Q&A: Why Are My Nipples So Sore?by Shari Bruno, Certified Lacataton Consultant
Q I have a 7 month old little girl named Emily. She has been nursed sinced birth and just recently, every couple of weeks my nipples get so sore, and last a couple of days. I can't hardly stand the pain. Could she be latching on wrong now? I have thought maybe it was teething but she is not biting or anything. I am not ready to quit breastfeeding but it is frustrating when it hurts so bad. Help!!!
A A teething infant is the most common cause of nipple pain after nursing habits have been established. Even if you can't detect any new teeth, your baby's gums may still be sore as they prepare for the teeth and she may be sucking harder because it feels better that way. Not all teething infants bite down so don't discount this being from teething right away. Also, because this is a temporary difficulty it will work itself out so don't despair!
Another thing that might cause you pain could be letting her nurse too long after she's satisfied her appetite. This is very common with older infants who may be eating a variety of foods and cereals that will decrease their need to nurse entirely for nourishment and add to them nursing for the security and pleasure of being close to mom. If this is the case stop her 5 minutes after she stops nursing with gusto and offer a pacifier and cuddling.
Nursing a tired infant will also cause sore nipples as the baby has a tendency to lie back and pull on the nipple. This can be remedied by putting a pillow or other nursing aid beneath your arm to hold her steady, and being aware of her movements while nursing.
While sore nipples can be a hassle, they shouldn't be a reason to stop nursing. Lanolin can help with the pain by putting a comforting barrier over your nipples which will prevent your baby from latching on too hard. This can be bought at any pharmacy and is non-toxic to the nursing infant. Apply after every nursing then place a nursing pad over (even if you no longer need them) to hold the moisture onto your nipples. Also, avoid using any kind of soap on and around your nipples during this time, just plain warm water for cleansing, as this can increase your discomfort. If this doesn't help, you may want to get breast shields which will prevent your baby from pulling too hard on your nipples while she nurses. Give the lanolin a try first though, as this usually works quite well and will help keep you nursing as long as both of you would like to.
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Shari is the mother of 4, ages 11 months to 13 years. She is a LLL Certified Lacataton Consultant. She provides all mothers who want to breastfeed with information and encouragement.
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