Breastfeeding: 5 ways to heal your sore and cracked nipples
I breastfed both my babies from birth until they were both approaching their first birthdays.
And while I will always look back at this time with a lump in my throat over just how wonderful an experience it was (both times), I will also be the first to tell you it sure wasn't 100 percent plain sailing from day one. At all.
On my firstborn, my little girl, I not only had double mastitis – twice – but also struggled to get her to latch onto one of my nipples as she always seemed to prefer the other one. Which, of course, ended with that boob producing more milk than the other one – something which left me with one boob a lot bigger than the other one – for a year. Needless to say, wearing a bikini that summer was tons of fun...
A couple of years later, with my little boy, I felt so much more prepared when it came to breastfeeding – after all; I had done it for a year with my daughter at that stage – I was certain I knew the drill by then. But the first few weeks, whatever way he latched on, my nipples were so cracked and sore I remember crying when I happened to brush the towel against them when stepping out of the shower.
Luckily, after a while, it all settled a little, although, from time to time, they still felt a little dry and sore – something which never happened when I was feeding my little girl.
Luckily, as well as some really great creams I came across and tried, these (all natural) methods for treating sore and cracked nipples have also proven super-helpful for many a breastfeeding mama:
1. Letting your nipples air dry after each feed
Air drying is where it is at, mamas – especially when it comes to your nipples, as this will stop them from getting cracked and sore. Also, avoid using soap or any other bath- or cosmetic products that will leave your skin dry.
2. Apply breast milk
Yes, that's right. Using a couple of drops of breastmilk on your nipples (rub it in gently) has been proven to have an amazing healing effect on sore nipples. Breastmilk has antibacterial properties and helps treat blistered, cracked and sore nipples, so rub in and let completely air dry before putting your bra or top back on.
3. Eat foods rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C isn't just great for preventing colds and sniffles, it also help prevent infection in your body and will help sore skin heal quicker, meaning upping your vitamin C intake is absolutely a smart thing to do if you are struggling with sore nipples when breastfeeding. Oranges and kiwis are a great source of this vitamin, as are strawberries, rapsberries and lemons.
4. Oil massage
Moisture is key when it comes to healing dry skin, so oils like almond- or coconut oil are great for this. Gently massage the skin on and around your nipple and let the oil sink into your skin fully before getting dressed again for maximum effect.
5. Warm compress
Another effective remedy is to apply warm compress on the affected areas. This will soothe your skin, especially just before or after a feed, and helps in healing. What to do: Take a clean cloth and dip it in warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and keep it on the breasts for a few seconds. Tip: You can also take a warm shower to soothe the skin and reduce discomfort.
Remember, sore nipples are often caused by babies who are not getting a proper grip on your nipple, so it is absolutely worth talking to a lactation consultant should you find yourself struggling with sore nipples that just won't get better.