Nipple Discussion

Nipple Discussion

Breastfeeding Tips and Support

WRITTEN BY SARAH DAVISBIRTH AND POSTPARTUM DOULA, BELLY BINDINGPLACENTA SPECIALIST

In the recovery room, my baby fussed at the breast, my tired body tight with tension.

Thankfully, the Lactation Counselor walked in. “I’m having trouble getting her to latch.” Briskly, the Lactation Counselor grabbed my boob, without as much as a hello, and attempted to shove it in my baby’s mouth.

I felt even more stressed by this woman invading my new mom space, but even worse, her hands smelled like crap. Yep, her hands on my breast and my baby smelled like poop. After a while she was able to get the baby latched, but it was so painful, like I was going to claw the ceiling painful.

The baby popped off the nipple, again and again. Eventually, the consultant whipped out a nipple shield, a silicone nipple, and put it over my own nipple. Finally, it seemed my baby could latch and nurse. I continued to use the nipple shield for the next three months until my shy, flat nipple came out.

While I wish the support I had in the beginning had come in a better form than the poop-hand Lactation Counselor, I was glad to have had some assistance. With the right information and support, you and your baby can have a nursing relationship, and better yet, it can be a great one.

Here are some quick tips to help your nursing relationship with your baby. 

Does nursing hurt?

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Nope! It doesn’t have to hurt, but it may hurt a little. Many people will tell you, your nipples need to be “toughened” and until they do, there will be pain. This is a myth. If you have a proper latch - meaning the baby can pull the nipple forward and up to the roof of their mouth, with their lips puckered out and not pinching - then you are off to a wonderful start. However, if you are experiencing pain in nursing, there could be some contributing factors.

What if it hurts to nurse?

There can be many reasons why there is pain. Some of the most common reasons can be found below:

A POOR LATCH

It takes practice and understanding of what a “good latch” looks and feels like to get it right. When the baby isn’t latched right, the nipple often looks “pinched” after nursing.

THE BABY’S POSITION 

Sometimes when we hold the baby it can be at an angle that is difficult for them to get a mouth full. Another factor to remember is to bring the baby to you; don't hunch over or lower your chest to meet the baby. Keep your baby's ear, shoulder and hip in alignment while you are feeding to help keep tugging to a minimum. 

ENGORGEMENT

When your milk comes in, it is often several times more than what the baby can actually drink. The breasts can swell and harden making the nipples shorter. It can be more difficult to  achieve a good latch with engorgement. It may be helpful to express your breasts a bit to soften them and get a deeper latch. 

NIPPLE SHAPE

Nipple shape can cause pain due to creating a poor latch or even due to the difficulty the baby may have in draining the breast.

How Nipple Shape Can Affect Nursing

Just as breast come in all shapes and sizes, so do nipples. Nipples are an important factor in a good latch. Many first-time moms struggle with a flat nipple.

FLAT NIPPLE

A nipple that is “shorter” and not able to be pulled all the way into a proper latch. This can be frustrating, but luckily there are some things that can aid you in nursing with a flat nipple.

  • Rub or gently pinch your nipple to protrude more.
  • “Nipple Nudge” - Use your index finger to push up the breast at the bottom of the areola. This will push the nipple out.
  • A nipple shield may help, but it should only be used with the guidance of a Certified Lactation Consultant or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. 
  • Watch out for engorgement, this can make it seem like you have a flat nipple when in reality the breast are too full for the baby to latch.

INVERTED NIPPLE

This is a nipple that is “tucked in” verses sticking out. To aid you in nursing with an inverted nipple there are some tips and tools that can help.

  • Try to use your hand to gently pluck or manipulate the nipple out.
  • Ask your care provider or CLC or IBCLC for information on commercial devices to pull out the nipple.
  • Pumping before you nurse can also help the nipple come out. 

Eat Cookies! (Lactation Cookies that is)

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Use this recipe to make some quite tasty lactation cookies and reap the benefits of the ingredients while enjoying the yummy taste. 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1  cup butter  
  • 1  cup sugar  
  • 1  cup  firmly packed brown sugar  
  • 4  tablespoons water  
  • 2  tablespoons flax seed meal  
  • 2   eggs  
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla  
  • 2  cups flour  
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda  
  • 1  teaspoon salt  
  • 3  cups oats  
  • 1  cup chocolate chips  
  • 2 -4  tablespoons brewer's yeast

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
  4. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
  6. Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
  8. Stir in oats and chips.
  9. Scoop onto baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 12 minutes.
  11. Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.

Eat and enjoy!

More Help

Breastfeeding Made Simple is a wonderful resource for nursing mothers or moms preparing to nurse. Always remember - never give up nursing on a bad day! Throw together a batch of lactation cookies (because cookies!), find support and get the help you need to have the best breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.