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causes of your Cracked nipples

cracked nipples
cracked nipples

Are you suffering from cracked nipples or sore nipples? Are you feeling stressed about your next feed? if so , firstly, let me tell you that if you have landed here, you are not alone! A recent scientific study has confirmed that between 80-90% of women experience cracked and sore nipple during their breastfeeding journey.

If you are thinking of stopping you are not alone too ! Cracked and sore nipples is the number one reason why women stop breastfeeding due to its extreme discomfort! 

I hope that this blog will empower you to understand what the cause of your cracked and sore nipples may be so you can continue your breastfeeding journey if that is what you wish for…

which nipple pain do you identify with ?

There are two types of discomfort when it comes to nipple pain;

  1. Discomfort at the beginning of a feed but that normally stops after 10 seconds of the baby latching
  2. If the pain is so bad that your hands and feet want to curl up this is definitely a signal that something is not right.

Which one do you identify with ? if you feel that you identify with number 2 means that you will need to immediately seek support in order for you not to develop any further complications…

causes of cracked nipples

baby is latching incorrectly

baby latching to breast

In the first couple of weeks, an incorrect latch is often the cause sore nipples. Mom and baby are still learning. A few simple adjustments may be all you need to breastfeed more comfortably.

It can take a bit of time to figure out the position that will work best for you and your baby. Feel free to experiment and do not hesitate to ask for help if needed and check out my blog on breastfeeding positions.

If you are still having trouble I can help you to see whether the latch is the correct one and if not help your baby latch on correctly.

Tongue Tie

The movement of baby’s tongue is very important to the mechanics of breastfeeding. A baby uses his tongue to draw the breast into his mouth, to keep it in his mouth and to transfer milk. With a tongue-tie, a stretchy band of tissue under the tongue (called a frenulum) is tighter than it should be. This restricts the tongue’s movement and can lead to sore nipples.

If you suspect that your baby may have a tongue-tie, it is important to have it assessed by someone experienced in working with tongue-ties.

yeast infection

Candida is a yeast infection that can be transferred back and forth between mom and baby. Women with yeast-infected nipples typically have a sudden onset of pain. Some women describe this pain as burning or like having “ground glass” in their nipples. Infected nipples may be pink or fiery red and there may be cracks at the base of the nipple. The areola (brown area around the nipples) may appear shiny or be itchy. A baby with a yeast infection will have white patches in the mouth on the gums or cheeks (called thrush) or may have a bright red diaper rash that does not respond to regular diaper creams. See your doctor for treatment if you or your baby are having any of these symptoms.

Milk bleb or blister

A milk bleb or blister occurs when a thin layer of skin grows over the opening of a nipple pore, blocking the flow of milk from that pore. You may see a small white dot on the end of the nipple. The pressure from the backup of milk behind the pore can cause intense nipple pain. Treatment is available; talk to your doctor or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Incorrect use of a breast pump

The flange is the part of the breast pump that covers your nipple. Flanges come in different sizes; it is important to get the size that fits you best. Most pumps come with the standard flange size, 24mm (the distance across the opening of the flange). If the flange is too small, your nipple will rub on the sides of the flange. If the flange is too large, too much breast tissue is drawn in as you pump. Pumping with a flange that does not fit well can cause soreness.

Another cause of sore nipples while pumping can be the level of suction. It is not usually necessary to pump at the highest suction setting. If your nipples are sore, try lowering the suction to see if that helps.


Some women have sharp, burning nipple pain after a feed and notice the end of their nipple turning white (blanching). This is caused by a spasm of the blood vessels in the nipple. Women who have had a yeast infection or have had cracked or damaged nipples are at risk for this. Cover the breast immediately after feeding or try holding a warm rice bag or hot water bottle against your chest. If the pain persists despite these measures, please discuss other treatment options with your healthcare provider


In the early days of pregnancy, you may have tender nipples while breastfeeding. If you cannot come up with any other reason, this may be the one!

how to treat your cracked nipples

The best way to treat sore nipples is to identify and fix the source of the problem. Start by having the latch assessed, as often this is the cause.

The following may help sore or damaged nipples to heal:

  • Breastfeed on the least sore breast first. Baby will nurse more gently on the second side. If both nipples are sore, hand express some milk before a feeding to help your milk letdown.
  • There are healing properties in breast milk; rub a few drops on your nipples after feeds. (Note: If your nipples are cracked, abraded, or wounded or if you have a yeast infection, use plain water to rinse your nipples after feeds instead.)
  • Recent research show that nipple creams are not helpful. This study found that in most cases of sore nipples, the pain will be reduced to a mild level by 7 to 10 days.
  • You could try wearing breast shells if the pressure from your bra or clothing is painful.

There are many reasons for sore and cracked nipples. It may not be possible to determine the source of your discomfort on your own. The good news is that most causes of sore nipples respond quite quickly to treatment. Contact me for a session to help you through this! 

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célia ponzo

 I support couples to fully enjoy parenthood from pregnancy🤰to first year with baby 👶🏻🤱 empowering them with scientific knowledge, emotional guidance and deep relaxation techniques.

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