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Thread: Nipple pain and latching issues

  1. #1

    Default Nipple pain and latching issues

    My daughter is almost 3 weeks old, and I've had a difficult time with nursing, especially on my left breast. My nipples are pink on the tips, and I don't know if this is normal because my nipples are still getting used to the new sensations OR if they are pink because I'm doing something wrong. On my right breast, I do not experience any discomfort while my daughter is nursing, but I usually experience discomfort on my left nipple. I know it's a latching issue, but I don't know how to resolve it. I've read a bunch of books and articles and other posts and suggestions on how to get the proper latch, but nothing seems to work. My daughter tends to "tight lip" my nipple and her lower lip is not flanged like her top lip. I try flipping her lower lip down while she's on my breast; I try pulling her chin down while she's on my breast; I try detaching her and starting over; I try pulling her chin down before I shove her on my breast...I do all of these things, but nothing seems to help. Her lower lip will be flanged, but then partway through nursing, she will suck it in again.

    I'm also having an issue with her getting her mouth open enough to get a lot of my areola in her mouth. I try pulling her chin down and tickling her lower lip with my nipple, and all of the other suggestions I've read about, but nothing seems to help.

    So...my questions are:
    1. Is it normal for my nipples to be pink at the tip for the first few weeks?
    2. How can I keep my daughter's lower lip flanged out while nursing?
    3. How can I get my daughter to open her mouth wider so that I can get more of my areola in her mouth?
    4. Why is it that I have discomfort on one breast but not on the other?
    5. Is it normal for my nipples to hurt when they get hard, or when I'm not wearing a bra, or when I touch them?
    6. How much longer until my nipples and breasts get used to nursing?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Ontario
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    621

    Default Re: Nipple pain and latching issues

    Welcome to the forum! Reading your post, it is pretty similar to what I experienced with my DD, except for the lower lip part. Is there any way that you can see a lacation consultant, preferably board certified? or a La Leche League Leader? I put off asking for help in-person for a long time, and I really regret doing it. I thought I should be able to figure it out by reading and looking online. Once I finally called a LLL leader, that was when things started looking up, but I won't lie, it's taken a long time!

    (BTW, I'm not trying to jack your post, just wanting to share my experience and what worked for me with similar problems).
    1) I'm not sure about whether this is normal, but my nipples are pretty pink, I think. I wish I had paid more attention to what they looked like before I started nursing, lol. However, sore, pink/red nipples can be a sign of thrush, which I did have for a long time before anyone diagnosed it (2 doctors told me no, we didn't have it. The baby doesn't need to have white patches in order to have thrush, but you do both need to be treated if that's the case). Were you on antibiotics during your labour/delivery?
    2) I'm honestly not sure about this one, I never had issues with my LO's bottom lip, but she did have a lip-tie on the upper lip that caused issues. Hopefully someone else will be able to speak to that.
    3) I definitely had issues with this, and I still don't think my daughter opens up as widely as I would like sometimes (she's 5 months). Have you checked for an upper lip tie? that can cause issues. An LC did give me the advice to gently massage my baby's jaws (I used a bit of coconut oil), as well as the back of her legs (hamstring area). The thinking was that babies tend to have really tight legs (due to the position in the womb, and then to help eject out of the birth canal). I don't know if this was actually the case, or if I was just so desperate to find a solution, but I feel that this really did help our situation. I know a lot of people swear by things like chiropractic and craniosacral therapy to help with latch issues. One LC I spoke to said that yes, the science is spotty, but she couldn't argue with the results!
    4) The way that someone on the forum explained this to me when one nipple hurt worse than the other is that there are adhesions under the nipples, and that one side can be tighter than the other. The other thing is that baby might be better at nursing on one side than the other.
    5) This especially makes me think you might have thrush. My nipples were so sensitive and felt hard all the time while I had thrush, and then when I had a flare-up, it was the same thing. I'm a FTM though, so I don't know if there's a degree of normalcy to that in the beginning anyway, even without the presence of thrush.
    6) If only there was an easy answer to this! My best advice is to just take it day by day, and keep plugging away at it. Come on here and ask any questions, rant about how hard it is, whatever you need to do to get you through.

    Sorry this is such a long and rambly answer, but I hope something I've said helps!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Nipple pain and latching issues

    I'm responding even though I'm far from an expert and we certainly are not problem free over here either.

    My daughter is 7 weeks old and when she was born she had a short tongue and a recessed chin. Basically, she couldn't suck, but really mashed with her jaws. She had a hard time latching as well. We were only able to get her to the breast to feed (without a nipple shield) as of almost 4 weeks ago. When I first starting putting her to the breast, I had some similar issues. I could get her to open pretty wide, but she always had that lower lip tucked in. People kept telling me just to pull the lip out, but she would always suck it back in. What finally worked? I'm not entirely sure. I kept pulling her lip out, but not every time because sometimes she would un-latch and it was just frustrating and felt hopeless! I started latching her onto the breast by putting her chin near the breast and kind of scooping her mouth in, sometimes dragging the lower lip so it would get pulled pretty far out. I don't know if that is what helped, or if she just finally figured it out, but one day we just stopped having that issue. Honestly, for me though, I don't think that was ever the source of pain.

    In the meantime, I was pretty sore and hurting. I started alternating breastfeeding positions to get some relief. The football hold didn't seem to hurt quite as much sometimes. I still occasionally feel the same discomfort as in the beginning and her latch is wide and her lips are out. I'm afraid I may not be helping at all!

    My nipples were definitely pink and even a little bruised in the beginning. I guess that got better around week 2.

    Usually if I waited my LO out, I could usually get her to open wider. I would tell her "open open open!" and wait for a good opportunity. We did have several sessions where my husband would hold her chin while I latched her, just like you are doing. The scoop technique I mentioned before also seemed to help. I wonder if compressing the breast some would as well? I'm not sure.

    I think it is normal to have a fair amount of nipple tenderness in the beginning, but especially so if you feel your latch is not perfect. So I wouldn't be surprised that they hurt during the examples you have given.

    I don't know how much longer though. Mine seemed to get better, then hurt again, then better, etc. I wish I knew the answer!

    To the previous poster, they mentioned thrush to me too, but when my doctor looked he said he didn't see any signs of thrush. Do you know what they used to diagnosis you?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,922

    Default Re: Nipple pain and latching issues

    Hi and welcome, congratulations on your dear baby! I have a couple quick q's
    is baby ebf?
    How is weight gain? poops?
    how often does baby nurse (how many times a day about) and is nursing done on babies cues?

    have you tried different nursing positions? Finding the 'right' nursing position can really help with latch pain.

    As far as any of this being normal-yes, it's normal, in the sense it is common. But nursing pain/sore nipples is a red flag that something is wrong. Nursing 'should' not hurt, ever. So it is a good idea to work on this. This kind of thing usually is an off latch as you say, but another possibility based on what you describe is thrush. And yes it can be both.

    I agree that getting hands on help at this point is probably a good idea. And I suggest trying different positions. See linked info.

    As to why it hurts more on one side than the other-that could be for many reasons and is not unusual at all.

    OK here are my favorite latch and positioning ideas. See if any of this is something you have not tried. Also, sometimes it takes trying the same things several times before it 'clicks'

    Laid back position http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfeeding.pdf

    laid back video http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/video/bn3clip.html

    Here are two simple pictorials, on latch, one on tongue tie http://cwgenna.com/quickhelp.html

    latch and 'Breast sandwich' article http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvfebmar04p3.html

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    621

    Default Re: Nipple pain and latching issues

    tbirdie - thrush is more often diagnosed based on symptoms rather than something visual, unless baby has obvious white patches in her mouth. When I got my first diagnosis, I had gone to a see a LC at a breastfeeding clinic. Two doctors had already dismissed thrush as a possibility, so I thought for sure it was something mechanical. My nipples were sore and slightly pink, I was having vasospasms and deep breast pain, and my LO was constantly slipping off my nipple when she nursed (the idea there is that LO's mouth gets itchy so they pop off the breast). The nurse practitioner there diagnosed us with thrush. Unfortunately, it was too far gone for topical meds to work, so I ended up having to get diflucan from my doc.

    From all the reading I've done, it's not uncommon for doctor's to dismiss the possibility of thrush due to the lack of white patches in the baby's mouth. This doesn't mean that thrush isn't present. A good place to start if you're having nipple pain that you think might be thrush is Dr. Jack Newman's candida protocol http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...agename=doc-CP It might be worth asking for a script for his all purpose nipple cream to try out.

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