Whether you are breastfeeding your first baby, or you have nursed several, dealing with nipple pain is no joke! I breastfed my first three babies with no pain at all, but when my fourth baby was born, I experienced cracked, bleeding nipples for the first time.
I went through agony for a full week before my midwife finally took pity on me and recommended a little breastfeeding accessory that changed my life (or at least my breastfeeding life). Why she waited so long, I will never know.
This little piece of silicone worked instantly, and gave my nipples the protection they needed in order to heal.
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What you Need to Stop Your Nipple Pain
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about a nipple shield. A nipple shield is a thin piece of silicone that fits right over your nipple and the baby latches right onto it.
It protects your nipple from the friction and chafing you would normally experience, and gives your nipples the opportunity to heal, and to toughen up a bit.
You don’t need to worry that once you start using a shield you will have to continue on forever. I weaned all of my babies off of the shield within the first three months of nursing, and we nursed on pain-free after that.
Get the Right Fit
The most important thing to remember when you are purchasing your first nipple shield is that you need to measure yourself first. If your nipple shield is too large or too small it will not provide the most effective relief. You will still feel some chafing and won’t heal as fast.
The best way to do this is to whip out a tape measure and measure straight across your nipple (just the nipple, not the areola) in millimeters. They come in x-small, small, medium, large, and extra large.
In my experience, the hospital generally only carries one size, and its never the correct size for me. If I am getting ready to have a baby, I will order at least two shields and take them both with me to the hospital.
By the way, if you are getting ready to have your baby, or have just recently had your baby, I have some tips for how to make a strong recovery after birth.
It may take your baby a few tries to latch on properly, and it may take a few nursing sessions before your baby is completely used to it. The small learning curve is totally worth it though because you will be rid of your nipple pain so quickly.
Be patient with your baby, and if need be, express a small amount of milk into the shield so that the baby can taste it, this should clue her in that food is near. If you are continuing to have trouble getting your baby to accept the nipple shield, consider contacting La Leche League International.
After you feed your baby, make sure to wash the shield with warm water and soap. It would be smart to go ahead and pick up one of these cases too, so that you can be sure that your clean shield stays clean.
Keep a back-up nipple shield close by. There is seriously nothing worse than needing to nurse your baby, but not being able to find your shield. I break out into a cold sweat every.single.time it happens.
So to wrap it up, there is no reason at all for you to be having nipple pain. There is no reason not to give the nipple shield a try if you are experiencing cracked, bleeding nipples.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. I’d love to hear your experience if you’ve ever needed to use a nipple shield, (or maybe wish that you had!).
And since we’re on the subject of babies…
I’ve created a FREE flow chart for all of you Moms (Dads to0) to help you figure out why your baby is crying. So many times, your baby is crying, but it isn’t necessarily because he is hungry. Sign up below to grab your copy.
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