Surviving 3 of the Most Common Postpartum Issues – Sore Nipples, Hemorrhoids, and Tears

Here are some tips for treating sore nipples, hemorrhoids, and vaginal tears that I’ve learned as both a clinical pharmacist and mother.

Sore nipples

Difficulty latching and breast pump problems are two of the main causes for sore nipples in new mothers. Luckily, there are some things you can do.

Using nipple shields

Nipple shields are an effective tool that can help babies latch. They are specifically intended for premature, small or ill infants, infants who have a restricted range of mobility in the tongue or mouth, or for mothers who have flat or inverted nipples. Nipple shields can make your nipple more “bottle like”, which can help your baby latch. These were a lifesaver for me!

Adjusting your pump

Women who use breast pumps also experience sore nipples, which could be caused by an improperly fitting flange or suction that’s too strong.

The flange is the part of the pump that is held to your breast during pumping. Whether you’re exclusively pumping, or doing it every once in awhile, you may want to consider speaking with a lactation consultant to help you determine which size flange is right for you.

The level of suction on the breast pump can also cause sore nipples in new mothers. If you feel as though the suction is too strong on your pump, or you are experiencing severe discomfort, check the settings and decrease the suction strength. To find the right level for you, increase the breast pump suction gradually until it becomes slightly uncomfortable, and then turn it down a notch

Soothing sore nipples

You can also soothe sore nipples by using nipple balm or cream such as lanolin-free Bamboobies boob-ease nipple balm, or lanolin cream like Lansinoh HPA lanolin. You may also want to try Medela softshells, to help protect sore nipples from being rubbed and further irritated by your clothing.


Like it or not, strenuous pushing during labor or constipation throughout pregnancy can lead to hemorrhoids. Your OB/GYN will likely recommend an over-the-counter stool softener like docusate sodium or a laxative that can be used during or after pregnancy to help with constipation-related hemorrhoids.

Pro tip: If you’re experiencing burning and itching, try witch hazel wipes. After a vaginal delivery, witch hazel can be used to help give immediate relief from burning and itching, and soothe and protect irritated areas.

Vaginal Tears

If you had a vaginal birth, you may have experienced varying degrees of vaginal tearing. Some discomfort can be expected after a tear, but in most cases, your body should be well on its way to healing after a few weeks. However, a more severe tear could take a few months to heal before any discomfort during sex or a bowel movement fully goes away.

While you heal, a numbing spray like Dermoplast can help ease the pain and itching. You can also take a sitz bath, which is a warm shallow bath, to make you more comfortable.

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