If your baby isn’t well positioned and attached while feeding you can end up with sore, cracked nipples. If you’re finding feeding painful or your nipple seems flattened or squashed, then your baby probably isn’t feeding properly.
If you do have sore nipples it’s really important that you try and fix the problem as your baby will not be satisfied after feeds and feeding will take longer, as well as the discomfort that you will be putting up with!
For breastfeeding to be a pain-free experience your baby needs to bring your breast and nipple into their mouth so that the nipple is up over their tongue and resting at the soft spot on the roof of their mouth. If you get this right your baby’s tongue will be pressing against your breast and not your nipple.
If your nipple is not far enough back in your baby’s mouth then it’s likely to get rubbed and the skin will become inflamed and may actually break. Sore red nipples that are painful after feeding can occur after the first few days and are usually caused by a thrush infection.
The best treatment is to fix what’s causing the soreness rather than just treating the symptoms. One of the best treatments is to get your positioning and attachment right. You can find out more about positioning and attachment here or you can ask your midwife, health visitor or one of the breastfeeding team for more information.
While your getting your attachment and positioning just right nipple creams can be used to treat soreness but you need to be careful which brands you choose as some ingredients can cause your baby to have an allergic reaction. You can apply a purified lanolin ointment to help with moist wound healing and this can also help any cracks to heal faster. Your own breast milk can also help your nipples to recover. If you apply a few drops of your breast milk to the sore area after each feed the infection-fighting ingredients will help to clear any soreness.
We don’t recommend nipple shields for treating sore nipples because they lower your milk supply and stop your baby from learning how to attach properly to the breast. Also, babies tend to get used to feeding with nipple shields and refuse to feed without them. If you are already using nipple shields, your midwife, health visitor or one of our breastfeeding team can offer you support and help to stop.