Three Nursing Balms for New Mothers

3 Nursing Balms for New Mothers

Several of my friends are having new babies! I’ve made a variety of nursing balms lately for some of them, so thought I’d share a few recipes with you today.

I’m trying something different by posting three difficulty levels from super-easy to a bit more involved. That way, there’s something for everyone. I’m not sure that will work for all future recipes, but I like the idea, so will keep trying to implement it.

There are a lot of ladies out there who have had negative experiences when attempting to breastfeed. Many, many, MANY problems can be avoided or quickly taken care of by consulting a qualified lactation consultant or your local La Leche League.

When I had my first child, she was born on a Saturday after two days of induced labor. I was tired and overwhelmed, the breastfeeding expert that was usually on hand weekdays at the hospital was nowhere to be found, and my nurses kept telling me they had no idea how to help me figure things out, since they had all bottle-fed their children.

Breastfeeding was a miserable experience that I endured for about six days before quitting. Unfortunately, my daughter couldn’t tolerate any types of formula we tried, so one week later, I found myself at an appointment with a lactation consultant, who patiently helped me re-lactate. It wasn’t an easy or quick feat! My daughter had developed a very poor feeding technique because of the bottles (basically, she chewed instead of suckled. Yes, OUCH) and although I continued nursing her until she was 18 months old, it was never a comfortable feeling. I went through lots of nursing balm!

I don’t say all of that to scare anyone away from breastfeeding! Nursing was natural and painless with my second child, which is how it should be. Some discomfort is normal at first, hence the helpfulness of balms, but severe pain, bleeding and cracking all indicate a deeper problem and I highly urge you to consult your local La Leche League and/or a lactation consultant for further help before you give up.

a jar of coconut oil

Okay, the first “balm” is super-easy level. It’s made of: unrefined coconut oil and… that’s it!

Yep. Coconut oil is fantastic for soothing irritated skin and is about as safe as you can get! Simply massage the oil into your nipples after each nursing. If there’s any oily residue left, be sure to wipe it off before nursing again.

Note: Some people experience dryness with coconut oil. If symptoms don’t abate or get worse, discontinue use.

a stack of tins with balm

For this second nursing balm, you’ll need:

Combine these in a glass jar or pitcher and set in a pan half filled with water, until melted together. Stir several times as it cools, then spoon or pour into containers. (See Violet Leaf Balm post for further details, if needed.)

So, as an example, for the batch I made as shown above, I used 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a little over 2 tablespoons of shea butter.

Shea butter is a wonderful moisturizer for dry, cracked skin, but can be quite difficult to apply since it’s so solid at room temperature. The coconut oil helps counteract that.

This balm stores best in a cool area since the coconut oil melts over 76 degrees F.

You can also chill the melted balm mixture, then whip it with a mixer until light and fluffy to make a cream-like consistency.

If you’re allergic to coconut oil, try olive or sunflower oil instead.

a small glass jar with nursing balm

Now, for my favorite, but slightly more complex recipe, you’ll need:

Melt all of these ingredients together in a heat proof jar or small glass pitcher that has been set down into a pot of almost simmering water.

Once melted, stir and pour into clean, sterilized containers. (Specialty Bottle has great prices.)

Please, no matter which type of balm you make, resist the urge to add any essential oils. Many of them are not safe for infants or nursing mothers, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Here is a great, though not exhaustive, list of herbs to avoid while breastfeeding.

Also, you will want to apply the balm soon after nursing and gently wipe off any residue before nursing again. If you have had trouble with cracked, bleeding nipples and your breast feels very sore along with fever and flu-like symptoms, you may be developing mastitis and should seek the attention of a physician or naturopath. Dr. Sears has a good article on that: here.

Nothing in this post is to be construed as medical advice, but is simply a retelling of personal experience and what has worked for me, in the past. Not everyone will find these balms helpful, but hopefully, some of you will!

My favorite source for high quality herbs, oils, and butters is Mountain Rose Herbs.

One last thing to remember: you can use these balms for yourself and your baby, anywhere you have irritated or dry skin – such as knees, heels, elbows, diaper area, chapped cheeks, etc.

A few of the links in this post and others found on this website are affiliate links. That means if you click on one and make an order, I will earn a small commission which helps support the costs of running a web site. Thank you!

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest where I pin all of my posts and other great ideas and recipes, as I find them.

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Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • candace says:

    Wow! These look fantastic!

  • Kim Shrum says:

    I don’t think I would use calendula. Even in the smallest amount it could still be dangerous. Just my thought. The other recipe is fabulous and coconut oil as well as Shea butter are both safe if ingested.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Kim! I did a quick peek at the web and do see a few warnings against using calendula while lactating. I’m going to dig around some more tomorrow to see if there’s any medical studies backing that (via pubmed, etc), but in the meantime will remove the calendula references from above as soon as I post this comment. Better safe than sorry! Thanks for the heads-up! :)

      • J says:

        This confuses me. Calendula should not be ingested by the baby, but external use is fine, correct?

        • Jan says:

          Yes, calendula is fine to use externally. It’s even safe for people to eat the petals of calendula (in fact, I put them in salads myself.)

          Interestingly, the clinically tested, hospital recommended Natural Nipple Butter has calendula in it:

          After looking around pubmed and various places, it appears that the reason they say not to use during lactation is because the safety is considered unknown since no one has specifically tested its use in that way. So, it’s not that anything bad was found about it. This one report suggests they couldn’t find anything adverse either, it just needs more study before the powers that be declare it “safe”:

          In fact, calendula seems to be much safer than something like the teething balms with benzocaine in them – which have many bad reactions associated with them, yet people still use them on babies (and kids with braces.)

          Short story: I would personally use the recipe for myself as I originally posted it, however, since we live in such a litigious society ruled by the FDA, I will keep calendula infused oil out of the ingredient list for this particular recipe. :)

          • J says:

            Well said!
            …bc I was a tad late to the post: if our litigious society were not ruled by the fda, how would u have suggested to use calendula oil n this recipe?
            I love that ur sharing such applicable knowledge. ‘ So excited! <3

        • Jan says:

          Hi J!

          I originally had calendula included with plantain and violet leaf infused oils in recipe number three. Also, for the plain coconut oil in option number 1, I suggested that one could infuse that oil with plantain, calendula or violet leaf to make a more healing product.
          Just hypothetically speaking, of course. ;)

  • Lisa @ Two Bears Farm says:

    I struggled w/ two of my children. We managed but it was with a lot of help from the lactation consultants. I had one that was a great nurser though! Your balm looks wonderful.

  • Susie Earning-My-Cape says:

    These look awesome! I am going to share this with some expectant moms that I know!
    Thanks for sharing with my Super Link Party! :-)

  • Nancy says:

    Great recipes and products for the new mom. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sara - My Merry Messy Life says:

    Hi Jan! It’s Sara, from the Bloggy Girls Club. Your link caught my eye on Amanda’s new link party at Natural Mama. I’m pregnant and this post is great for sore nipples – I make a lotion that I wrote about and it includes basically the same ingredients as your third balm, and you’re right, it is FANTASTIC! I love it on my whole body.

  • Amanda @Natural Living Mamma says:

    Thank you so much for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

    I love the recipes. I have used coconut oil while nursing but really like your recipe with plantain. I wouldn’t have thought to use that in a nipple balm but it is the perfect fit now that I think about it.

  • Tiffany A. Ingle says:

    These look amazing! I already use coconut oil and shea butter in a variety of homemade cosmetics. I’m going to skip purchasing the lanolin and try one or all three of these! Thank you :)

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  • Carrie says:

    I have used coconut oil to treat thrush effectively so that is a nice side benefit. No need to worry about baby getting a little since it is perfectly safe :)

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  • nicole says:

    do you think this might possibly work for radiation burns on the breasts???

    • Jan says:

      Hi Nicole, The third one might soothe, but I’ve made a special salve for radiation burns for friends and family that’s more effective- it’s similar to the healing salve recipe found here:

      It contains items like calendula (many studies made on that helping with radiation burns) and violet leaf (for it’s skin soothing properties but also potential anti-cancer effects, etc.) and a healthy dose of tamanu oil. I’m going to try to do a post about it very soon!

  • willowsprite says:

    Could I use cocoa butter instead of shea or mango? That’s what I have on hand…

    • Jan says:

      Hi willowsprite! It would work in the same fashion, however cocoa butter allergies are not uncommon. Symptoms include sore, red, chapped skin, so it’s a potential culprit to keep in mind if nursing soreness persists or gets worse or if the baby seems to have an adverse reaction. Having said that though, there is a popular nursing formula with cocoa butter that many people love! So, if you do well with cocoa butter, then yes, it’s an option you can use. :)

  • Janelle says:

    Ok… so I made a recipe by Wellness Mama for a diaper rash cream yesterday, which involved infusing coconut oil (2 parts) with calendula and chamomile and adding 1 part shea butter + a little bit of arrowroot powder and whipping it and I am absolutely loving it! I’m hooked on the smell – keep going back to smell it and just put it on my hands or arm or somewhere handy to sniff. An herb book I have claims that calendula & chamomile are both good for thrush, which made me wonder… do you see any reason why I couldn’t do your #2 recipe that way? Love your site, BTW, tried a version of your Garden Mint Soap today (used mostly tallow)! I have plans to try a lot more in future! :)

    • Jan says:

      I think you could definitely try that out! You’d still want to be sure to wipe it off well before nursing. I love that you took the Garden Mint Recipe and made it your own – that’s awesome! :)

  • Angeline says:

    Thank you so much for your sharing. I had a bad experience for my 1st baby. Im going to make some for my 2nd baby who due on Oct.

  • Sylvana says:

    Can you use Calendula Oil instead of Violet Leaf Oil in your recipe?

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