Breast and Nipple Problems
I see many breast and nipple concerns on a daily basis. Although I am not a doctor, I can help point you in the right direction for who to see or what to do next.
Nipple Bleb/ Milk Bleb
Blebs may appear when breastfeeding and they can be completely normal. They may cause some discomfort. Some women have no discomfort and do not treat them. Many times, I recommend an Epsom salt soak to soften the area and eventually the bleb will clear.
Vasospasm when Breastfeeding or After
If you notice that the nipple or areola turns white during breastfeeding or after breastfeeding there may be an underlying cause. Some women are diagnosed with Raynauds Disease if this is a chronic issue. Sometimes women are started on medications to help with the vasospasms or are instructed from their providers to "warm their core" when nursing. Its good to wear layers, turn up the temp to around 72 degrees, and put blankets around your shoulders or waist to help with this.
In the beginning of your nursing journey you may feel that your nipples are "raw" and it is because skin on your nipples are not used to the friction and pulling every 1-3 hours on sensitive skin.
If you feel an uncomfortable pulling sensation that may be normal. If you feel a pinching or sharp/stinging pain please correct the latch and see what may be wrong. If you allow the feeding to continue, your tissue will be damaged and will need time for repair.
Mastitis may look slightly different for each woman. Mainly, mastitis will present itself with a fever of 100.4 or higher, chills, redness, warmth on the breast, red streaks across the breast or noticeable area of redness, and a hard clog of milk located inside the breast. At this point you should see your medical provider for antibiotics and make sure you remove the milk every 1-3 hours to feed to baby. Get plenty of rest, ask for help around the house. Drink fluids. Ice on breast for inflammation.
Yeast on nipples
Yeast on nipples may present itself differently than you would see yeast in the mouth such as thrush. Yeast on nipples may be a red or shiny nipple that has sharp, shooting pain when milk is removed, or the nipple is touched. See your medical provider for a special nipple ointment and keep nipples open to air whenever possible. Change your nipple pads a few times per day to keep your skin dry.
Clogged Milk Duct
Clogged milk ducts may cause pain or discomfort when removing milk or in between milk removal. If you are able to feed at the breast, point the baby's nose towards the problem area to draw more suction towards that spot. With this picture above, to get the nose pointed at 4pm you would need to possibly do laid- back nursing or cradle/cross cradle nursing.
If you have a pump, you may need to increase the suction and use vibration from a vibrating toothbrush and gentle massage to have the clog of milk release. It is ok for baby to drink the milk. Fun fact, its very rare to say baby can't drink human milk.