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Thread: bleeding nipples

  1. #1

    Default bleeding nipples

    My baby is two weeks old and I am having serious nipple issues. I need help! In her first day of life, I was so eager to establish breastfeeding that I allowed my daughter to nurse with a bad latch. Her latch is much better now, but the damage to my nipples is already done and has not been able to heal. I've tried lanolin, soothies, and even broke down and bought a nipple shield to try to protect the broken skin. One side is nearly healed, but I still have a huge, cavernous crack on the other that becomes aggravated with every feeding. It bleeds enough that when I nurse on that side, the next time my daughter spits up, it will have blood in it. I tried nursing only on the other side and hand expressing from the bad side, but baby wasn't getting quite enough so I had to offer the other side. She latched on well, but broke her latch shortly after, pulled away, and had blood all over her face. I started sobbing! How do I continue to nurse my baby without feeding her bloody milk? What can I do about the excruciating pain when she latches on to my cracked nipple?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Springfield, Oregon
    Posts
    916

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    There are some very helpful ladies on here who should be able to offer some advice. Do you have a Lactation Consultant? That is what saved me.

    Hugs
    Baby Girl "Piper" born Feb 12th, 2010. She is a true blessing!

    And a baby who is now an Angel in Heaven Feb 7th, 2008.

  3. #3

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    Thank you! I hope so. Unfortunately, in my area there are no lactation consultants. I'm currently on the remote island of Guam. When I searched on the IBCLC site, the closest one was 1500 miles away in Japan! There's no LLL chapter either : ( There's a lactation 'specialist' at the hospital where I birthed and she helped me correct my latch problems before I left the hospital. She said I was welcome to go back to her later if I still had pain, but that she would really only do what we'd already done, which was work on latch and positioning, and I have those things down! I'm desperate!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    I feel your pain... you're not alone. I was using a nipple shield with my baby when one day I noticed drops of blood in it. And it always hurts to breastfeed. Here's what they told me: let the nipple heal. Express the milk using a pump and don't put the baby to the breast for a while until it heals fully. Try to take a little of the expressed milk and rub it on the nipples. Breast milk is the best cure for most cracking and bleeding problems (there are a few issues that breast milk is not recommended for though). For me, it healed completely after a few days of rest. Pumping may hurt, but it does less damage than whatever the baby is doing.

    Just curious, before you discovered blood, did breastfeeding hurt? Was pain or pinching a common feeling for you? For me, I've discovered my baby has a clampdown bite reflex and that was causing the trouble. My heart and hopes go out to you that you heal quickly and that this problem does not repeat!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,259

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    Welcome! I'm sorry you're having such a struggle with nursing. I had a similar issue, but on both nipples. Here's what helped me:
    - Work on the latch.
    - If there's any position that works better for you (i.e. is more comfortable), use it. Other positions will come in time. Many moms have good luck with the football hold. I personally had the most luck with the side-lying position.
    - Support the breast throughout the feeding. Sometimes the weight of the breast drags down on the baby's mouth and causes her to "slip up" onto the nipple.
    - Try the sandwich technique. Imagine that you are biting into a thick, rounded sandwich. You're going to need to squish it in order to get the most sandwich into your mouth, right? Same with the breast. So: position your hand in a "C" shape around your breast, with your thumb above the areola and your other fingers below it. Now compress your hand, squishing your areola/nipple from a rounded shape into a flattened, more oval shape. (Just like you're squishing that big round sandwich.) Now, keeping your hand compressed, latch the baby on. Once the baby is latched on, you can release your hand. Hopefully your baby now has a nice deep bite of breast in her mouth!
    - Try pumping the badly cracked side for a bit before latching the baby on. That may draw the nipple out a bit longer, enabling a better latch.
    - Use the shield with care. They can slow milk transfer and reduce supply.
    - Go topless/braless as much as possible. Don't further irritate sore, cracked nipples.
    - Moist healing. Keep using the lanolin, the Soothies, and keep the air around you humid (probably not a huge problem in Guam!).
    - Hydrate the crack before nursing. Dry scabs tear open more painfully. Use a wet washcloth or immerse the cracked nipple in a shot glass of warm water for 30-60 seconds before nursing.
    - Use a combination of 1% hydrocortisone cream and Bacitracin antibiotic ointment on the cracks to combat inflammation and infection. Use a pea-sized amount, mixed and applied using a clean finger.
    - If you are in such pain that you're on the verge of quitting, think about nursing on the side that is okay and pumping and bottle/finger/cup-feeding the milk from the other side. You may only need to do this for a short while, since cracks tend to heal fast once they're not being constantly reopened.

    Don't worry if your baby gets some bloody milk. It won't hurt her. Also, it only takes a very small amount of blood to turn your milk a very alarming color, so your milk may not be as bloody as you think.
    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
    May 2009
    Location
    North of Cincinnati, OHIO
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    w/pp - pumping is what I was told to do for cracked nipples. I cried during each latch-on. I also slathered on the nipple cream. I also went sans bra for a few hours. Hang in there mama. My son is now 6 mos, it does get better.
    You can find me

    DS born 9/2009

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Springfield, Oregon
    Posts
    916

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    Maybe working on the latch again with the hospital specialist wouldn't be a bad idea. That is what I heard often causes nipple abrasions . Hugs.
    Baby Girl "Piper" born Feb 12th, 2010. She is a true blessing!

    And a baby who is now an Angel in Heaven Feb 7th, 2008.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    FL
    Posts
    524

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    Ouch! I am SO sorry you are going through this! You CAN fix it! You CAN nurse your baby pain-free.

    I agree 100 percent with what mommal said.

    When I had a bleeding nipple, the pain was so excruciating that I wailed, yes, WAILED during latch on, and sometimes cried during the entire feeding. Eventually I HAD to only feed my LO on the non-injured side and let my cracked side heal. So I hand expressed because that was the only way I could express my milk without pain (pumping hurt too much, too). Once I was healed enough to try again, I really practiced my latch and positioning. If something hurt, even a little, I stopped, unlatched my baby, and tried again. If he got too upset, i'd put him on my non-injured side and express from the sore side. Also the side lying position was the best for me, too.

    Breastfeeding my 4 year old

  9. #9

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    Thank you ladies SO much! It's nice to know that I'm not alone : )

    I broke down and went to the doctor, just to rule out infection, since my big crack in particular was looking a bit ... gooey. I was given Nystatin cream for Thrush. I'm already feeling a whole lot better.

  10. #10

    Default Re: bleeding nipples

    just so you know, I'm going through the same thing and came here for that exact problem. I really need to see a LC, but I keep forgetting to call one.

    I am currently using a breast shell, so it keeps getting air. I also nurse on the other side first, so he's not as hungry. I do a football hold, so I get a deep latch..which really relieved A LOT of the pain. My pain is only with initial latch and if he starts to get a poor latch and starts sucking on the open wound.

    My biggest concern is if it can get infected. I'm not sure if it can. But, that sounds terrifying to me.

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