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How Do I Use Lanolin for Breastfeeding?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Lanolin, which is available as a topical ointment, is often used by breastfeeding moms to relieve dry or chapped nipples, especially in the beginning stages of nursing. Plan to use the cream directly after nursing or showering in order to give it ample time to moisturize the area. Apply the cream liberally to the nipples and areola, waiting a few minutes before covering your breasts to allow the ointment time to absorb. If the bra or breast pads that you were using prior to applying the lanolin for breastfeeding discomfort are damp, replace them with dry ones and reapply the ointment as necessary. Generally, you do not need to rinse your breasts prior to nursing.

In most cases, you should wait until after you shower or nurse to apply lanolin for breastfeeding-induced dryness, rather than doing so right beforehand. This will allow the cream time to sink deep into the areola and nipples, relieving dryness and discomfort. While you can apply the ointment right before showering or nursing, the water or the nursing process will typically wash most of it off.

This treatment is relatively easy to apply, although you should wait a few minutes before you cover up your chest after doing so. With clean fingers, apply a small amount of the ointment to the nipples and areolae, making sure that everything is evenly coated. If you are applying the cream right after nursing, leaving a small amount of breast milk on the area can also aid in the healing process. After you use lanolin for breastfeeding, leave your breasts uncovered for a few minutes so that the product can thoroughly absorb. This prevents any excess from soaking into your bra, shirt, or nursing pads rather than fully penetrating your skin.

One of the most important parts of using lanolin for breastfeeding is to make sure that you never cover your chest with something wet, such as a nursing pad or bra onto which you may have leaked breast milk. Once you’ve applied the ointment and allowed it to absorb, replace your breast pads or change your bra or shirt if they are damp. This will prevent moisture from being trapped against your chest, which can potentially make the cracking or dryness worse.

A common concern among new moms is whether or not they should wash the ointment off prior to nursing when using lanolin for breastfeeding. Barring any health issues or intolerance in the nursing child, this is generally not necessary, as most ointments do not contain any harmful ingredients. If this is a concern, talk to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician to determine what the best course of action is for you and your child.

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Discussion Comments

By candyquilt — On Feb 14, 2014

Lanolin is truly a life-saver for breastfeeding mothers. Every mother needs to keep this in her cabinet. The great part about lanolin is that it also works for diaper rashes and dry hands. So none of it goes to waste.

By donasmrs — On Feb 14, 2014

@SarahGen-- I understand your concern but if you have 100% pure lanolin, you have nothing to worry about.

I used lanolin with both of my kids. It really did wonders for me and prevented cracking and dryness. I would apply it after breastfeeding and when my babies were asleep so that it sank in nicely. Pure lanolin is kind of thick, so it helps to rub for a minute or two to help skin absorb. By the next feeding time, you won't have much lanolin left on top of skin and since it's pure, it won't harm the infant even if he ingests a small amount. You can check with your doctor about it if that will make you feel better.

By SarahGen — On Feb 13, 2014

I'm experiencing dry and painful nipples due to breastfeeding. My friend recommended that I use lanolin so I bought a jar yesterday. I applied it last night and today. Even though the lanolin had plenty of time to be absorbed by my skin, I'm still worried about my baby consuming it. So I wipe before breastfeeding just to make sure. I think the lanolin would work better if I did not wipe, but I can't help but worry that my baby is going to eat it.

Does anyone here use lanolin regularly for breastfeeding? What do you do?

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