Breastfeeding journey has a few bumps along the road especially for a new or a first-time mum. Initially, breastfeeding road is full of engorgement pains, latching problems, constant worry to make sure that the baby is getting enough along with postpartum recovery and taking care of a newborn. Bleeding is also something that can happen and it’s not normal. If your nipples are bleeding during breastfeeding then it’s a sign of a problem. Here are 7 reasons why nipples bleed during breastfeeding:
1. Improper Positioning or Latching:
This is number 1 reason for all the breastfeeding problems that mothers face in their breastfeeding journey. A baby should take in the full areola into the mouth and not just the nipple while feeding. You should also check for other signs of proper latching like you hear swallowing noises and not smacking/clicking, you can see baby’s tongue if you pull down lower lip slightly, baby’s chin is touching your breast, his ears are wiggling etc. Do contact a lactation consultant if you feel that the baby doesn’t seem satisfied after feedings and you are in discomfort/pain while feeding.
The way you are sitting and positioning yourself and the baby also plays a role in proper latching. You need to make sure that the baby is tucked close to you, his tummy is touching yours, you are supporting his head etc. Bring the chin of the baby to the breast first and not the mouth, this is the best way to let the baby self-latch.
2. Waiting till the baby is Overly Hungry:
When the baby is very hungry, he will aggressively suck the nipples leading to damage. It’s better that you feed the baby every 3-4 hours (more in daytime and less in night time). If the baby is eating frequently, there is less chance of a baby sucking the nipple ravenously during feedings.
3. Using Breast Pump Incorrectly:
It’s very important that you read the instructions on the breast pump correctly before proceeding to use it. Also, if you are using electric breast pump then make sure that you don’t use it on the highest setting and instead, work with the lowest and increase the settings gradually.
4. Baby Has Thrush:
Thrush is a yeast infection in babies which can affect both baby’s mouth and mother’s nipples. It is basically characterized by white or yellow patches on baby’s tongue or inside baby’s mouth or on your nipples. Your doctor will recommend appropriate creams/medications depending on the condition and you would also have to take one so that you and your baby don’t transfer infection back and forth.
5. Dry and Cracked Nippular Skin:
Breastfeeding can cause severe dry skin due to two reasons. One is because your skin is stretching a lot and your boobs grow in size. This may lead to some cracking of the skin from the inside and hence result in dryness. The second reason of dryness is because of baby’s saliva. Making sure that you apply organic coconut oil or lanolin cream after properly drying the area surrounding the nipples can help prevent any bleeding.
6. Baby is tongue-tied:
If a baby is tongue tied, she will not be able to suck the milk out properly and instead will rub her hard palate as she sucks resulting in a lot of damage and pain. If you are experiencing continuous difficulty during breastfeeding or feel that the baby seems unsatisfied and fussy then do check with your doctor. A little procedure called frenectomy is done on all tongue tied babies to help with this problem.
7. Flat or Inverted Nipples:
Mothers who have flat or inverted nipples might face several problems during breastfeeding. Stimulation, using nipples shields, pulling back on the areola can help some mothers. But, the degree and extent of inversion varies in all women, so it’s better that you consult a lactation consultant frequently to combat this issue.
Remember, that you shouldn’t refrain from feeding if your nipples bleed. A little blood in your feeding sessions will not harm the baby at all.
If your nipples continue to hurt or bleed after 24-48 hours it’s best that you contact your doctor as it might point towards a bacterial or yeast infection.
Have we missed out on any other reasons on why nipples bleed during breastfeeding? Make sure that you mention it in the Comments section below. We will add it to our list.