If you’re breastfeeding or expressing your milk, then you may have come up against sore nipples at one point or another. Although babies are only small, they can sometimes cause some nipple pain with their constant feeding demands. Whether you’ve got cracked, sore or tender nipples, thankfully there are some things you can try to relive the symptoms. We spoke to leading dermatologist Dr. Lian Mack to find out more about caring for this delicate area.
The skin on our nipples is unique, as Dr. Lian Mack explains, “The skin on the breast and nipple area is delicate and can be easily injured. Areolar skin contains small glands called tubercles of Montgomery that secrete fluid to protect the skin and send a scent signalling the baby to latch on. Because of the delicate nature of the tissue this area should be treated with the utmost care.” That means taking measures to reduce stress to your skin – which is not always easy when you have a hungry mouth to feed.
For many new mums it can take some time for our bodies to get used to the on and off latching of a feeding baby, but whether you’re new to breastfeeding or not, it shouldn’t hurt so it’s always worth investigating whether your sore nipples are caused by something else.
Dr. Lian Mack suggests checking your baby’s latch with your midwife as sometimes nipple pain can be attributed to a tongue tie or other abnormalities. She says,
“Make sure your baby latches to the breast correctly. I sought the help of a lactation consultant when I was learning to breastfeed.”
Learn As You Go
Breastfeeding is absolutely a learning process for both you and your baby, so don’t get disheartened if it takes a little while to get to grips with. Julia is mum to six-month old Nellie, she says that when she was first breastfeeding her nipples became unbearably sore. “The only relief was putting cold cabbage leaves in my bra. Even taking a warm shower was very uncomfortable – it took a while to figure out what I could tolerate and I eventually learnt my Nellie’s latch was being affected by a tongue tie.”
If you’re ever concerned, it’s always best to ask a midwife, health visitor or doctor for help.
Protect the skin
Prevention is better than cure, but most breastfeeding or expressing mums will benefit from using something to support the skin in this sensitive area. As a new mum herself, Dr. Lian Mack says, “I use Mum & You’s Hands Off Nipple Saviour Spray.
This product is a game changer since I am constantly breastfeeding. This no-touch solution has helped heal and restore my sensitive, and sometimes overworked nipples.” It is formulated with natural ingredients such as aloe vera and wheatgerm oil, which help to repair and heal sore skin.
If your sore nipples feel as though they’re on fire, the discomfort can be calmed by using cold compresses. Kristen, mum of three-month-old Anouk says, “I keep hydrogel pads in the fridge and use them after breastfeeding – the coolness is lovely and soothing.” Another way to give your nipples a break is to simply expose them to the air. Leila says,
“When I’m breastfeeding my son Jude at home I tend to leave my bra off completely for a little while after a feed. It feels great not to have any pressure or fabric on the area.”
It’s a common experience to come up against challenges with breastfeeding as mum of one, Shannon, can attest to, “Breastfeeding my daughter was something I was intent on doing but I found it very difficult when my nipples became so sore. The thought of not being able to do it actually made me feel quite low.” Because breastfeeding is so intimate and personal, when problems arise it can feel overwhelming and something like nipple pain can actually have a massive impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing – after all – being a mum is hard enough already! At Mum & You all our products are designed for and tested by mums because we understand the pressures and joys that motherhood brings. We are always looking to find solutions to make mums lives easier and happier – because we firmly believe that happier mums make for happier babies. As Shannon says, “I love the idea of Mum & You’s Hands Off nipple spray because honestly, the thought of anything touching my sore nipples, other than my baby, is not ideal – a spray however – bring on the relief!”