How to use nipple cream when breastfeeding

Breastfeeding, while a natural and beautiful experience, can often lead to nipple discomfort for moms.

If you've just started nursing your little one and are experiencing soreness, don't worry - this is a common reaction, and nipple cream can help provide quick relief while preventing further irritation.

In this article, we'll explain how to use nipple cream when breastfeeding or pumping to ensure the best care for your skin and your baby's feed.

How to choose the right nipple cream

When it comes to choosing the best nipple cream for your body, there are lots of factors to consider. It's essential to review the ingredients, their suitability for infants, and any fragrances used.

Many nipple balms contain 'lanolin', commonly found in cosmetic products. While lanolin is generally safe for babies, it's an ingredient that may cause hypersensitivity / allergic reactions for you or your baby.

Since lanolin comes from scoured sheep wool, many moms have concerns about adverse reactions, cruelty-free practices and potential pesticide exposure. So, if you'd prefer to err on the side of caution, you're better off choosing a lanolin-free nipple cream.

In addition to avoiding lanolin, we recommend buying nipple butter that offers the following:

  • Fragrance-free: Creams labelled 'unscented' or 'fragrance-free' can usually be used safely before nursing. Cosmetic products with fragrances and perfumes have the potential to irritate sensitive skin and could transfer to your baby during breastfeeding.
  • Paraben-free: Parabens are preservatives that have been found to pose several health risks during pregnancy and postpartum. Phthalates are a similar group of chemicals known to interfere with hormones and cause developmental issues for growing babies. To minimize any potential risk, opt for creams that are paraben + phthalate-free at all costs!
  • Petrolatum-free: Although petroleum jelly is known for its moisturizing properties, it's not the best choice for nipple balms, as studies have shown it clogs pores and does not allow the skin to breathe. It's also important to know the different types of petroleum jelly on the market. The safest option is a fully refined petrolatum, free from toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Avoid purchasing nipple balms that contain:

  • Artificial colours + flavours
  • Alcohol
  • Synthetic preservatives + additives
  • Anaesthetics

Instead, look for nipple creams with a short and transparent ingredient list, preferably developed with plant-based components.

To take care of your baby and breasts when breastfeeding, always perform a patch test to ensure you don't suffer any adverse reactions, and check your chosen nipple balm with your healthcare practitioner.

When to apply nipple cream

Timing is pivotal in ensuring your breastfeeding journey is as comfortable as possible. Early application of nipple cream before and after your nursing sessions can make a huge difference in preventing and alleviating nipple discomfort.

  • Before breastfeeding: Applying nipple balm before a feed can be a preventative measure against potential discomfort. In the first few days or weeks of feeding, there can be more friction and irritation than after time goes on, which is why regularly applying a thin layer or cream beforehand can help to create a health and protective barrier.
  • After breastfeeding: Post-feed is the perfect time to apply nipple balm for soothing relief. You may notice that your nipples become tender, and applying cream can help moisturize and nourish the skin while helping it heal. Nipple creams that feature ingredients with known healing properties (such as calendula or chamomile) are ideal for promoting a fast, natural recovery.

Remember that when using nipple cream before breastfeeding, ensuring you've chosen a balm that baby can safely ingest is even more critical.

How to use nipple cream when breastfeeding (step by step guide from mum. Motherhood Essentials)

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How to use nipple cream step-by-step

Step 1: Wash your hands

Before touching your breasts or the nipple cream, wash your hands thoroughly. Cleansing your hands with a gentle soap helps to ensure that you're applying the cream to clean skin, minimizing the risk of infection.

Step 2: Cleanse your nipples (optional)

Some moms also like cleaning their nipples with a fragrance-free cleanser or warm water before applying the cream. Doing so can help to remove any residues that may have accumulated on the nipples (such as sweat or milk), and can be particularly beneficial for those who are prone to skin sensitivities.

Step 3: Express + warm the cream

Dispense a small amount of nipple cream onto your fingertip. You don't need very much; a pea-sized amount is usually enough for both nipples. After this, rub the cream between your fingers to warm it slightly.

Step 4: Apply (before breastfeeding)

Gently spread the warmed nipple cream over the entire nipple area and areola, paying attention to areas that are prone to dryness or irritation. We recommend using circular motions to stimulate blood flow.

Step 5: Airdry

While you can use babys-safe nipple creams pre-feed, it’s best to let the cream dry or wipe off any excess before nursing. Doing so also enables the cream to be fully absorbed, making it most effective.

Step 6: Apply (after breastfeeding)

After each nursing session, reapply the nipple cream following step 4. This secondary application is crucial for healing tender breasts and maintaining optimal skin health throughout postpartum.

Additional mum. tip: Consider using nursing pads if you're concerned about the cream transferring onto your bra. These pads are designed to help absorb excess cream, and prevent any lotion from leaking onto your clothing.

How to use nipple cream when pumping

Pumping can sometimes exacerbate nipple sensitivity, making the use of nipple cream crucial for a more comfortable experience.

Because of the repetitive motion and suction, applying nipple cream to the pump can act as a protective barrier, minimizing friction to delicate skin.

After you have determined your flange size, apply a pea-sized amount of nipple cream to the inner edge of the flange where the nipple and areola meet the pump.

Happy breastfeeding!

As you begin your breastfeeding journey, always remember that your comfort matters. Trust your instincts, listen to your body and chat to your doctor or lactation consultant about any questions or concerns.

xo mum

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