Breastfeeding is a learned skill for mothers. Like with learning any new skill, it can take some time to get the hang of breastfeeding. It can take a little while to get used to the strong sucking of a healthy baby. In the early weeks, many mothers experience some nipple pain that ceases after the initial attachment. For most mothers, sore nipples cease to be a problem after the early weeks. Allowing your baby to self-attach as often as possible while you both learn helps reduce the chance of getting damaged nipples.The most common reason for sore and damaged nipples is the baby’s poor attachment to the breast.
Taking care in getting your baby on and off your breast, some simple first-aid treatment and a little time and patience are usually all that is needed to solve the problem. You will find that sore nipples improve quickly once your baby attaches correctly for all breastfeeds.
Here are some suggestions to help deal with sore nipples:
If you wish, restrict comfort sucking while nipples are tender. Gently break suction with clean finger inserted in the corner of baby’s mouth before removing baby from the breast.
Contact your medical adviser, a lactation consultant, child health nurse or an ABA breastfeeding counsellor for further help.
There can be a few causes of sore or cracked nipples. Please contact one of our trained breastfeeding counsellors by phone. Members can also contact a breastfeeding counsellor via email. They can help you work out what the cause may be. Working out the cause is important, as this helps to find the right solution in your case.
In most cases, sore or cracked nipples are the result of incorrect positioning or attachment.
Sometimes the crack in the nipple skin can be seen on the nipple itself or where the nipple joins the areola, or the crack can be very fine and hard to see. Breastfeeding with a cracked nipple is often painful and cracked nipples may bleed during breastfeeds.
Please note: Although bleeding looks scary and blood may sometimes show up in your baby’s bowel motions or vomit, it is not harmful to your baby. It is quite safe for her to keep breastfeeding.
Things to do to help a cracked nipple:
Please see your medical adviser if healing is slow.
The information on this website does not replace the advice of your health care provider.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association May 2015