Breastfeeding should never hurt–but not positioning your baby properly while feeding can make your nipples tender and painful to the touch. You first remedy: Learn how to breastfeed your child correctly. You needn’t suffer in pain in the meanwhile, however–here are several simple remedies for alleviating painful nipples.
Use a Cold Compress
A cool compress can alleviate soreness nearly everywhere–and it can also also treat the pain caused by improper breastfeeding. As a general recommendation, apply a cold ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to the affected nipple shortly before breastfeeding. This alone may reduce or alleviate the pain. Other recommendations: For optimal pain relief, I recommend following up by applying the compress several times a day, when appropriate.
Use a Warm Compress
Although cold compresses are good for pain, don’t forget warm compresses–they too can soothe the pain caused by breastfeeding. Good options: Try warming uncooked rice inside a sock, then applying it to the affected area. Additionally, you can use warm green tea bags, which also help lubricate the area, preventing chafing.
Keep Bra Use to a Minimum
Although not all of us can get away with going braless all day, it can help mitigate the pain. Here’s why: Bras often rub against your nipples, making the pain worse, so limiting its use often helps reduce the pain. As a general rule, try going braless when you’re at home with your baby; you can also opt to wear nursing bras with flaps instead. Try to keep the area as exposed as possible to allow the pain to subside.
Soothe the Affected Area with Oil
When compresses aren’t enough, using nourishing oil can also help soothe the area, alleviating nipple pain. Good options: Although olive oil is popular, consider using almond or coconut oil as a good, safe moisturizer. HealthGuidance.org also recommends comfrey ointment, but make sure to wipe it away before breastfeeding, as this is something that should not come into contact with a baby.
Use Painkillers as a Last Resort
If all else fails–or if the pain still is too much–don’t be afraid to take ibuprofen, such as Advil, to soothe the pain. Used sparingly, ibuprofen isn’t dangerous, but make sure to speak with a healthcare provider prior to use. Additionally, you can opt for acetaminophen, which is sold over the counter as Tylenol.
And of course, if the pain is just that unbearable–see a doctor. It may be the sign of an infection, which you don’t want to mess around with.
Source: Kevin Pederson, “Home Remedies for Sore Nipples,” HealthGuidance.org