Nipple care.  The question on everyone’s mind, but so often doesn’t reach their lips.

Consider this a short cheat sheet on nipple care.

Before we start, I want to cover this first.

******If you are experiencing bleeding, pain or open wounds please call a lactation consultant.******

If any of the concerns above are happening, Google is not a good substitute for good breastfeeding care.

Let’s start with soap. You do not need to wash your nipples other than letting warm water on your breasts during a shower.  Nipples are self cleaning and self moisturizing.  However, if you are experiencing open wounds on your nipples from breastfeeding or pumping you may need to use a mild fragrance free cleanser on your nipples to reduce the risk of infection. One you use for your face is often a good choice.

Nipple creams, butters and oils are not required, but often make breastfeeding and pumping more comfortable. Consider any allergies you have prior to choosing a nipple cream and personal preference.  Light creams that are oil or butter based often help reduce friction of the pump flange (the part that comes in contact with your breasts) and make pumping more comfortable.  I often will recommend olive oil for this.  Coconut oil is okay, but some people do find it drying.  Shea butter based products may be helpful if they are of fairly loose consistency.  Plain shea butter, lanolin or any thick sticky nipple creams will increase friction while pumping and can lead to nipple damage.

If you are prone to dry skin you will definitely need to look at using a nipple balm.

Pay particular attention under your breasts whenever you shower.  This area can easily develop thrush if milk leaks in this area and sits.  If you notice the skin becoming shiny, red and prickly ask your doctor if using an over the counter antifungal like Monistat is safe for you to use.

If you have breastmilk leaking making use of breast pads can be helpful.  Change them often and wash them in warm soapy water with your bras.  If there are concerns that you may have thrush, rinse pads and bras with white vinegar (often can be used in the fabric softener slot with an extra rinse cycle added). If you tend to leak a lot of milk change pads frequently throughout the day.  If you find you are not doing this enough make a schedule or just change them after every feeding until the leaking reduces, as it often does over time.

Nipple care is important.  It’s one of the hardest working parts of your body right now.  Keep them happy.

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