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Sore and cracked nipples

It can be common to have sore nipples when you start breastfeeding because it takes time for your body to adapt. But try not to worry, as there are ways to make it better – you don’t have to suffer through it.

What are the symptoms?

Your nipples will be painful and they may be very red, blistered or even bleeding. Your nipples will most probably be sore to touch and the pain will be at its worst when feeding your baby. It can be common to have sore nipples when you start breastfeeding because it takes time for your body to adapt but if you’re experiencing pain that makes you dread feeding there is almost always something that can be done to address it.

What causes it?

Incorrect attachment is nearly always the cause of the problem. Without your baby being correctly attached, your nipple will get squashed and may get sore or damaged. In this short video, an Infant Feeding Advisor helps a mum overcome sore and cracked nipples by showing her how to correctly attach her baby to the breast. You can read our step-by-step guide to correct attachment here.

What's the solution?

Some mums like to use a soothing nipple cream to speed up the healing process, but the only real solution is helping your baby attach properly. Getting positioning right is normally the answer, although tongue tie might also be the cause – ask your health visitor or midwife to check your baby's mouth. Watching the video above on correct attachment should help to pinpoint why you might be sore, but if your nipples continue to be painful and don't heal soon, make sure to ask for further advice from your health visitor or midwife. Please don’t suffer through it.  

Unfortunately sore and cracked nipples can sometimes lead to thrush. In this case, correcting how your baby attaches to your breast will help get rid of both problems.

This article was created as part of 

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Last updated: 11 Mar, 2021