How Lanolin Can Help Breastfeeding Mothers

Evi Dewhurst / March 2018


Breastfeeding mothers in your care all desire one outcome: Successful breastfeeding for their infant. Yet a myriad of difficulties stand in their way, such as health conditions for mother and/or infant, latching issues, and more.

A large part of breastfeeding difficulties stem from a not-so-surprising source: Pain.

Nipple pain has been documented as one of the most common reasons mothers decide to abandon breastfeeding efforts.1,2 Many breastfeeding mothers have experienced at least some level of this. In fact, 33% of mothers stated that they quit breastfeeding due to pain-related causes.3

Studies indicate the following contributions to nipple pain:4

  • Incorrect positioning and attachment
  • Tongue tie
  • Infection
  • Palatal anomaly
  • Flat or inverted nipples
  • Mastitis
  • Vasospasm

In addition to the above list, general soreness and irritation resulting from breastfeeding can also cause nipple pain. The good news is many of these issues can be resolved for a positive breastfeeding experience.

Early nipple pain intervention

Timely intervention for breastfeeding mothers is important to avoid early breastfeeding cessation. In addition to pain itself, nipple discomfort can cause psychological distress, interfere with general activity, and even disrupt bonding between mother and infant.5,6

While corrective measures and breastfeeding support tools can alleviate pain related to issues such as incorrect positioning, there is one small thing that can have a huge impact for general nipple soreness and damage: Lanolin.

This small but mighty resource can literally be your proactive secret weapon to undermine or prevent symptoms associated with nipple irritation, dryness, and cracking, which can cause significant pain and discomfort, not to mention increasing the possibility of infection.

Lanolin can also be a psychological balm to a mother suffering from such pain. How powerful is lanolin? A recent study indicated that mothers who received lanolin care reported higher overall satisfaction with care over the group who did not receive the lanolin care.7

In your goal to help mothers have a successful breastfeeding journey, lanolin can be that trusty resource to alleviate pain – not only for the physical benefits, but for peace of mind as well.

Common lanolin questions and answers

When should lanolin be used for breastfeeding mothers?

If skin is especially dry or damaged, a small amount of purified natural wool-based emollient, also known as lanolin, may be applied to nipples and areolae. Lanolin supports moist wound healing.

Is lanolin a natural product?

Medela Tender Care™ Lanolin is made of all natural ingredients.

Does lanolin need to be removed before breastfeeding?

There is no need to remove Medela Tender Care™ Lanolin before breastfeeding. Modified lanolin is considered the treatment of choice. Avoid any ointment that must be wiped off before feeding the baby, as this will irritate skin even more.


Learn more about proactive measures to prevent early breastfeeding cessation in Proactive Nipple Pain Care: Prevent Premature Breastfeeding Cessation



  1. Morland-Schultz K., Hill P.D. Prevention of and therapies for nipple pain: A systematic review.J. Obstet. Gynecol. Neonatal Nurs. 2005;34:428–437.
  2. Dennis C.L., Jackson K., Watson J. Interventions for treating painful nipples among breastfeeding women.Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2014;12 doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007366.
  3. CDC. “Table 3.37. Percent of mothers indicating each reason for stopping breastfeeding by infant age at weaning1,2,3 Infant Feeding Practices Study II.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.
  4. Kent, et al. Nipple pain in breastfeeding mothers: Incidents, causes and treatments. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Oct; 12(10): 12247–12263. Published online 2015 Sep 29.doi: 10.3390/ijerph121012247
  5. McClellan H.L., Hepworth A.R., Garbin C.P., Rowan M.K., Deacon J., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T. Nipple pain during breastfeeding with or without visible trauma.J. Hum. Lact. 2012;28:511–521. doi: 10.1177/0890334412444464.
  6. Amir L.H., Dennerstein L., Garland S.M., Fisher J., Farish S.J. Psychological aspects of nipple pain in lactating women.J. Psychosom. Obstet. Gynaecol. 1996;17:53–58. doi: 10.3109/01674829609025664.
  7. Jackson KT, Dennis CL. Lanolin for the treatment of nipple pain in breastfeeding women: a randomized controlled trial. Matern Child Nutr. 2017 Jul;13(3). doi: 10.1111/mcn.12357. Epub 2016 Aug 1.


About the Author

Evi Dewhurst is a Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Medela, Inc. As a proud mother of two young children, she is passionate about healthcare for youngsters everywhere and has a serious soft spot for babies. She is part of the dedicated team at Medela, who together are committed to designing and manufacturing products to advance human milk healthcare. Have a question? Evi can be reached at