In the olden days, mothers were told to toughen their nipples to avoid pain when the baby started breastfeeding. Rubbing with a wash cloth, pumping and even alcohol was once used to toughen the nipples.
The number one reason why a woman has sore nipples is poor positioning and latching, not the lack of preparation. Possibly, the baby is not turned toward the mother or the baby’s mouth is not over the nipple but on the tip of it. Some babies go on to the breast with a wide mouth. But, throughout the feed, slides slowly down to the nipple.
Another reason for sore nipples may be the mom is feeling exhausted and doesn’t think she can deal with one more thing, including sore nipples. Pain with latch is not normal and needs to be addressed. The sooner the mother fixes the problem, the sooner she will have pain-free breastfeeding.
PREVENTING SORE NIPPLES:
o Whatever position the mom wants to try, the baby’s body needs to be turned in facing mom. Make sure the baby’s bottom is also tucked in close.
o You want to have a breastfeeding pillow or many pillows to bring baby’s nose level to the nipple. The baby can not latch properly if the baby is sliding down.
o When an infant is skin to skin its mother, the baby knows what to do instinctively. Not only will the baby wake up faster, she will breastfeed more efficiently. If the infant is fussy with her arms flailing, wrap the baby snuggly to help soothe.
o Wait for the baby to open her mouth. You want the mouth to be wide as if the baby is going to be eating a big double-double cheese burger. If the baby only wants to open as wide as if eating a small hamburger, you need to wait. Keep the infant up close to the nipple and with one hand hold the baby’s head and with the other hand hold your breast and tease the baby with your nipple. Move the nipple from the baby’s nose to chin in a straight line. If the baby opens wide like that double-double cheese burger, ram him onto the breast quickly. If he does not, then you are to repeat this until he does.
o Make sure that you are holding your breast properly. Hold your breast in the C hold. Bring your four fingers completely underneath your breast and lift up. With your thumb you lay it at the top line of your areola. You do not want to have your fingers near the nipple. Your fingers will look like you are holding that double-double cheese burger.
o Sometimes women may feel discomfort during the first 10 seconds of a feed. This may be normal. However, if pain continues throughout the feed and/or the nipple looks like a
ski slope after the feed then the latch and positioning need evaluating. Go back and follow the directions listed above.
HEALING YOUR NIPPLES:
o With improved latch
o Moist healing is preferred.
o Express your colostrum for its antibiotic factors.
o Nipple ointments for example, Lansinoh or Purelan
o Soothies or other gel pads that go over the nipple
o Alternate between ointments and gel pads for soothing relief
o Air Dry
Have patience during this time. If you need more support, seek out your nurse, a Doula, Le Leche League, or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.