There are a lot of truths about breastfeeding that we don't talk about. Nipple blisters and cracks are a couple of those things.

The truth about breastfeeding: Nipple blisters and cracks

You’ve just given birth. It’s entirely likely that you’re struggling to cough without being in immense pain or that you’re unable to pee without using a Peri-bottle to clean up.

Everything below your rib cage has been stretched out, torn up, and is inflicting a whole new sensation of pain that you’ve never experienced before.

Everything above your ribcage may be feeling a little tender at the moment, but the potential for pain that far surpasses anything during childbirth (thanks, Oxytocin) is lingering close by.

Pain in childbirth: we all know about that. We talk about it freely. We see it in movies. However, nobody talks about the pain you might feel after childbirth. Healing from birth, uterine contractions, and hip pains are often present once you’ve delivered baby, but what about breastfeeding?

First things first, this post is not meant to deter you from breastfeeding. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. This post is simply meant to prepare you for possible outcomes and how to prevent them!

I breastfed four babies for a total of many years, and I experienced a gamete of complications from blisters, to blocked ducts, to mastitis. My least favourite of all those experiences was cracked, blistered nipples, so that’s what we’re going to chat about here!

There are a lot of truths about breastfeeding that we don't talk about. Nipple blisters and cracks are a couple of those things.

First of all, this is a big, huge, massive reminder:

THIS IS A LEARNING PROCESS. You and your baby are learning how to breastfeed. Try to take a deep breath and give yourself grace and patience.

Okay, onto scary nipple blister talk.

A nipple blister is on the nipple or areola and is usually caused by a latch that is not quite correct. When baby’s mouth is not covering the correct amount of area on the areola their tongue and roof of their mouth pinches the nipple causing a blister. Cracks are developed the same way.

These nipple blisters and cracking can be no thang for some folks, but for others (like your old pal here) it can be absolutely excruciating.

Here are some steps for if you’re experiencing pain caused by nipple blisters and cracks:

(Hey, big ol’ P.S. here: I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. This is me sharing my experience and course of action for nipple blisters.)

  1. Keep breastfeeding. This will pass.
  2. Make sure you have a proper latch. This is a great video on how to get that latch. If you’re still struggling to get comfortable contact your local La Leche League, public health unit, or lactation consultant.
  3. Don’t pop that blister. It’s tempting, I know, but it’ll hurt a lot more in the long run. It’s best to leave it be. Plus, it probably looks pretty gnarly, so whenever your partner is complaining about ANYTHING you can just whip it out. You’ll be surprised how quickly the whining stops.
  4. Take a breastfeeding friendly pain relief medication. Goodness gracious, you’ve been through a lot. A little relief you deserve!
  5. Try different positions. Lay down. Football hold. Cradle hold. You may find some comfort in a different position as there won’t be so much friction on just one side.
  6. Go topless. Perhaps it’s wise to not do this in public, but when you’re at home try and get as much air to your nipples as possible. Also, when you’re done nursing express some breastmilk and let it dry on the nipple blister.
  7. If you’re concerned or the blister won’t go away go see your doctor. You have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your babe.

I’ll tell ya: this can be a real mental challenge. I remember giving myself pep talks before nursing my baby when I had cracked, blistered nipples. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to demand sympathy from anyone and everyone around you. (P.S. Feel free to message me on Facebook anytime with this request. I will happily offer you some commiseration.)

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