Nipple Queen Ruler: Make sure you size your nipples so you can use properly fitted pumping products with your breast pump. You can read this blog to learn all about the issues that can develop when you use flanges that are too big or too small. The majority of moms will be using flanges that are too big because breast pump companies offer flanges 21mm – 28mm. We have found that mothers’ nipples are between 15mm – 17mm which means the average size of the products mothers use is 17mm – 19mm.
Lower the suction: It is normal to believe that increasing the suction on your pump would force milk to come out quicker, and sometimes it can. However, while our nipples can take a beating, when possible, it is best to lower the suction to where you feel it is comfortable yet will allow you to empty. When you have the suction too high, you can damage the skin, much like a rug burn. You can weaken the skin over time and create fissures which can invite bacteria to grow and may lead to an infection. So if you are feeling some discomfort, try lowering the suction to a comfortable setting where you can still empty in under 30 minutes.
Use Lube: If you still have pain after the above steps you can try using lube on your nipples. You can check some products here that may help alleviate pinching. You can apply it to your nipples between your pumping session. Apply lube inside your inserts/flanges or you can apply directly to your nipples, not your areola, prior to pumping. I suggest applying lube to your nipples and not your areola because the flange/insert should rest and stay on your areola and not move. The only part that should be moving is your nipple when the suction is on. You will want to maintain lube on your nipple so it can glide with the suction.
Apply heat: Applying heat directly to your nipples before and after pumping can bring great comfort to you. Most mothers can be unaware that they have vasospasms, a condition similar to Raynauds Syndrome which can be relieved with heat. Be sure to only use dry heat, not wet. Wet heat would be like a hot shower or hot water on a rag. When you use wet heat the water will turn cold and can aggravate your nipples. You can take a baby sock and fill it with rice and pop that in the microwave for a few seconds to apply dry heat to your nipples.
Soothing Gel Pads: You can apply these pads to relieve sore nipples. They are Hydrogel Pads that provide a cooling effect. Whats nice is you can reuse these for 24 hours. You can take them off when you need to nurse or pump, clean them and reapply. They also act as a barrier between your nipples and bra. You can find a few brands here.
Silver Cups: Silver has been used for at least six millennia to help disinfect water, food supplies and wounds. It was the most important agent before the introduction of antibiotics! Even now, professionals use silver, which has antimicrobial properties, to prevent high-risk infection. So naturally, when mothers have pain from nursing or pumping and fear they have developed fissures, this is an effective treatment of pain symptoms. Silver promotes healing and is very simple to use. It is recommended to get silver cups that are pure .925 which you can find here.
Saline Solution: If you think you have fissures and want to try and avoid bacterial grown that may result in thrush, try rinsing your nipples with salt water. This process is called osmosis. Salt water helps flush out bacteria while speeding up the healing process. After nursing or pumping, mix 1/2 teaspoon of any clean salt in 8 oz of warm water. Soak your nipples for 3 to 5 minutes. Do not reuse the solution, make a new batch the following day. You can also make your solution and keep a spray bottle handy or just buy the solution here.