Lanolin-Free Nipple Cream Alternatives

Options for vegans and those with lanolin-sensitivity

Treatment for nipple pain has largely been the domain of lanolin, a waxy, yellow substance derived from wool, but there are times you may need a nipple cream alternative. When breastfeeding is new for a mother and child, it is normal to experience some discomfort, whether from a poor latch, from sensitive skin, or from cracked or sore nipple tissue.

Lactation consultants, midwives, doulas and doctors alike have all recommended purified lanolin as a skin barrier and to facilitate moist wound healing. Moist wound healing is a method used to encourage the regeneration of skin using a moist environment to prevent scabbing.

Unless you have a lanolin allergy, this treatment is safe for you and baby. However, if you have sensitive skin, which can be aggravated by pesticides in the wool, or practise a vegan lifestyle, you may want to avoid lanolin. We’ve put together a list of nipple cream alternatives that can be beneficial to new moms experiencing pain.

1. Hind Milk

Hind milk, the thick creamy milk that you produce towards the end of a feeding has been shown to be just as effective as lanolin for nipple pain. Simply rub a little into the sore skin after each feeding. It’s safe for baby and does not cost any money.

2. Unrefined Coconut Oil

Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and rich in antioxidants, organic raw coconut oil (avoid refined, purified and liquid forms) provides a deep moisture that absorbs quickly. As a bonus, coconut oil has also been shown to strengthen underlying tissues and remove excess dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Safe for baby.

3. Soothing Nipple Fix

Matraea, a Canadian birth products company developed by midwives for their own clients, makes a plant-based, lanolin-free soothing balm that deeply moisturizes using certified organic shea butter, olive oil, calendula and cocoa butter. It's inexpensive, safe for baby, and there's no need to wash it off.

4. Nipple Cream

Motherlove Nipple Cream includes only five USDA Certified organic ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root and calendula. Can be safely ingested by baby.

5. Organic Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil has healing and anti-inflammatory properties and you’ve probably already got some in your kitchen! Use an organic version and be sure to wash away before baby nurses.

6. Manuka Honey

Honey is known for being anti-bacterial and manuka honey in particular is known for its healing properties. Manuka has been shown to effectively fight and kill bacteria containing Streptococcus progenies. The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) is a quality rating that indicates the level of components that give it its antimicrobial qualities.

Important:

  • The only two types of honey that you should attempt this with are manuka and pure, unrefined honey. Never apply conventional grocery store “Grade A” honey to wounds as this could possibly worsen your condition.
  • Always wash your breast and nipple well before feeding baby when using a manuka treatment. Babies should not be exposed to it until they are more than 12 months of age.

Other natural options for relieving breast pain

  • Relax with a warm compress before baby latches. This helps relieve engorgement, and softens and relaxes the nipple, encouraging let-down.
  • Between feedings, apply a cold compress under your arms and to your breasts to reduce swelling. Apply for 15-20 minutes as needed.
  • If your nipple and areola are hard, hand-express a little milk and massage the breast gently to encourage flow.
  • As much as possible, go topless and let the air dry your nipples.
  • Unless you are treating open wounds, avoid soap on your nipples. Soap can be drying and strip the skin of natural oils. Water is all you need to keep your nipples clean.
  • Frequent, consistent nursing and/or pumping is important for maintaining your supply; nursing your baby will help improve your situation, so stick to it. Often, sore and cracked nipples are a result of a poor latch and can be corrected with some guidance from a doula, lactation consultant, or nurse. Check your local listings for a La Leche League near you.

*Originally published January 8, 2016