful nipples. Trusted herbal remedies are gentle and safe to use on the body without the side effects of harsh chemicals and astringents contained in so many over-the-counter and prescription creams and ointments.

    Carefully selected ingredients such as Calc flour, vitamin E oil and Silica help to promote the healing of chapped, cracked skin and reduce itchiness and discomfort. Two well-known herbs such as Calendula officinalis (Marigold) and Chamomile have excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and soothes skin rashes, irritation and burns.

    More Information on Sore Nipples

    Tips to relieve sore nipples
    • There are a number of ways to relieve the pain and discomfort of sore nipples and these include:
    • Position baby properly – this can be done by nursing your baby while you are both lying down, and ensuring that your baby’s nose and mouth are facing your breast
    • Make sure that you and your baby are both comfortable before you start breastfeeding. Use a nursing pillow and check that your back, arms and legs are supported
    • Support your breast by cupping your hand in a "U or C" shape to get your baby to latch properly
    • Detach your baby properly and never pull your nipple out of your baby’s mouth. Place your little finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction
    • Feed your baby as often as possible. When feeding, offer the breast that is less sore
    • Take a warm shower or apply warm compresses to sore breasts to soothe them
    • Apply a block of ice to your nipples to numb the pain
    • Keep nipples dry by changing nursing pads frequently to avoid excess moisture being trapped
    • Express milk as this will soften the aerola and lubricate the nipple as well as get the milk flowing
    • Wear a comfortable nursing bra as a too tight bra can constrict circulation
    • Apply expressed milk on your nipples, then air-dry your nipples
    • Avoid using a nipple shield as they can prolong nipple soreness
    • Use nipple protectors over tender nipples to avoid your clothing from rubbing against them
    • Avoid using soaps or ointments that contain strong chemicals or astringents, rather clean breasts and nipples with water