Sore Nipples During Pregnancy

Sore nipples during pregnancy is something many women experience.  Whether they’re dry, cracked, and itchy all the time, or the feeling comes and goes throughout your pregnancy, nipple pain and sensitivity can be an uncomfortable pregnancy symptom.

What Causes Sore Nipples During Pregnancy?

One of the reasons you may experience tender, sensitive nipples during pregnancy is the increased estrogen and progesterone now moving through your body.

Your breasts are also growing and changing as they prepare to feed your baby.  This increased blood flow and fat content developing in your breasts is an important part of this preparation,  as are expanding milk ducts.  All these changes may also be causing your sore breasts and tender nipples.

Painful nipples are most commonly referred to as an early pregnancy symptom; however, women can experience tender nipples any time during their pregnancy.

Sore nipples are not a gender indicator.  They can be a pregnancy symptom whether you’re carrying a boy or girl.

Treatment Options and Remedies

Depending on your situation, there are several simple remedies you can use to help relieve sore nipples during pregnancy.

Invest in a new bra.  If your bra is undersized or even made of synthetic material it may be irritating your sensitive nipples. Try a larger size and/or one made of cotton to help.

Wear a bra to bed.  While this may seem like no fun, they do make nighttime nursing bras that are fairly comfortable.  For some women wearing one of these bras to bed has been the perfect cure.

Read our list of the best nursing bras for large breasts.

Hop in a hot shower.  A nice hot shower can be very soothing for extremely sore nipples.  Another option is applying hot towels or a hot water bottle to your breasts for a few minutes on each side.

Use a nipple cream.  Applying a nipple cream can treat and moisturize swollen breasts and tender nipples during pregnancy while also preparing them for their big job ahead.

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Best Nipple Creams

Should You Use a Nipple Cream During Pregnancy?

Although most women think nipple creams are usually used only during breastfeeding, they can be a welcome treatment for sore, dry nipples whether you’re in the first trimester of your pregnancy, your last, or anywhere in between.  Nipple creams, unlike regular lotions, are formulated specifically for nipples.

Many nipple creams incorporate chamomile and calendula.  These herbs are natural, safe for sensitive skin (like nipples), and great for reducing inflammation (Find out what herbs to avoid during pregnancy)

Other nipple creams use lanolin as their primary ingredient.  While lanolin is excellent at healing dry cracked skin fast, some moms do avoid it because it’s a highly refined animal product (made from sheep wool).

In addition to these common nipple cream ingredients look for cocoa butter, shea butter, and olive oil. They all offer intensive moisturizing properties to soothe the soreness that comes from swelling and cracking of the skin.

Top 5 Nipple Creams

If you’re experiencing sore nipples during your pregnancy, here are the top 5 nipple creams women are currently using:


Lansinoh is the most trusted name in lanolin-based nipple creams.  In fact, the only ingredient in this nipple cream is lanolin. No fragrances, preservatives, or additives of any kind.  Women who use Lansinoh also say they chose it because it’s affordable and works really fast.


Another highly recommended lanolin-based nipple cream, Medela Tender Care Lanolin, is a close second to Lansinoh.  The main differences between this and Lansinoh are that Medela Tender Care Lanolin offers a smoother consistency that many women feel is more soothing to already sore nipples, and Medela Tender Care Lanolin contains more ingredients than Lansinoh (including Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Oat Beta Glucan).


With a 0 (excellent!) rating on EWGs Skin Deep database, Motherlove Nipple Cream is the formula to beat when it comes to a safe treatment for sore nipples.  This cream is super effective and includes 100% organic olive oil, shea butter, and calendula to soothe and moisturize dry, cracked, sensitive nipples.


Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm is another highly recommended natural nipple cream for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  It incorporates herbs like self-heal, calendula, and marshmallow root with olive oil to soothe, heal and protect.


The Bella B Nipple Nurture Butter is a nice option if you’d like a non-lanolin nipple cream with a thicker consistency than the two above.  It includes shea butter, cocoa butter, and avocado oil for a healing remedy that sore nipples respond to quickly.  It isn’t 100% organic but it’s still on the top of the nipple cream list for many moms because it works so well.

All of these products work most effectively when applied as directed at the first sign of pain or sensitivity.  They can all be used after your baby is born as well to help soothe and protect your nipples as they get used to nursing your baby.

Be sure to consult your health care professional before you use these or other nipple creams if you encounter sore nipples during pregnancy.


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