Remedies for Sore Nipples from Breastfeeding: Effective Solutions for Nursing Mothers

Nursing engenders a profound bonding encounter between a maternal figure and her infant. Nevertheless, it is not devoid of challenges, and one prevalent issue is nipple soreness The occurrence of nipple discomfort or pain during breastfeeding is a common phenomenon, attributed to various factors including suboptimal latch, thrush, or bacterial infections. This exposition endeavors to furnish remedial measures for nipple soreness arising from breastfeeding, thereby assisting mothers in mitigating their discomfort..

One of the most important steps in preventing and treating sore nipples is ensuring a proper latch. A baby should take in not just the nipple, but also a good amount of the areola, which helps distribute the pressure evenly and prevent soreness. Mothers can also try different breastfeeding positions such as the football hold or side-lying position to find what works best for them and their baby.

In addition to proper latch and positioning, there are several remedies that can help alleviate nipple soreness. These include using a warm compress before breastfeeding to increase blood flow and reduce pain, expressing a little milk onto the nipple and letting it air-dry to promote healing, and using nipple shields or cream to protect and soothe the area. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional if the pain persists or worsens, as it may be a sign of a more serious condition.

Understanding the Causes

Breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial way to nourish a baby, but it can also be a source of discomfort for new mothers. Sore nipples are a common problem that many women experience during breastfeeding. Understanding the causes of sore nipples can help mothers take steps to prevent and treat this discomfort.

Incorrect Latch Technique

One of the most common causes of sore nipples is an incorrect latch technique. When a baby is not latched onto the breast properly, it can cause the nipple to become pinched or compressed. This can result in pain, cracking, and bleeding. It is important for mothers to ensure that their baby is latched onto the breast correctly to prevent sore nipples.

Infections and Conditions

Infections and conditions can also cause sore nipples during breastfeeding. Thrush, a yeast infection, can cause pain and discomfort in the nipples. Bacterial infections can also cause sore nipples. Mastitis, a breast infection, can cause soreness, redness, and swelling in the breast. Inverted nipples or short frenulum can also lead to sore nipples during breastfeeding.

Breast Pump Misuse

Breast pump misuse can also lead to sore nipples. Using a breast pump that is too strong or using it for too long can cause the nipples to become sore and tender. It is important to use a breast pump correctly and to ensure that the breast shield fits properly to prevent sore nipples.

Mothers can take steps to prevent and treat sore nipples during breastfeeding. Using proper latch technique, avoiding soap on the nipples, and seeking help from a healthcare provider can all help prevent and treat sore nipples.

Recognizing Symptoms

Breastfeeding can cause discomfort and pain, especially in the early days. It is important to recognize the symptoms of sore nipples to prevent further complications. Symptoms of sore nipples include:

  • Pain during breastfeeding
  • Nipples that are red, cracked, or bleeding
  • A burning sensation during or after breastfeeding
  • Itchy nipples
  • Sensitive nipples

If a mother experiences any of these symptoms, it is important to address the issue promptly to prevent further discomfort or complications.

One common cause of sore nipples is an improper latch. A good latch is essential for comfortable breastfeeding. If the baby is not latching correctly, it can cause pain and discomfort for the mother. It is important to ensure that the baby is latching properly by checking for a deep latch and adjusting the breastfeeding position as necessary.

Another cause of sore nipples is engorged breasts. Engorgement occurs when the milk supply is greater than the baby's demand. This can cause the breasts to become swollen and painful. It is important to adjust the breastfeeding frequency to match the baby's hunger cues and to express milk as needed to relieve the engorgement.

In addition, wearing tight bras or clothing can also cause sore nipples. It is important to wear comfortable clothing that does not put pressure on the nipples.

Overall, recognizing the symptoms of sore nipples and addressing the underlying cause can help prevent further discomfort and complications.

Consulting a Professional

While some remedies for sore nipples from breastfeeding can be done at home, there are situations where it is necessary to consult a professional. A healthcare provider or lactation consultant can provide expert advice and guidance on the best course of action to take.

A healthcare professional can help identify any underlying issues that may be causing sore nipples, such as thrush or a tongue-tie in the baby. They can also provide recommendations on the best products to use, such as nipple creams or shields, and how to use them effectively.

Certified lactation consultants, or IBCLCs, are breastfeeding experts who can provide additional support and guidance. They can help with issues such as latching problems, positioning, and milk supply. They can also provide education on breastfeeding and answer any questions or concerns that a new mother may have.

It is important to seek professional help if sore nipples persist or become more severe, as this can indicate a more serious issue. A healthcare provider or lactation consultant can provide reassurance and support, and help ensure that breastfeeding remains a positive and enjoyable experience for both mother and baby.

Treatment Options

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful bonding experience for mother and child, but it can also come with its challenges, including sore nipples. Fortunately, there are various remedies available to alleviate the discomfort associated with sore nipples.

Topical Solutions

Topical solutions can be used to soothe and heal sore nipples. Lanolin, a purified form of sheep's wool wax, is a popular choice for many nursing mothers. It helps to moisturize and protect the skin, as well as reduce friction during breastfeeding. Nipple cream, hydrogel pads, and gel pads are also effective in providing relief. These products can be applied directly to the nipple area and are safe for both mother and baby.

Adjustments in Breastfeeding Technique

Sometimes, sore nipples can be the result of improper breastfeeding technique. Adjusting the baby's latch can help to reduce pain and discomfort. Breast shells and nipple shields can also be used to help protect the nipple and allow it to heal while continuing to breastfeed.

Medical Interventions

In some cases, medical interventions may be necessary to treat sore nipples. Antibiotics may be prescribed if an infection is present. Pain medication, such as acetaminophen, can also be used to relieve discomfort. Heat can be applied to the nipple area to increase blood flow and aid in healing.

It is important to note that while these remedies can be effective in treating sore nipples, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using any new products or medications. With the right treatment and support, sore nipples can be managed, allowing mothers to continue to breastfeed and bond with their babies.

Prevention and Maintenance

Preventing sore nipples is key to a comfortable breastfeeding journey. Here are some tips to help prevent sore nipples:

  • Ensure that the baby is latching on correctly. A good latch is essential for successful breastfeeding. The baby's mouth should be wide open, with the lips flanged outwards.
  • Use relaxation techniques to help reduce tension in the body. A calm and relaxed mother is more likely to have a successful and pain-free breastfeeding experience.
  • Alternate breasts during each feeding session. This helps to ensure that both breasts are being used equally and can help to maintain milk supply.
  • Avoid using breast shields unless recommended by a healthcare professional. Breast shields can interfere with milk production and may cause sore nipples.
  • Hand express or pump milk if the breasts are engorged. This can help to relieve pressure and reduce the risk of sore nipples.

Maintaining healthy nipples is also important in preventing soreness. Here are some tips for maintaining healthy nipples:

  • Keep the nipples clean and dry. Wearing breathable clothing and changing breast pads frequently can help to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Apply a lanolin-based cream or breast milk to the nipples after each feeding. This can help to soothe and protect the nipples.
  • Avoid using soap or other harsh chemicals on the nipples. These can dry out the skin and cause irritation.
  • Check for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If any of these symptoms are present, seek medical attention.

By following these tips, nursing mothers can help prevent and maintain healthy nipples, leading to a more comfortable and enjoyable breastfeeding experience for both mother and infant.

Questions? Email Jack Newman at, or Edith Kernerman at or consult: Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA) or our DVD, Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding; or The Latch Book and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; or L-eat Latch & Transfer Tool, or the GamePlan for Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in the First 24 Hours of Life and Beyond.  See our website at  To make an appointment email and respond to the auto reply or call 416-498-0002. 

Handout Slow Weight Gain After the First Few Months May 2008
Written and Revised by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC 1995-2005

 This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission,
on the condition that  it is not used in any context that violates
the International WHO Code on The Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


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