When dealing with sore breasts or nipples, here are some pointers for avoiding pain in the future as well as making yourself more comfortable while your breasts heal:
●Make sure your baby latches onto your breasts correctly every time.
●Ask your doctor or lactation consultant to recommend a cream to put on your nipples in between feedings to help sore nipples heal.
●At the end of a feeding, massage some breast milk on your nipples, and then allow them to air dry.
●Consider wearing breast shields in between feedings (not to be confused with nipple shields, which are used during breastfeeding) to protect sore nipples. Breast shields are dome-shaped covers that prevent nipples from rubbing against clothing and help them heal faster.
●Ask your health care provider if a nipple shield is a good idea to use while nursing. These shields are placed over the areola and nipple during a feeding to protect sore or cracked nipples. Nipple shields may interfere with a mother’s milk supply, so it’s important to only use them under the supervision of a doctor or lactation consultant.
●Some women find it helpful to nurse more often but for shorter periods of time, rather than nurse for extended periods.
●Try to nurse first on the side that’s less sore.
●Gently break suction when removing your baby from your breast. (Slip your finger in the side of your baby’s mouth, between the gums, and then turn your finger a quarter turn to break the suction.)
●Vary breastfeeding positions to help drain all areas of your breast.
●Use wet or dry heat on your breasts (a warm water bottle, heating pad, washcloth, or warm shower) right before feeding. (However, if you have a yeast infection in your breast, you’ll need to keep your nipples dry because the yeast thrives on moisture.)
●Put ice packs or cool compresses on engorged breasts after feedings.
●Gently massage the sore area before nursing.
●Get plenty of rest and fluids.
●Some mothers with cracked or sore nipples find that pumping for 2 to 3 days allows their nipples to heal.
If you find that you’re consistently unable to nurse your baby without pain, be sure to call your doctor or a lactation consultant.