Breastfeeding, or sometimes referred to as nursing your infants can be a reason of various changes in your body especially in your boobs. Feeding your babies by your breast milk is the best for them to get the nutrients they need in their early weeks in the world. However, no matter how good it is for you and your little one, this might be hard for you, particularly for your nipples as it has its own changes too.
In most cases, nipples start its change during pregnancy — when it becomes larger and more sensitive than the usual. This size continues until you have given birth, until the nursing of your baby. Breastfeeding may cause babies to suck and create pressure which results to the pain in that area of your upper body since nursing your babies can take up to about an hour, and your baby eats for a maximum of 113 times per day.
Aside from the enlargement which you can get at the beginning of your pregnancy, listed below is the other changes in which breastfeeding might have affect your nipples.
- It changes colour. There are cases where your nipples turn white as your baby finishes eating. This is discoloration is referred as blanching which may indicate that your little one is not latching well and may cut off blood supply to your nipple too. This cutting of blood supply is called vasospasm. In most cases, vasospasm is experienced together with burning, stinging, or shooting pain. Vasospasm can be fixed by fixing the latching however there are cases that the vasospasm is a symptom of another disease which is called Reynaud’s diseases which does not have any relation to breastfeeding. Oftentimes, vasospasm is misdiagnosed to thrust since they are reported to have similar symptoms.
- It can get very sore. Soreness can be a cause of different factors but mainly is because of the position of your infants while you are feeding them. The most common position most babies do when they are eating is when they look like a fish. This position is having your baby fully facing your breast while their lips are pursed around your areola. Other positions not like this one could result to a bad latch. When your infant is in a bad position while you breastfeed them, this could make you feel like your little one is pinching or biting your nipple.
- Cracks and bleeds. Aside from being sore, your nipples could crack or bleed. As some would say that this is some side effects of breastfeeding, it is actually not. This is also a result of a bad latching of your little one. Cracking or bleeding is never an option if your babies are positioned well while nursing them. If cracking or bleeding occurs, seeking a lactation consultant would be very helpful.
- It could get very sensitive. A woman’s nipple has always been sensitive but it becomes way more sensitive when you start on breastfeeding your baby. This happens because they need to pick up on your baby feeding in order to trigger the hormones which promotes lactation. One hormone is called prolactin which is known to increase when the baby is breastfeeding and causes your body to milk. Another is called oxytocin which functions as the stopper of your milk production at the time. Above all, the constant contact of your nipples and your baby’s mouth or the breast pump adds to the sensitivity levels of your nipples.
- It could become “lipstick” nipple. In some cases, the nipples may become slanted similar to a tube of lipstick after the baby has sucked your nipples for milk. This is due to the lack of depth in your baby’s latching. This is not painful, but is still a subject for concern. As reported, this could be the cause of lack of milk supply in the long run.
- Presence of blisters. The blisters in your nipples that is caused by breast feeding is called milk blisters or is often called blebs can appear to be white, yellow, or clear and could like a pimple on top of your nipples. This usually happens when there is a little skin grows over on the opening of your milk duct causing the milk to back up behind it. This could potentially lead to mastitis which is an infection on the breasts. These blisters could be treated with warm washcloths and a saline solution. In case it does not get away, see a doctor for proper treatment.
- Possibility of getting a yeast infection. Yeast infection might be common if this happens in your vaginas but it is different when it happens in your nipples. Yes, yeast infection could possible happen in your nipples and areola when you are breastfeeding. This is due to the fact that fungi which cause yeast infection live not only in vagina but also in other moist parts of the body such as nipples, areola, and an infant’s mouth. The result of this, which is the yeast infection may cause the nipples to feel dry and an extreme sensation of painful burning and itching may occur. In order to treat these, antifungal creams or other forms of medication are to be given by your doctor.
- Bigger than usual. It is rare for women to have a truly inverted nipple but some are blessed with flat or slightly inverted nipples which only get drawn out once the baby latches on it and starts feeding. When this happens, your nipples are not growing, instead they are just getting drawn out and will likely stay in their new position which may make it look bigger than the usual.
- The bumps in the areola have become more visible. These bumps on your areola or around your nipples are referred to as Montgomery glands which secrete sebum to help keep your nipples and areola nice and moisturized. These glands may become even more prominent during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Your nipples may appear droopy. This effect of breastfeeding is the most problem of all breastfeeding moms since this lasts for a lifetime. Because of breastfeeding, your nipples may look droopy or settled way lower than they were before you started nursing your little one.
These effects may be unpleasant to look at but always remember that you were able to feed your baby. These results of breastfeeding should not be a hindrance for you to let your infant have the nutrients he or she has to have by breast milk.