At first, most mothers feel a tug when their baby sucks. This can be a little uncomfortable. You should not experience any nipple pain. The most common cause of sore nipples is a poor latch.
If your nipples are sore from a poor latch, you may find:
- The pain started 1 – 4 days after birth.
- The pain may be worse at the start of feedings, and then improve.
- Your nipples may appear pinched or misshaped after feedings.
- Your nipples may be damaged or bleeding (swallowing blood from your nipples will not harm your baby).
To prevent and improve sore nipples make sure:
- Your baby has a wide open mouth and is latched on to the areola.
- Your baby’s tongue is under the nipple and her lips are flared out.
- Your baby’s head is tilted back a little so he can open his mouth wide.
- Your hand is positioned back from the nipple area and your fingers are not touching your baby’s cheeks or lips. For more information on getting a deep latch, see the Helping your Baby to Latch information in the Breastfeeding positions section of this website. You may also find this video from Peel Public Health on The Latch and the Dr. Jack Newman Breastfeeding Videos helpful. If you are unable to latch your baby, ask for help right away. See Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey and Bruce
If you have sore nipples:
- Rub expressed breastmilk on your nipples after feeding.
- Air-dry your nipples following feedings. You may find it more comfortable to leave your bra flaps down as much as possible between feeds and wear a loose cotton T-shirt. You can also expose your nipples to air while you are sleeping.
- Keep your nipples dry and change damp nursing pads often.
- Breastfeed on the least sore side first until your nipple feels better.
- Try laid-back breastfeeding (see the Baby Led Latching information in the Getting Started section), or try a different position (see the Breastfeeding Positions section).
- If you are sitting up, support your breast during the feeding.
Get help to make sure your baby has a deep latch or to check what is causing your nipples to be sore.
If you do not feel some improvement within 24 hours or you notice redness, bruises or cracks call your health care provider for help or see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey and Bruce.
Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.