International Boad Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are often the 911 Nipple First Responder.
Painful, damage nipples are never normal.
Sore nipples, damaged nipples, and bleeding nipples are never normal when breastfeeding. Unfortunately some of the incorrect advice that new parents are given include the need to “toughen up” the nipples or that it is “normal to have pain for the first 2- 3 weeks”. Your baby, or babies, need to eat often and it is recommended that you do as much skin to skin as possible. This can be difficult when your nipples are raw and tender. Nipple pain and damage are often the reasons a lactating parent stops breastfeeding. We take this very seriously. (1)
Having a optimal breastfeeding latch and correct flange size when pumping.
Remember, we don’t nipple feed, we breastfeed. When a baby has a good, deep off centered latch, the nipple is positioned between the hard and soft palate and there should not be any compression, pinching, or damage to the nipple. If a parent is pumping, are they using the correct size flange? When there is damage to the nipple we want to first address the issues, avoid infections, and work on healing the nipples.
Issues with using lanolin.
Lanolin used to be what seemed like the only option and many hospitals send parents home with sample tubes of lanolin. One issue with lanolin is that it is derived from sheep’s wool and can cause an allergic reaction in some parents and/or babies. It is not recommended to use lanolin on skin that is damaged, crack or bleeding. It is also thick and difficult to apply, which can cause more pain.
What works better than lanolin.
I do not recommend lanolin. The 20 years I have worked with new parents as a labor nurse and now an IBCLC, I have seen babies that seem to refuse to breastfeed because they do not like the taste of the lanolin. I have also had cases where I suspected that the thick lanolin caused nipple blebs. If your baby has a good, deep latch, you do not need to put anything on your nipples. Expressing some colostrum or breast milk onto your nipples after a feed is beneficial and studies have shown that it works better than lanolin. (1, 2)
When there is nipple damage we want to be careful about what is applied on the sensitive nipples and any open wounds. Avoid potentially ineffective or harmful ingredients like lanolin, parabens, petroleum, and synthetic fragrances. It is difficult to wash off the before breastfeeding, especially when a lactating parent is
feeling pain. Lactation consultants want to help their clients address the cause of nipple damage and to heal their nipples in the fastest and safest way possible.
I am so excited for the new Legendairy Milk product, NipDip. This nipple cream has an amazing ingredient, Manuka Honey, that promotes healing and helps prevent pads or cloth from sticking to the healing nipple.
Honey has been used for wound healing for thousands of years. (4)
Manuka honey isn’t the raw honey that we want to avoid that isn’t safe for babies under the age of one. Manuka honey is a specialized honey that is antibacterial and bacterial resistant. Legendairy Milk’s new NipDip is formulated with irradiated, therapeutic grade manuka honey, along with organic coconut and sunflower oil, cocoa butter and beeswax to soothe and repair dry or damaged nipples.
Keep in mind that some parents never need to use nipple creams, but if you do, have a jar of Legendairy Milk’s NipDip on hand as well as the number of your local lactation consultant.
1 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mcn.12357 (Nipple pain and damage is common among breastfeeding women and is often implicated in breastfeeding cessation and evidence that the application of lanolin to painful/damaged nipples in the immediate postpartum period does not significantly decrease nipple pain or improve breastfeeding outcomes.)
2 https://europepmc.org/article/med/16127520 (Breast milk is more effective than lanolin for the treatment of sore nipples.)
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941901/ (The use of medical grade honey leads to improved wound healing)
4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601883/ (History of wound healing)
Amey Fields, IBCLC and owner of Az Breastfed Babies.
Amey is a lactation consultant that offers in-person consults in the Phoenix, Arizona area as well as virtual visits for new parents all over the world.