Ten Things Your Nipples Wish You Knew About Them
1. NO SOAP, PLEASE
When breastfeeding, don't wash your nipples with soap! Here’s why: your nipples have special nipple superpower ducts that secrete naturally lubricating, bacteria fighting oil. Yeah, we can hear you from here: “Wait, what? Don't wash?” Yes. Hygiene is definitely important, especially since bacteria and fungus love dark, moist places (like behind a breast pad). But rinsing and air drying with your regular daily bath or shower should be plenty to keep your nipples in the pink.
2. BREASTFEEDING IS GOOD FOR YOU!
Obviously, yes — breastfeeding is good for your baby. But did you know it’s also good for your body? Research shows it may even help reduce chances of breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer have a 59% lower risk of developing breast cancer if they breastfed their babies. So, in conclusion: breastfeeding leads to healthier babies and healthier mamas. The end.
3. BE GENTLE
For the love of all nipples across the land, do not try to "toughen them up." There’s some age-old “advice” that says you’ve got to break in your nipples with a rough cloth or worse, a scrub brush. Nope. Just the thought of that makes us grab our breasts in pseudo-pain. Yes, like most skin, it takes a little bit of time for your nipples to get used to breastfeeding. In the meantime, keep your nipples soft with a soothing, non-toxic balm. But please. No scrubbing, OK? Your baby will get them road-ready soon enough.
4. KEEP IT PURE
No toxic chemicals please! If you think about it, what’s going on your nipples is going straight into your sweet baby’s mouth. Use a nipple cream that is as pure as anything else you would put on or in your baby. Allergic to wool? Well, here’s the thing about lanolin: it’s the sebum or grease from sheep's wool. It’s sticky, and may contain allergens and even trace amounts of pesticides. Try using a gentle plant-based balm instead. We also don’t recommend nipple creams with comfrey, which has been shown to be a liver toxin. Organic calendula is the best herbal option to care for sore, cracked nipples. But — and this is the most important we’d like you to know — read the ingredients, and know your herbs!
5. EVERY NIPPLE IS A GOOD NIPPLE
Just like babies, nipples come in all shapes and sizes. If they are inverted or flat, you can still breastfeed! And the more you do, the more they will "pop out.” Like a little turkey baster, or your belly button in the last trimester. If you’re having difficulties, seek help from your friendly lactation consultant or specialist. But trust us: you got this.
6. FREE THE NIPPLE — AND THE RIGHT BRA IS EVERYTHING
Your breasts are hard at work making food for your baby. So give them and their sweet nipple sidekicks a supportive, comfortable bra. Or, if your nipples are really sensitive, go bra-free as much as possible. Comfort is key. Also, Nipples like air. And when they’re sore, well…any sort of touch is going to hurt. Give them a breather every once in a while — they’ll heal faster.
7. BREASTMILK TO THE RESCUE
If you’re experiencing sore, cracked nipples, massage a few drops of expressed breast milk onto them — breastmilk is a natural healer.
8. THE CABBAGE LEAF THING REALLY WORKS
Cabbage leaves really can help with sore, engorged breasts. It’s true! Nobody really knows why, but evidence — and a lot of motherly wisdom — shows that cabbage leaves placed directly on your nipples and breasts can ease the unearthly pain of sore nipples. Snip some leaves for your nipples, and snack on some coleslaw with the leftovers!
9. LEARN THE LATCH
The proper latch will help keep nipples pain-free and make breastfeeding a breeze. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but if it’s your first time, you, your newborn and your nipples need a little support to get the hang of it. You needed help the first time you rode a bicycle, right? The same goes for breastfeeding. There are experts ready, willing and able to help, so find a trusted resource. It could be a nurse, lactation consultant, your mom or your best friend — just reach out and get yourself some support.
10. BABY BACKWASH IS GOOD FOR YOU
When a baby is nursing, there’s a whole lotta slurping going on. And with slurping, especially from someone who’s just learning how to slurp, there will be backwash. Yep, your baby’s breast milk backwash goes back through your nipples and back into your system — and according to this article, that backwash magically triggers infection-fighting leukocytes your breast milk naturally produces, and attunes it to your baby’s needs. In other words, your body creates specific medicine for your baby and delivers it via breast milk — and the concoction is different according to the illness. It’s like you have a craft bar in your boobs, and you’re the mixologist. Your body has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve!