Blood Blister on Sore, Cracked Nipple

Updated on November 27, 2012
K.G. asks from Los Angeles, CA
9 answers

I breast fed my now 3 yo daughter exclusively for 15 months w/out any real problems. I did panic from time to time about producing enough reserve to keep up while at work, but it all worked out. I'm now exclusively breast feeding my 17 day old son and it's been a challenge. I know every baby is different...but I'm feeling really frustrated.

I had a c-section and was able to do skin on skin as soon as I got to recovery. I have inverted nipples, but he latched on right away and I was able to express colostrum earlier than I remember with my first. But over the next two days while in the hospital he seemed to get increasingly frustrated while trying to latch on. After a few false starts at each feeding, we would eventually get there. I felt like he was only happy if he was on the boob, but the nurse said that he should be on there that long or that often so my husband and I took turns just holding him to comfort and he settled down. I met with a lactation consultant in the hospital who assured me we were off to a good start and just to remain patient and keep doing what I was doing.

In the first 2-3 days at home, he would sleep long stretches of 3-5 hours which seemed nice...until my milk came in and I got really engorged. He would wake starving and was really aggressive at the boob.

I met with another lactation consultant on day 6 just to check-in. She looked at my nipples, suggested we not go longer than 3 hrs between feedings and showed me a proper football hold (I was always successful w/ the cradle hold). Again, I thought we were on the right track. Within 2 days, I had very sore, cracked, raw nipples. I've been nursing through it starting first on the least sore side, pumping to relieve any engorgement and I've bought every product I could find...lansinoh, reusable cotton breast pads, breast shells and the hydro gel pads. Any relief I get is short lived. Every feeding starts with my stomping the floor and tears before we sometimes settle into a tolerable groove. But it is never 100% pain free. I met with another lactation consultant at 14 days and she gave me the right size shells and said to use for a max of 30 min between feedings. She suggested I pump for a couple days on the worst side to accelerate the healing and to change positions with every feeding and even during feedings to avoid him going back to the same sore spot. I try to twist, turn, pinch the nipple during feedings which helps minimize pain and hopefully not make it worse. He just has a very strong suck. When he's done my nipple looks like a duck bill (sort of flattened). He can get my areola in his mouth, but he doesn't open his mouth as wide as I know he can (like when he yawns or cries).

After about 3 days of pumping on the bad side, I returned to it pain free and felt optimistic. But after the first few feedings, it became sore again and now I have a blood blister. The "better" one is very tender and there's still a raw spot that hasn't healed. I feel like the damage is done and anything I do now is only going to make it worse. I'm trying to get to 4 weeks before I introduce the bottle but I honestly don't know how much longer I can go. I also have a breast shield (rubber nipple cover) that the consultant said to save as a last resort. I'm almost there. I'm going to try and see someone tomorrow. Otherwise, it will be Monday before I can get back in. I can't even put into words how frustrated I am - I want nothing more than to give this to my baby. I would nurse all day, every day if I could. I'm really sad about it and am hopeful it will get better. I just don't know when/how at this point.

Any other suggestions? Common experiences? Will it get better?

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answers from Las Vegas on

Something similar happened to me and I remember it being an issue of the way we were latching on, as LL&LI states.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I've been there! Three kids...first wouldn't breastfeed, 2nd no problems, 3rd I had mastitis on one breast and a nipple blister on the other at the same time! The nipple blister takes forever to go a month! So many times I wanted to say screw it and give a bottle of formula but I hung in there and got it to work. I always have a lot of milk and I can see it spraying in their mouth. Those first 6 weeks I'd pump for a little bit and then put the baby on so he/she wasn't gagging. I think that was the problem with my first and no lactation consultant gave me that advice. I know you are frustrated and it's tough when your body is sore recovering from a c-section. I was so there! Each child was a different experience. Hang in there the best you can - once you get past the initial phase it's free sailing! But if you just reach a point that you want to grab that it. You are going through so much mentally & physically and it is whatever works for YOU and YOUR BABY. I wish you the best and I hope it gets better!!!



answers from Honolulu on

It seems like, that when you started to use the football hold, that that is when you started to have problems?
Maybe that isn't the correct position for you/your son.

Usually, sore/cracked nipples are from an improper latch.
Maybe also, the pumping is hard on your nipples?

Both my kids had super strong latches. But I never got injured from it or lesions on my nipples or sore.

Also, when showering, DO NOT put soap on your nipples or rub it. Doing that will only make it worse and dry out the skin and make the lesions worse. Just rinse, with warm water. Letting the water run down you.



answers from Los Angeles on

I had similar experiences with my first son who I ultimately ended up nursing for 13 months. He was tongue tied - we got his frenulum clipped and that helped a bit but didn't take care of all the problems. I have inverted nipples as well which was also part of the problem. I have to laugh - seems like with you and I felt it with me at the time that the universe was simply conspiring against me nursing him. But I persisted.

It took 8 weeks but after that I think my nipples simply became used to the way that he latched and toughened up. I am currently nursing a new infant that is 5 weeks old and have had similar problems with him but am starting to toughen up again with him as well.

It sounds to me like you're doing everything that you can do. With me I just had to grit my teeth and bear it until the two month mark and then suddenly everything was okay. I also agree with the responder who said our own breast milk is the best healer. I also have lived in those hydro gel pads which I know you've tried. I currently am also using a product called Motherlove nipple cream which I like better than Lasinoah but it's the same idea.

Good luck.



answers from Harrisburg on

I can understand what you are going through as a mother but its not your fault and it 's something not in your control so relax...i would suggest go to urgent care and dont wait till monday as it might be infection. You can also apply your own milk or madela's nipple cream...



answers from San Francisco on

Congrats on your new baby! I know how painful it is. The best thing you can do is express breastmilk and put it directly on the whole nipple, areola and then let it air dry. Do it as often as you can and keep your nips open to the air as much as possible for the next few days. It will get better-breastmilk helps heal so many things~!

As far as feeding your baby. Are you bringing your baby TO your nipple or are you bringing yourself to your baby. It is so important to bring your baby to your nipple, nudge baby's upper lip and express some milk so baby gets the smell of your milk. Then baby will open up really wide---quickly bring baby to breast super fast and get as much breast in his mouth as possible. You will ensure a great latch that way and you won't have to worry about him being on the blister---

Start with the better breast and then switch to the sore one. Then next feeding, start with sore one and so on....The more milk you put on your breast, the better and faster it will heal. Hang in there and if you can avoid the bottle, your baby will have a better chance at a good breastfeeding relationship. If you want to pm me, I can help more or explain things better. Good luck



answers from Los Angeles on

USE THE NIPPLE SHIELD. I don't know why lactation consultants say to use it as a last resort. It was the magic wand that cured issues with both of my kids breastfeeding. I used the Medela one that is silicone. In both cases, I was about to give up breastfeeding after week 1, I was in so much pain, and was so miserable. With the first, it was a poor latch. With the second, it was just that I started out bruised after she could only be calmed in the first 2 days by being on the breast, which went from sore to immediately cracked, bleeding, blistered. With the nipple shield, a baby who doesn't know how to latch, gets to latch more easily. I also had a "flat" nipple, not inverted, but still hard to latch on to. With the shield, it draws your nipple out making it easier to latch. Also, your nipple is protected from their gums, their saliva, and any latching issues.
I know that lactation consultants worry about "nipple confusion" and having difficulties weaning off of the nipple shield, but in both cases in my experience, one day after about a month of using the shield, I just tried to nurse without one, and they just latched with no issues, no more pain, no problems. The month or so was enough time for their mouths to grow a little, my supply to regulate a bit, my nipples to draw out, and HEAL!
Also, in parallel, I started to pump in between feedings to build up my supply, and to have my husband be able to take a feeding once in a while. With both kids, we introduced the bottle right away. I had the Medela Pump in Style, and I felt it was gentler on me than my kids were nursing which also allowed me to heal after that brutal first few weeks. My kids never had "nipple confusion" issues accepting bottle or breast. I will say, my first only nursed for about 4 months (until I went back to work and couldn't pump enough), and my second only nursed for about 9 months when she could demand something different! But definitely in neither case were the durations impacted by using the nipple shield in the first month.
I also had one side that was damaged worse than the other. I tried to mostly pump on that side until it had a chance to heal, or at least catch up. Really, the shields were amazing. Use it! :-)
One other thing to add: for my second, my lactation consultant showed me the "Brest Friend" nursing pillow. It's kind of like a Boppy pillow, but it attaches around your waist with a clip so it doesn't slip away from you. It's flat on top, except for a little bump that lifts baby's head so she's perfectly positioned for football, cradle, cross-arm, etc. I LOVED this pillow. I could even walk around with my daughter nursing on the pillow, it was so stable. Sorry to sound so much like a commercial, I just had such a good nursing experience with my second after such a rough start, and the nipple shield and the nursing pillow were 2 products that really made a huge difference to it being a positive experience.
If you try these things and it still isn't working, don't beat yourself up too much about giving up. There are many things that you'll give to your baby. And you can do things to make formula feeding a special bonding experience too. The best mom is a sane, happy mom - not necessarily one who bleeds in order to provide human milk.



answers from Los Angeles on

Has anyone checked his mouth to make sure he isn't tongue tied? Both my girls were tongue tied and with my second she tried to suck so hard it cause bleeding and cracked nipples within a day of her being born. One great way to heal your cracked nipples is to express milk, put it on your sore area and let it air dry, do that as often as you can through out the day. The antibiotic properties in your milk is better than any cream you can buy. As soon as my baby's frenulum was snipped, no more problem latching on and no more sore nipples! Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

First congrats on your baby! Second, you are not alone. I too went through the same thing, I was a high risk pregnancy when I had my son and had to have a c-section. I tried with all my might to breastfeed but it just wasn't in the cards for us. We were fine the first 2 days we were in the hospital (we were in the hospital for 6 days so I had lots of help from nurses and consultants) but after that it went down hill fast for us. I too had the sore, bleeding, blistered nipples and the pain was horrible. I saw many lactation consultants and we tried every position you could think of and all the ways to get my son to open his mouth bigger and it just wasn't working. They suggested I only pump and feed my son through a bottle which I tried, but there was so much damage to my nipples that I was pumping more blood than milk. This is gross, but it looked like cranberry juice not breast milk. I started to dread pumping and feedings, crying and just hating it. It wasn't a bonding experience at all for me and my son so I had to make the decision at 3 weeks old to go just bottle- at that point even the lactation consultant agreed that because there was so much blood my son couldn't drink the milk I was pumping. It was hard, but in the end, for us, it was better. Feeding and snuggling with him was enjoyable at that point and not this dreaded ordeal that made me frustrated and upset. I'm sorry that you are going through this and I hope that it gets better for you. Hang in there, and like Mindy said, if you feel the need to reach for the bottle, do it. If you are tense and upset and in pain while feeding, I believe the baby feels that too and it's no longer the bonding time that it should be with your little one. Good luck to you!
Take Care,

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