One of the commonest problems that mothers encounter during breastfeeding is cracked nipple. It is one painful condition that may cause mothers to give up on their breastfeeding journey, although many others take it as a hurdle that makes them more determine to breasfeed.
So, what is cracked nipple?
Although a common problem, cracked or bleeding nipples are not normal in breastfeeding. During the first few days of breastfeeding, your nipples may feel a bit tender at first, but the discomfort should go away as soon as your baby is latching properly.
Cracked/ bleeding or painful nipples are almost always a sign that your baby is not latching properly to the breasts.
Other causes might include very dry skin or eczema to the skin; which can be due to dry air, use of lotion/soap/ cream, or washing detergents left on your clothes.
Improper use of breast pump also may cause damage to the breasts’ soft tissue, causing it to develop blisters or breaking the capillaries causing bleeding under the tissue.
Dealing with cracked nipple
1. Make sure your baby is latched on correctly. This article by babycentre shows how to latch on properly. You can also ask your midwife to check on your breastfeeding technique.
2. Applying lanolin cream (medela’s one is quite good) to the affected area to help moisten the area and reduce irritation. Another way is by applying your breastmilk to the area (squeeze a little bit at the end of feeding session and apply to the area)
3. Do not wash with soap/ apply lotion to the area. Water is enough to keep the nipples clean
4. I find using nipple shield can help with the pain while breastfeeding. So you can still breastfeed with less pain, and prevent engorgement which can lead to more pain.
5. Take painkiller if you can’t tolerate the pain. We’re humans after all, so, yeah pain killer is allowed.
6. After all the efforts, and the condition is not improving. Seek medical help. Go to a doctor and get help 😉