I have struggled with a cracked nipple that just doesn't want to heal ever since LO was about 2 months. He's 11.5 months now (bday next week!) and so far I've made it BFing. However, this stubborn crack refuses to heal, and every now and then I get mastitis, primary cause = staph, obviously entering through the crack. I apply APNO on the nipple after every feed, wear clean breast pasts to protect it, and am super careful about washing my hands before touching the breast. Needless to say, I'm exhausted. I feel dealing with this is a major hindrance to just enjoying BFing--I have to wear a bra 24/7 to protect the nipple, apply the APNO all day, wash/sanitize constantly, can't wear some of my shirts b/c the breast pad shows through, wash breast pads (which I don't need otherwise b/c I never leak) constantly. I just want to be a "normal" BF mom who can lift a shirt, latch baby, then go about her business, especially at night when I'm tired.
My original goal at the beginning was to make it to a year. DS had a tongue-tie that was corrected at 9 days old, but damage was lasting. Nipple crack on R breast healed within 2 months, but new crack developed on L nipple and did not go away like it did in the R, despite the fact that I treated both the same. I've seen an IBCLC nurse, 2 dermatologists, my ob, and local LLL leader, but nothing seems to have helped.
I would like to continue BFing for as long as DS wants, but dealing with this is making me want to wean sooner rather than later. Right now, he nurses before his morning and afternoon naps, down for bedtime, and then twice overnight. I also pump as soon as I wake (about 3 oz) so I have milk to give him with his meals since he is not yet ready for cow's milk. I would like to gradually wean, as nursing is the best way to get him to sleep and it comforts him. I don't want to take this away from him until HE is ready. I would also like to feel enjoyment over the whole experience, but the constant worrying about the crack, its treatment, and occasional mastitis coupled with having to take antibiotics is ruining the experience for me.
Yesterday my OB said that for some women the crack will not go away until they are done with nursing, since the nipple is constantly experiencing "trauma." She indicated that it may not happen for a 2nd baby, and I really hope that is true b/c I would hate to do this all over again. But I would, b/c I know BM is the best for babies!
I'm really frustrated. I don't know if I'm just looking for some sympathy right now or some advice...