sore nipplesAt some point in breastfeeding, most mothers are bound to experience nipple pain. Nipple pain can be associated with something as simple as improper latching, or as serious as mastitis or thrush. The first step in solving your sore nipples is to find the cause of the pain.

Baby and Sore Nipples

Proper latching may be an issue you have not had to deal with since the first few weeks of breastfeeding, but with time comes complacency. Baby can get used to breastfeeding and get lazy when it comes to latching properly. Often referred to as sloppy latching, the solution is to take breastfeeding back to the basics. Review proper latching techniques in an attempt to retrain baby to latch on properly to reduce nipple pain.

Teething is another possible cause of sore nipples. As teeth break through, biting, scraping and general irritation can cause sore nipples. Increased saliva present in baby’s mouth when teething can irritate nipples; rinse nipples after feeding to decrease irritation and pain.

Solid foods contain acid and acids in foods irritate the sensitive skin around the nipple. Rinse off breasts after feeding or rinse out baby’s mouth with a bit of water before breastfeeding to remove any residual baby food.

Infections and Hormonal Changes

Thrush is a yeast infection that can cause a white coating in and around baby’s mouth. This infection can pass from baby to breast while breastfeeding. If thrush is a concern, your baby’s pediatrician can prescribe antifungal treatments to clear up the infection.

Mastitis, another possible cause of sore nipples, is caused by a blockage or infection of the milk ducts. You will typically experience pain, redness, swelling and fever if mastitis is causing your nipple pain.

Hormone changes are associated with nipple pain around the time when your period is supposed to start. These pains are normal for many women and they do not stop when breastfeeding. Tenderness is not associated with other symptoms of infection like redness, swelling and fever.

Treating Sore Nipples

Once you have settled on a cause of your sore nipples you can treat the cause and resolve the pain. If an infection is found, medications are given to treat the infection. Tell your doctor you are breastfeeding before starting any prescription medication. General pain can be relieved with over the counter pain medications, but check with your physician for a list of medications approved for use while breastfeeding.