How to Prepare Your Nipples for Successful Breast-feeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breast milk be your baby's main source of nutrition for the first 6 months of life 1. Luckily, you don't have to do much when it comes to preparing your nipples for breast-feeding, unless issues like a poor latch or inverted nipples make nursing your baby a challenge 3. By prepping your nipples for successful nursing, you can help increase letdown and limit pain for the best chance of success.

Check your nipples to see if they're inverted or flat, which can make breast-feeding more difficult 3. Flat and inverted nipples lay flush against the skin, which makes it difficult -- but not impossible -- to latch on 3. If you have these nipple issues, see a lactation consultant, suggests the La Leche League. A lactation consultant can teach you methods of creating a shape more conducive to breast-feeding.

Massage your breasts and your nipples for a few minutes before you attempt to let your little one latch on. Slow letdown can cause your baby to become frustrated, so prepping your breasts and nipples for a quick letdown can lead to more successful breast-feeding. Try gently tugging at your nipples to simulated the motion of sucking, suggests KellyMom.

Apply a nipple cream or lanolin after your little one nurses only if your nipples seem to be raw or chapped. Nipple cream isn't necessary for everyone and it could affect the taste of your breast, so use it sparingly. If your nipples are sore after feeding, you could express some breast milk by hand and rub it over your nipples for relief.

Talk to your doctor if breast-feeding continues to be a challenge or you feel like the shape of your nipples is affecting the way your baby latches on. Different techniques as well as devices such as nursing shields can help you overcome setbacks in order to continue breast-feeding your baby.