Nipple care

 
Contributed by : Asha Lalwani, Dr Heena Hasan   
Nipple care

Breastfeeding can sometimes get overwhelming, not just emotionally, but physically too. Nipple care is very important for the first few months of feeding.

When moms start feeding the newborns, the nipple often turns red and pointy instead of round and smooth. This could be due to the problem in latching technique, insert your finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to stop feeding for a while when you feel pain -- and then try latching on again. Ideally, your baby should take at least one inch of your areola (entire circle surrounding the nipple) into the mouth.


Measures to treat sore nipples:

  • When you take bath, clean the area with water and do not apply any soap. Your areola secretes oil that keeps your nipples moist. If you use soaps, these protective oils might be removed. Air-dry your nipples and do not rub them harsh. There is no need to clean your breasts before breastfeeding, offer your breasts as such. The microbes on your breast surface will help in the development of your baby's gut bacteria. You need to only clean your breasts before feeding if you have an infection.
  • Apply few breast milk drops. Massage a few drops of breastmilk before and after the feed to heal your nipples.
  • Your doctor might sometimes prescribe you creams to apply on your nipples.
  • If you need instant relief after nursing, use hydrogel pads.
  • Sometimes the pain is also due to blocked milk duct, massage your breasts with warm water. This will help to unplug ducts and clear the lumps, milk gets released and there is a relief in pain. Note that breastfeeding is the best way to unclog ducts, do not stop breastfeeding due to the pain.


These are only temporary relief solutions. You will have to work on the cause of your soreness like poor latch or baby's tongue tie etc. A lactation consultant will be able to help you better.


Some women face nipple structural challenges as well. Some of them have flat nipples or very large nipples. In any case, there is no need to worry as generally newborns can nurse on all types of nipple structures. Just ensure that there is a proper latch during the breastfeeding and that the baby is gaining adequate weight. However, here are a few things which might help you if you are facing a lot of trouble:

  • If you inverted nipples, they will naturally protrude out as the pregnancy progresses. Even if this does not happen, your baby will be able to latch on and feed properly. If the baby is facing some troubles, a nipple shield will be very helpful in this case. Consult your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist to help you accustom to the use of nipples.
  • If you have flat nipples, they will raise with stimulation. If they don't, do not worry as long as your baby holds on to the areola apart from nipples. If along with flat nipples, you have engorged breasts, your baby might struggle with the latch. In this case, use your fingers to pull the nipple towards your baby's mouth. Your doctor might suggest you to use breast pumps in this case.
  • If you have large nipples, it will take your baby a few days to have a proper latch. But if you have adequate milk supply, your baby will get enough milk and gain wait adequately. You can try football hold if you have large nipples.



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