Contrary to what you may hear from parents, grandparents, or even peers there is no real way to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding. In the 1970s, the advice to wash your nipples with a rough cloth in the weeks before birth to build up their resistance was commonly dished out. Sounds awful, doesn't it? Doing this, or any variation thereof, will probably give you sore nipples rather than prevent them. What can you do to prevent sore nipples?
- Make sure your baby latches onto your whole nipple, rather than part of it.
- Do not nurse in the exact same position every time you breastfeed. Try alternating between sitting, side-lying, and have your baby's head point in different directions every time you nurse.
- Some mothers recommend airing your nipples for a certain period each day. That makes sense and may well work, but I never needed to do this.
And if you already have sore nipples:
- Putting lanolin on your nipples can help. This is totally natural and many women have good experiences with it.
- Once again make sure your baby latches on properly, and you don't use the same position each time.
- Some women find fresh cabbage leaves give them relief.
- Check if you have candida (thrush). This infection can cause sore nipples and presents as a white rash in your baby's mouth.
- Grin and bear it. Just because your nipples are a bit sore and you have tender breasts doesn't mean there is anything wrong. If you are only experiencing mild discomfort (I did in the days after my son's birth), remember that it will probably go away all by itself.