How to treat sore nipples

Slightly sensitive nipples during the first days of breastfeeding are nothing unusual, open injuries or cracks in the skin, however, should not occur.

Measures to nurture sore nipples

1. Cleaning

  • Wash your breast under running warm water after breastfeeding
  • In case of open injuries and cracked skin: clean with physiological saline solution after breastfeeding (cleans and heals)
  • Wash the breast 1-2 times a day with water and soap (pH neutral) as this reduces the risk of mastitis
  • Clean with a disinfectant for mucous membrane

2. Nurturing

  • In case of sore nipples, hygiene (of hands!) is the first care measure
  • In case of sore nipples which are not yet open: nurture with lanolin salve (e.g. mamilan® Breast Creme)
  • Apply the breast cream in a thin layer
  • In case of sore, open nipples: Dress the nipples with a thick layer of lanolin ointment (e.g. mamilan® Breast Creme) – principle of moist wound healing
  • Use Hydro-Gel pads

Main reasons for sore nipples during the initial time of breastfeeding

  • Incorrect latch-on technique – the infant takes too little breast tissue into the mouth
  • Baby suckles without milk flowing, nipple is compressed too much without release
  • Engorgement when milk comes in

Other causes can be insufficient elasticity of the nipple, incorrect sucking behaviour (changed sucking behaviour, biting, etc.), anatomic challenges (abnormal palate shape, short lingual frenum and the like), insufficient hygiene (hygiene of hands, moist nipple environment caused by nursing pads) or incorrect use of a breast pump.

Strengthening the immune system can support the healing process.

Managing breastfeeding with sore nipples

  • Trigger the let-down reflex – relax, massage the breast, apply moist heat
  • Check breastfeeding and latch-on technique
  • Change breastfeeding position, start with the breast which is not or less affected
  • Breastfeed frequently (8-12 times in 24 hours), make sure each breastfeeding session is long enough
  • Interrupt breastfeeding if necessary, express milk mechanically or empty breast manually
  • Feed breast milk with feeding helpers which are compatible with breastfeeding (cup, spoon, syringe)
  • Express milk preferably with an electric breast pump (mamivac® SENSITIVE-CFH or mamivac® LACTIVE)
  • When pumping, use suction kits with soft breast tube or soft insert exclusively. To make the pumping more pleasant, you can apply a breast cream (e.g. our mamilan® Breast Creme) to the areola.
Source: Training material of the Velb Basic Course on Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Advice, 2009 (translated)

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