One main reason for sore nipples and cracked nipples is improper breastfeeding latching. Other reasons are - you may not have chosen the right breastfeeding position for breastfeeding and frequently washing your breasts with soap. If your baby does not suckle properly, it can damage the skin surrounding the nipple resulting in fissures or cracks that can turn sore. Incorrect breastfeeding latching can result in sore nipples. As the nipples get used to suckling, they become better. You may be prone to breast infection if you have cracked nipples. In this case, germs enter the milk ducts through cracks in the nipples.
Luckily breastfeeding mothers usually do not suffer from sore nipples and cracked nipples for a prolonged period. If you are breast feeding a slightly older baby and you still have sore nipples, it may be a part of the teething process.
Preventing Sore Nipples and Cracked Nipples
Relax yourself for a while before you start breast feeding. This will enhance the letdown reflex and lessen the intensity of your baby's suckles.
Checking the baby's breast feeding position and her breastfeeding latching on to your breast in case you feel a pinching, rubbing or biting pain as you feed her.
Try and establish a correct position. Some suitable positions are cradle, football and lying down.
Hand express a bit of colostrum and sprinkle it over your nipples and areolae after each feed.
Do not use alcohol, soap and extra water on your breast. Allow water to flow on your breasts only when you have a bath.
Avoid placing artificial nipples on yours. These can disrupt the milk flow and damage your nipples.
Treating Sore Nipples and Cracked Nipples
Increase the number of feeding sessions but reduce the duration of each session.
Use lanoline cream or vaseline on the sore nipples and cracked nipples after consultation with your doctor.
After each feed, leave a drop of hindmilk on your nipples.
Use the least sore nipple to start breast feeding your baby.
If your baby's initial latch is painful, release her from your breast and try latching her again.