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Nipple Care

Nursing Your BEST

Keep Your Nipples Their BEST.

Before you were a nursing parent, you probably never imagined how hard your nipples would work.

Nursing Shouldn’t Hurt

Some nursing parents experience tenderness in the first few days as they are learning how to nurse, but sharp pain while nursing usually means that baby is not latched on correctly. If you feel pain, get help from a peer counselor or a lactation professional as soon as possible to avoid damage to your nipple tissue.

Troubleshooting Nipple Pain

Begin feeding on the least sore nipple to start your let-down reflex.

Once milk flow has begun and your baby has had some milk, she will be less hungry when brought to the second, more tender side. She will nurse less vigorously, making nursing more comfortable.

Make sure baby is positioned correctly

Make sure your baby’s body is in a straight line, with his nose lined up with your nipple.

Try different feeding positions

Sometimes shifting baby can help alleviate soreness and discomfort by improving latch.

Make sure you have a good latch

Make sure that your baby has a good bit of your areola in his mouth. This is where your milk ducts are. He should have more of the bottom of the areola than the top in his mouth. Check for signs of a good latch.

Look at your nipple when it comes out of your baby's mouth

It should look the same way coming as it did going in—not pinched.

If it looks pinched or angled on the tip (like a new tube of lipstick) that means your baby is not latching properly. Get help from a peer counselor or a lactation consultant right away.

If you feel any pain, remove your baby and try the latch again

Do not let your baby suckle on the tip of your nipple without any areola. This is a sure setup for discomfort, and your baby will not get much milk.

Nursing with a bad latch can cause you more pain in the future.

Feed your baby at the first signs of hunger

Waiting too long causes your baby to latch too aggressively, which hurts your nipples even more.

When feedings are postponed, your breasts become even fuller, making it harder for your baby to grasp your breast.

Less frequent feedings can reduce your milk supply.

Rub some human milk into your nipples at the end of each feeding.

Your milk is full of vitamins and nutrients, and it has strong healing powers.

If you have cracks or other breaks in your skin, rinse your nipples with a mix of mild salt water (1 tsp salt to 1 gallon water). This helps kill any surface bacteria. You can ask your care provider about using medi-honey.

You can also apply lanolin, or another type of moisture protection to your nipples. This can maintain the skin’s moisture and help heal the nipple. Make sure to only use a little as too much can make it hard for baby to maintain a good latch. Caution—lanolin is oily and can stain your clothing. For some women, alternatives such as coconut oil or olive oil may be preferred. Talk to your care provider.

Directions for Using a Nipple Shield

Nipple Shield Handout (English)

Nipple Shield Handout (Spanish)