Cracked Nipples in Breastfeeding

Many women experience some nipple tenderness or mild soreness especially in the early days of breastfeeding. However cracked, bleeding and toe-curling soreness is often a sign that your baby is not latching on well.


Getting a good attachment

  1. Detach your baby gently. Avoid pulling the baby from the breast, instead break her attachment by inserting your little finger into the corner of her mouth, between her gums.
  2. Now try attaching again, holding the baby so her chest is touching your chest; her nose should be in line with your nipple. Gently brush your nipple from her nose to her upper lip – this will encourage her to open her mouth wide. When her mouth is wide open, bring the baby to your breast, keeping your hands across her back and shoulders. When she attaches, most of the areola will be in her mouth and her chin will be tucked into the breast. When she’s feeding well, she’ll suck deeply and regularly, and you’ll hear her swallowing.
  3. If the baby hasn’t attached correctly, stop, take her off the breast and try attaching again. It’s common for it to take several attempts before you get a good attachment.

Helping to heal cracked nipples

  • Nipple cream – some mums like to use lanolin or other nipple soothing creams & ointments to allow wounds to heal faster. They usually form a protective barrier and ease some tenderness.
  • Keep your nipples dry – change breast pads regularly, allow air to circulate around your nipples/breasts.
  • After feeds, express a little hindmilk and rub it around the nipple area. Allow to dry before closing your bra cup.
  • Consider using nipple shields to protect your nipples and make nursing a bit more comfortable. However, use with caution because they can cause problems with supply and your baby’s ability to properly empty your breast.

If you are experiencing nipple soreness, don’t give up. Make some changes to your attachment straightaway and breastfeeding will quickly become more comfortable with good breastfeeding habits.  Always seek advice from your health care practitioner or call the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) if you are experiencing difficulties or pain.