Wife, Mummy, Nurse: My Breastfeeding Challenges in the Early Weeks {Nipple pain, Leaking, Cracked nipples, and Mastiits}

04 August 2011

My Breastfeeding Challenges in the Early Weeks {Nipple pain, Leaking, Cracked nipples, and Mastiits}

I just finished nursing my baby and enjoyed every minute of it.  I enjoy holding her, nourishing her, and spending time with her.  Breastfeeding was not always easy though, especially the first 3-4 weeks.  When I was in the hospital I had nipple pain every time she ate, but brushed it off because I was not used to somebody wanting to place her mouth on my nipple 24/7.  On August 21, I was crying with my mum (she was calm) and started leaking everywhere.  I thought, "What is this?  I'm leaking.  I just had a baby, and I'm supposed to be happy.  "  About 5 days after my daughter's birth, I noticed a crack on my left nipple. Breastfeeding was NOT pleasant then, but I continued to do so.

One week after Charis was born, I was breastfeeding her at 3:00 AM and was not feeling well.  I had left breast pain (no redness), aches, fever (>101.5 degrees), chills, and felt run down.  I woke my husband up and was crying.  He told me I should call the on call doctor (which I did).  The physician told he thought I had mastitis, to call when the office opened and set up an appointment, and in the meantime to alternate taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  Drew stayed up with the pumpkin and read to her out of his Spanish Bible, while I tried to get some rest and felt like a failure as a mother because I could not be the one up with her.  We were able to go in and see the OB-GYN where I was officially diagnosed with mastitis and placed on an antibiotic. The next day, I felt 100% better.  We also had our daughter's first Pediatrician appointment that day, and he wanted me to see a lactation consultant, which I did a week later.  The lactation consultant told me my daughter was not latching on correctly and was able to help me correct this.  PTL!!

Here are a few things I have since learned (and remembered from reading articles and books before my daughter was born):

  • Nipple pain is NOT normal.  It is a sign that something is not right.
  • Breast pads help wonderfully with leaking.  There are still times I put them on and am SO THANKFUL I did.  I only wish I had invested in cloth breast pads earlier.
  • A few things and products that helped my cracked nipple were:
    • Breast milk has anti inflammatory and anti bacterial properties in it.  After you nurse your baby, rub some breast milk into your nipple and let it dry.
    • Lanolin helps keep cells from drying out.
    • Hydrogel pads do not stick to wounds (like my cracked nipple) and protect the moisture balance.
  • Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue.
    • Signs and symptoms
      • Breast pain, redness, tenderness, or swelling
      • Malaise
      • Fever/chills
    • Risk factors
      • Cracked nipple
      • Not emptying your breasts completely
      • Using only one position to nurse the baby
    • Treatment
      • Antibiotics-take as directed and complete the course of treatment! 
      • Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and continue to breastfeed on both sides.  Applying  treatments can also help.
      • Don't be afraid to seek a lactation consultant who will try to help and discover what the problem is.
    • If you have these symptoms, seek you midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician to let them know.  They will most likely want you to come in and examine you.
    • Prevention
      • While breastfeeding, fully drain the milk from one side before transferring your baby to the other side.
      • Nurse using different positions.
      • See a lactation consultant who will be able to help you.
What difficulties did you have with nursing your children?
What did you do to help?  What would you have done differently?

2 comments:

  1. I kept getting mastitis when I was breastfeeding my daughter. A lactation consultant helped me through it so much!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Sarah. I think more women need to talk about breastfeeding so that new mama's know that help is out there when they need it! We had lots of challenges in the beginning too, but are now 6 months in to a healthy and satisfying nursing relationship with no signs of stopping any time soon! :)

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