Sore and cracked nipples are not an inevitable part of breastfeeding. They occur if the baby does not latch on correctly. If the baby sucks the nipple only, rather than the whole areola being in the mouth, the nipples can quickly become sore and sometimes cracked because the baby’s tongue or roof of the mouth is rubbing on the nipple. Ask for support and advice from a midwife or breastfeeding counsellor if feeding is in any way painful. National breastfeeding helplines are also detailed at the end of this booklet. If one breast is less sore, try to feed from that one first, so that if you need to swap to the other breast the baby will feed less strongly.
Some women find nipple shields useful if their nipples are very sore. These are made of thin, soft silicone and are placed over the nipple. Milk flows to the baby from holes at the tip of the shield. Using nipple shields sometimes allows time for the nipples to heal. However, they don’t work for everyone and some babies will refuse to feed through a nipple shield or may refuse to go back to feeding directly from the breast without one.
Breast Cancer Care. Breast Changes after Pregnancy [Online]. No Date [Cited 2016 June, 16]. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/ipgmedia/National/Breast%20Cancer%20Care/assets/BreastchangesduringandafterpregnancyBCC22pages.pdf