Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All about nipples

That's right--nipples. They consume my life these days! Currently it is trying to figure out how to heal one with a nasty crack. From reading my glorious breastfeeding book, I have discovered the crack was most likely caused by a shallow latch. Which is nice to know, but more difficult to correct. Well, or I should say, the latch is not the difficult thing to correct. But the crack is. Cause it's so bad feeding is painful! I called my best friends mom, who is a lactation consultant, and she advised me to avoid feeding on that side while the nipple heals. She suggested I pump and bottle feed for 2-3 days until I'm all better. I have done it for 24 hours, but hate it! I can't figure out how to get ahead on pumping when she already eats at least every 2 hours.  I'm up all night feeding and then pumping so I have a bottle for the next feeding. And it is just so many extra steps when I'm already so sleepy. And on top of that, I think the bottle is affecting her breastfeeding on the other non-injured breast. I didn't have any problems with that side, but today it's starting to feel sore too! So, even though I have been vigilant about the shallow latch situation, I think that the bottle has encouraged her to start it up on the left, where we used to be just fine. So now I'm at a loss. One injured nipple, one in danger, and no new ideas! I've called another lactation consultant who is actually local and can maybe come see what I'm doing wrong, but she wasn't there so I had to leave a message. And I'm going to a La Leche League meeting tomorrow morning. But I feel slightly helpless in the interim.  All I can think about is my nipples! Haha! Funny how quickly things can dominate your life. At least I have resolved the issues with Claire screaming, so that makes me feel loads better. But the solution is more frequent feeding, which has compounded the current dilemma! Man alive, I can't catch a break! I'd love any advice you experienced mothers have to offer!


  1. Ooo, I had a cracked nipple with Bryson. Not fun. This is what I did, I am not saying this is the best thing, but it worked for me.

    I got a nipple shield (you can get at Target) and used it on that breast for 2 or 3 days, it protected my nipple enough to let it heal, but I was able to nurse the baby.

    I did also pump for him because he had some feeding issues. So I would nurse, feed him the bottle of breastmilk after and then pump. Exhausting. I didn't do it every time he fed, but every 3 hours or so.

    You LLL meeting will be helpful.

  2. Yikes! I remember those days! I feel for you...

    They told me to pump and dump the cracked side (the advice-givers were not exactly pro-bottle), and nurse exclusively on the good side. My problem then became that my cracked side started to heal, and my good side started to crack. So then I had to switch which side I pumped or nursed from. It seemed like a neverending battle!

    Though an incorrect latch most certainly can cause pain and cracking, my experience was that even a good latch can reult in cracking. I had nurses and lactation consultants watching me like a hawk during my 4 days in the hospital. They said Katie was a natural and had a textbook latch.. but I started to crack within 24 hours anyway.

    Once home, I pumped, but didn't dump it... I did double duty, just like you're doing. I noticed that one of your friends recommended a nipple shield. I never used one, but several friends have had good experiences with them. I used a similar product... forget the exact name now, but I bought it at Target, as well... a nipple guard? Anyway, it's not to be used during nursing, but you use it in between nursings. It keeps your bra/shirt off your nipples so that air can circulate and aid in the healing process. (Dear hubby jokingly called them "rocket tits", so that should give you an idea how they look under your shirt). :o) Also, I used Lansinoh before and after each feeding.

    How are you doing the feedings? Do you do left for one feeding, right for the next, etc? Or on feeding #1 do you start with left and switch mid feeding to the right, then feeding #2 start right and switch mid feeding to the left? Katie was a one-boob-per-feeding kind of girl, so I took advantage of the supply and demand theory to up my milk supply. When she nursed right, I pumped left (and pumped the right after she finished). Then the next feeding she would feed left and I would pump right (and pump on the left when she was done). It helped up my supply, and helped to have milk on hand in the fridge. During all this nursing/pumping routine, we did use about 2 or 3 bottles of formula, so that I would have a small stash of milk in the fride to get ahead of her.

    The visiting nurse (who was also a lactation consultant), also said to do what felt right. Katie was voracious and strong (which didn't help my healing process)... we nicknamed her "viper". [ouch!!!]. The nursed suggested doing one of two things:
    1) give her a 1/2 oz or 1 oz by bottle first, so that she wasn't STARVED, and then let her latch and nurse for the rest of the feeding (which would be easier on me... then pump when she was done)
    2) nurse for a few minutes first until I just couldn't handle it... then give the rest by bottle (so she wouldn't get the "easy" milk first... hopefully avoiding nipple preference), and then pump when I was done

    She even suggested alternating (which is what we did for a few days)... feeding #1 pump and bottle feed, feeding #2 nurse left, feeding #3 pump and bottle feed, feeding #4 nurse right... then my body would get some "rest" but still be producing milk. Ultimately this is what we did and we had great luck with it. I was a little excessive with the pumping, but I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I ultimately had A LOT of milk. (Then I started freezing it to use later).

    I think you're doing a good thing by hanging in there, and for asking for advice from everyone and anyone that can help. My two pieces of advice are this:
    1) No matter what the professionals tell you, if it doesn't sit right with you, follow your own gut (i.e. For me, it meant doing some bottle feedings with expressed milk, and even 2-3 feedings with formula, even though they told me those were both big no-no's)
    2) Know that whatever happens with nursing -- whether things improve and you nurse exclusively, or combine pumping and nursing, or pump and bottle feed, or use bottles of breastmilk and formula, or use formula only -- you are the Mommy and you know what is best for you and for your little one... Don't let anyone make you feel bad about the choices you make or the way things go... As the Mommy, you have your baby's best interests at heart, even if it means deviating from the original plan. (Katie picked back up on nursing after things healed, but in the interim I let myself feel guilty for "failing"... I would hate for another Mommy to feel that way, too. I realize now that I wasn't "failing", but rather doing the right thing for my baby, which is what a Mommy is supposed to do... .Sorry about the speech! I just know how awful I felt, and I don't want another Mommy to feel that way, too!)

    Hang in there! ...feel free to email or call if you need someone to chat with about all of this.

    (Yikes, I just realized how long this post is!) :o)

    Hugs to you all!