Sore Nipples information at iVillage Pregnancy & Parenting

I am six months pregnant and starting to think about breastfeeding. My mother had a really hard time with sore, cracked nipples while she was nursing and I'm concerned that I will have the same problem. Is this likely to happen?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It's very normal to be concerned about whether or not you will be able to breastfeed comfortably. Rest assured that just because your mother (or sister) had problems, this does not mean you will!


7 things you need to know about sore nipples


1. Sore nipples are not a normal part of breastfeeding.

2. No nipple preparation is necessary during pregnancy. Skin color, haircolor, and nipple preparation have been shown to make no difference in preventing nipple soreness.

3. Some initial tenderness is normal. During the first couple of days, you may experience some nipple pain, usually peaking around the third day. This is normal. It is not normal if the pain continues or intensifies.

4. The number one cause of sore nipples is poor positioning. Your baby needs to open her mouth wide and take a good mouthful of breast, including about one inch of your areola. As she nurses, your nipple will be deep within his mouth and protected from abrasion.

5. Feed your baby early and often. Research has shown that sore nipples are not related to the frequency or duration of early feeds. It is recommended to breastfeed early and often following your baby's birth.

6. Get the help you need. If you have sore nipples that persist after the first couple of days you need to be promptly evaluated by a Lactation Consultant. To locate an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) contact the International Lactation Consultant Association at You will be given the name of a Lactation Consultant in your area.

7. Look at your family history. There is an inherited condition that, if present in the nursing baby, can lead to nipple soreness. Do you, your partner, or any members of your family have tongue-tie (ankyloglossia)? With tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum (the piece of tissue connecting underneath the tongue) is short and doesn't allow the baby to properly extend her tongue. Tongue-tie can dramatically affect the breastfeeding relationship.

Wishing you pain-free nursing with your baby-to-be!

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