C.H. asks from Portland, OR on May 30, 2010
My four month old bit my nipple so hard yesterday morning that he broke the skin! It hurts so bad I haven't been able to nurse him on that side very much since. I've read all the advice on someone else's posted question for how to deal with nipple biting, but what do I do about my boob? What should I be on the lookout for: if I can't nurse him on this side for a couple of days is it going to dry up? Should I start trying to introduce formula? I'm afraid that this is the beginning of the end for breastfeeding, and while I wanted to do this for a year or more, I feel like the couple of days healing time it will take for my nipple to get better might cause a downward spiral and royally screw things up for us. I'm off to put some lanolin on it...got any other advice?
So What Happened?™
Thanks to everyone for your responses. I was going to follow the advice and pump, but yesterday things got hectic and I didn't have time. It'll happen today. He seems to have stopped trying to bite me, although now he's using his teeth as part of the nursing process, which is now making the other nipple irritated. I have successfully nursed him on the wounded side...he pretty much insisted a few times and I think he knew he was missing something because the other breast was probably tapped out. Anyway, we're working through it and I'm hoping to heal up quickly. I am not introducing formula and I have high hopes that everything will get better. Your stories helped a bunch.
P.G. answers from Dallas on May 30, 2010
Put some breast milk on the sore when you nurse, and also try a different angle to nurse - there's something called the "football" position where the baby is under your arm, against your side instead of in front of you. This could place the teeth in a different position that doesn't aggrivate the area. Don't know if a bandaid is possible (LOL) - you don't want the little one to choke on it, but if it's big enough for you to hold on to it while you nurse so it doesn't come off, and it doesn't interfere with the nipple, that might help. I know they make some swim bandaids that stick VERY close to the skin and don't come off easy. Hope that helps!
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S.B. answers from Redding on May 30, 2010
You poor thing. Trust me, I know how much this hurts! Their little teeth are like razors.
The first time my son bit me, I just about went throught the ceiling.
It was pretty bad. My mom told me that when a baby starts to bite, it's time to be done with nursing, but I didn't feel ready to give it up just yet.
Give yourself a couple of days of healing time and just nurse on the other side. That's what I did. I kept my sore breast exposed to the air as much as possible so it could heal more quickly.
The trick is, even this young, is if the baby bites or begins to, unlatch and lay the baby down for a few minutes. He may cry, but that's okay. Then, give it another try. If it happens again, take the breast away and give him a teething ring to chomp on for a few minutes and offer the breast again.
Believe it or not, they really do get it figured out that mommy isn't a chew toy. Often, my son was perfectly happy with a teething ring because he wasn't really interested in nursing right that minute anyway. He wanted something to bite down on and it wasn't going to be me!
At 4 months saying NO or DON'T BITE won't really register, but taking the breast away and offering something to bite on will. If they're truly hungry, they realize they won't get any milk out of the teething toy, and believe me, fussing a bit won't hurt your baby.
I went from knowing I might have to stop nursing if one of my nipples had to get stitched back on to happily nursing my son for 15 months.
I wish you the best and hope you're feeling better soon!
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A.Z. answers from Portland on May 31, 2010
I had a cracked nipple and can tell you the best solution for a healing nipple is to pump as much as possible in order to keep the supply access to the nipple. Make sure you put a little expressed milk on the bite too! It will help speed up the healing. Depending on how severe, it may take more like a week to heal. As soon as you can get baby back on that side, do so at least once or twice a day as only a baby can properly and fully drain your breast. The rest of the time pump. Many women, myself included find letting down and pumping fully is easiest when nursing on one side and pumping on the other at the same time. This will help avoid mastitis!
In regards to handling this. The best trick for me has been to watch them. The first sign they are going to bite down, pull them into your breast. This cuts off the airway for a second and forces them to open up their mouth to take a breath and let go. You can then take them off the breast and say something like - No Bite! Sternly and with a serious face. It takes some focus and concentration as instinct makes you want to pull them off instead. But, this method works because it forces them to let go so you aren't pulling and tearing your skin and it gives them a negative feeling/response that they quickly learn and understand (ie: if I bite down, I can't breathe and lose my milk, if I nurse properly, I get to continue nursing and get my milk).
Keep some nipple cream on it. I love Nipple Butter by Earth Mama Angel Baby. It keeps the skin soft and supple and it's completely edible. The other option is lanolin, which is great for the skin and sounds like you have on hand already. Keep it on and apply after every nursing/pumping to avoid dry calloused skin which will make healing more difficult!
Do not under any circumstance introduce formula. This will interfere and make it a struggle to regain or restart your milk supply. Your body will produce as long as there is enough demand. Your baby won't starve as you can give them the bottle of expressed milk if the one breast struggles to keep up with demand. In a couple of days, you will notice your supply increase as you will be nursing on one side at every feeding and pumping the other, essentially doubling the "demand" for milk. So you should be more than fine!
If you still struggle or can't seem to heal, contact your local la leche league for someone to look at your nipple and offer support. Sometimes stress or nerves can reduce supply and make it difficult to continue nursing as you cannot relax and letdown your milk.
J.R. answers from Phoenix on May 30, 2010
this happened to a women I met in La Leche League years ago. Her boy bit all the way through her nipple. OUCH OUCH OUCH....
Good news, the nipple and breast healed and grew back together and she continued to successfully nurse him for a couple of years. And she waited longer than a couple of days.
I would recommend to use very stern body language and very serious disapproving eye communication and a verbal warning not to do that again. And stay focused while baby is nursing the next few weeks to catch it. My babies would look at me and start to bite ever so gently. There was never just an outright bite attack. So I protected myself by watching them. They got the message and stopped.
H.S. answers from Portland on May 31, 2010
You can put an antibiotic ointment under lanolin. This is all I had to do to heal.
It is usually not recommended to clean nipples but in this case you do want to make sure they are clean and stay moist. If you can nurse on that side w/o too much pain then that is fine to do, but otherwise you can pump a little to relieve fullness for a day or so. I have also heard that gel packs give a lot of relief to a bitten nipple. It may be that he is just starting to teeth, or I would look at the other reasons he may have bitten you. I am sure he didn't mean to do it. It is not a reason to stop nursing, you are doing great.
B.D. answers from Seattle on May 31, 2010
I had this same issue when my daughter was breastfeeding. They have these really nice covers you can place over your nipple while it's healing and still be able to feed your baby. You can either get this through the store or through your local doctor. You can also try getting these cooling gel pads that are made specifically for your sore nipples. They really help. So sorry for the owies! Hope you feel better soon. :D
L.T. answers from Seattle on June 01, 2010
1. i found when my son bites me, and he has drwn blood a few times, that the more i can nusre from that nipple the quicker it will heal.
2. i also gave him a little formula when i first started nursing because he wasn't latching on right and both my boobs were raw and bloody and a lactation specialist helped me. that is how i learned about how supplement with the formula and keep pushing through when you can. it did take a little bit to catch up on milk production. i would give my son 2 oz then nurse him so that he wasn't so feverish in his nursing and he was more gentle.
hope this helps. have a great day
M.. answers from Cleveland on May 30, 2010
I went through this too. My child went through a stage of biting me for about a week before I was able to get her to stop. This does not have to be the end of breastfeeding for you. The side that your child bit will not dry up. Just keep feeding him on the other side and keep putting lanolin on the injured side. Also put a little expressed milk on the bad side to help it heal faster. When my daughter bit me, I would tell her NO and stop nursing her. That would make her very upset, but I didn't give in. About 20 minutes later I would allow her to nurse again, and she usually wouln't try to bite again. It took about a week, and the biting stopped completely. She was getting her first set of teeth at the time, so I knew she was only doing it because of the teething, and not to purposely hurt me. Just keep at it, 4 months is way to early to stop nursing in my opinion. Just keep at it and this will pass, I promise. You are doing the best thing you can for your son by nursing him. Don't throw in the towel just yet! I know how painful it can be, but hang in there!