Breast and Nipple Care

There is no need for creams on your nipples for routine care. After feeds, just express a little breastmilk onto them and let them air dry. Change breast pads frequently, do not let them stay wet.

Check your breasts and nipples daily for signs of any problems such as cracked nipples, lumps, tenderness or redness.

Sore nipples are usually due to the baby not being correctly positioned at the breast, or not sucking properly.

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Breast and nipple problems

Sore nipples

This is usually due to the baby not being correctly attached or positioned at the breast, or not sucking properly. Seek professional help to assist with correct positioning and attachment, to prevent the cracks recurring.

Breast lumps, redness or tenderness

This is usually due to blocked milk ducts, breasts not being emptied sufficiently or an infection entering from a badly cracked nipple. Blocked ducts feel like small hard tender lumps in your breast, and there may be a patch of redness on the skin over the lump.

To relieve a blocked duct:

  • Gently massage the lump towards the nipple under a warm shower before feeds.
  • Start the feed on the breast that has the lump for a few feeds in a row.
  • While feeding, gently massage the lump.
  • Change feeding positions to help empty the affected breast (having baby lower than the breast can help relieve the blockage).
  • Express after the feed if the affected breast is still full or the lump remains.
  • If you can’t clear the lumps within 12 hours, or continue to get lumps, seek professional help.
  • If you also have a fever or feel unwell, you need to see your doctor.

When you need help

Breastfeeding does not always go smoothly or to plan. When you have problems, seek professional support from your Child and Family Health Nurse, a lactation specialist or a specialist organisation/website. Remember, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Keep asking for help until you get an answer that works for you.

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Breastfeeding tips

Keep track of the last breast used by putting a paper clip or safety pin on your bra cup or keep a record on your phone. Feel how heavy and full your breasts are before a feed. If baby has had a good feed, your breasts should feel lighter and softer afterwards.

How many feeds?

Your baby may need to feed very frequently in the first weeks of life. While it is common for babies to breastfeed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period, some babies may need fewer feeds and some more.

As baby grows they will go for longer between feeds, although remember that feeding frequency will increase again during growth spurts. Some babies may continue to wake for night feeds for at least 6 months.

Young father playing with his daughter inside with toys

How will I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

Generally they seem content after a feed (unless they have reflux or colic).

  • They have 6-8 wet nappies in 24 hours (the urine should be almost colourless).
  • They have 1-4 soft or runny bowel motions in 24 hours (browny yellow and possibly grainy appearance).
  • They have a weight gain of 150-200 grams per week in the first 3 months. 

Weigh your baby once a week to monitor this, using the same scales. You could do this at your Child and Family Health Centre. Consult your Child Health Nurse if you need further advice.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association:

National Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 686 268 (24 hours).

Australian Breastfeeding Association; Malvern East. [Accessed December 2014] Available from

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