Pain reduction and treatment of sore nipples in nursing mothers

J Perinat Educ. 2004 Winter;13(1):29-35. doi: 10.1624/105812404X109375.


Health-promotion goals include increasing the duration of breastfeeding because of its irrefutable advantages to the mother and baby, society, and the environment. However, many mothers experience painful, sore nipples during breastfeeding and stop nursing before they intended (Livingstone & Stringer, 1999). The experimental trial described in this paper randomized 94 breastfeeding women with sore nipples into three treatment groups. Midwives practicing in hospitals in Latvia assessed the participants' breastfeeding practices, then gave the mothers individualized education and corrective interventions using a guided documentation form, the Lactation Assessment Tool (LATtrade mark). In addition, two groups were instructed to use commercial products on their breasts and nipples: breast shells and lanolin cream for one group, and glycerin gel therapy for the other. Nipple pain during breastfeeding was rated by the mothers on a 5-point verbal descriptor scale at each visit, and pain at the start of treatment was compared to pain at the last visit. Analysis of variance (using Fisher's Exact Test) determined that no significant differences existed between the groups: F(2, 86) = 1.34, p > .05. Almost all of the mothers experienced nipple healing, as assessed by the midwife. Mothers in the glycerin gel group were more satisfied with their treatment method, but this finding was not statistically significant. The results of this study indicate that effective care and perinatal education for nursing mothers with sore nipples should include assessment of breastfeeding positioning and latch-on, as well as education and corrective interventions using a guidance tool, whether or not commercial preparations are used.