Sore or cracked nipples

quick tips

Sore or Cracked Nipples

Sore nipples are common during the first several days or even weeks of breastfeeding. Pain is often at its worst the first minute after baby latches on. A common cause is a shallow latch, while less common causes include tongue tie and inverted nipples. Sometimes, though, it’s because your nipples need time to adjust to breastfeeding. See below for tips and indications that there's an underlying issue to resolve.

Before & during nursing

Right before feedings, gently massage breasts to release a little milk to soften nipples, which can help baby latch

Start breastfeeding on the side that’s less sore, since babies usually suck harder at first

Make sure baby is latched on well (see Breastfeeding 101 Cheat Sheet for tips)

Change baby’s position with each feeding

After nursing

Express a small amount of milk and let it dry on your nipples

Apply nipple cream made with hypoallergenic ingredients

Use fresh nursing pads between feeds and change when damp

Take pain reliever if needed; ibuprofen or acetaminophen are fine when breastfeeding

Consider using nursing cups or shells to prevent contact between clothes and nipples

Ask an IBCLC if nipple shields are appropriate for your situation

When to call an IBCLC

Latch-on pain continues well beyond the first minute of feedings

Pain does not lessen over the couple weeks after birth

Skin damage (e.g., bleeding or abrasion)

Nipple looks flattened after feeding

Or for any questions or concerns you have

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