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If you are suffering from cracked nipples when breast feeding your baby, then you need to find out the cause and treat the condition. Your baby is unlikely to be affected by a cracked or injured nipple. Even if there is blood in the nipple, this does not affect them and breastfeeding can continue. The important thing is to correct the problem and allow the nipple to heal. Here are some ways of preventing problems together with remedies for relieving problems:
• Never use soap or anything drying (such as methylated spirits) on your nipples. Avoid scrubbing with rough towels or brushes and gently pat breasts and nipples after showering or bathing.
• The breast areas can be exposed to the air for short periods.
• Avoid using plastic backed nursing pads, suction breast pumps or nipple shields.
• Feed your baby often and don’t be put off feeds.
• Before feeding your baby – make yourself comfortable and relaxed. This is a good time for those ante-natal exercises. Massage your breasts gently and apply warmth such as a shower or a warm wash cloth. You can express a little milk to soften the areola so as to get the milk flowing and to lubricate the nipple. If you need pain relief for the nipple, apply a small ice pack (some crushed ice in a small plastic bag covered in a soft cloth).
• During feeds – feed your baby from the less sore side first. Make sure your baby is properly positioned and attached to the breast. If the sucking hurts, then your baby is in the wrong position. Correction positioning is paramount in allowing a damaged nipple to H-and to enable pain free, effective breastfeeding. The correct positioning is very important and you should try different feeding positions as follows:
Cradle position where the baby’s head is in the crook of your arm. Support your baby’s back and bottom with your arm and hand. Your baby will be lying sideways facing you. Your breast should be right in front of your baby’s face.
Football position where you tuck your baby under your arm like a football with his head resting on your hand. Support your baby’s body with your forearm.
Lying down position where you lie on your side with your baby facing you. Pillows can be used to prop up your head and shoulders.
• If it is too painful to feed, then express by hand to keep the milk flowing and to keep up your milk supply while your nipples are healing. Feed the expressed milk to your baby. Start feeding again gradually, with just short feeds spaced out during the day.
• After feeds – check your nipples for any signs of stress. A cracked nipple may well benefit from applying a natural moisturizer as long as it has no additives. Let the nipple dry before covering again and ensure the nipples stay dry by changing nursing pads frequently. If you find disposable pads are chaffing the breasts, then change to washable ones. Use breast nipple protectors to stop your clothes rubbing against your nipples.
With time and care, your cracked nipples will H-so that breast feeding is once again a pleasurable experience for both you and your baby.