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How did you prevent sore nipples?

(18 Posts)
EasyCompadre Sat 05-Apr-14 13:13:39

My first baby is due imminently, and I very much want to breastfeed. I've done loads of reading, watched videos on getting the latch right and various positions etc, attended a breastfeeding antenatal class, bought all manner of gadgets that I've heard can be useful (Lansinoh ointment, Breast shells, nipple shields, washable breast pads in addition to the disposable breast pads I'd bought already as an essential...) basically anything that has come recommended. I also have a list of local breastfeeding counsellors and drop-in groups should I need them.

The thing which I think will be a real test of my resilience will be the pain - should there be any. I think the reason I've gone a bit crazy on the resources is because I know without doubt that pain could be the thing that entices me to switch to bottle feeding, basically I am a complete wuss! Not only that, but I don't like my nipples being touched/stimulated at all, and I'm worried that for that reason I'll hate breastfeeding and just give up... And suffering with sore nipples will provide the perfect excuse to just stop altogether. I know the touching/stimulation thing is a completely different context, but do you just get used to the sensation?

So has anyone avoided all nipple pain when breastfeeding? Is there anything I can be doing now to help? All and any advice will be gratefully received!

dannydyerismydad Sat 05-Apr-14 13:20:33

Sore, cracked and painful nipples is the reason most mums who struggle with breastfeeding decide to quit, but not everyone who breastfeeds suffers soreness and discomfort.

If the latch and positioning is good, it's very likely that you'll experience no pain at all. If the latch is good and there is pain, be persistent about getting tongue tie checked - it's incredibly common and many midwives and doctors are clueless when it comes to dealing with it.

Even pain free feeding mums can experience "let down pain", when the milk comes out - it's a brief episode of a pins and needles type sensation. It doesn't last for the whole feed and it stops after a few months.

It sounds like you've done some great research. There is loads of help out there - please make use of it.

FrankelandFilly Sat 05-Apr-14 13:22:06

Just bear in mind that despite your best efforts you may still end up with sore nipples. DD is almost 4 weeks old and I have a nasty crack in my left nipple due to a) poor latch in the first few days that midwives did not identify and b) a minor tongue tie. We've been advised to wait another week or two to see if DD out grows her TT but if not we will be getting it snipped.

If it's any consolation, although my nipple can be very painful it is only during the initial latch and if the breast is engorged. If I manage things carefully and make sure the breast never gets over-full and grit my teeth for the first 10-20 seconds of the latch then the pain quickly subsides.

My best advice is to get yourself to a breast feeding support group as soon as possible so you can make sure you are doing everything right.

FrankelandFilly Sat 05-Apr-14 13:26:06

I second what danny has said about tongue tie. The midwives in the hospital assured me DD didn't have one, but a TT specialist at my local BF support group says she has a mild posterior TT. On her advice I went to my GP with notes she had written up for me, only to have the GP tell me it was nothing to worry about and that I was basically making a fuss over nothing. He refused to refer her to the local hospital for it to be snipped so we have no choice but to go private now.

EasyCompadre Sat 05-Apr-14 14:05:15

Ah ok. So do you think it's best to try to get to a group pretty quickly even if it seems to be going well and ask specifically about tongue tie... Before the problems have chance to develop? Do you think there's a TT specialist at every support group?

Danny, I hadn't heard of let down pain, is that from the sensation of the baby suckling? I imagine that would probably be quite likely for me from the sounds of it, I find that my nipples are just so sensitive that it sets my teeth on edge to have them touched at all... DP knows not to go near haha.

It is reassuring to hear that there are steps you can take to manage the pain of sorts Frankel, and that it isn't painful all the way through a feed. You just hear the stories of so many women who are driven to sobbing and bleeding in pain, and I know that I wouldn't keep it up if it came to that, so I hope by being prepared I can avoid the worst case scenarios at least.

Thanks for the tips, I really want this to work!

FrankelandFilly Sat 05-Apr-14 14:18:48

There might not be a TT expert at your local BF support group, but they'd certainly be able to tell you about any local people that can help.

You're definitely doing the right thing in getting prepared, but don't do what I did and assume that preparation will mean you won't have any problems. I spent the first 2 weeks beating myself up that I was a failure for not being able to feed DD just like the books/web articles described. To a certain extent you do just have to "go with the flow" and take it one feed at a time.

The KellyMom website has been an invaluable resource for me! it has so many great articles and, so far, every problem I've encountered has been covered somewhere on the site.

TheScience Sat 05-Apr-14 14:22:07

I don't think I know anyone who didn't have any soreness in the first week or two, but if it is painful don't just put up with it - take the baby off and try again. Sometimes I have had to have 4 or 5 attempts at latching my newborns on to get a good latch but that is better than damaging your nipples.

dannydyerismydad Sat 05-Apr-14 14:28:54

You feel let down in your breasts rather than your nipples. A really helpful thing to remember is that it's breast feeding, not nipple feeding. Your nipples barely come into contact with the baby. When nipples make contact is when the problems start.

crikeybadger Sat 05-Apr-14 14:30:34

Groups can be useful but personally I would try and get the breastfeeding sorted before you leave hospital ( assuming you give birth there). Some midwives will be good at breastfeeding and tongue tie issues, but there is often a specialist in the hospital who you could ask to see.

You've done some good research and the important thing is to know where to get help and who to talk to.....don't forget the breastfeeding helplines can be useful as you may not be up for getting out the house early on.

If you've not seen it already, the biological nurturing website is worth a look. smile

TheScience Sat 05-Apr-14 14:32:49

IME and the experience of friends, you have to know that the infant feeding specialist exists and specifically ask to see them - midwives don't offer to get them for you even if you are having problems. Same with tongue tie - you need to ask for it to be checked for and also ask the person checking if they know what they are looking for.

MyNameIsAnAnagram Sat 05-Apr-14 15:22:27

I hate my nipples being messed with, but bfing is fine, I bfed ds1 till 18 m and am still bfing ds2 at 10m. I did get sore nipples a bit at first, but that soon passed once I got the latch right.

dannydyerismydad Sat 05-Apr-14 16:09:28

You can put very specific breastfeeding instructions on your birth plan, which can be really beneficial in some hospitals. Here are some suggestions. If you are serious about breastfeeding and make enough if a fuss, it's amazing the support they can rustle up, but they can be shockingly poor at offering it.

I plan to breastfeed my baby, and would like baby to be delivered onto my chest with immediate skin to skin after birth.

I do not give permission for my baby to receive formula top ups.

If breastfeeding is difficult to establish I would like assistance with hand expressing and syringe or cup feeding my baby.

I plan to remain in hospital on the postnatal ward until I am happy that breastfeeding is successfully established.

EasyCompadre Sun 06-Apr-14 08:38:14

Thank you so much for all of the great advice here. I'm going to print off this thread and try to remember through the new baby fog to have a read through of all the suggestions again to remind me in the first days. I've added those suggestions to my birth plan danny - they sound great. I'm not sure what the midwives are going to make of me and my plan... I've been practising hypnobirthing so there are some pretty direct (and maybe unusual) statements in there, I'm sure I'll be one that they secretly roll their eyes about wink

So would you say that good practice to follow would be that it's normal for it to feel uncomfortable for the first 10-20 seconds or so into the feed, but if it persists to take baby off and latch her on again? Would you still expect some nipple trauma even if the baby is latched badly only for 20 seconds or so?

whereisshe Sun 06-Apr-14 08:49:25

You sound very prepared, I would just add a few things:

- I know this is going to sound annoying (it annoyed me when I was pregnant) but honestly you'll be surprised and possibly amazed at your coping capacity with a baby, in this case ability to deal with a bit of nipple sensitivity pain early on. I hate having my nipples touched, and initially until they hardened up I had a few seconds of pain each time DD latched on, but lots of Lansinoh and just getting on with it worked. It should stop hurting fairly quickly at each feed though - the baby sucks the nipple right into their mouth then it isn't really getting any pressure on it.

- you can adjust the latch while the baby is still on the boob - hug them closer, shift them to be more in line with your body, move their shoulders, press lightly between their shoulder blades to get their head angled back etc. just don't manhandle their head, they really don't like it. I found that helpful because on and off the latch is what hurts early on.

EasyCompadre Sun 06-Apr-14 09:09:29

Not annoying at all whereisshe , in fact it's a really positive thing to hear, thank you.
So the first sign of a bad latch is that it hurts, or doesn't feel 'right'? Is it usually clear which way they need to be moved in order to improve the latch, or does this come with some practice/trying out the different tips you just listed?

When the latch is improved, how will I know? Just by how it feels? Obviously the literature and videos tell you to look for deep sucks and swallows, full cheeks, mouth full of breast tissue etc., but are there any warning signs that the latch isn't great and I'm going to end up with sore boobs afterwards?

Sorry, tons of questions there...

whereisshe Sun 06-Apr-14 10:34:01

The way I can tell if DD is latched on properly is from a couple of things.

- There is no slurping noise, because she's made a proper vacuum.

- I can't feel more than a tickle on my nipple, because it's on her soft palate. Initially when she was newborn it really hurt while she latched on but that went away v quickly (only a few seconds).

- She gets satisfied in a sensible amount of time. This is difficult to quantify - newborns vary a lot in terms of how long they feed for and how often (DD fed 20x a day for about 10 mins each feed to start with), but if your baby seems to be on the boob for hours on end when they're newborn maybe get a bf support person to check your latch.

- And she's not suffocatingly pressed up against my boob, she's kind of under it looking up - baby noses are designed to allow them to breathe out the sides so you don't need to worry about smothering them but if their chins are down they can't swallow properly, hence the "nose to nipple" thing - it makes them look up.

I just wiggle her around a bit until she seems like she's in the right place. I don't think it's a precise science! Try different things and see what works for you would be my advice.

The most useful thing my midwife showed my was gentle pressure between her shoulder blades to tip her on her side more and angle her chin up. I also used to make a big pile of cushions next to me and one on my lap and lay her on that - I could hands free breast feed when she was tiny as she didn't move once she latched on!

If you get a good start all of this is easier - the more skin to skin you have straight after the birth and the less stress you have around you immediately after, the easier establishing feeding is (I knew this intellectually but the instinct to feed surprised me, follow your gut feel). So unless there is a problem just hold your baby for as long as possible after the birth and feed when they rootle for nipple. It's quite lovely, the first feed.

Writerwannabe83 Sun 06-Apr-14 13:54:32

Lasinoh nipple cream is my saviour!!

I apply it religiously, frequently and excessively! It's expensive stuff but I try to ignore that when I'm ordering tube after tube smile

Your nipples will be sore for the first few weeks as they learn to adapt to a baby munching around them but it does get better. My baby is 16 days old and even now when he latches on I get a sharp pain for about 5 seconds whilst he gets that initial suction but then it eases off. As long as it isn't painful during the feed then everything should go smoothly.

I was warned by various people about how sensitive to the touch my nipples would be until they 'hardened up' and boy how right they were. Up until about 2 days ago having anything touch them, even clothing was so, so uncomfortable. It was not fun when DS tried to grab them whilst latching on!!

But, things have settled now and he can grab them as much as he likes and they no longer feel sore.

Establishing breast feeding can be painful and draining but worth it in the end!!

Good luck with your birth!!

fish88 Sun 06-Apr-14 22:20:27

You may not experience any nipple pain at all. I didn't like having them touched and they became really sensitive during pregnancy but didn't get sore when breastfeeding. I never even needed to apply nipple cream and the full tube is still sat in ny bedside drawer.

The only discomfort I did get was from the letdown and as others have said, this is more of a breast pain than nipple pain. It kind if felt like my whole breast was being squeezed but only lasted for a few sucks.

Good luck with the new arrival and hope breastfeeding goes smoothly for you.

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