What causes cracked nipples?
Although having cracked nipples is usually associated with breastfeeding, other things can cause the condition. Read on to find out about possible reasons why it may happen.
Cracked nipples: breastfeeding
Cracked nipples are a common postpartum problem in new mothers. While they are often a result of breastfeeding, nursing by itself is not a painful process with the correct technique. Below are some common reasons why it’s possible to experience cracked nipples while breastfeeding:
- Improper latching: Improper latching is one of the key causes of cracked nipples. When perfectly latched, the nipple is in contact with the back of the baby’s mouth, an area called the soft palate. This area is soft and doesn’t irritate the nipple. However, with improper latching, the nipple rubs against the hard palate, causing friction and irritation.
- Thrush: Newborns often experience thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth, soon after birth. This can be passed from the baby to the mother while breastfeeding, causing nipple pain and irritation.
- Nipple confusion: If you’re breastfeeding as well as bottle feeding, it may lead to nipple confusion in the baby. The technique to draw milk in both methods is different, with one focused on the tongue (bottle) and the other involving the mouth (breast). The baby may get confused and use the incorrect technique while latching, causing cracked nipples.
- Incorrect breast pump use: Cracked nipples can also be caused by not using a breast pump correctly. If the suction level is too high, the pressure may damage the nipple. Use a breast shield that is large enough. It’s a good idea to talk to a professional lactation consultant to find the right pump for your breast size and shape.