During the very first week of breastfeeding my first baby, I experienced cracked and bleeding nipples. The first month of breastfeeding was one of the most excruciating things that ever happened to me. I felt like there’s a needle passing through my nipple and a string connected to it is being pulled out from inside my breast. To say I experienced a sharp pain while breastfeeding is an understatement. Excruciating — that’s how I would describe it. I thought that it was because it was my first time to breastfeed, and that the pores in my nipples are just beginning to open up; hence causing nipples bleeding while breastfeeding. But I soon learned that it was not the case.
What Causes Blood in My Breast Milk?
Blood coming out of your breast means there’s a crack in your nipple. It is not because it is your first time to breast feed ever in your life (this was what I thought). It is not because pores are just opening up (another thing I thought). The reason why nipples get sore and eventually crack is because the baby’s latch is too shallow. If your little one is just sucking on your nipple and not taking most of the areola in, then breast feeding will take a toll on your nipple. He will suck and pull on your nipple, causing it to tear up. You might be thinking, I thought the baby’s just supposed to latch on the nipple? I thought so, too. But I’m more knowledgeable now. Apparently the nipple is just the tip; the whole dark area around your nipple is not there for display, milk also comes out of it.
The number one solution to this problem is by correcting the latch. Read our article on how to correct baby’s latch to prevent cracked nipples while breastfeeding.
How Do I Treat My Cracked and Sore Nipples Caused by Breastfeeding?
This goes hand in hand with correcting your baby’s latch because even if you heal your nipple but you don’t correct the latch, the same thing will happen again and again. If you don’t want your baby drinking your blood, you would have to pump breast milk from your injured breast even if you’re not going to give the milk to your baby. This is so that your breast continues to produce milk as needed. Pump at least once every four hours. You actually don’t need any medicine, since the milk coming out of your breast has antibiotic properties which can heal your cracked nipple in as little as 24 hours, as long as you keep pumping as scheduled. If you can, air dry you nipple and don’t wear tight tops so that the material won’t rub against your nipple (which can aggravate the soreness). You can even go topless, if you’re comfortable (and assuming all doors are locked and no visitor would be popping in unannounced!)
There was blood in my breast milk while pumping on the first day. But on the second day, I noticed that my milk was no longer pinkish, which means there was no more blood. My nipples were still sore though so I proceeded to pump one more day, this time giving my baby the pumped milk but not giving him the breast. I was lucky to not have both nipples cracked and bleeding, so I can still give him the other one.
What Products Can I Use to Treat Cracked and Sore Nipples Because of Breastfeeding?
You may feel a bit of pain while pumping, though. If you can no longer take the pain, and want to be able to feed your baby from your injured breast (especially when both nipples are bleeding so you have no choice), you can use always use creams. Here are some that you can use:
1. Lanolin Creams. Lanolin is a popular ingredient of many make-up brands and lip balms. There are several brands of pure lanolin creams out there, such as Lansinoh Breastfeeding Salve and Medela Tender Care Lanolin. This generation’s mothers and other mothers before them swear by the efficacy of lanolin, no matter the brand.
However, recent issues involving harvesting lanolin has been put to light. Lanolin (or wool wax) is a substance found in sheep’s wool. The amount of pesticides used when harvesting wool to get rid of parasites made lanolin controversial. Some mothers no longer want to use lanolin of fear that harmful toxins will be ingested by their little ones, which is a very valid concern. Nevertheless, both US and Europe standardized the production of lanolin cream so as to limit pesticide use. I believe this makes lanolin safe for you and your baby. I have not read or heard of any reports of issues caused by lanolin oil or cream to babies or mothers anywhere, and I have not encountered a valid study that says lanolin is bad for anyone’s health. But of course, when it comes to your baby, you should do your research first.
2. Organic Nipple Balms/Creams. If you still believe that lanolin has the potential to harm you and your baby, you can always go for organic balms. There are tons of them out there, but I would recommend buying creams that would not require you to wipe off before breastfeeding. Wiping the cream off your nipples might cause additional soreness, and it’s best to avoid that. The best creams are the following:
- Motherlove Nipple Cream – This is my main recommendation. It’s made with 100% organic ingredients. It has been found to have zero toxins, which is one less thing to worry than lanolin. The ingredients include shea butter, extra virgin olive oil, beeswax and marshmallow root, which are all organic. These qualities make Motherlove Nipple Cream safe to ingest. You don’t have to wipe it off before breastfeeding. It has a jelly-like consistency that I like, much thinner than that of Lansinoh. It’s a bit on the expensive side as compared to other nipple creams, but it is sooo worth it! It smells of Olive oil, which is its primary ingredient.
Click HERE to view in Amazon.
- Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter – This one is made with non-GMO ingredients, and is free of lanolin. Like Motherlove, this cream is safe to be eaten by your baby so there’s no need to remove it before breastfeeding. It has a buttery-like consistency, which seems to melt on the nipple itself. It helps soothe the soreness after breastfeeding so it would be best to use regularly. It has that light chocolate-y smell too, because of the cocoa oil in the product.
Click HERE to view in Amazon
Breastfeeding should never be painful, keep that in mind. And although you are experiencing pain right now, that is something that can be corrected. If there is pain, it means there is something wrong. Giving your baby the best milk possible — your breast milk — is a wonderful thing. But you should not do this and just accept the pain you are experiencing. It is time to change that mindset because there is a way to solve your problem, ease the pain and still provide your baby the most nutritious milk.
Have you tried other creams and methods to treat your cracked and bleeding nipples? Share your story with other mothers!