1. When breastfeeding, don’t wash your nipples with soap! They have special ductsthat secrete naturally lubricating, bacteria fighting oil. “What,” you say, “don’t wash?” No, of course hygiene is important, especially since bacteria and fungus thrive in dark, moist places like behind a breast pad. But rinsing and air drying with your regular daily bath/shower should be plenty to keep your nipples in the pink.
2. Breastfeeding is good for your baby AND your body! Research shows that it may even help reduce chances of breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer have a 59% lower risk of developing breast cancer if they breastfed their babies. What a fantastic deal: healthier babies and healthier mamas. It’s a two-fer!
3. Gentle please! Don’t try to “toughen them up.” Step away from the age-old advice to have at your nipples with a rough cloth or worse, a scrub brush. That’s no way to treat the girls! Think of your nipples as you would the soft palms of your hands beginning a new job with a shovel. It takes a little bit of time to get them use to the work. It’s good to keep nipples soft with a soothing, non-toxic balm, but no scrubbing. Treat them gently and they’ll get road ready soon enough.
4. No toxins please! If you think about it, what’s going on your nipples is going straight into your angel’s mouth. Use a nipple cream that is as pure as anything else you would put on or in your baby. Allergic to wool? Then you should know that lanolin is the sebum or grease from sheep’s wool. It is sticky, icky, and may contain allergens and or even trace amounts of pesticides. Try using a gentle plant-based balm instead. But read the ingredients and know your herbs! One nipple cream was recently taken off the market for containing neurotoxins. And we don’t recommend nipple creams with comfrey, which has been shown to be a liver toxin. But organic calendula is the best herbal option to care for sore, cracked nipples. Read the ingredients, and remember that whatever goes on your nipples is going into your baby!
5. Nipples come in all shapes and sizes just like babies do. If they are inverted or flat, you can still breastfeed! And the more you do, the more they will “pop out.” If you’re having difficulties, seek help from your friendly lactation consultant or specialist.
6. Give the girls some air! Massage a few drops of expressed breast milk into sore, cracked nipples. Then let this natural healer air-dry. Breast milk is a natural healer that is always on hand.
7. A little support here, please! A supportive, comfortable bra was never more appreciated than when breasts are heaving with the milk of momness. Or, if nipples are really sensitive, go without one as much as possible. Now is the time for ultimate comfort!
8. Cabbage leaves really can help with sore, engorged breasts. True! Nobody really knows why, but evidence and a lot of motherly wisdom shows that cabbage leaves directly on your nipples and breasts demonstrate the wonder of nature at work again. Snip some leaves for your nipples, and snack on some coleslaw with the leftovers! There is a special compound found in cabbage.
9. Proper latching will help keep nipples pain-free and make breastfeeding a breeze. There are lots of resources to get help. You needed help the first time you rode a bicycle — someone there to help you get your balance. There are experts ready, willing and able to help, so find a trusted resource, a doula, lactation consultant, mom or friend. Breastfeeding comes naturally, but sometimes a new mama and her nipples need a little support. Get it!