Early Difficulties Breastfeeding

  • Proper positioning: Again, check to insure that your baby is latching on correctly. Attempt a different hold to see if that provides more relief. If possible, meet with a lactation consultant to determine the remedy appropriate for your particular situation. Tips:
    • If the area chapped is at the tip of the nipple, it is most likely rubbing at the roof of your baby's mouth. Using a different hold may easily resolve this issue for you.
    • If the area chaffed is near the base of the nipple, this is a strong indication that your infant is latching on solely around the nipple itself. When this occurs, insert your finger into the baby's mouth to break the suction, squeeze the areola between your thumb and forefinger and try to place more of the areola within his/her mouth.
  • Starting place: If one of your breasts has more cracking than the other, then begin nursing on the opposite side. During the beginning of the feeding, the baby's suckling reaction is at its peak. This will provide some relief. It is not, however, recommended that you skip nursing on the painful side altogether. In fact, that will serve to prolong the agony and may result in even more problems.
  • Airing your breasts: After each feeding expose your breasts to air and sunshine for 15-30 minutes. If you are either uncomfortable with doing so or not in a place where public nudity is allowed, then at least attempt to leave your nursing bra open for that length of time.
  • Nursing Pads: Make sure to change these frequently. Allowing the moisture to remain trapped will worsen the problem. Try a brain without a plastic liner.
  • Fabric choices: Skip synthetic fibers and opt for 100 percent cotton. This applies to anything from nursing pads to bras, t-shirts and pajamas. Cotton allows for the skin to breathe and the chapping to heal.
  • Avoid ointments: If you go to the market and view the shelves you will find all sorts of ointments, lotions, and more promising to soften your nipples. Examples include cocoa butter, lanolin, and Vitamin E types. Contrary to their advertisement, they often cause more irritation than they prevent.
  • Breast Milk: Ever heard the phrase "Physician, heal thyself?" Guess what? You have the perfect solution right within your own body! Breast milk serves as the perfect lubricating agent to heal and soothe cracked nipples. Gently express several drops and rub over the area.

Thrush

Thrush, a yeast infection, is fairly simple to diagnose, even at home. If your nipples appear to be red, itchy, swollen or quite tender you may suspect thrush as a possibility. Look inside your baby's mouth for white patches located on the tongue, cheeks, and /or gums. Other infants will develop a painful diaper rash instead that appears as a mild burn would. There are several methods of contracting the infection -- through delivery (from the birth canal) or even in response to an early course of antibiotics.

Treatment:

  • If you suspect that you and your baby have thrush, please contact your care provider immediately. They will most likely prescribe an antifungal treatment such as nystatin to be applied. Another option often used is gentian violet. Please be aware that while safe it will turn everything it touches bright purple -- this includes your breasts, your baby's mouth, clothing, etc.

Mastitis

This is one of those infections that you definitely want to take steps to avoid. Unlike thrush, this infection does not transfer to your baby which is good news. The bad news is that you often feel horrible while battling this while your newborn is increasingly eager and ready to nurse! Early indications of mastitis are elevated temperatures and a noticeable tender /sore spot in one breast. After the infection fully takes hold, you may experience fevers up to 104°F, extreme fatigue, chills, body aches all over, swelling in your breast, and a very red tender area on the breast that is hurting.

Treatment:

  • Contact your care provider immediately.

Prevention: