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A New Mum’s Guide: Nipple and Breast Sensitivity While Breastfeeding

The journey of motherhood is a beautiful one, but it will lead to changes in your body. One common experience is a change in nipple and breast sensitivity when breastfeeding.

Whilst it’s often nothing to be concerned about, this sensitivity can, at times, be uncomfortable and can make breastfeeding more challenging for a nursing mother. It’s important to try and find relief and protect your breasts with gentle bras and soothing creams and oils.

There are a number of things you can try to soothe the area and stop sensitivity from becoming a problem.

Why Does Breastfeeding Cause Sensitivity?

Breastfeeding is a brand-new sensation for first-time Mums, and it can be tough to know what is “normal” when it comes to pain and sensitivity changes. What can be a beautiful experience also comes with some additional physical effects that are important to be aware of. 

When you give birth, your body and hormones react to help you recover and take on this new role of nursing. This often makes breasts, and nipples feel very sensitive.

It’s important to properly take care of your body as you nurse, and this includes caring for these more sensitive areas.

During breastfeeding, the body undergoes some enormous hormonal fluctuations, particularly in prolactin and oxytocin levels. These hormones play a crucial role in milk production and the let-down reflex.

Prolactin’s role is to stimulate milk production, leading to breast growth and sometimes aching or sensitivity. Oxytocin, on the other hand, triggers the actual release of milk from the breasts during feeding and can also cause temporary nipple sensitivity or tenderness. 

On top of these hormonal changes, the repetitive motion of breastfeeding and the latching technique of the baby can further exacerbate nipple sensitivity, especially in the early stages of breastfeeding when both mother and baby are learning.

Supporting A Growing Bust

When breastfeeding, you will likely notice changes in breast size and shape. It’s important that bras and underwear continue to offer proper support to prevent back pain and other aches while breasts are heavier. 

Softer materials are often best for soothing sensitivity, but you should also still be getting support. Wider shoulder straps can help to prevent discomfort and gentle materials make daily wear more comfortable.

Throughout the nursing journey, it’s incredibly common for breast size (and shape) to change. It is recommended to wear bras that have some leniency to accommodate these changes. Stretchy materials and adjustable straps can be key to finding a style that is comfortable when nursing and accommodating fluctuations in size. 

The Importance of Soothing Fabrics

Soothing fabrics and materials that are more gentle with sensitivities are key for finding a good bra when breastfeeding. Nipples that are already sensitive can be painful if in constant contact with the wrong materials.

One of the simplest things you can do in this case is to change bras and choose one that is more suitable for pregnancy and postpartum care. Wireless bras and silk or organic cotton bras will help to avoid irritation.

Quick-drying cotton bras can also help to manage leaks so that the bra isn’t uncomfortable to wear throughout the day, particularly when proper milk expression isn’t possible.

Natural Creams and Oils

Creams and oils can help with relief from sensitivity or discomfort. There is very little absorption of ingredients from creams into breastmilk, although it’s always best to check before applying them to areas that the baby will be in contact with.

Creams or ointments that have been applied directly to the area should be applied sparingly after feeds and gently wiped before the next feed. Even natural creams can sometimes be irritating to sensitive skin.


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