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4 Natural ways to soothe your sore breastfeeding nipples

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine,,...

Sore nipples don’t have to stop you from nursing your baby

Nothing can make a new mama wince like sore nipples. While you may have dealt with sore skin in the past, treating the sore nipples that can come with breastfeeding a newborn is a whole new ball game.

The good news is this doesn’t have to end your nursing adventure. Some amount of nipple pain is considered normal during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, as your nipples get used to nursing and toughen up.

More: Judgy breastfeeding campaign should give moms food for thought

After that, you may still experience soreness every now and then, particularly when your baby has a growth spurt and is eating more frequently or is cluster feeding. Thankfully, there are a few natural remedies that can help soothe your sore skin.

Sore nipples don’t have to stop you from nursing your baby
Image: Becci Burkhart/SheKnows

1. Breast milk

Breast milk is one of those incredible things that works like magic on pretty much everything. According to Amy Mager, a Massachusetts-based lactation consultant, breast milk can “heal wounds. It is great to put on your nipples after you nurse as long as you do not have thrush.”

More: Even Disney princesses can't breastfeed in public without harassment

2. Nipple creams

There are a variety of nipple creams out there, and it pays to look at the ingredients. Make sure to stay away from any creams that include parabens, dyes or fragrances.

“Don’t use nipple creams unless you are comfortable letting your baby eat that product,” notes Connecticut lactation consultant Carolyn Levy.

According to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website that rates skin care products, products from My Brest Friend, Motherlove Herbal Company and Finally Pure all scored a one (which means low hazards). Mager also recommends moms keep an eye out for calendula in creams — as they can be a big help.

“Calendula is a premier herb to heal skin and lets the skin breathe,” she notes. Lanolin creams and ointments made with the oil from sheep wool are also helpful for rough and dry skin that is not raw.

3. Treat your nipples with extra care

After each feeding, allow your nipples to air dry, says Levy. She also recommends not using soap on your nipples when you shower, as that can increase dryness.

More: What to do when Baby just stops breastfeeding

4. Perfect that latch

Getting a good latch will not only make your sore nipples hurt less during feedings, it may even prevent them from becoming sore in the first place. “The deeper your nipple goes into the baby’s mouth, the more comfortable the latch will be,” explains Levy. You can also try to change your nursing position, try side lying or down under (laying down on your back baby laying on top).

If nipple soreness persists or gets worse, or your nipples become so cracked they start bleeding or blistering, make an appointment to see your doctor right away to rule out anything more serious.

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