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Breast Feeding

Crack nipple

09/14/2001

Question:

I have dificulty in breastfeeding my baby due to crack nipple- what shall I do?

Answer:

Cracked nipples are a common problem in the first week after birth but should get better after that. You didn`t say how old your baby was. If your nipples have been sore and cracked for longer than 7-10 days, if there is a great deal of reddness or if there is any drainage you should contact a lactation consultant or your doctor for assistance as you may need an antibiotic ointment. I will give you some suggestions on things you can try to make breastfeeding more comfortable. First, sore nipples are frequently caused by the baby not latching on to the nipple correctly. Make sure that your baby`s mouth is open wide before latching on and hold the baby high on your chest with his/her entire body facing you. This will help to keep the baby from just latching onto and pinching the end of your nipple and help to keep him from sliding down. The baby`s tongue should be over the lower gum and not behind it so that he doesn`t put excessive pressure on your nipple. Also try different nursing positions, for instance side lying or football hold, so the baby`s mouth will be positioned differently on your nipple. If you are unfamiliar with these positions a lactation consultant can help you. Additionally, try to avoid using soap or antiseptic solutions to clean your nipples as they get rid of your natural oils that help promote healing. Purified lanolin or warm water are good to use as they help with healing. Try to air-dry your nipples after cleaning by leaving your bra flaps down. All cotton bras are also good as they promote better air circulation that will help keep your nipples dry. Two other suggestions are to do some breast massage before feeding the baby as this will promote milk let-down and the baby will not need to use more pressure and to put some ice in a plastic bag, cover it with a wash cloth and put against your nipples to relieve discomfort. If these suggestions don`t seem to help I`d suggest you see a lactation consultant for further help. She will be able to assess you and will perhaps suggest the use of nipple shields until your nipples heal. Congratulations on the birth of your baby and on choosing to breastfeeding. While sore nipples can occur the problem is manageable and you should be able to continue breastfeeding as long as you wish.

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Response by:

Donna   Dowling, PhD,RN Donna Dowling, PhD,RN
Associate Professor of Nursing
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University