Cracked nipples occur when a the skin on your nipples is broken or cracked. It is similar to when your lips crack during cold, dry winters. Cracks while breastfeeding are very common. It’s important to keep the skin around your nipples as healthy and moisturized as possible, so that it doesn’t crack or become irritated. A broken nipple is quite painful and will often bleed.
The most likely cause of broken nipples is improper latch on. It is best to avoid cracked nipples by encouraging a proper latch on. Once you have injured nipples, you will be in a continuous loop:
- your nipples feel terrible during a feeding session,
- they begin to heal and feel better in between feedings,
- but then they crack again during the next feeding.
It almost feels like the cycle will never end.
Cracked nipples – solutions
There is no real way to “fix” a cracked nipple; you need to wait and let your body repair itself. You can encourage healing by eating healthy food and taking care of yourself. A nutritious diet will help your body repair itself. A good diet will provide you with the energy & nutrients to support the breastfeeding process.
Here are some tips for keeping your skin healthy:
- Keep nipples dry in between feedings.
- Wear a good bra that fits you properly and gives you support. Bras with wire in them can be particularly rough on the skin, so try to avoid those if you can.
- Wear a breast shield (breast shells).
- After feeding, rinse nipples with water and apply hand expressed breast milk,
- Lanolin is an excellent skin protectant, so using lanolin cream on your nipples before feeding will help to keep them from cracking. You can also use coconut oil, olive oil, or any other kind of natural oil that you like.
- If your baby latches incorrectly, try adjusting how he’s latching onto your nipple so that he begins to suckle more gently. Sometimes it just takes a small adjustment in how he’s positioned on your breast for him to get a better grip on it.
It is important to get a good latch on and allow your nipples to heal. An injured nipple may lead to a breast infection or an abscess.