Cracked/bleeding Nipples. Help!!

Updated on February 14, 2010
J.F. asks from Rochester, MN
21 answers

Hi ladies,

I've never been successful at breastfeeding, so have always bottle fed my children. This time around though, I'm bound and determined to make it work. (so far we've gone a month of exclusively breastfeeding! yay!!). My daughter latches on beautifully and is a fantastic nurser, which has really helped me to stick with it. :) The only problem is, my nipples are peeling and bleeding from nursing, and boy do they HURT! I can't use lanolin-based products that have been suggested to me by my doctor for soreness; is there something else I can use to ease the pain and heal my skin? I can't imagine nursing my daughter when I'm cracked and bleeding is very good for her (or me). What can I safely put on my nipples to get them to heal that's still safe for the baby? Thanks so much for your advice! I REALLY don't want to give up on breastfeeding!

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So What Happened?

Thank you ladies!! I'm running to the store as soon as I post this to pick up some nipple shields. Thank you SO SO much for the words of encouragement! It's been a rough road keeping up with breastfeeding, but I am SO glad I've done it! Thanks again for all the support! :)

More Answers



answers from Detroit on

Way to stick with nursing! I also went through cracked bleeding nipples with my oldest. I thought that she had a good latch but really she was not getting enough of the nipple and areola in her mouth. You may want to work on getting a deeper latch. One way to help her with a deeper latch to take your breast in your hand and for a C hold and kind of squish the breast a little making a "breast sandwhich". It should not hurt when you nurse. It can be a little uncomfortable when she first latches but after a couple of min it should no longer hurt!
Many blessings, K.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eau Claire on

Hey, I see you have already had a lot of really great responses here, but I thought what the heck, I'll give it a shot.

First, if you are putting her on both breasts at every feeding time, try this instead: feed her on one breast at one feeding, then the other breast at the next feeding. Don't worry, your body will up its supply to meet the new demand. The extra hours, though, will do wonders for your nipples! Extra time to rest, heal, and recoup.
Second, to the woman who suggested making sure your precious little one has enough of your breast in her mouth– good advice. I didn't know this, and my nipples got SO sore. Once I corrected it, I was amazed at the difference.
Third, breast milk is absolutely one of the best ointments for sore nipples; at the end of a feeding, rub them all over with the last couple drops (you can squeeze some out, too).
Fourth, olive oil is amazing. It doesn't clog anything, soothes and heals, and is perfectly safe for consumption, so you don't have to worry about her getting a little bit.

She sounds like a beautiful little blessing, and you such a good mother! Congratulations on successful nursing this time around, and I pray that it only gets better! There is nothing in the world like it.

God bless!
M. D

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Good for you, sticking with it! Breastfeeding is SO good for you and for your baby both! I'm a huge fan of breastfeeding and nursed both my daughters for well over a year each. I did with both of them have that period of peeling/bleeding/cracking/dryness. I tried those lanolin products, and they never worked for me anyway. What did work was breast milk. Every single time the baby nurses, squeeze out some milk and gently massage it into the whole area. Don't wear tight bras - in fact, when you are at home, try not to wear one at all, or wear a sleep bra. I found that having a damp bra or pad over my nipples made the problems WAY worse.

Let me also encourage you that they WILL heal. Having your baby nurse won't make it any worse, and it may even help since it massages milk into the sore places. If you really need to try something other than just your own milk, you can use vasaline, just wipe it off before your baby begins to nurse.

And in the dry winter, be sure to be using a humidifier and get plenty to drink!



answers from Seattle on

Breast milk is actually the best thing. Once she is done nursing on one side, squeeze out as much milk as you can and rub it in, then do the same for the other side. I'm sure you leak a bit throughout the day, so whenever you do, rub it all over your nipples. I tried all sorts of cream and goo, but it was my own milk that did the trick. It tool several days for the healing to start. I know it hurts like hell. Hang in there.



answers from Chicago on

Not sure if this will help, but the latcation consultant told me to put a little olive oil on my nipples when I was pumping. To help relieve the friction. That along with breast milk.

Let them air out a little before putting your bra back on. My nipples were sore for the first few weeks and then they were okay.

Also you can try a nipple Shield. They have them at my Target. you put it on while nursing. I had to use it to help my son latch at first. After that I did not have issues until he got teeth in and decided to bite down. I worked throught it all and nursed him until 16 months.

Good luck and congratulations on your choice to nurse.



answers from Minneapolis on

the only thing that kept me breastfeeding was these nipple shields for flat or inverted nipples. i do not have either however it's this plastic shield you place over your nipple so your daughter's mouth does not even touch your nipple. i would use these until your nipples heal and have a chance to toughen up and then don't use anymore since she might get used to the plastic in her mouth. you can buy these at walmart or target and they're with the plastic storage bags for breast milk. they were my life saver! i think i used them for a week and then my nipples were tough enough to handle the intense sucking. good luck! i hope this helps!



answers from Los Angeles on

I had that problem. The best I can suggest is buy some nipple protectors -- plug in "nipple protectors" on google and various ones will come up. That's the only thing that helped me nurse for five months otherwise I would have had to give it up after the first three days. One that comes up immediately is Philips Avent Nipple Protector. I know the soreness -- you will need to put something on to heal the tissue or else even using the nipple protector over sore nipples is going to be sore -- if you can't use lanolin, there are other creams you could use -- again I would google "non-lanolin nipple creams" -- I found this one --
I wish you all the best -- but with these things you'll be fine...
L. K.



answers from St. Cloud on

I second a prescription for all purpose nipple cream- has ibuprofen, an antibacterial, antifungal in a soothing ointment compound that is safe for you and baby. Nipple shields are helpful as are gel pads as well. Good luck :)



answers from Minneapolis on

Yea to sticking with breastfeeding! I had the same problem, and my lactation consultant told me to smear a little of my milk around on my breast after a feeding. Then, (and yes, this was weird, but I promise it worked), she had me hold my bare breast with my fresh milk on it up to a bare light bulb. The heat of the bulb made my breast feel warm (don't burn yourself!). I only had to do this a couple of times per breast to get significant relief. She told me to hold my breast to the light as long as I could stand it (a little strange, to be sure). I could repeat as often as I wanted...maybe a couple of times a day. Good luck!!



answers from Minneapolis on

This happened to me right when my baby was born. I did use Lanolin, breastmilk, aired out my breasts, etc... but it would not heal. The only thing that saved nursing for me was using a nipple shield (mine was Medela). It protected my nipple so that the baby was not making it worse each time. It brought the pain of nursing down from "excriciating" to just "painful" and then things gradually got better. A nipple shield is a bit of a pain, and it may be hard for baby to wean off of using it, but it was totally worth it to me. Eventually I healed, she learned to nurse without it, and we're doing fine 8 months later. If you do use a shield, make sure you get the right size for you.



answers from Boston on

You can get a compounding pharmacist to get you some APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) with a prescription from your OB. I HIGHLY recommend it. It was so so helpful with my son. If your ob can't help you out, you can google it and get a "make at home" recipe. Good luck!



answers from Cedar Rapids on

Congrats on sticking with nursing this time around! Good for you!!! You already have several great responses, but I wanted to add that I have used Vitamin E for relief since I also can't use lanolin-based products. I just buy the Vitamin E capsules, poke them with a pin and squeeze the "gel" out onto my nipples. Rub it in a bit and let them air dry for a few minutes and it really does help with the milk blisters, cracking, etc. that comes with nursing. A lactation consultant at the hospital suggested this to me with my first and I'm so glad she did! It really helped!



answers from Milwaukee on

I'm so impressed you've made it this far! However, please talk to a lactation consultant - they may have some at the hospital you delivered at - or see if you can get in contact with somebody from your local La Leche League chapter (you can find information online) to get some help. I'm not an expert (I'm currently breastfeeding baby #2), but your nipples should not be cracking and bleeding at this point. I think having an expert watch you and your baby will be incredibly helpful - maybe there's something small you can do to make your baby latch in a better way.



answers from Chicago on

The lanolin helped as long as I was just sore, but it didn't help with the pain when I was bleeding! When my son got teeth, he bit down and pulled away leaving me with gashes. The best thing I found was putting Neosporin on and putting a band-aid over it to prevent rubbing. When he was ready to nurse again, I cleaned them off, nursed him, then rebandaged them. I felt better right away (until he nursed again), and they healed in about 24 hours! I tried the bm and air-drying too, but I was still in pain....



answers from Sheboygan on

I used nipple shields with my twins, which helped a lot. Another thing you may want to check into are some silocon based nipple pads that you place over your nipples between feedings. Medela makes some...they are called Hydrogel Pads, and you can get them wherever they sell Medela products. If for some reason you can't get them at the store, they can be ordered online. They can be placed in the refrigerator so they are nice and cool when you put them on. They protect your nipples from chafing from your bra, and frankly, when right out of the fridge, feel wonderful on sore and chapped nipples. I would also suggest that you get a larger shield for pumping if you are pumping also. You may simply have a size too small, which can cause severe chafing, peeling, and bleeding. Breast milk also has great healing properties. After feeding, express a little bit and rub on your nipples. It will speed healing.
Good luck to you!



answers from Omaha on

I'm allergic to wool so beings Lanolin is Wool based yeah I can't have it. So I was told two things to try. One being cherry chapstick. Works great actually. It's cheap only 99 cents! So I suggested it to some of my friends who thought that the cream was too expensive so they tried it and loved it too.

I was also advised by a lactation consultant to try The First Years Nipple Butter. It is also Lanolin free and all natural and pretty much organic. I just saw that Target in my area is now carrying it.

Another thing is that breast milk is actually pretty good at helping so when you are done nursing rub the milk around. I was told that with my first child.

But try the Cherry chapstick. My son doesn't mind the taste whatsoever and I apply it all the time and 3 months into nursing I've not had any problems and with my first two that was NOT the case. Good luck!



answers from Sioux City on

Hi, I have been through this myself and i do how badly it hurts! What I did was put the breastfeeding creme on it, I guess you can use whatever you prefer, didn't use soap on my breasts when showering, and wiped down any moisture from shower or baby as soon as i could. Hope this helps you and you feel better soon! I used Lansolin or however i't's spelled. It's safe to breast feed with so no worries there. Good luck!



answers from Sherman on

cherry chapstick!!! You don't have to wash it off before nursing and the baby will like the sweet taste.



answers from Milwaukee on

I know this sounds crazy but little flour shifters in your bra when you are sitting around the house. This lets air get in and helps them heal. I also found if you put cream on breast pads that helps keep the bra or pad from sticking to the nipple. Becareful with nipple shields they can cause infections.



answers from Milwaukee on

I wasn't sure what a proper latch was supposed to look like or feel like with my first and I was already cracked and bleeding by the time I was going to leave the hospital with my first. When I finally talked to the lactation consultants they gave me a pair of Soothies, which were amazing! They helped so much! You can use the same pair for as long as a week (use your judgement). Until they heal, it's going to be rough, but once you get through the healing process it's great!



answers from Oklahoma City on

My lactation nurse advised me to mix half peroxide and half water and just kind of pour it over my nipples three times a day. They heal up really fast doing that. i have also used a balm from Gerber that had no lanolin in it, i think it was actually made for pumping but it will work just the same. I have only found it at babies r us. Good luck and you are doing awesome, the first two weeks were always worst me so you have made it far past that, keep it up!

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