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Prevention and treatment of sore nipples

In the first 2 to 4 days after giving birth, some nipple tenderness is common, especially when your baby latches-on. After the first few sucks, breastfeeding should be comfortable.


  • Position and latch-on your baby correctly.
  • Try different positions.
  • To take the baby off the breast, put your clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction.
  • Use only water to wash your breasts when showering/bathing.


  • If your nipples are very sore, use ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Take a few deep breaths before feeding to relax.
  • Before a feeding, ease the soreness by putting ice on your nipples for a few seconds.
  • Start the feeding on the less sore nipple.
  • Rub a few drops of breastmilk onto your nipple and areola after a feeding. Let nipples air dry.
  • Pain that continues during and between feedings, blisters, cracked and bleeding nipples are not normal. Call a breastfeeding specialist or your doctor for help!


Sore nipples may be caused by a condition called thrush, a common yeast infection.

  • Your nipples may itch or burn.
  • Your baby may have white patches in his mouth or a bright, red diaper rash.
  • Your baby may refuse to breastfeed and be fussy.

If you suspect thrush, contact your health care provider for medications for you and your baby.

You can and should continue breastfeeding!

Adapted from the WI Department of Health Services Division of Public Health Breastfeeding 6: Breast Soreness