Some nursing moms sail through breastfeeding with nary a wince or twinge of discomfort while others experience pain in the form of sore or even cracked nipples. (If you fall into the latter category, take [emotional] comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. One 2013 study found that 44% of breastfeeding moms had issues with nipple pain.) While figuring out the why behind nipple discomfort is key for pain-free breastfeeding, uncomfy moms can find much-needed relief in the interim in the form of a nipple cream.
“Nipple pain during breastfeeding is highly prevalent, with up to 10% of moms experiencing it one week into the process,” says Dr. Felice Gersh, a board-certified OB-GYN in Irvine, California. “I’ve even heard some moms describe the pain as ‘excruciating.’ Nipple creams can help soothe tender areas and allow moms to comfortably continue nursing. However, nipple pain is often an indication that the baby isn’t latching onto the breast properly and positioning and technique need adjusting.”
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Professor Diane Spatz, Ph.D., who is also a Nurse Scientist for the Lactation Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, agrees, saying pain shouldn’t be an issue for breastfeeding moms.
“Nursing mothers should feel pressure, not pain,” Spatz says. “If there’s pain, it needs to be evaluated. Over 90% of the time, pain is attributed to the infant not being attached to the breast correctly.”
That said, Spatz explains that if nursing moms do experience nipple trauma, products containing lanolin (a common nipple cream ingredient) or hydrogel pads may offer some relief.
Can’t take the pain or discomfort anymore? Here are 10 nipple creams to consider when breastfeeding.