Top 5 Breastfeeding Issues: Cracked and Sore Nipples, and how we can prevent them!
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
We're sure you have heard the horror stories about cracked and sore nipples from breastfeeding. In fact, in many cases, people seem to come out of the woodwork with terrible breastfeeding experiences once you have made the decision breastfeed yourself!
If you find yourself in this state of mind, bracing yourself instead of enjoying each moment OR you feel like everywhere you turn there are nay-sayers and lack of support, even from people you trust the most.
How do many new moms react to this overwhelming negativity?
They abort the mission, jump ship, and follow what their friends and family are saying, because, after all-- these are the people that will be with you every step of the way.
However, there are some brave souls that put on their blinders and carry on because they are determined to breastfeed. Most breastfeeding moms do not encounter the majority of horrific breastfeeding tales, and those that do may persist through the challenges or give up entirely.
Again, if you were in pain with no foreseeable solution and you could stop said cause of pain any time, eventually EVERYONE would give in.
But what if we said: you could breastfeed knowing that you will have a solution, knowing that you will be supported, and knowing that you will meet your goals.
That's exactly what we are here for! To give you tools to prevent and heal when breastfeeding is painful.
We first want to start with prevention. Believe it or not, we actually covered the majority of this previously in this series. That's right, having a good latch can take you from pain to relaxation! If your baby is holding your nipple at the wrong angle or too shallow... it WILL cause you pain and you will NOT adequately transfer milk.
Once you have a good latch-- you are already most of the way there! If you want to further take care of yourself, which if you're reading this I'm sure you do... After a breastfeeding session, all you have to do is take the residual breastmilk and message some around your nipple and areola. This will help hydrate and soothe this area and prevent it from becoming too dry. Similar to how our hands get in the wintertime, if your nipples become too dry -- they may crack and possibly bleed.
Action Item: Use your breastmilk as your first line of defense if you feel your nipples getting dry or cracked!
Okay, so what if they are already cracked, dry and painful. Never fear, with some time and love they WILL heal --- but lets speed along the process, shall we?
There is a vast amount of products out there to help heal your cracked nipples due to breastfeeding. But what products should you be using?
If the time comes and you want to buy a nipple cream, we encourage you to make sure you read the label to see what is inside each cream-- because not all are created equal in regards to user safety.
Before you go off to buy a cream--- if you feel like you are starting to have issues or want to prevent issues--- there is a very simple solution WITHOUT spending any money at all!
Just like we did for prevention, you can do the same thing with your breastmilk for healing! Did you know that your breastmilk has healing properties? Yup, breastmilk not only works as a moisturizer BUT a healing aid. No wonder it's so good for your babies-- it really works wonders!
If you do want to go out and get a nipple cream, look out for 'Baby-Friendly' labels and ingredients. Your baby may ingest some of the cream while breastfeeding so it's important to be careful when choosing a topical product. You want to specifically avoid fragrances, parabens, triethanolamine, peg-2 stearate (an environmental toxin), and topical steroids because it could mess with your baby's adrenal gland function as well as other bodily functions.
NOTE: It is not recommended to use vitamin E oils, coconut oils, olive oils, etc. They may be ingestible to you, BUT your baby cannot break down these types of lipids (found in oils) at such a young age. An overdose of Vitamin E could also lead to digestive issues for your infant.
Cream example: Lanolin has been around for a while and if you hang around breastfeeding mothers --its one of the most common types of creams. It was probably used by your mother and hers before you!
BUT what is Lanolin?
Its a mixture of alcohol esters and fatty acids that come from... SHEEP'S WOOL! If you're a vegan Mama, you may want to think twice about this product. But it is otherwise non-toxic to both mother and baby and you don't have to wipe off anything before breastfeeding. While it does not have the same recovery rates that breastmilk has for nipples-- it can be a great option.
Apply nipple creams at least 15 minutes before a breastfeeding session, because, while it is safe for your baby to consume, you put it on your nipples for a REASON. You want to make sure there is enough time for it to soak in and actually help your pain.
If your nipples become cracked to the point of infection (a point that we sincerely hope no mother gets to) you may be prescribed antibiotic creams.
These antibiotics are safe to breastfeed with because your baby is constantly building their immune system and microbiome through breastfeeding!
If you are reading this, you are clearly already taking the crucial step in making sure you are as prepared as possible for breastfeeding. You are doing all your homework on breastfeeding, pumping, nutrition during pregnancy, what kinds of foods the baby should be eating, etc.
You are AWESOME Mama!
But when push comes to shove and life hits, how is that google search going to help you after you were up all night with your hungry baby while your nipples were screaming with pain? Or better yet, how will it help you from preventing that from happening in the first place?
This is why support during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not only 'nice to have', but is IMPERATIVE! Whether you have support at home or none at all. No one is perfect and no amount of googling can help you implement and make changes in your life to better both you and your baby.
No one has ever become successful without help--- think of LITERALLY any 'successful person' you know.
So let US help you today...
Thank you for reading and we hope you found this information helpful. If this post resonated with you today, reach out and let us know!
Your health today is a LIFETIME of health for you AND your baby.
Until next time!
Coaches Cassie and Mikayla
Reference: The Lactation Counselor Training Course Notebook (2018)., Healthy Children Project, Center for Breastfeeding