Nipple Problems: How to Get Your Breasts Adjusted to Breastfeeding

Nipple Problems: How to Get Your Breasts Adjusted to Breastfeeding
PHOTO: GETTY

Ask any mother who has breastfed before and we’ll bet good money that they’ll say two things. The first is they don’t regret doing it because it’s so good for their baby’s health and well-being. Second, there were times when they wanted to run to the nearest store to pick up a bottle because, to say their nipples went through the ringer, is a MAJOR understatement!

It’s not uncommon for nipples to end up cracked, sore and sometimes even bleeding (ugh!). But that doesn’t mean it’s the kind of pain that’s unavoidable. Through trial and error, there are some things women have learned that make breastfeeding a lot easier on the body. And the best thing is the remedies are as cheap as they are effective.

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Use Your Own Milk

The amount of vitamins and minerals that are in breast milk truly blows the mind! That’s probably why some women find relief in gently squeezing their nipples, just enough for some milk to coat them and then allowing the milk to air dry. It’s been known to help to soothe cracked or blistered nipples. If they’re slightly bleeding, you might want to put an ice pack on them as well.

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Apply Some Olive Oil

As far as moisturizers go, a lot of people use lanolin. We don’t recommend it because it’s a by-product of sebum that comes from sheep’s wool. That means it could have pesticides in it and even cause allergic reactions in your baby if you put it on your nipples. A better alternative? Olive oil. It still adds moisture without any of the drama.

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Or Tea Bags

Are you sore? Guess what’s proven to pull the soreness out? Tea bags! Herbal ones like chamomile feel really good, but a kind of tea that has bona fide results is black tea. The tannic acid in them is what does the trick. Either way, steep a couple of tea bags, let them cool until they are comfortable enough to place on your nipples and let them sit for 5-10 minutes.

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Avoid Nipple Shields if Possible

Ideally, nipple shields are to help make breastfeeding easier on the mom and the baby if baby has a hard time latching. Don’t rely too much on them, though. They’re made out of a very thin silicone material and when your baby doesn’t latch on to it correctly, it alters the shape of the shield, doing more harm than good. If you’re having a difficult time, set an appointment with a certified lactation specialist or doula. Leave the shield as a last resort.

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Encourage Self-Latching

If you’re still pregnant and reading this, click on this link here. It’s truly fascinating to see how a newborn can oftentimes “scoot” their way to your breasts if you just sit them on top of their chest and comfort them. Sometimes new moms are so anxious about breastfeeding that they don’t realize they are stuffing their breasts into their child’s face. For the baby, it's awkward and they usually have a hard time breathing. It really is better to encourage self-latching. You can read more about what that entails here.

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Don’t Skip Feedings

When your nipples are already irritated, the last thing you want to do is have your baby on them any more than they need to be. But if you prolong your son or daughter’s feedings, that will only make them more irritable and more aggressive when it comes to your breasts. Like we said, it will be an adjustment, but give it about a month. With all of the other tips applied, things will get easier. You---and your nipples---will receive some much-needed relief!

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SHELLIE RENEé

Just a woman who digs all things relationships. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS, that is. I've been writing (professionally) for close to 20 years, including having two books published. I'm also a marriage life coach and doula. Sometimes I speak to large audiences or do radio interviews, but usually I'm sitting in my favorite chair, surfin' the 'net and penning stuff that I wish I had read in my early 20s.

Listen, I don't have all the answers, not by a LOOOOONG shot. But whatever I can do to spare folks any heartbreak, bitterness or straight-up drama, I'll devote some keystrokes to doing. 

That's it...in a nutshell. For the most part. Kinda. ;)

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