Stop The Pain

Breastfeeding can be tricky business until you get the hang of it. But nipple soreness can occur for even a nursing pro. Lansinoh's Gina Ciagne, CLC, offers the five best remedies for easing sore nipples and breasts when breastfeeding.

Woman breastfeeding baby

Avoid pain with a proper latch

Gina advises that breastfeeding should not hurt but some soreness is common while you can baby adjust to the process. She says, "Newborns (and older infants) can have trouble latching on to the breast, which can make feeding painful and uncomfortable for mom. For proper latch-on, the baby's chin should anchor on the breast about one inch from the nipple and then the top lip should pop over the nipple. Having a proper latch will help ensure a successful and rewarding breastfeeding experience for both mom and baby." She suggests easing soreness with Lansinoh HPA Lanolin or Soothies Gel Pads.

Feed on cue

Feeding on cue versus on a schedule will help your body adjust to baby's needs. Gina explains, "Breastfed babies don’t tell time; their tummies tell them they are hungry! They will nurse at least 10 to 12 times every 24 hours and it is normal to have more feedings in the early days when establishing your supply."

Avoid engorgement

Engorgement, when your breasts become swollen with milk, occurs when you've got too long between feeding sessions. This makes it more difficult for baby to nurse and it can become very painful for Mom.

Gina says, "Nursing frequently by reading baby’s hunger cues during this period is the best way to alleviate engorgement as your baby teaches your body during the first few weeks how much milk to make in response to how much the baby removes at each feeding. Breastfeeding while engorged can be difficult since the baby can have a hard time properly latching on, but don't let this discourage you. It can be helpful to release some of the built up milk by taking a hot shower or expressing a small amount of milk (by hand or with a pump) before feeding to soften the breast."

Use proper-fitting pump flanges

Gina says that flanges that fit the breast properly are essential to avoiding sore nipples when pumping. She explains, "The flange is the part that covers your breast and nipple and looks like a funnel. The correct size flange will help ensure comfort and success when pumping. Your nipple should not rub up against the inside of the flange tunnel when pumping. If it does, you probably need a larger flange. If your nipple doesn’t move into the flange tunnel at all, you may need a smaller flange."

She adds that the proper flange size can actually increase milk production during pumping (yes!) and can ease or lessen nipple soreness.

She says, "If your flanges are the wrong size, you may have problems extracting milk and can damage your nipples."

Ouch! Stop the biting

If your baby bites versus suckling, that's a surefire way to end up with sore nipples. Gina advises several ways to help baby learn not to bite while nursing.

She says, "If baby is teething and their gums seem to be painful, offer baby a cooled teething ring to soothe them before they are at the breast. Also, pay close attention to baby’s cues. Babies don’t try to hurt by teething but your baby could be signaling she wants to stop nursing at the end of a feeding and may think the only way she can message this to you by biting.

"If baby has slowed down while feeding and pauses, see if she latches back on and actively sucks," she continues. "If not, gently detach baby before she starts biting or gumming your nipple. If she tries to gum or bite, you can firmly say 'no' and/or set her down at the appropriate place with a teething ring to make the point that breastfeeding isn't a time to bite."

Finally she notes if baby clamps down on your nipple, gently smoosh her nose and face into your breast so she will let go of your nipple. "Resist the temptation to pull them away without unlatching as this can cause further damage and soreness."

More on breastfeeding

5 Common issues with breastfeeding
Breastfeeding on-the-go
Breastfeeding after breast surgery


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