Sore, cracked nipples from breastfeeding? How I naturally found relief
Breastfeeding to me is one of the most unselfish acts of love. We dive into this adventure with our babies because it is what we feel best for our babies. Yet, there are so many unknowns and variables. The good thing is that both, mom and baby, are learning together. Even if you are not a first-time mom, you are still learning because no two babies are the same. I have three daughters and my breastfeeding journey was different with each of my girls. However, with all three of them, I got sore, cracked nipples. My second experience was the worst. On top of sore, cracked nipples, my baby and I developed thrush. Thrush is not common but is kind of difficult to get rid of in a fast way, so you can imagine the nightmare!
How did I get over the soreness and crackedness of my nipples you may ask. First of all, as I mentioned before, there are variables (things that we have to make sure we do not have or are doing correctly). For instance, we have to make sure the baby is latching properly (this is very important) and that you are in a comfortable position. There are lactation consultants at the hospital when you deliver your baby who will show you the proper way to do it. In this area though, I would definitely recommend trusting your instinct.
When I had my third daughter I knew she was latching properly. The nurse came and wanted to see if we were doing the whole breastfeeding thing correctly. Well, I do not know if my baby was not hungry or not up for it at the moment so it seemed that we could not do it. Then the nurse did this thing to get my baby to open her tiny mouth and proceeded to shove my baby on my breast! Of course, my baby got super pissed off and started crying very pissy and inconsolable. I got so upset too because I was not going to choke my baby with my breast just to show the nurse that my baby can latch properly.
Another thing to make sure of is to not have mastitis, engorgement, or thrush. I know, you may be asking what some of those are or maybe you already know. However, if you do not know, please research it just to make sure that what you have is plain ol’ sore, cracked nipples from starting to breastfeed.
So for the sake of your time, I will just get to what I did to heal my sore, cracked nipples:
Clean reusable or disposable nursing pads (change them as needed)
Himalayan pink salt water (or sea salt)
Coconut oil (organic, unrefined)
Feed baby on the less sore side since babies tend to latch more aggressively on the first side they are offered with. I learned this the hard way. Anyway, after nursing my baby I would grab a cotton ball, put some salt water and rub the nipples, then air dry. Sometimes I would just do it with my finger and then let them air dry (this is very important: air dry).
After they air dried, I would put on some coconut oil and place my pads in my bra. You may think that salt water will dry your nipples and therefore more cracks. However, salt water, according to old remedies (my grandma taught me about salt water), helps heal wounds faster. The coconut oil helps in lubricating them. That is it! I did not wash it off before feeding my baby, but that is totally up to you.
I would do this every single time after nursing her, even at nights (I may have skipped one or two times at night, sooo tired!) My nipples got better in around 6 days or less, instead of the usual 2 weeks. After they were not cracked or sore anymore, I would still put coconut oil 3 times a day and salt water once a day for one more week. Why did I use coconut oil and not the typical ointment they offer you at the hospital, the one in a purple tube? Well, when I used that on my second time breastfeeding, I felt it contribute to the thrush, so I just used coconut oil the third time, and it worked wonders.
It is normal to have sore, cracked nipples at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey. However, we do not have to suffer for so long. If we can try natural stuff that will not affect our babies and will help us heal faster, then it is great! Maybe you are starting to think that you are not built for breastfeeding or that the milk might not be enough for your baby because all baby wants is to be nursing (which by the way it is totally normal the first few weeks after birth), yet you are in pain. Pain from cracked nipples and soreness. Two or three hours do not seem like enough of a break from that. Sometimes you may even see some blood and think, how am I going to get past this?
Well, from one mom to another, let me tell you: You Will. I did it and many other moms.
The key is persistence.