The most common cause of nipple pain while breastfeeding is a Poor Latch. If you have sore nipples and you see any of these 11 sign of a poor latch, you need to see a certified lactation consultant (ICBLC). Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a lactation consultant ASAP. Most hospitals have them on staff. You can also look for one near you at the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. The best treatment for a poor latch is positioning the baby correctly at the breast. You may need hands on help from a lactation consultant or lactation specialist.

Poor Latch Signs:

Your baby is latching on to just the nipple.
• You do not see or hear your baby swallowing.
• Your baby is sucking in her cheeks as she tries to breastfeed.
• baby does not have her lips flanged or one is tucked in as she sucks
• You hear clicking or smacking noises
• Your nipples are sore
• Your nipples are cracked or have broken skin
• Breastfeeding is painful for more than the first 10-15 seconds of the feed.
• Your baby seems unhappy and frustrated, and continues to show signs of hunger after feeding.
• Your newborn is losing too much weight. Normal weight loss is 5-8% of their birth weight.
• Your baby is not gaining weight at the recommended rate or hasn’t regained their birth weight by 10-14 days.

Poor latch causes:

The most common cause of nipple pain is caused by a poor latch. 

  • Poor latch can be caused by positioning of the baby. 
  • Babies must be tummy to tummy with their moms; nose opposite the nipple; chin coming to breast first; mouth open as wide as a yawn for a deep latch. 
  • The nipple needs to go all the way back to baby’s soft palate. 
  • The lips are flanged out and the bottom lip will cover most of the areola and the upper lip will cover less of the areola. 
  • In many cases women are told to keep the latch for only a short time. This is a good suggestion if the mother is getting frustrated or is having a hard time getting started. But in most cases, limiting the time at the breast is not necessary.
  • Sometimes nipple pain can be caused by problems in the baby’s oral structure. ie: tongue or lip tie. Baby is not able to thrust the tongue long enough to milk the breast or open the mouth wide enough to flange the lips.

Poor latch treatments:

  • See a certified lactation consultant (ICBLC) one on one  – there are many at your local hospital Find an ICBLC
  • Attend a breastfeeding support group or La Leche League meeting. Find a La Leche League Meeting 
  • Fill a bowl with warm water and add epsom salts. Lean over the bowl to soak the nipples and let air dry.
  • Soak a cotton cloth in hot water and epsom salts and apply warm compresses to nipples and breasts
  • Squeeze out breast milk and rub around nipple let air dry.
  • Temporary use of nipple shields
    Temporary use of Nipple shells