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Q: My baby was born a week ago and I’m breastfeeding, however, it isn’t going so well. My nipples are red, sore and cracked. What can I do?
A: Lisanne du Plessis answers: Sore nipples can have many causes but the most common one is when a baby is not positioned well for a good latch. There are many options for how to hold your baby. It is important that you are comfortable and then bring the baby towards you. Don’t bend down towards the baby. This will give you a sore back and also cause baby to hang on the nipple and hurt it. In the cradle hold you and baby need to be so close together that your tummies are touching. In other words, your baby should be on her side, facing your breast. Don’t be in a rush to offer the breast. Wait until your baby opens her mouth really wide. You can tickle her top lip with your nipple to encourage this. As soon as her mouth is open, bring her in to latch. The latch is a good one if her chin and nose are tucked against your breast and her lips are curled out. A large part of the nipple and areola should be in her mouth. As she suckles, you will see her temples move. For relief of nipple pain, you can use pure lanolin or an ointment that is prescribed. Don’t use any other body lotions or creams. Another potential cause of sore nipples is eczema, with or without thrush. This can occur in women who have a personal or family history of eczema, asthma or hay fever. Thrush is a common infection of the skin or mucous membranes. It often occurs in conditions where the skin is damp or warm, as it is in places where there are skin folds. The suckling of the baby makes the area around the nipple warm and damp, making it a breeding ground for the yeast infection that causes thrush. If your nipple is cracked, the infection grows there. Check your baby’s mouth for thrush too. You will see a white layer in the mouth, on the gums and tongue and in the cheeks. If you suspect that thrush is the cause, talk to your doctor or to your baby’s paediatrician.