Breastfeeding: How To Prevent Friction Blisters

8 Ways To Prevent Friction Blisters Of The Breasts and Nipples

How to prevent friction blisters on your breasts and nipples.
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What Are Friction Blisters?

Friction blisters are raised, fluid-filled bubbles that form when something puts constant pressure on the same area of the skin, or when something rubs up against the skin over and over again. If you develop friction blisters on your breasts and nipples, it can be painful and interfere with breastfeeding. Keep reading for 8 ways to help prevent friction blisters from forming.  

A Proper Latch

A proper latch can help to prevent breast blisters.
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Make Sure Your Baby Is Latching On Correctly 

Learn the signs of a good latch vs. a poor latch. An incorrect latch can lead to a decrease in your milk supply and some of the common problems of breastfeeding including friction blisters. If your baby does not latch on well, remove her from your breast and try again. If you aren't sure how to tell if your baby is latching on correctly, ask for assistance from your doctor, a lactation consultant, or a local breastfeeding group.  

Alternate Nursing Positions

Alternate nursing positions to prevent friction blisters.
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Don't Always Breastfeed In The Same Position 

Not only does rotating nursing positions help to drain all the areas of your breasts, but it also prevents the same part of your areola from getting all the rubbing and pressure of your baby's latch. Learn how to latch your baby on in the football hold, side-lying position, and laid-back nursing position so that you have a variety of options.  

Alternate The Breast You Begin Each Feeding On

Switch the breast on which you begin feedings on to prevent blisters.
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Start Each Feeding On The Opposite Side As The Last Feeding 

A baby's suck is usually the strongest at the beginning of each feeding. When you alternate the breast on which you begin each feeding, the same breast won't constantly be exposed to the greatest pressure. Alternating breasts is also an important part of establishing and maintaining a healthy supply of breast milk.  If you have trouble remembering which breast to begin the next feeding on, try one of these 7 reminders.  

Remove The Baby From Your Breast Correctly

To prevent blisters on your breasts, learn how to break the suction of a latch.
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Don't Pull Your Child Off Of Your Breast After A Feeding

Not all babies release the breast on their own after a feeding. If your baby likes to remain attached to your breast after nursing, learn how to break the suction of a latch correctly so you can remove your child from your breast without causing any breast damage.   

Use A Breast Pump Safely

Breast pump safety can prevent breast and nipple damage.
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Don't Set The Pump Suction Too High and Use Flanges That Fit You Properly

When you start pumping, use a low setting. Then, gradually increase the suction until your let-down reflex is triggered, and the milk is flowing from your breast. As you continue to pump, a low to medium level of suction should be all that you need. Using a breast pump at consistently high levels of suction can be painful and it can cause damage to your nipples and breast tissue. 

It's also important that the flanges (shields) of your breast pump fit you well. Depending on the size of your nipples, you may need to use a different size flange. If the pump shield is too small, it could cause pain and rubbing that could lead to sore nipples and blisters.  

Use Nipple Shields Correctly

Nipple shields can cause blisters and breastfeeding issues.

Only Use A Nipple Shield Under Direct Supervision

A nipple shield is a helpful breastfeeding tool, but it should only be used under the direct guidance of your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist. When used incorrectly, a nipple shield can cause damage to your breasts and have a negative impact on breastfeeding.  

Wear A Nursing Bra That Fits

To prevent friction blisters from forming, wear a bra that fits correctly.
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Make Sure Your Bra Is Not Too Big Or Too Small 

A nursing bra that fits you properly will be supportive without causing any pain. If your bra is too big or too small, it could rub against your skin and put excessive pressure on your breasts and nipples.  

Get Help

When a breastfeeding blister won't heal, seek help.
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Know When It's Time To Ask For Help

Sometimes you can do all the right things and still develop a blister.  Most blisters will heal on their own in about a week. However, if you have a blister that just won't heal, or blisters that keep coming back, seek help from your healthcare provider.  



Cadwell, Karin, Turner-Maffei, Cynthia, O'Connor, Barbara, Cadwell Blair, Anna, Arnold, Lois D.W., and Blair Elyse M. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2006.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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