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Breastfeeding, especially in the beginning, can be painful! Your nipples might get dry and cracked. Those first few weeks, when baby is nursing all the time, sometimes you cringe every time baby latches on. And then there’s pumping–that can hurt, too. Ouch! Sometimes, something as simple as correcting baby’s latch can relieve the pain. Other times, it’s not as simple. Read on to find some relief for your nipple pain.

First and foremost, some minor nipple pain in the beginning of breastfeeding is normal for some women. I had nipple pain in the beginning with both of my children. Try these solutions to find relief:

  • Adjust your infant’s latch. Improper latch is often the major culprit when it comes to nipple pain. When your baby isn’t opening her mouth wide enough or getting a proper latch, this can cause nipple pain. Try to get as much of your nipple in your baby’s mouth as possible. If you need to break your baby’s latch, instead of pulling baby away, use your finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the latch.
  • Adjust the way you are holding your infant. Sometimes the typical cradle hold most people try makes it hard for your baby to get a good latch. Try a football hold or laying down, nursing on your side to see if your baby latches on better that way.
  • Allow your nipples to air dry. After you feed your baby, if you are able, allow your nipples to air dry instead of immediately covering them up with a bra or breast pad. Open air exposure will help your nipples heal faster when they are cracked and dry.
  • Change your soap. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But some soaps can cause your nipples to dry out even more than they already are! Try a mild, unscented soap–or temporarily avoid soap on your nipples altogether!
  • Nurse on demand. Nursing on demand will help to prevent engorgement. This will make it easier for your baby to latch on and a happier baby all around!
  • Nipple cream. Nipple cream can provide some relief and help your nipples from drying out. I found Lasinoh to be too thick for me, but Motherlove Nipple Cream worked well. You might have to try a few to find what works best for you!
  • Saline nipple solution. Try making the following saline solution to soak your nipples in. The best way to soak them is to put the solution in a small glass or a shot glass and lowering your nipples into it.
    Saline water on nipples, rinse or soak:
    ½ tbs of salt in 1 cup of warm water
    Soak for maximum five minutes
    Repeat once each day minimum, more is fine
  • Cover your nipples in the shower. Sometimes the water pressure in the shower can be painful on nipples. Try covering your breasts with a washcloth or even wearing a bikini top in the shower to protect your nipples.

Looking for more breastfeeding support and advice? Read numerous ways to boost your supply here.

Please remember that this advice should not be substituted for that of a doctor and always seek professional help if needed. Sometimes your pain might be more than normal breastfeeding pains. With my daughter, my nipples were infected because she had thrush and I needed an antibiotic ointment. Never substitute advice read online for that of a doctor or lactation consultant.