Gail Macklin RN BSN IBCLC
Pain is not to be underestimated! If you are reading this and in pain, help is on the way!
Many patients come into our center because they are in pain. There are a variety of reasons women become sore. It can be due to a poor latch, poor positioning, a baby with a short tongue (that needs a few weeks to grow!) or a mom with large nipples to name a few.
No matter what the cause, it is imperative to get help! You don't need to be in pain. While there are many ways to treat sore nipples, probably the most important thing you can do for yourself is go see a Board Certifed Lactation Consultant. Lactation Consultants can help you pinpoint the reason you are sore and give you strategies to treat your soreness and the support you need to get through this tough time.
This article will go over some of the treatment methods to help you get through this difficult time. There will be a list of additional articles below about sore nipples as well.
Q: What should I do if my nipples are so sore I feel like I can't nurse anymore?
A:Call and get some help! The best person to call is a lactation consultant in your area. Most problems are corrected in one visit with an LC. There is also an organization called La Leche League where you can call and find out where there is a local support group in your area which is great to get some support. Remember, well meaning friends are not necessarily breastfeeding experts and you need to talk to someone who has experience with lots of breastfeeding moms.
Q: Are there any products I can use to get me through this tough time?
A: Yes! There are a variety of items that can help your nipples to heal and protect them while you work on the breastfeeding.
Breastshells for Sore Nipples- Breastshells provide relief for sore nipples by providing a barrier in between feeding so nothing is directly rubbing causing discomfort. Some women wear them for 15 to 20 minutes after a feeding while some women find them comfortable to wear the whole time in between feedings. If you are very full and leaking you may find they cause you to leak even more in which case you would use them more sparingly. This is one method for gaining relief of sore nipples that many women find comforting. These can be used with the nipple creams mentioned below.
Nipple Creams and Ointments can be helpful in soothing sore nipples. These creams are safe to use after every breastfeed and generally do not need to be washed off before baby nurses the next time. Please read individual instructions before using and adhere to those guidelines. There is also an ointment called All Purpose Nipple Ointment that is by prescription only and is generally used when there is some skin breakdown on the nipple to help heal.
Comfort Gel pads have been proven to be very comforting to any new mom feeling some soreness. You can put the in the fridge for extra cooling comfort. These can be worn in between feeding and can be extremely helpful in getting a mom through a hard time.
A nipple shield is a soft silicone device, shaped like a little sombrero that goes right over mom's nipple and baby latches directly onto the shield and receives milk from mom's breast through the holes at the end of the nipple shield. It has been used for many breastfeeding issues including sore nipples, latch on difficulties and fast milk ejection reflex to name a few. There has been much controversy over this little device through the years, but in general we find that in can be very useful and helpful but is best used under the direction of a Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They come in different sizes and you will need to ask your consultant what size will work best for you and your baby. They also come in the standard shape and there is also a contact nipple shield which helps provide more skin to skin contact between mom and baby.
Again, this device should be used under the supervision of a lactation consultant and the correct size needs to be determined by your lactation consultant.