Cracked or bleeding nipples

Nipples can become cracked or bleed when attachment and position is not right when breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should not hurt.


  • Firstly seek help from a professional i.e. midwife, lactation consultant or the Australian Breastfeeding Association on getting your attachment and position right. Breastfeeding should not hurt, and once attachment is right, nipple damage will quickly heal and improve.
  • Breastfeeding with cracked nipples is painful and this can lead to the nipple bleeding during a feed. Bleeding nipples can be frightening (seeing it in baby vomit or nappy) but it is not harmful to your baby.
  • Once you have advice from a breastfeeding expert, you may have to take your baby off the breast to allow your nipples to heal – usually 12-24 hours. Express breast milk to keep your supply up over this time.
  • Gradually start breastfeeding with short feeds, making sure attachment and positioning is correct.
  • Smear breast milk over the cracked nipple.
  • Air dry cracked nipples for as long as possible.
  • Make sure you keep nipples dry, wear cotton breathable fabric and bras and change breast pads frequently.
  • Stop clothes rubbing on cracked nipples by using nipple protectors or breast shells that allow the air to circulate.
  • Avoid soap, lotions and perfume anywhere near your nipple region, as they will dry and aggravate sore and cracked nipples. Plain warm water is all you need to keep your nipples clean.
  • If cracked or bleeding nipples show no signs of healing seek help from your doctor.


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