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Soothing Sore Breasts from Breastfeeding

September 1, 2017

Photos by Mandi McDougall Photography.  Affiliate links are used in this post.

Tips for soothing sore breastfeeding nipples

When I was pregnant with Caleb I worried about all sorts of first time mom things that the planner in me couldn’t plan for.  One of my worries was that I wasn’t going to be able to nurse my precious baby for one reason or another.  I knew that nursing wasn’t the only way to feed and that my little one would be fed and happy regardless of how it happened but still I worried away.  I was very thankful when he took to nursing like a pro and fattened up quickly.  Now that Josiah’s here, breastfeeding has come easily again.  My little man is chunking up and I, once again, joke with people about how my body produces half-and-half.  Even though nursing comes easy for me, the first few weeks breastfeeding both my boys was horribly, ridiculously, unbelievably painful!  I powered through it but I searched everywhere – online, with friends, in books – for tips for soothing my sore breasts from breastfeeding.

At the beginning of our their lives, every time either of my boys latched a pain would shoot through my breast, through my body, and made me want to rip my little man off myself.  Within about ten seconds of suckling the pain would dissipate and nursing would be easy but those ten seconds, multiple times a day, seemed to stretch on far longer than they actually were.

Thankfully I was committed to breastfeeding my boys as long as I was able so I pushed through the pain.  I’m stubborn, you guys.  I’m the mama who birthed her first son medication-free and only got up to an 8.5 on the pain scale since I figured I needed to save some numbers in case things got worse.  I’m the mama who’s nurses left her mostly alone during her second medication-free birth and never asked for a number scale since they had heard about my ridiculousness during my first delivery.  I can handle pain and yet the discomfort I felt while nursing had me considering giving my boys a bottle instead.

I want to set mamas who have a desire to nurse up for success so I figured I’d share some tips I collected as I furiously googled for answers to how to treat sore nipples during my painful late nights nursing sessions.

Tips for Soothing Sore Breastfeeding Nipples

Check for a Tongue Tie

Before doing anything else, make sure your precious babe doesn’t have a tongue tie!  Thankfully neither of my boys did (although they both were lip tied – something that apparently doesn’t get clipped…) but both my sister-in-law’s kids had hidden tongue ties that weren’t discovered in the hospital.  She had to take her daughter to a few different specialists before someone finally agreed with her that there was a tongue tie issue and as soon as it was clipped her daughter started nursing well, gaining weight, and the pain went away!

Make Sure There’s No Infection

If your child doesn’t have a tongue tie, you may have an infection that is clogging your milk ducts.  If your breast is warm to the touch, red, and you have a fever then this is probably what’s going on.  Don’t worry, you can keep nursing, even through the infection!  In fact, that’s good to be doing – it will help the infection clear up faster!  Click here to get more info on breast infections.

See a Lactation Consultant

The hospital and/or your pediatrician’s office will typically have a lactation consultant on hand to help new mamas out with nursing.  Use this service!!!  Sometimes the baby’s latch is wrong or there’s another simple fix that a lactation consultant can help out with.  Don’t let pride keep you for asking for help!

Nurse on Both Sides

When your nipples are sore it’s easy to want to give them a break and only nurse on one side.  This can do so much damage because it can cause engorgement, cause your supply to plummet, cause an infection, and so much more!  Power through, mama, and feed your baby on both sides!  Your nipples will toughen up so much quicker when you do this!

Get a Good Nipple Cream

I never used nipple cream with Caleb but, with Josiah, I discovered how amazing a good nipple cream is!  When I slathered it on my breasts after wiping them down after each feeding the pain and blood blisters went away so much quicker!  My favorite is Lansinoh Breastfeeding Salve but I’ve heard good things about Earth Mama Natural Nipple Butter and Medela Tender Care Lanolin.  Try them out and see which one works best for you!

Make Sure to Use a Nursing Pillow

When you nurse a baby – especially a newborn – without a nursing pillow it adds an extra strain on your back and, you guessed it, your nipples!  When you breastfeed your baby without a pillow you’re more apt to let him or her droop and pull on your nipples, trying to keep latched.  That tugging can cause a whole lot of pain!  I have a Boppy pillow that I love and I have friends that swear by My Breast Friend pillows.

Ice or Heat the Pain Out

Ice, ice, baby.  Am I right?  But seriously, icing or heating your sore nipples helps so much while your body is getting adjusted to breastfeeding.  You can get special pads that are created to either freeze or get heated in the microwave and stuck into your bra in order to give you some relief!  Get a few and make sure you’re using them!

Get a Good Nursing Bra

I honestly think a good nursing bra can make a huge difference when it comes to how sore your nipples get!  While I’m breastfeeding I wear a bra 24/7 – even to bed.  I had never been fit for a bra before having a baby (I know, shame on me!) but after Caleb was born I decided I was going to invest in a few good bras so I got myself fit!  It’s crazy how good it feels to wear a properly fitted bra!  My absolute favorite for daytime wear is this one that comes in black or cream and I love simple cotton sleep bras for bedtime.

Keep On Keeping On

After all these practical tips, the only other thing I can say is that you need to keep on keeping on.  If your little one is growing well then you might need to push through and let your body get used to breastfeeding.  This was the case for me.  After about two weeks with both my boys nursing became easy and not painful at all!  My nipples got used to the tugging and sucking and all of a sudden it didn’t hurt anymore.  I’d encourage you that, if you’re able, you’ll keep trying!

Don’t Feel Bad for Quitting

On the flip side, if you feel as though it’s time to quit nursing and go to formula or exclusively pumping then do it and don’t feel bad about it!  You know what’s right for you and your baby and the most important thing is that he is getting fed.  You do what’s right for you!  You’re a rock star either way, mama!

Your Turn:
What did you do to soothe your sore breastfeeding nipples?
Do you have any other tips for breastfeeding pain relief?

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Tips for soothing sore breastfeeding nipples!
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