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Sore nipples - how long before it gets better?

(23 Posts)
SilverSixpence Sat 19-Jul-08 15:41:21

My baby is 8 days old, having 2 or 3 feeds (10-20 mins) then settling for 2 or 3 hours at a time. He's latching on fine as far as i can tell, i had two different midwives check it and they both said its ok. Unfortunately I'm getting agonising pain when he first latches on and starts sucking which gets bearable after a few seconds, and both nipples have got quite sore generally with a bit of bleeding in the past couple of days.

Altho i have read in lots of places that pain is only ever caused by a bad latch, i am convinced that he's latching on well and am just trying to get thru the sore nipple stage - how long did it take for others before it improved esp first timers? i am using lansinoh btw, not seeming to make a lot of difference. Also, can i give him the occasional bottle of EBM or is it too early/will it cause nipple confusion?

juuule Sat 19-Jul-08 15:58:32

I was usually starting to improve after the first week and things had usually settled by the end of the second week.
However, I have had this for up to 6 weeks-ish with one of mine.

My babies also latched well and I think it was mostly a case of nipples getting used to the baby feeding.

With my first baby I used nipple shields when it got too bad. It didn't cause any problems for the baby. I also used breast shells between feeds to help the air circulate.

Hopefully, you are past the worst now.

Dawnie6577 Sat 19-Jul-08 16:21:02

Hi SilverSixpence,
Unfortunately, I also had this up to 6 weeks with my DS, but he was feeding constantly for 6 hours every evening cos of colic. Feeds every 2 - 3 hours sounds ace for you (although pain is excruciating!)
I think if it goes after a few seconds, it is definitely just your nipples hardening up!
Try to air them as much as you can.
Believe me, this will pass and it is so worth it.

nickytwotimes Sat 19-Jul-08 16:24:37

Silver, I found it agonisingly painful but didn't have anywhere to go and ended up stopping. sad
I wish I'd been able to hear that it is common and does go away. I think after a few wekks it gets a lot better, from what others tell me anyway.
I didn't know about nipple sheilds (naive!) and wish I had. I know they are not ideal, but better than giving up the bf, especially when your lo is feeding so well.
Well done on getting this far. Hope it gets easier for you soon.

TettyLouBar Sat 19-Jul-08 21:14:33

Lasinoh, Lasinoh, Lasinoh, all the way, never really cracked or bled, just sore for first week. Slather the stuff on constantly, its wonderstuff!
Good luck chick

thehouseofmirth Sat 19-Jul-08 21:18:19

Might be worth having thrush ruled out by your HV. If you can, try and wait until your milk supply is established in a few week's time before expressing and offering a bottle.

funnypeculiar Sat 19-Jul-08 21:24:32

With ds (my first) I never had much pain - with dd (my second) lots of pain & cracks & bleeding - but as with you, was advised the latch was fine. Got much better after about 2-3 weeks - lots of wonderful lansinoh & getting air to them as much as possible.

It really helped that i knew I'd been ok with ds, so i knew that it would/could get better. Fingers crossed it calms down for you soon - & well done for keeping going, it's so worth it smile

SilverSixpence Sat 19-Jul-08 21:39:54

thanks everyone, pain is still intense to start with but seems a bit better once he gets going i'll be a bit more conscientious about putting on the lansinoh and see if that helps

elmoandella Sat 19-Jul-08 21:44:33

6 weeks here.

lasinoh worked wonders for my painfull nipples, but baby didn't like it.

Sufi Sat 19-Jul-08 21:44:44

Just one thing - the agonising pain that fades after latch is established could be something my mw called the 'ten second toe-curl' - quite painful, it's when the 'let down' happens. This particular pain does stop, I can't remember when, but I do know that there came I point where I stopped pulling faces after DS had latched on!!

As for the soreness, hang on in there, use the Lanisoh liberally, and just keep thinking 'this will get better'.

Personally, I'd hold off expressing as it didn't (for me) seem to ease the pain particularly, and nipple confusion can be an issue. Good luck, you're doing really well xx

jocesar Sat 19-Jul-08 21:51:50

My first baby is now 2 wks old and I am finding bf excruciatingly painful with sore nipples. The first 30 secs is agonising- lots of tears and swearing and sweating then the remainder of the feed is simply painful. I'm using loads of Lansinoh.

Have a question re nipple shields- is it ok to let the baby just suck on the plastic teat or are you meant to get him to take the areola aswell( which to me seems impossible as it is also covered in plastic)?

preggersplayspop Sat 19-Jul-08 21:55:45

I wish I had known that the 'ten second toe-curl' was common, I had terrible pain to start with - a hot wire being pulled through my nipples is the only way I can describe it!

I don't think it was all related to latch as I had been to a BF clinic within the first week to get help with latch. It probably lasted until 6 weeks for me as well in total. It was weird, one boob just suddenly became pain-free and then the other one a little while after that. Maybe it was partly latch or just my nipples getting tougher. The HV suggested I keep putting my DS to the breast as much as possible and when one boob was painful to try to start with that one before switching. I'm 14 months in now and have no plans to give up - it does get better, keep going and get as much help as you can. The breastfeeding clinic I went to was great.

juuule Sat 19-Jul-08 21:58:41

With the nipple shields I just tried to get as much in as possible. You can feel the suction when the latch is right.

iarel Sat 19-Jul-08 22:01:43

trust me, after a few weeks it will get better. expressing can sometimes agrivate the nipples so smear on some lanisoh afterwards. breats milk is a great healer, so put some on your nipples before and after a feed. also if you are home alone just let them air a bit

preggersplayspop Sat 19-Jul-08 22:03:40

The post from jocesar reminds me... The main problem I think I was getting with the latch which may have contributed to the pain I had was that my DS was not really taking as much of the areola into his mouth so was just sucking (hard!) on the end of the nipple. I sorted this out in the end by using my thumb to shove as much of the areola into his mouth when he opened it to latch on. Open....and shove! He just does this naturally now I guess. No thumbs involved now anyway! Good luck.

Ab31 Sat 19-Jul-08 22:26:53

I had cracked bleeding nipples too. It was excruceating when dd latched on and painful for the whole feed. Ultimately it was a combination of flat nipples, dd having a high palette and bad advice from the mw about the latch. I was told to aim the nipple directly into the mouth when in fact it should be pointing towards the roof of the babies mouth. Not doing so means that the tongue rubs the end of the nipple. Once they were very cracked and damaged I then got thrush so that's worth looking out for.

Got a lot of help and support from the Breastfeeding Network. See as many experts as you can as they have more time and inclination to help than many midwives. Just the support alone can really help as well as the practical advice.

For me it really started to get better at about 7 weeks - that sounds like forever when you're going through it but it really, really is worth it. At a low point at 5 weeks someone said to me "if you give up now you'll have suffered all the worst without experiencing the best" and they were absolutely right.

Good luck smile.

iarel Sat 19-Jul-08 22:33:06

had the same problem with my midwife. luckily my health visitor was great and sat with me till i got it right. even with the sore nipples i could feel the difference when DD latched on properly. which position are you feeding her? might make a difference as well

LadyBee Sat 19-Jul-08 23:39:10

I had the excruciating 10-sec toe curl as well, worse on my right side than my left. Felt like my nipple was attached by a too-short string to my chest wall and that string was being torn out when he latched. I think it lasted for about 6 weeks for me, but I also had bad cracking that took forever to heal. Nipple shields were what worked for me, in terms of getting through the pain, and also helping to draw out that nipple as it was quite a lot flatter than my left nipple. I actually used an antibacterial cream as well as lansinoh to heal the cracking - MW/HV kept on telling me just to use breastmilk but tbh I think the antibac cream was much more effective at promoting healing. I just wiped it off before feeding and it didn't trouble DS at all.
Oh, and I used Johnson's breast pads, I found them more cushiony and with the little nipple 'indent' they felt more comfortable on tender nips than others I tried.

SilverSixpence Mon 21-Jul-08 11:37:50

did anyone find that breast shells helped with healing? i bought them by mistake thinking they were nipple shields hmm but i am using them at the moment because it stops me or ds from pressing against nipples by accident and causing pain, and also allows air to get to them.

juuule Mon 21-Jul-08 11:50:19

The breast shells helped me a lot. I found that I didn't want to do without them in the early weeks.

mears Mon 21-Jul-08 12:06:04

Breast shells are useful for catching drip milk from the opposite breast when you are actually feeding. Beware wearing them all the time because they put pressure on the milk ducts which stops milk flowing and can cause masititis,

jocesar - you should not be experiencing pain throughout the whole feed - I would suggest your latch could be improved.

It is very common to have an initial latch on pain but it should be completely gone by the time you count to 10. If it is still sore, break the suction with your pinky and re attach.

Make sure the baby is positioned correctly with his/her head in a straight line - the neck should not be twisted eg baby on back with head turned to you. The body should be close to you. Support the neck and shoulders - do not hold the back of the head as the baby needs to be able to put his head back and stick out the chin as he/she goes to latch on. The baby's nose should be opposite your nipple so that the baby will reach up and take a good mouthful of breast. The chin should be right up against the breast and tha baby's cheeks should be rounded throughout the whole feed. The baby initially will make short fast sucks but that should change into deeper sucks with swallowing with every suck. Usually you can see more of the areola at the top of the nipple than you can at the bottom and the bottom lip is curled back (difficult to see).

Beware of nipple shields too because they do not correct the latching problem and they make feeds a lot longer. They can also reduce milk production by up to 40%. The baby can also refuse to feed without them which is restrictive.

When I had painful nipples, I found they were better in 10-14 days.

foxythesnowfox Mon 21-Jul-08 12:15:34

another vote for breast shells. When using pads I found they, um, peeled away the healed bit (OK, scab) the shells kept fabric away from them and let the air circulate. Definately worth a try.

I also found the intial latch and let-down toe-curlingly painful, but it stopped after a few seconds. Its happened with all 4 of my DCs, and it stopped within a couple of weeks. I don't know why it happened, it just did. I had my latch checked, and I know others who experienced the same. If the pain doesn't ease after the first few seconds, however, you might want to check for other causes such as thrush.

Things change and ease up a bit at about 6 weeks. I'd say go with the baby's flow until then, and don't try to do much smile

foxythesnowfox Mon 21-Jul-08 12:17:15

oh, and there are two sorts of breast shells. One has holes in the top to aid healing (don't bend over with these in! grin) and the others without holes which can be sterilised and used to collect milk to use.

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