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Understanding Latch  

Nipple soreness in the first weeks postpartum can be expected as you and your baby learn to breastfeed. However, pain during feeding is not normal. A good latch is crucial for successful breastfeeding. It ensures your baby is effectively extracting milk without causing pain. If you’re struggling with latch, try the “laid back breastfeeding” position. Ensure your baby is calm and alert before attempting to feed. If your baby is not latching well, it’s important to use a hospital-grade breast pump to maintain milk supply and seek support from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  

Healing with Breastmilk  

Your breast milk is a natural healer. Its antibacterial properties make it perfect for soothing sore nipples. After each feeding, express a bit of breast milk and apply it to your nipples, letting them air dry. Combining breast milk with a cool hydrogel can provide additional relief. 

Adjust Pump Vacuum  

If pumping is painful, try adjusting the vacuum settings. Higher vacuum levels do not mean more milk. In fact, it can contribute to nipple pain. Many breast pumps have multiple vacuum levels; try using a low vacuum setting for more comfort.  

Check Flange Size  

Incorrect flange size can lead to soreness and affect milk supply. Before pumping or nursing, measure your nipples for an accurate fit. A proper fit ensures efficient milk removal without causing discomfort. Aim for a flange size that is close to your nipple diameter. The Storkpump Flange Sizing Guide can assist you in finding the right fit. 

Watch for Red Flags  

While some nipple soreness is normal especially in the first few weeks, certain symptoms warrant medical attention: 

  • Prolonged pain or tenderness 
  • Itchy, scaly, or shiny nipples 
  • Bright red areas on breasts 
  • Flu-like symptoms lasting more than 24 hours 

Cuts, cracks, or abrasions on nipples increase the risk of mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue. Keep nipples clean with non-antibacterial soap and change breast pads frequently to prevent infection and aid healing. If you experience any of these, contact your healthcare provider.  

By following these tips and seeking support when needed, you can navigate nipple pain and enjoy a successful breastfeeding journey. Connect with a Storkpump IBCLC at askanIBCLC@storkpump.com. 

Sources:  

Bourdillon, K. (2021a). Antimicrobial properties of a nipple care hydrogel pad: A useful tool in preventing infection? Pediatrics, 147(3_MeetingAbstract), 311–311. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.147.3ma3.311a 

Berens, P., Eglash, A., Malloy, M., & Steube, A. M. (2016). ABM Clinical Protocol #26: Persistent Pain with Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Medicine, 11(2), 46–53. https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2016.29002.pjb