Breastfeeding is a cherished experience for both the mother and the baby. But unfortunately, many women experience various challenges in this journey due to which they give up breastfeeding at an early stage.

These challenges include sore and cracked nipples, flat or inverted nipples, problems with latching on, returning to work, low milk supply, engorgement or mastitis of the breast tissue, baby with cleft lip or facial defects, amongst others.

You see, sore and bleeding nipples are not a normal part and parcel of breastfeeding. Nursing doesn’t have to be painful. Pain is a warning sign that you have a problem that needs intervention. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the main reason behind cracked or bleeding nipples.

What causes nipples to crack in breastfeeding mothers?
One major culprit behind sore nipples is an improper latch, which causes severe nipple pain. Correcting the nursing technique can go a long way towards letting cracked nipples heal. Sometimes just the slightest change in positioning makes a lot of difference.

If the baby has thrush or yeast infection in her mouth, she may pass it on to you, which will cause nipple pain or damage. Signs of thrush in breastfeeding mothers include itchy, red, shiny, and painful nipples—along with a shooting pain in the breast during or after a feed.

Therefore, mothers should look at seeking help as soon as possible to resolve this problem. If the pain is extreme, it might temporarily interrupt breastfeeding and affect the child’s health. During this phase, it is important to continue to express milk to avoid engorgement and maintain milk production. Therefore, an immediate consultation with a lactation expert can help a mother cope with this problem.

If you suffer from sore, cracked nipples—following are the things that we suggest for a speedy recovery:

Ensure correct latching
The best latch position is off-centre, with more of the areola below the nipple in the baby’s mouth. One way to achieve this is to line up her nose with the nipple so her bottom gum is far away from the base of the nipple when she opens her mouth. Once the baby’s mouth is open, hug her quickly. The nipple should be far back into her mouth.

Try different nursing positions
There are certain positions such as cradle and cross-cradle which make it easier for the baby to latch on correctly and are much more comfortable than others.

Keep your nipples clean
If you have cracked or bleeding nipples, rinse the breast after each feeding with water to reduce the risk of infection. At least once during the day, use a non-antibacterial, non-perfumed soap to gently clean the wound and rinse well with water. Don’t let the nipples come in contact with alcohol-rich products, like perfume.

Use pure lanolin ointment
If your skin is especially dry or damaged, you may apply a small amount of purified natural wool-based emollient, also known as lanolin, to the nipples and areolas. Lanolin supports moist wound healing. Try: Bliss of Earth 100% Pure Golden Lanolin, Natural Wool Wax For Soothing Sore Nipples, Rs 425.

Give your breasts breathing space
Avoid any kind of non-breathable plastic lining in bra pads or bras.

Consulting a lactation consultant or a pediatrician should always be prioritized in such cases. Through proper guidance and diet, mothers can overcome breastfeeding problems and be a proud mother. Mother’s milk is the complete baby food and will continue to play an important role in the baby’s development for years to come.