Breast feeding is a different feeling for a nursing mother. However, breastfeeding is not supposed to be painful and if there is any discomfort or painful nipples, it needs to be dealt with carefully. Although, in the initial few days of nursing, nipples may feel lightly sore but if it persists for long or the nipples get cracked or being to bleed they need attention.
Cracked nipples could result from various reasons like drying of skin surrounding the nipple or the improper latching by the baby, or improper usage of the breast pumps, oral infection in the baby, etc. Whatever may be the cause, it is better to seek advice of an expert if required.
Here are some tips to deal with cracked nipples
- Changing feeding positions or helping the baby to latch properly may at times be helpful.
- Finding a comfortable position for the both the baby and the nursing mother.
- Nipples can be kept clean by washing with plain water. Avoid using soaps, alcohol or other substances for cleaning nipples.
- Immediately change soaked breast pads and use a fresh clean one.
- To clean or wipe the nipples it is ideal to gently pat the skin and avoid rubbing over the area.
- Using lanolin based ointment as a moisturizer can prove to be helpful. This can promote faster healing of the cracked nipples and may also help in relieving pain.
- In order to ensure continuous milk supply it is essential that breastfeeding continues. Incase only one breast is affected nursing can be continued from the unaffected side or if required breast milk can be expressed and fed to baby using sterile utensils.
- In case the problem appears severe it is better to take an expert opinion regarding continuation of breastfeeding.
- Using comfortable clothing and especially a bra may help in relieving irritation caused by clothes. Use of breast shells is also encouraged to prevent direct contact of clothes to the cracked nipples.