Happy Mothers Breastfed Babies
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19

Thread: Will I ever heal?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    The Armpit of the Universe
    Posts
    248

    Default Will I ever heal?

    Hi, I've been having problems with cracked, bleeding nipples. I suspect that latch was the issue initially, but now that the latch is better (I think), I thought I'd start to see improvement in the cracking, but it's not getting better. He still clamps down when the let-down is too fast. I've done the catch the initial let-down in the diaper thing, but then during the course of the feeding, he freaks out about those let-downs. The pulling back I can handle, it's when he bites and twists his head from side to side that really hurts, and I can't seem to get my finger in there fast enough to pull him off and start over before he's already done more damage. I've been putting milk on the wounds after feedings, letting them air-dry, putting on lanolin, not getting soap or shampoo on them in the shower.
    What else can I do? Am I missing something major? I am pretty sure this isn't supposed to hurt so badly. It's been like this since the beginning, and now, four weeks in, I'm getting real tired of the pain.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northern Cal.
    Posts
    4,984

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    Ouch. That sounds like it hurts! I'm sorry!

    A couple of thoughts. To heal your cracked and bleeding nipples, I highly recommend you switch from lanolin to polysporin ointment. It's an antiobiotic ointment (like neosporin, but that's not rec'd for this) and IME, works better than lanolin if you have broken skin. With open wounds in your nipples, your chances of getting mastitis goes way up, and believe me, you do NOT need that right now. So polysporin will also hopefully reduce the likelihood of a breast infection.

    There are diff't schools of thought on the air-dry vs. keep moist thing. More recent advice is to keep the area moist with a good ointment, especially where you are healing broken skin. I have tried both and found the latter to be better for me, anyway.

    Apply after nursing, every time. You don't have to wipe it off, it will have absorbed by the time you nurse again. (Wipe off any big clumps.)

    I also found hydrogel packs to be very soothing. They are expensive, so I would cut them in half. Two days using gel packs, and my bleeding, broken nipples were MUCH improved. Plus, it really feels so nice. (This is not rec'd if you might have thrush.)

    For the OALD that seems to be aggravating the issue (causing clamping), have you tried nursing in a reclining position? Nursing lying back can help because then the milk is working against gravity, so it doesn't come out as forcefully.

    Before you know it, your baby will grow to LIKE your OALD (less effort for him!). My sense is that if you could heal your nipples a bit, the clamping wouldn't hurt as bad! That is, the clamping might not be as severe as it seems now, if you didn't have open wounds.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,860

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    Welcome mama! I am sorry you're having such a rough time. Believe me when I say that even the worst cracked nipples will eventually heal, so don't worry that your nipples are going to be like this forever, or even that they will be like this for your entire breastfeeding journey.

    Healing cracks depends on figuring out what is causing them. There are 2 major reasons that moms get cracked:
    1. A poor latch
    2. An infectious agent, either thrush (a yeast infection of the breast and of baby's oral cavity) or bacteria

    Here are some questions for you which may help determine what is causing the cracks:
    1. When your baby unlatches, what shape are your nipples? Are the symmetrical, like pencil erasers, or asymmetrical/wedged/ridged like new lipsticks?
    2. When do you experience the most pain? At the beginning of the feeding, when baby first latches on, throughout the feeding, at the very end of the feeding, or after the feeding is over?
    3. Have you or baby had a recent course of antibiotics, perhaps during birth for GBS?
    4. Have you or baby experienced a yeast infection anywhere on your bodies? Vaginal yeast infection, yeast diaper rash?
    5. How would you describe your cracks: is there one large crack per nipple, or multiple slit-like cracks which may radiate around the nipple and even extend onto the areola?
    6. Have you noticed any of the following: nipples appear more pink or red than normal, white patches of skin, flaking or dry skin, nipples turn white or purple after nursing?
    7. Have you experienced any burning or itching sensations?
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    The Armpit of the Universe
    Posts
    248

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    Thanks for the help!

    Where can I find the polysporin and hydrogel? Here in El Paso, there are a lot of things that should be easy to find, but aren't, so I hope that won't be the case in this instance.

    On the one side, the pain is when he first latches on, then we're okay assuming there's no twisting/biting. Then there's sometimes blanching and pain that starts minutes after he's done and will flip back and forth between pink and white, not really purple. This nipple's also very tender when my shirt/robe brushes past it, mostly okay when there's firm pressure from the bra during the day. (I need to get some nighttime bras, maybe, but like I said, El Paso is a s***hole.) The shape is smushed, but it stays that way permanently now, so I'm not sure if it's being made worse at each feeding, my guess is that it is. This nipple is kinda shiny and bright pink and feels sorta like when you get a hangnail that gets all swollen and pink and shiny from being, say, ripped off. There is a certain degree of burning sensation, although a lot of the pain is relieved with adequate support of the breast.

    On the other, never-preferred-by-either-of-us side, most of the time he gets latched on for an instant and is then spitting the nipple out again and we both end up in tears. This one doesn't stick out as much, not inverted, just sorta short. Once again, it's hard to say if that's cause we don't use it much, or what. If he does tolerate a longer time on this side, it gets pulled out (more like where the other side stays at). I'm not sure on the lipstick/eraser shape, since we rarely get a latch at all. On this side the nipple is the ordinary color and texture. The pain is constant while we're attempting to nurse, but doesn't hurt by being touched by the clothes or any of the rest of the time. I have found that hand-expressing feels fine, but pumping is agonizing, without the fun of being frantically grabbed at by little hands or having to try to keep a little back from arching and squirming.

    There is just a single, huge crack per nipple. No antibiotics, no yeast infections, no diaper rash, no white in his mouth except for milk, nothing pointing to thrush from what I've gleaned from books.

    Another thing I've noticed is that this is all much worse at night, I guess maybe we're both just more confused and retarded? Maybe it's partly psychological? I'm not terribly engorged, he never lets me sleep that long. But it's so bad I have to try really hard not to scream, and usually end up overheating and maniacally trying to kick off the covers. Then during the day it's more bearable, and we get much better, almost painless latches.

    Once he's full, he's the very sweetest, calmest baby in the world, so it's doubly frustrating to have to have these battles at the breast.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,860

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    Polysporin should be at the pharmacy or grocery store. Hydrogel pads may be at the pharmacy or grocery, or may be available at Target or WalMart. You can also get them online: http://www.amazon.com/Lansinoh-65005...3973356&sr=8-1

    Based on what you've posted, I'm thinking that your issue is probably latch-related. Which is a good thing: thrush can be really persistent but latch issues generally go away with time, even if you do nothing. It sounds like your baby currently has a shallow latch, and that the compression is causing nipple damage (cracks) and vasospasms (http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/...blanching.html). Fix the latch and all the problems should go away. Now, fixing a latch isn't easy- I mean, your baby will eventually grow out of a shallow latch as his mouth grows, but that could take some time, probably weeks but possibly as long as months- so hands-on help from a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC, is a really terrific idea right now. You may also want to google the words "nipple sandwich technique" for a description of a way to get your baby to latch on more deeply by cramming more breast into his mouth, and make sure that your pediatrician checks your baby for a tongue-tie. Releasing a tongue-tie is a simple outpatient procedure and can immediately improve your nursing experience.

    Until you can fix your baby's latch, or until time fixes it for you, here are some tips on coping with pain:
    - Go bra-less/topless as much as possible to reduce chaffing
    - Keep the humidity in your house high- dry skin cracks more easily and heals less easily
    - Immerse your nipples in a shot glass of warm water for 30-60 second before latching baby on- hydrating the cracks may allow the scabs to tear open with less pain than if they are all dried out

    All that being said, I am still a bit suspicious of thrush. The shiny pink nipples and the burning sensation arevery suggestive of some sort of infection, and I think I would want to explore using a thrush treatment in addition to everything I goatherds on about above.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northern Cal.
    Posts
    4,984

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    I agree with Mommal. Based on your description, I'm thinking shallow latch and vasospasms (that's what causes the blanching). It sure wouldn't hurt to see an LC to have someone else take a look at the latch and help you trouble shoot. And check for tongue-tie.

    Polysporin is sold at any drugstore, right next to the neosporin and other antibiotic ointments, in first aid. For an ointment to treat thrush, you can mix it with hydrocortisone ointment and clotraminazole cream (Lotrimin) to make a homemade "all purpose nipple ointment" that probably won't singlehandedly cure a bad case of thrush, but if it's a mild case, will at least help prevent it from getting worse. The hydrocortisone helps with inflammation and can relieve pain.

    It may be harder to find Hydrogel pads, but you can get them here at Walmart or Target or Babies R Us.

    Immersing your nipples in salt water can also be very healing. I used to put salt in the bath tub when I had really broken bleeding nipples.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    2,944

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    I was also going to suggest salt water and getting some medela shells. You put them in your bra between feedings and they keep your nipples from getting irritated, get air, etc. Helps to heal. Hope they get better soon!
    Proud mom of 2:
    DD 5/2008 nursed for 3 years and 3 months.
    DS born 8/2011 nursing like a champ

    Sorry for the short responses...always, always, always NAK or holding a baby

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    The Armpit of the Universe
    Posts
    248

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    Okay, so I went to the Baby Cafe and met with the IBCLC. She doesn't think it's thrush, and she said (when I went before) that he didn't have tongue-tie, and of course while we were there, he latched on beautifully, so she didn't get to see the horrors of the middle of the night. She did give me some hydrogel pads, I don't like how cold they feel, but the biggest thing in their favor is that they don't stick to the wounds the way the cotton pads do. Which is great. Overall they seem to be helping. The nipples are less inflamed looking, but the cracks I guess will take longer to heal. Haven't made it to the store for polysporin (don't have my own car), but I'll keep it in mind for if/when I get the chance.
    I am living with the in-laws, hence the necessity of robes and car borrowing and all this nonsense, so I can sit around topless if I want to sequester myself away all day, but that's no fun. The humidity is as high as it ever gets here (about 50%). The salt water seems to help, or at least it feels good while I'm doing it.
    As for the latch. I am trying to do the nipple sandwich, and it sometimes works right, but sometimes he fusses about it, and I just end up squirting him in the eyes. Oh well. One of the problems is convincing him to keep a good latch. Sometimes he will get on just fine, but then at some point during the session will start to pinch harder and harder. I thought the clamping was related to a forceful let-down, but the laid-back position makes his latch a whole lot worse, since there's so much more for him to try to grab. Other times he just won't get his tongue out enough to cover his gums. I know he can, but it's hit-or-miss whether he does or not. I've tried stroking his upper and lower lips to get him to open up wider, I've tried using my finger on the roof of his mouth to get him to push his tongue out, but to no avail. When it's all wrong, I pull him off and try to start over, but it gets really tiring. At what point do I settle for a latch that's not right, but at least doesn't hurt as much as the previous attempts? I guess we have a month's worth of bad habit to work on undoing.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,860

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    Don't you love how babies always trot out their best latch for the LC? It's like taking a car in to the mechanic- you always end up saying "Well, it was making the noise right up until the time you got into it..."

    It's pretty common for a young baby to sort of lose his latch as the feeding continues. Often it's because the baby gets tired- imagine if you tried to hold up a water balloon that was bigger than your head using just your lips, gums and tongue! You'd probably get tired, too. If this is what's causing your baby's latch to get shallower as the feeding progresses, it may help to hold your breast up throughout the feeding, using either your hand or a rolled-up washcloth propped under the breast.

    I know wpthe work you're doing right now is really, really hard, but if you can make it through this rough star it is all going to get so much easier! I swear, a lot of the problem is just that tiny babies have tiny mouths, and even when their latch is great it's still not as deep as it gets as they get bigger.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northern Cal.
    Posts
    4,984

    Default Re: Will I ever heal?

    I'm glad the hydrogel packs seem to be helping. I had a summer baby, so I thought the coolness was refreshing, but I can imagine I would not feel that way now!

    If the in-laws are going the drug store, they can pick up polysporin. They may have to ask for it, but it's not an "embarrassing breastfeeding item" or anything, IYKWIM?


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •