Nipples are sensitive areas of the body and can become dry, itchy, cracked, and even inflamed due to a variety of reasons. Proper nipple care is essential for everyone. However, breastfeeding mothers need to take extra precautions to reduce pain and irritation in their nipples.
Read on to discover
Breastfeeding Nipple concerns, prevention and treatment
Breastfeeding is a natural and important experience for both you and your baby. Breastmilk is incredibly nutritious and should provide your baby with everything that they need to grow. Breastfeeding can even work to help increase the bond between you and your infant. Though breastfeeding should not hurt, you may experience soreness, discomfort, dryness, and even irritation.
Yeast infection/thrush while breastfeeding
Yeast infections or thrush occur when Candida albicans, a fungus, grows in warm, damp areas of the body. This can even include your nipples. Nipple yeast infection are more common while breastfeeding.
If you have thrush, nipple pain is common, as well as soreness. Some of the other symptoms of thrush in the nipple include:
- Pain behind nipple
- Shiny or inflamed skin
- Dry flaky skin
- Cracked nipples
Prevent yeast infections in your nipples by keeping your nipples clean and dry. This typically means wearing looser clothes or, if you are wearing tight clothes or bras, changing them out regularly.
How to care for your nipples when breastfeeding?
A few simple nipple care measures can help improve breast and nipple health when you are breastfeeding.
Wash your hands before feeding
You should only touch and handle your breasts with clean hands. Use soap and water and wash thoroughly before you breastfeed to reduce introducing bacteria, dirt, and other contaminants.
Change your bra daily
Change bras daily and wash bras more regularly. Nursing bras are often the favoured option by breastfeeding mothers. Ensure you wash them between uses to keep the nipples clean and dry.
Wash your nipples with water only
Shampoo and soap can both remove the natural lubrication on your nipples. Washing your nipples with soap may seem like the best way to keep your nipples clean, but it can strip your nipples of their natural defences and dry out the skin. If you wash your nipples with soap, you may notice your skin dry out or even start to crack. When washing nipples, only use water.
Use breastmilk to moisturise your nipples
An easy nipple care tip is to use a few drops of your own breastmilk to moisturise your nipples. This helps to both hydrate your nipples and can possibly help your body fight off infections.
Use infant-friendly balms and compresses
If you need more advanced cracked nipple treatment then you can use breastfeeding nipple balm like Multi-Mam Balsam Protect or Multi-Mam Compresses. These work to soothe cracked and irritated nipples while also providing a natural and safe barrier that allows cracked and irritated skin to heal faster. You will want to only use products that are safe for ingestion in case your baby accidentally gets some in their mouth while they feed. You should not have to remove the nipple balm to breastfeed.
Adjust feeding methods
If you are just starting to breastfeed your baby, you may notice nipple soreness and irritation. This might be because your baby is not yet feeding correctly. Adjusting the hold and ensuring that your baby is suckling correctly can reduce irritation.
Common reasons why your nipples are irritated when you are breastfeeding
Your nipples may be irritated for several reasons when you are breastfeeding.
You are accidentally drying out your nipples
Using soap or shampoo on your nipples might remove the natural lubrication and can actually dry out your nipples, causing them to crack and become itchy.
Your baby isn’t suckling correctly
Many new mothers have a learning curve when it comes to getting their infant to suckle correctly. If your baby isn’t feeding correctly, this can result in sore, irritated nipples. Adjust the angle and switch breasts regularly to ensure that your baby is feeding evenly, check if the baby sucks correctly at the breast, lips like a fish, and takes the whole nipple and parts of the areola in his mouth.
Your baby is ill or teething
If your baby is ill or teething, they will suckle to soothe themselves. This can result in more aggressive suckling that might lead to sore, irritated nipples.
You develop thrush or a yeast infection
If you don’t regularly change your bra when breastfeeding, you might develop thrush, which thrives in warm, damp environments. This can then be passed to your baby and back to you.
Your nipples are being irritated
If your nipples are irritated due to a material or allergen, simply remove the allergens or avoid using the ingredients that are causing the mild allergic reaction.
Pregnancy nipple concerns, prevention, and treatment
Breasts and nipples change during pregnancy once your body starts to lactate. Lactation is a natural process that begins around the 16th week of your pregnancy. During this time, your glands will increase in size, and your areolas may even get larger while your nipples darken. All of this is in preparation for breastfeeding.
While your body should secrete a natural oil that lubricates the nipples, this may not always be enough. Hormonal fluctuations can cause dryness, itchiness, and irritation, and lactation is kickstarted when the body increases its oestrogen and progesterone.
How can I prevent nipple irritation during pregnancy?
While the nipples should secrete an oil to help lubricate your nipples during pregnancy, this may not be enough or effective. Use the same preventative measures to avoid irritating your nipples as you would if you were not pregnant. If you are experiencing irritation, then a few easy treatments may help stop irritation and allow the nipples to heal.
How can I treat nipple irritation during pregnancy?
There are a variety of treatments that can help you reduce, stop, and treat nipple irritation while you are pregnant.
Nipple balms & creams
There are a variety of nipple creams and protect balms that can help soothe irritated nipples and keep them hydrated, such as Multi-Mam Balsam Protect. You can use simple solutions like petroleum jelly, lanolin, or specific nipple cream. As you don’t have a baby to breastfeed yet, the only consideration is whether or not your skin gets irritated by the ingredients.
A nipple compress such as Multi-Mam Compresses can help soothe and protect irritated and itchy nipples. They are used most often for breastfeeding mothers but can also be helpful when you are pregnant.
Everyday nipple concerns, prevention, and treatment
Nipples are sensitive areas of the body and can become irritated, dry, cracked, and itchy for a variety of reasons. In most cases, irritated nipples are nothing to worry about, and simple nipple care measures can help.
Many of us will experience mild skin allergies in our lives. Nipples, like any other part of the skin, can also be irritated when they come in contact with an allergen. If you have recently changed your detergent, perfume, or cologne or wore a new shirt or bra, try to see if your nipple and breast irritation continues when you remove these potential allergens from the equation.
Contact dermatitis can easily be managed by avoiding allergens and irritants or protecting the sensitive skin around your nipples with a supportive bra, undershirt, or even nipple plasters.
Eczema can occur on any part of the body. Though rare, it can even appear on the breast and nipples. A topical cream can help soothe eczema. You will also want to avoid scratchy or synthetic materials that can irritate the skin.
Chafing can occur whenever your nipples are exposed to friction. If you wear scratchy materials, are running or exercising, or otherwise partaking in an activity that results in chafing, you will want to take extra care to avoid contact. The right bra or undershirt can protect your nipples from chafing due to scratchy materials like wool. Nipple plasters or compresses can also help reduce friction when working out.
Cold and Dry Weather
Cold and dry weather can lead to dry skin, cracking, and result in itchiness in your nipples. Hydrating, moisturising, and using a nipple cream like lanolin can help provide an extra barrier for your nipples. Protecting your skin barrier is the most important cracked nipple treatment, as it allows your body to heal the damage.
Nipple Care FAQ
Should you moisturise nipples?
If your nipples are dried, cracked, and itchy, then moisturising your nipples can help soothe the irritated skin and work to prevent further damage. Moisturising your nipples can be an essential nipple care tip, especially if you are experiencing chafing or dry skin during winter.
What should I put on my nipples?
To avoid causing a blocked nipple pore you will want to use nipple cream and compresses on your nipples. Nipples are very sensitive, particularly when you are lactating and actively breastfeeding.
Why are my nipple pores blocked?
Weak suckling and improper feeding might result in blocked breast ducts or blocked nipple pores. Friction, too tight clothing, thrush, and even an oversupply of milk can all plug your nipple pores. Feeding your baby correctly can help prevent blocked nipple pores.
How do you clean the pores on your nipples?
If you have plugged nipple pores, you can use a warm compress to free the blockage and then improve your feeding positioning to avoid the issue in the future. If this does not work, you may want to consult a lactation consultant.
How do I protect my nipples between feeds?
Wearing a clean bra that is not too tight, using a nipple balm or a nipple compress, and keeping your nipples clean, dry, and cool are all excellent nipple care measures you can take.
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