• Only wash your breasts with water when you bath or shower. The little bumps (Montgomery glands) on your areola produce an oil that moisturizes and protects your nipples. Soaps and shower gels can strip this natural oil, causing dryness and irritation.
  • Air-dry your nipples or dab them gently with a towel. Women used to be told to rub their nipples to toughen them up, but this isn’t advised any more thank goodness!
  • There’s no need to clean the breast or nipples before breastfeeding. In fact, bacteria from the surface of your breast can help develop your baby’s gut microbiome.
  • Massaging a few drops fresh breast milk before and after feeds can help heal damaged nipples
  • Most women forget to change used nursing pads. Changing nursing pads frequently if they become damp reduce the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, including thrush
  • Avoid increasing the gap between breast feeds to ‘rest’ your nipples. Your baby needs to feed on demand to stay healthy and grow well. Remember, frequent feeding builds and maintains your supply, so keep feeding through any soreness.

Useful nipple care products 

  • Nipple cream made from ultra-pure lanolin a natural product obtained from sheep’s wool. This moisturizes and supports healing. It’s harmless for your baby, so there’s no need to wash off lanolin before breastfeeding.
  • Hydrogel pads can be placed on sore nipples to offer instant breastfeeding pain relief, as well as creating ideal conditions for healing. You can even keep them in the fridge for cooling comfort.
  • Breast shells fit inside your bra. They’re great for stopping clothing rubbing against sore nipples, and have holes in so air can still get to your nipples to help them heal.
  • Nursing bras made from either a breathable material like cotton, or a fabric that dries quickly and wicks excess moisture away from damaged nipples.
  • Nipple shields are silicone covers that fit over your nipples, with small holes for your breast milk to flow through as you breastfeed. They protect the skin underneath and can give a baby with a poor latch something firmer to attach to. In general nipple shields should be considered a short-term solution. If problems or pain occur, consult your lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist.