Breast Feeding can be extremely therapeutic, establishing a close bong between you and your child. However it has its share of pitfalls which women counter. One of them is the incidence of dry, sore and cracked nipples.
These are very common amongst pregnant and breast feeding women. Because of the large fluctuations in hormones the breasts become extremely tender and sensitive. This makes the feeling of pain more prominent with women being ultra sensitive to the pain. Moreover the nipples too take a beating especially if your baby is a voracious suckler and likes to demolish your breasts in between feeds.
This is also very common in breastfeeding moms who suffer from severe breast engorgement. Engorgement causes the breast to swell up to thrice their size and flatten the nipples. Thus the baby finds it difficult to get a proper latch. In the attempt to latch on most babies injure the nipples causing them to crack and dry up.
Dry sore and cracked nipples can make breast feeding a chore and an ordeal. The good part is that with the right nipple care and tips, the soreness vanishes and the nipples toughen up. Despite this some women continue to experience discomfort with babies having a vicious bite. In the initial stages the pain is so excruciating and intense that some women begin to dread the experience. However there are remedies to cure dry and cracked nipples:
Ways To Prevent Dry And Cracked Nipples
Most women fail to provide the correct latch to the baby. The way in which the baby is positioned to your breast makes all the difference. Ensure that while you cradle the baby to your breast, he is facing your breast with the entire areola in his mouth and not just the nipple.
Not only will it leave our nipples sore and cracked but also discourage let down. When the baby latches on correctly, the suckling action encourages let down of milk to happen. Just sucking on the nipple will frustrate the baby and will cause him to suckle even more vigorously. If your breasts are engorged, manually pump out some milk so that your breast become soft and the nipples are taut enough for the baby to latch on.
Exposure To Air
Allow your nipples to get some fresh air after each feeding. Dampness and restrictive clothing may delay healing of the cracks. Moreover your breast may become potential breeding grounds for bacteria and infection. Nipple shields can be worn which protect dry, cracked nipples from constant friction and irritation. Frequently change your nursing pads. Choose nursing pads which are made of cloth or cotton. Plastic pads tend o be uncomfortable and trap moisture.
Seek Cues From The Weather
If the climate where you live is dry, keep your breasts moist to prevent the nipples from drying out. Similarly, in very damp, humid climates it is better to dry out your nipples after every feed. You may run a hair dryer on your breasts after every feed. The heat from the dryer gives enormous relief to some women.
The best remedy for dry and cracked nipples is the application of lanolin, a commercially available ointment meant to treat sore and cracked nipples. It comes under several brand names like ‘Nip Care’. After nursing, wash the nipple area thoroughly with water and apply a globule of lanolin on your nipples to keep them moisturized and to promote healing.
Be careful to wipe off the ointment before you begin your next feeding. Never use any other medicated products on your nipples without the doctor’s prescription. Do not worry too much about infection. Rarely does an infant catch an infection from his mother’s breast.
Treatment With Tea Bags
Wet tea bags are also known to give intense relief and comfort from dry, sore nipples. The antioxidants present in tea promote fast healing.
Varying Nursing Positions
Keep varying the positions in which you hold the baby. Keep alternating from the clutch hold to the cradle hold. You may also exercise the option of lying down and feeding the baby. The effect of gravity allows for an easier latch without bruising your nipples.
Use Both Breasts
It is wise to use both the breast even if one breast is excessively sore and cracked. The mother can start feeding from the less sore breast as the infant sucks vigorously in the beginning. Once his appetite begins to diminish, you can allow the baby to suckle from the other breast.
It is important for the mother to be happy and calm before every nursing session. Relaxation helps in the let down of milk thus allowing your infant to suckle easily without having to bite or struggle with your nipples. If the pain is very severe you may talk to your doctor about taking an over the counter medication to help heal the dry and cracked nipples.
Signs Of Infection
Be alert to any signs of infection especially if you see any redness, oozing of pus and swelling around the nipples. This is particularly dangerous for both you and the baby.
The Right Bra
Do make full use of the correct maternity or feeding bras for your pregnancy. Good quality nursing bras give you good support, are soft on your skin and do not irritate your nipples through friction.
Most women suffer from problems like dry and cracked nipples due to ignorance and lack of education of the correct method of breastfeeding. In this scenario it is important to consult a lactation consultant who may come to your home and provide you with enough feedback and knowledge of how to go about breastfeeding. The correct position and hold of the baby is crucial in order to help baby latch on and prevent the incidence of sore nipples.
Don’t wait for things to get better on their own while you struggle with your discomfort. Take proper education and become abreast with the techniques of breast feeding. It will go a long way in alleviating your symptoms and also ensuring that your baby gets and adequate and a clean supply of milk. Breastfeeding can be a beautiful and pleasuring experience provided you master its nuances. It cultivates a bond with your child and also provides him with vital nutrients for a healthy and well nourished future.