Breastfeeding: Common Breastfeeding Challenges (cont.)

Sore nipples

Many moms report that nipples can be tender at first. Breastfeeding should be comfortable once you have found some positions that work and a good latch is established. Yet it is possible to still have pain from an abrasion you already have. You may also have pain if your baby is sucking on only the nipple.

Ask a lactation consultant for help to improve your baby's latch. Talk to your doctor if your pain does not go away or if you suddenly get sore nipples after several weeks of pain-free breastfeeding. Sore nipples may lead to a breast infection, which needs to be treated by a doctor.

What you can do

  • A good latch is key, so visit the Bringing your baby to the breast to latch section for detailed instructions. If your baby is sucking only on the nipple, gently break your baby's suction to your breast by placing a clean finger in the corner of your baby's mouth and try again. (Your nipple should not look flat or compressed when it comes out of your baby's mouth. It should look round and long, or the same shape as it was before the feeding.)
  • If you find yourself wanting to delay feedings because of pain, get help from a lactation consultant. Delaying feedings can cause more pain and harm your supply.
  • Try changing positions each time you breastfeed. This puts the pressure on a different part of the breast.
  • After breastfeeding, express a few drops of milk and gently rub it on your nipples with clean hands. Human milk has natural healing properties and emollients that soothe. Also try letting your nipples air-dry after feeding, or wear a soft cotton shirt.
  • If you are thinking about using creams, hydrogel pads, or a nipple shield, get help from a health care provider first.
  • Avoid wearing bras or clothes that are too tight and put pressure on your nipples.
  • Change nursing pads often to avoid trapping in moisture.
  • Avoid using soap or ointments that contain astringents or other chemicals on your nipples. Make sure to avoid products that must be removed before breastfeeding. Washing with clean water is all that is needed to keep your nipples and breasts clean.
  • If you have very sore nipples, you can ask your doctor about using non-aspirin pain relievers.