Breastfeeding with cracked or bleeding nipples is extremely painful and one may feel a burn as if they have been sliced with a razor blade. However, do not feel discouraged as there are ways that you can prevent and treat cracked nipples back to life again.

There Are Various Possible Causes of Cracked Nipples

  • Misuse of breast pumps – Using the pump the wrong way, for instance by putting a lot of pressure on the nipple during suction, can develop cracks.
  • Improper latch – this is the most likely reason that can cause a crack if your baby does not latch the right way.
  • Thrush – this is an infection from the baby that is usually passed onto the mother when breastfeeding.
  • Nipple shields – Nipple shields that are too small may cause harm to the nipple when expressing milk by use of a breast pump.
  • Engorgement – a mother whose breasts are too full may experience cracks and pain when the baby cannot latch successfully.

Signs and Symptoms of Cracked Nipples

Cracked or damaged nipples have different symptoms including :

  •         Throbbing pain
  •         Blistered nipple
  •         Oozing pus
  •         Redness
  •         Inflammation
  •         Swelling
  •         Bleeding

How to Prevent Cracked Nipples

  • Self-latch -for a pain-free latch, position yourself in a semi-reclining posture and let the baby lie tummy down with its head close to the breast. This will enable the baby to orient himself and latch by itself.
  • Good posture – be on a tummy to tummy position with your baby and let your hand support its shoulders. Let your nipple point towards the baby’s nose so that with an open mouth, the nipple can easily slide in, aiming for the roof of the baby’s mouth.
  • Adjust the baby’s position – rather than use your finger to unlatch the baby, as this might encourage clamping on the nipple due to the bay’s frustration, you can position him while nursing, by pressing its shoulder to slightly position him in a comfortable him closer to you.

Treating Cracked Nipples

Normally, nipple cracks are not necessarily caused by latching. Bacterial infections could also be the cause and so, it is necessary to consult a practitioner in case you suspect an infection. The other ways you can use to treat and manage cracked nipples include:

  • Avoid touching the nipples – you can use breast shells to prevent the nipples from getting into contact with clothes as this may hurt them more. Air the nipples out to enable them to dry up and heal.
  • Observe hunger cues – despite the cracked painful nipple, feed the baby frequently because a hungry baby will not be patient thus will grab the nipple and suckle hard, causing more pain.
  • Nipple cream/ ointment – consider using lanolin ointments that are specifically designed to moisten wounds on the nipples. This will sooth help them heal faster and should be used constantly as a preventative measure. Your doctor should recommend a good one.
  • Cautiously use nipple shields – the shields can be used to protect cracked nipples when feeding although if the baby cannot latch well with them, the nipples can be damaged more.
  • Apply breast Milk – expressed breast milk can be applied to the cracked area as it provides anti-bacterial protection.

Pumping Instead of Breastfeeding for A While

There is no need to suffer through a painful latch. Rather than breastfeeding you can pump the breast milk into a bottle. This will enable either the mother or someone else to bottle feed the baby with breast milk while you take a break and let your nipples heal.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

#Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: balancedbreastfeeding, kidsimplified, todaysparent, babycareadvice

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