A Randomized-Controlled Trial Evaluating Effects of Olive Oil on Painful Nipples During Lactation

Friday, 20 July 2018

Chen-Xi Lin, RN
National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan
Yi-Kang Wan, RN
Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei City, Taiwan
Jen-Jiuan Liaw, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan


Background: Nipple pain is a common problem during breastfeeding in postpartum women and has been cited as an important reason for early breastfeeding cessation. Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate topical products to treat nipple pain with equivocal outcomes. Olive oil compounds are well-established of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties.

Objectives: The study purposes were to evaluate the effects of olive oil on nipple pain and nipple soreness in lactating women during postpartum.

Design and setting: A randomized, single-blind, controlled trial was conduct at a medical teaching center in northern Taiwan from September 2016 to January 2017.

Participants: Normal delivery mothers with term babies who intended to breastfeed were randomly assigned into two groups of 35 for the olive oil group and the human milk group.

Interventions: In the intervention group, one drop olive oil was applied on the mothers’ nipples and areola after each breastfeeding, whereas in the control group, human milk was applied.

Measurements and findings: Instruments used in the study included maternal demographic information sheet, Visual Analogue Scales for pain, Nipple Soreness Score, Maternal breastfeeding knowledge Scale and Bristol Breastfeeding Assessment tool. Data were analyzed in SPSS using the independent t test, Chi square, Fisher's exact test and generalized estimating equation model. No significant differences were observed between the two groups in terms of their demographic, breastfeeding knowledge and breastfeeding skills. The generalized estimating equation model showed the participants of intervention group had lower nipple pain and nipple soreness scores, but there were no significant differences between the two groups during the three measurement days since the first-time breastfeeding. However, we found that there were significant 3-way interaction effects. The intervention efficacy was moderated by baseline nipple pain and time. In mothers whose nipple pain score more than 3 during the first-time breastfeeding, the use of olive oil could significantly reduce nipple pain and nipple soreness, as compared with those mothers using human milk (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The study results suggest that the use of olive oil has significantly positive effects on reducing nipple pain and soreness in mothers who felt pain during the first- time breastfeeding.