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If you are a first-time mother, you might have experienced a condition called ‘sore nipples’. This is due to incorrect position of the baby during breastfeeding. For every new mother, it takes time to understand how to position your baby during breastfeeding. You may be continually anxious after each feed that you might not have done it effectively and your baby is still hungry. We shall investigate the different causes of sore nipples and give a whole list of natural home remedies to treat them.
What are the Causes of Sore Nipples?
- The most common cause of sore nipples is the incorrect latching of the baby’s mouth onto your nipple. Friction due to that can cause dry and cracked nipples.
- Some babies can suck strongly and cause soreness and tenderness in the nipples.
- After giving birth, your breasts will get swollen with milk. Although the supply settles over time, heavier breasts can result in sore, cracked nipples.
- Some babies who are tongue-tied can also make breastfeeding difficult.
- In rare cases, sore nipples can also have serious causes like breast cancer or infections. You can seek a professional medical opinion if you are anxious.
Some people think sore nipples are normal during breastfeeding and will go away on its own. That is a myth. In reality, if you have the condition, you should visit a trained lactation consultant who will give you creams or ointments to treat the sore nipples. If you do not want to rely on modern medicine, there are a number of home remedies for sore nipples.
15 Home Remedies to Treat Sore Nipples due to Breastfeeding
Sore nipples are a condition which can be easily treated at home. Below is a list of natural remedies to treat sore nipples due to breastfeeding:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water. After breastfeeding your baby, dip a cotton ball into the mixture and wring out the excess liquid. Gently dab it over your nipple and areola. This mixture will destroy any bacteria and keep the nipple clean. After that, take one tablespoon of raw coconut oil and apply it to your nipples. This will ensure that the nipple will not get dry and cracked.
2. Tea Tree Oil: Mix few drops of tea tree oil with lukewarm water. Soak a cotton cloth into the mixture and gently apply on your nipples. Allow them to dry and then rinse with clean water. This is an effective and soothing way to treat sore nipples.
3. Apply Breast Milk: This is a unique way but sometimes breast milk itself may be the best remedy for sore nipples. This is because breast milk has anti-bacterial properties and can help heal sore, dry or cracked nipples. Apply some breast milk on your nipples after feeding your baby about 4-5 times a day.
4. Ice Cubes: Cold compresses can come in handy to soothe painful sore nipples. Place some ice cubes in a cotton cloth and gently press it against your nipple for around ten minutes. You can use this method regularly for relief.
5. Olive Oil: Mix one drop of tea tree oil and one tablespoon of olive oil in lukewarm water. Soak the mixture into a cotton ball and dab it on your nipples. Let it dry naturally, rinse off with water and pat dry. This will help relieve soreness of your nipples.
6. Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is known to have soothing properties. Cut open the leaf of an aloe vera plant and scoop out the gel inside. Apply it to your nipples gently.
7. Tea Bags: Soak some chamomile tea bags in hot water for a while. After that. take them out of the water and allow them to cool to a comfortable temperature. Wring the teabags to take out excess water and place them on your nipples. This will create a soothing effect. Remember to wash your nipples before feeding your baby.
8. Basil Leaves: Basil leaves are used to cure many skin infections and have great healing properties. They can help relieve soreness and cracking of your nipples. Take a cup of basil leaves and wash them with water. Grind them into a paste and add one teaspoon of honey to this paste. Apply the mixture to your nipples for 30 minutes and wash it off before breastfeeding. Do this 3-4 times a day for the best effects.
9. Hygiene: For prevention of sore nipples, observing personal hygiene is very important. Wear only clean and soft bras and change your bra every day. While washing your bras, use only a mild detergent and not harsh ones which might irritate your nipples, causing soreness.
10. The Correct Latch: The most common cause of sore nipples is improper latching of the baby during breastfeeding. To maintain a correct position, ensure that the baby has the entire nipple and part of your breast in his mouth so that the nipple is close to his palate. If this position is maintained and you use less support with your hands, you will see that at most times, the baby will latch on well. You can try breastfeeding pillows if you want to get the correct position.
11. Vitamin C: Increasing your vitamin C intake can help prevent chapped and sore nipples. Eat more green, leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, parsley, bell peppers and fruits such as oranges, papaya, guava, kiwis, melons, Amalaki fruits and so on.
12. Alcohol: Applying alcohol on sore nipples can also provide a degree of relief. Soak a small sponge in some alcohol and rub it over your nipples. Make sure to wash it off before breastfeeding.
13. Calendula Flowers or Oil: Calendula flowers are known to provide relief to chapped and cracked nipples. Crush 1-2 calendula flowers well and make a paste. Apply it on your sore nipple and let it dry on its own. You can also mix equal amounts of olive and calendula oil to make a mixture or apply calendula ointment onto your nipples.
14. Hot Oil Compress: Oil helps keep your nipples moisturized and reduces dryness. Take any oil of your choice and heat it up. Massage it onto your nipples 3-4 times a day for relief, but wash it off before you breastfeed your baby each time.
15. Do Not Use Soaps and Chemicals: Take care not to use soaps or any body wash on your nipples while bathing. Use only lukewarm water to wash your nipples and allow them to air dry. Soaps are known to contain harsh chemicals which might cause your nipples to become tender and sore. Also, make sure not to use powder, deodorant or cologne on your nipples or breasts.
Should you Breastfeed with Sore Nipples?
Sore nipples will be uncomfortable for you but will not affect the baby. However, if your nipples are cracked and bleeding, you must ensure that blood does not get into your baby’s mouth. If it does, you should mention it to your doctor. Sore nipples can also be a sign of improper breastfeeding which could leave your baby hungry and not properly fed. He may not put on weight for this reason. In such cases, always consult your doctor as it may be a warning sign.
Sore nipples are a cause of discomfort and irritation, so you should take adequate precautions to prevent and/or treat them. Wear clean bras and use mild detergents to wash them. Whatever home remedy you use, remember to wash it off before breastfeeding your little one. Natural home remedies are always better than store-bought ointments or creams. Once you get the positioning right during breastfeeding, you won’t have to worry about sore nipples.