Dealing With Nipple Problems During Breastfeeding



Dealing With Nipple Problems During Breastfeeding


Breast milk is the best food for your baby, but sometimes in spite of your best efforts, problems can arise. Don’t give up! Here is what to do about the most common nipple problems during breastfeeding:


Inverted or flat nipples


If your nipples are inverted or flat, baby will have difficulty latching on to your breast.


What to do


To determine if your nipples are flat or inverted, place two fingers at the base of the nipple and press gently but firmly. If your nipple flattens out or moves inward, then you should wear “breast shells” in the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy. These plastic shells are placed inside your bra to create a gentle suction on the nipples and draw them out. Breast shells are available at large pharmacies. It is important to do this test, because some nipples appear erect, but invert if tested.


If you don’t realize that you have flat or inverted nipples until the baby is born, you can wear breast shells between feedings.


When starting a feed, make sure to squeeze your nipple and most of the dark area surrounding it (areola) between two fingers to help your baby latch on to your breast.

Sore or cracked nipples


Sore nipples are usually the result of improper positioning of the baby at the breast and not a result of long nursing sessions. Sometimes nipples are not just sore but actually cracked and may bleed a little.


What to do


Avoid using soap or shampoo on your breasts during the last two months of pregnancy and during the months you are breastfeeding. Your breasts secrete a natural lubricant-disinfectant.


Don’t delay nursing. Shorter, more frequent feeds are easier on the nipples. Feed baby before he gets too hungry.


Put ice on the sore breast before feedings.


Begin nursing on the least sore side, if there is one.


Proper positioning of the baby while nursing is essential, and good “latch on” is a must, which means that baby should take the nipple and most of the surrounding areola in his mouth when he nurses. If you hear a smacking sound when baby is feeding, then he is not properly latched on.


If you are really sore, try changing your nursing position. This change will shift the pressure point of baby’s sucking.


If you are very sore, you might try using “breast shields,” a small plastic product that fits over your nipple to protect it while baby nurses; you’ll find breast shields in large pharmacies.


Don’t let baby continue to suck on your breast after emptying it.


Break baby’s suction carefully before removing your nipple from his mouth. This can be done by inserting your little finger between your breast and the corner of his mouth.


Let your nipples air dry. If they are sore, express some milk and spread it on the nipples, letting them air dry after each feeding. Milk contains a natural healing agent.


Use a nursing bra made of cotton rather than artificial materials. Cotton lets the air circulate, and allows your breasts to breath.


Thrush nipples


This happens when a yeast infection in baby’s mouth spreads to the mother’s nipples. Nipples become swollen, red, tender and sometimes cracked. Occasional peeling or a red dotty rash can be seen on the nipple, and you may complain of itching and flaking, or burning.


What to do


If you suspect thrush, carefully inspect baby’s mouth to see if he has white patches on the gums, inside of cheeks or even on his tongue. If you don’t see anything in his mouth, check and see if he has a diaper rash that could be caused by yeast.


If you suspect a yeast infection, see a doctor for treatment. Usually, baby is given anti-fungal drops and you will be prescribed an anti-fungal cream to apply on your nipples after each feeding.


Briefly exposing your nipples to the sun each day may speed the heeling.


To prevent re-infection, pacifiers, bottles, and anything that goes into baby’s mouth must be boiled for 5 minutes each day of the treatment.


If you are using a breast pump, you must wash all pump parts thoroughly after each use, and sterilize any parts of the pump you can.


If you feel no improvement either in your nipples or in baby’s mouth after 5 to 6 days, you must consult a dermatologist and the pediatrician for an alternative course of treatment.


Read also: Successful Breastfeeding!

Facebook Comments

Mother & Child

Our extensive collection of articles spans the efforts of over 20 years of work and covers a wide range of topics having to do with family and child care. Our articles are all developed and updated with the assistance and support of leaders in the fields of medicine, nutrition and parenting, among others.

Back to top button