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Thread: Nipple Trauma and breastshields- Help!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New York

    Default Nipple Trauma and breastshields- Help!


    I am currently nursing my 4 week old and having difficulties with my right nipple. When he was born he had latching issues and i developed very bloody cracked nipples specifically on the right breast. As it started to heal and develop a scab, my very hungry newborn accidentally pulled the scab off (ouch!). So i was basically left with a skinless nipple (sorry for being so graphic). Anyway, 3 weeks later its still healing- no skin yet but definitely see some progress with the healing-but super slow. Although, every time he nurses on it or i pump on this breast it seems to revert back and become more irritated. A friend recommended i use a nipple shield on this breast until it heals but i keep reading they are not so helpful with healing and i already can sense a little nipple confusion when he nurses on my better breast (left)- doesn't open his mouth as wide anymore. Any suggestions on how to keep nursing on the wounded nipple without a shield, while still allowing it to heal properly? for treatment, I am currently using Lanolin and a saline wash on the nipple after each feeding and wearing a breast pad. Moist healing.

    thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Trauma and breastshields- Hel

    Welcome and congratulations on the new baby and on toughing out the first difficult weeks of breastfeeding! I have been where you are and I know exactly how much a bad, persistent crack hurts and how much fortitude it takes to keep on nursing. It's like sticking your nipple into a mouse trap over and over again- any rational person would feel reluctant to do it.

    The best thing you can do to fix a bad crack is to fix the baby's latch. If you haven't seen a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC, I suggest you do so now because nothing helps with latch issues like hands-on attention from a pro. And because shields should only be used with professional guidance, it's a good idea to see a LC before using one. (Shields have the potential to interfere with a baby's ability to latch and because they can reduce stimulation to the breast and slow milk transfer, they can also cause supply problems.). Make sure the LC checks baby's mouth for tongue-tie, something which can impact his ability to generate a deep latch.

    Here are some tips that may help you heal a bit faster:
    - Strive for the best possible latch every time.
    - Vary your nursing position- there may be one position that allows better latches than the others. Many moms find the football hold to be helpful; I personally had the most luck using the side-lying position.
    - Keep the humidity in your house nice and high.
    - Use a combination of 1% hydrocortisone cream and Bacitracin antibiotic ointment on your crack to combat inflammation and infection. Use a pea-sized amount, mixed and applied using a clean finger. Does not need to be washed off before nursing.
    - Immerse nipple in a shot glass of warm water for 30-60 seconds before latching baby on. That will hydrate the scabs on the crack, allowing them to open with less pain.
    - Give it time! Tiny babies have tiny mouths and cannot latch on all that deeply even when everything is perfect. But babies grow fast, and if you wait the baby's mouth will grow and his latch will spontaneously improve. When that happens, healing generally occurs quite quickly.

    Hang in there!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Nipple Trauma and breastshields- Hel

    mommals tips are very good. I agree, try all that first. I would really like you to be checked out by an IBCLC because other issues like an infection could be causing the lack of healing. Nipple shields are potentially very problematic, and they are not really considered good devices for poor latch/nipple injury situations so much as for the baby who cannot latch. BUT.

    They are cheap, and I have (on occasion) talked to moms who said they were able to heal faster after nipple injury by using them. So imo you could try it but be cautious! If it hurts more with it on or does not help the healing quickly, stop using it immediately. You will only be out about $10.00. On the other hand, if it allows your nipple to finally heal so you can nurse comfortably, it will be worth it.

    Do not EVER use the shield on the non-injured side. I doubt if baby continues to nurse without the shield on the non-injured side and you only use the shield until you heal, that the shield will cause nipple confusion. For moms who used nipple shields from the get go, weaning baby off them can be quite hard, but that is usually for many reasons including whatever made latch difficult in the first place not getting fixed, and not necessarily nipple confusion.

    Do you need to be pumping and giving supplemental feedings? Are you back at work? There may be better options for both pumping and supplementing it depends on why you are pumping and supplementing. If pumping is reinjuring your nipple I would suggest avoiding pumping on that side if it is possible. Also if you are using bottles to supplement, which I assume you are since you mention nipple confusion, that will cause many more issues as far as nipple confusion goes than a nipple shield. So let us know if you are pumping and supplementing and why so we can figure that part of it out as well.

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