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What Should I Do If My Nipples Become Sore?

Your nipples may be tender for the first week or so as your baby is learning to breastfeed.

If they are still tender after the first week and are not getting better, ask your health care provider, lactation consultant or La Leche League member for help with breastfeeding.

Changing the way your baby is positioned and latched on to your breast can usually solve the problem right away.

Once your baby is breastfeeding well, your nipples will feel better and will heal quickly.

Here are some ways to feel more comfortable while your nipples are healing:
  • Massage and hand express to get the breastmilk flowing before you put your baby to breast.  This helps soften the nipple and relieves discomfort.
  • When you feed your baby, offer the least sore nipple first.   Babies usually suck more vigorously at the start of a feeding.
  • Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing before and during feeding.
  • Talk with your health care provider about using medication that relieves pain.
  • After you feed your baby, rinse your nipples with a mixture of ½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt in a cup (250 ml) of warm water, and then rinse with plain water.  Then, express a little breastmilk and gently massage it into your nipples.  Let your nipples dry uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • You can apply a thin layer of pure lanolin ointment to your nipple.  The lanolin ointment does not harm your baby and does not need to be washed off before you feed your baby.  You can buy a lanolin ointment at the drug store.