Nipple care for nursing mothers
Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby, but it can be a real challenge for your nipples. Check out our tips and tricks to help reduce pain.
Young mothers often hear: “Breastfeeding should not hurt.” However, in the early days, many are faced with the opposite.
In most women, the nipples enlarge and become more sensitive during pregnancy. When a newborn baby begins to suckle, it creates a certain pressure, and this is a completely new and unfamiliar feeling for a woman (in any case, for the first time to become a mother).
Feeding can be delayed for a long time, sometimes up to an hour, and the baby can ask for breasts up to 13 times a day.1 This sucking, pressure and saliva of the baby can cause inflammation of the nipples.
Remember how the lips crack in the wind and the sun. The more often they lick, the more they will dry and become inflamed. Therefore, lips need good hydration in order to soften, protect and accelerate the healing of cracks. The same thing happens with nipples.
However, inflammation of the nipples usually lasts no more than a couple of weeks and disappears as the baby and your breasts get used to breastfeeding. It is important that you begin to care for your nipples as early as possible to prevent the situation from getting worse. Therefore, if your nipples become very inflamed, begin to crack or bleed, consult your doctor as soon as possible. 2
As you know, prevention is better than cure, so check out our tips.
Check out how the baby grabs the chest
The key to painless breastfeeding is proper grip. While laying the baby to the chest, direct the nipple towards his palate. This will allow him to capture the nipple and part of the areola (darker skin around the nipple) underneath. When the nipple and part of the breast are in the baby’s mouth, feeding is correct.
In the first few days, consult a consultant or a breastfeeding specialist to verify that they are being taken. He will be able to give you recommendations for solving problems and advise other feeding positions in which it will not be so painful for you to feed your baby.
Check the bridle of the tongue
Shortened frenum of the tongue (ankyloglossia) occurs in 4–11%
newborns. 4 At the same time, the strip of skin with which the tongue is attached at the bottom of the mouth – the so-called bridle – is too short. A child with a shortened bridle will not be able to open his mouth wide enough to grasp the chest well, and his tongue will not cover the lower gum when sucking. As a result, the child will be nervous, and your nipples may become inflamed.
The attending physician or breastfeeding consultant should examine the baby to make such a diagnosis. The problem of a shortened bridle is solved by a simple pruning procedure. It is performed by a doctor, and usually it happens without blood and does not require anesthesia. Cutting the bridle allows you to almost immediately restore the normal feeding mechanism. 5
Less commonly found in children is a shortened bridle of the upper lip. In this case, it is necessary to dissect the skin connecting the upper lip with the gum. A shortened frenulum of the tongue or upper lip in a newborn is not always detected during an examination conducted immediately after birth, so if you think that this is exactly what hurts your nipples, seek medical advice as soon as possible.4
Breastfeeding Nipple Tips
Only wash your breasts with water when taking a shower or bath. Small tubercles on the areoles (Montgomery glands) secrete fat, which moisturizes and protects your nipples. Soaps and shower gels can wash off this natural protection, causing dryness and irritation. 6
Gently pat your nipples with a soft towel or just let them air dry. Previously, women were often advised to rub their nipples so that they became tougher, but, fortunately, such recommendations are in the past!
No need to wash your breasts or nipples before feeding. The bacteria that are on the surface of the chest actually help the baby’s intestinal microflora develop.7
Fresh breast milk helps to heal cracked nipples, 8 so rub a few drops of milk into them before and after feeding.
Change your bra pads often if they get wet. This will reduce the risk of bacterial and fungal infections, including thrush. 6
It is not necessary to increase the intervals between feedings to give the nipples a “rest”. In order for the child to be healthy and grow well, he needs to be fed on demand. Remember, frequent feeding stimulates and supports the production of milk, so continue to feed, despite the pain.