I am on my fourth child (12 days old) and have come up against a problem that I just don't know how to deal with.
My left breast developed a crack just 2 days postpartum. I have been treating that with lanolin almost religiously, and it does seem to help a lot. I actually thought I had it almost healed, but my newborn has decided that she doesn't want to latch properly right off the bat, and will almost "chew" on my nipple, potentially spit it out, then root some more. If I can get up the courage to re-latch her on my left side, usually she latches a bit better, and then as she nurses, her latch gets better. All of this probably contributed to the plugged duct. Which of course means I should be latching her on as often as possible on that side, but I just can't bring myself to do it as often as I should because of the pain of the crack.
I sit there holding her in front of the breast, trying to coax her into opening her mouth wide, and then when she does, trying to psych myself into trying to stick my nipple in her mouth before she closes back up, which takes far more tries than she has patience for. Of course this process is very frustrating for both of us. And then, when she latches, it is excruciating, and I sit there gritting my teeth trying not to cry out or clench my hands, trying to wait for when my nipple goes numb to most of the pain and hoping she can drain enough of the breast to relieve the plug to avoid mastitis.
Thing is, I can't really find the 'plug' to massage out myself, but half my breast is red and tender, and I have a low fever, so I can only imagine that is what it is. One weird thing that happens is my areola gets puffed up, almost like there is milk pooling underneath them that doesn't get sucked out. But that is the only real physically tangible thing I can feel a difference in.
I just tried doing a football hold to try and see if a different angle would help, and it was a disaster. Not only did she "chew" and spit out the first time, she only nursed half heartedly for 5 minutes before doing it again, and then promptly screamed. I switched to my right side, where she latched mostly well, nursed and then went to sleep. Now I am sitting here crying at the thought that I will have to try and latch her on my left side when she wakes up, because I *really* don't want to.
Right now I am waiting for properly sized pump flanges to come in the mail so I can pump, but until that happens, I am on my own. I suppose my huge nipples combined with her newborn mouth don't help the latching issues. I just want to be able to latch her on without fear of how painful it will be.