One thing that any breastfeeding mother will tell you is that a good salve or balm for the nipples is a must! Especially in the first few weeks when you and your baby are trying to find your nursing rhythm, he/she is trying to find the perfect latch, and your nipples are getting used to their new role in helping to provide sustenance to your little one!
While there are a lot of products on the market to help ease tenderness and soothe chapped nipples many of them contain lanolin. Lanolin has been used for many many years and is a highly recommended product because it works so well. However, there was some concern about a year ago about lanolin and whether or not it was inadvertently exposing babies to toxic chemicals. So what is lanolin? Lanolin is basically the sebum, or the waxy substance produced by sheep to coat their wool and moisturize their skin. After the sheep are shorn, the lanolin is harvested. But in addition to containing the moisture rich sebum, lanolin also contains traces of dust, dirt, pollen, and even fecal matter. As a result it must be processed and refined to remove all of the unsavory bits. This refining process can vary from company to company and may involve any number of chemicals. Some mothers are even concerned that the refinement process may not remove all of the impurities and that they may be exposing their children to GMO’s through the pollen and food particles that remain in the lanolin. Because infants have such delicate immune systems, many mothers choose to refrain from using products containing lanolin to help minimize exposure to toxic chemicals. Other mothers simply choose to avoid lanolin because they live a vegan lifestyle.
There are also several great products on the market that don’t contain lanolin, like Earth Mama Angel Baby’s popular (certified organic and non GMO certified) Nipple Butter but I’m a DIY junkie and if I can make it I’m going to try. So I sought out recipes for my own homemade nipple cream and stumbled upon one that I just love! So, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, 2015 here is my DIY Homemade Boobie Balm recipe!
Homemade Boobie Balm:
- 2 parts Coconut Oil – to help moisturize, promote healthy skin regeneration, and fight off infection. I prefer Carrington Farm Organic Coconut Oil and can get a giant tub at Costco for like $14.99. We use Coconut Oil for everything at our house! It’s excellent to cook with as well as makes a wonderful diaper rash ointment and helps alleviate itchy dry skin from cradle cap!
- 2 parts Shea Butter – helps strengthen and protect the skin by moisturizing and promoting regeneration. Shea butter is wonderful to help speed up healing of minor cuts and cracks in the skin. I buy mine at Mountain Rose Herbs.
- 1 part Beeswax – helps protect the skin by locking in moisture and promoting new cell growth. I prefer to buy the beeswax pastilles because they melt easier. You could also buy a block of beeswax and shred it before melting. I buy mine at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Combine ingredients in a double boiler and stir occasionally until all ingredients have melted. The beeswax will take a little longer than the rest. Once all your ingredients are combined pour into reusable glass containers. I prefer to upcycle baby food jars that friends have given me as they are the perfect size to carry with me. Let sit for 24 hours.
The resulting balm will be slightly hard but melts easily with body heat. I take my thumb nail and scrape a bit off the top and rub between my thumb and index finger to heat up before applying to my nipples. Usually by the next feeding session (unless we were in the midst of cluster feeding) it has all been absorbed into my skin. But if not I’ll wipe any excess off with my breastpad before nursing. It certainly won’t hurt your baby but I’m always worried that it might affect the flavor of the milk or feel waxy and strange if I don’t.
Recipe slightly modified from its original source: MY Little Me’s Breastfeeding Boobie Balm Homemade Nipple Cream Recipe
More information on lanolin concerns from Mamavation’s blog: Killing You Softly, the Dangers of Lanolin
** Note: if you have severe or persistent nipple pain while breastfeeding please visit your pediatrician, lactation consultant, or other medical professional to rule out improper latch, tongue or lip tie, and/or thrush.
Do you have a DIY nipple salve or balm recipe that you love? Please share it below!