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Everything you need to know about breastfeeding cracks

Choosing breastfeeding to feed your infant can be difficult to make, apply and maintain in the long term for young mothers. In addition to maternity professionals who may be circumspect and the baby who may struggle to express enough milk, breastfeeding cracks are a real obstacle to breastfeeding . These cracks in the nipple(s) usually appear at the very beginning of breastfeeding. Painful, they make it unpleasant and some mothers find themselves obliged to stop breastfeeding because of these cracks. Diagnosis, prevention, treatment, testimonials: in this article, you will know everything about breastfeeding cracks.

Breastfeeding cracks, what are they?

Breastfeeding cracks are, as their name suggests, small cracks, similar to cracks and small red streaks, which form at the level of the nipple(s). A crack may appear at the base, sides or face of the nipple. They usually occur at the start of breastfeeding and are caused by the baby's poor position when feeding. The cracks can be more or less deep, to the point that they are initially invisible. These lesions are painful and often lead to bleeding, making breastfeeding particularly unpleasant. Faced with breastfeeding cracks and associated pain, new mothers may be forced to stop breastfeeding.

How to recognize breastfeeding cracks?

Breastfeeding cracks can take time to widen. This is why it is important to recognize them at their first signs in order to anticipate them and prevent them from getting so bad that you have to stop breastfeeding.

Warning signs

Cracks may be without visible damage at the very beginning, but the first warning sign of the gradual appearance of a crack to watch out for is a sore nipple during feedings . If you have this feeling, change your baby's position so as to modify his grip and do not hesitate to talk to your healthcare professional who will be able to advise you on another position to adopt.

Breastfeeding cracks

Little by little, the breastfeeding crevices widen. The skin cracks. The cracks take the form of cracks and small red streaks all around the nipple.

Differences between cracks and other breastfeeding problems

In addition to breastfeeding cracks, two other breast conditions regularly appear during breastfeeding: breast engorgement and mastine . These two conditions do not usually affect the nipples.

Breast engorgement

When the breasts are too full of milk (because the child is not expressing enough or when only one breast has been suckled), this is breast engorgement. The breasts are heavy, painful and difficult to empty completely. This condition does not impact the nipples.

Mastitis or sore breasts

Mastitis is a breast infection that usually appears within six weeks of giving birth but can occur at other times in a woman's life. It causes painful inflammation of one or both breasts, redness and sometimes fever, but does not affect the nipples. Like any infection, mastitis can be serious and requires you to consult your doctor quickly.

How to prevent breastfeeding cracks?

We mentioned it a little further: breastfeeding cracks are generally linked to poor positioning of the baby during breastfeeding or a problem with the baby's sucking . At the same time, breastfeeding accessories can help slow them down and better protect you.

Position your baby correctly while breastfeeding

A poor position of your baby during breastfeeding can be the cause of the appearance of breastfeeding cracks in the first month of breastfeeding, when you do not yet know how to do it correctly (this is normal 🫶) and your baby is very demanding.

Locating the crevice can help correct your baby's positioning when breastfeeding. If the crack appears at the top of the nipple, it is too low in relation to the breast. Conversely, if the crack is located at the bottom of the nipple, your baby is placed too high. Finally, the appearance of a crack in the center of your nipple is often linked to the fact that your baby is not latching on enough and is crushing your nipple.

To help you position your baby while breastfeeding and thus prevent breastfeeding cracks, start by reading our article on different breastfeeding positions . You can also ask advice from the health professionals present at the maternity ward or from the midwife who is caring for you. Finally, it is also possible to call on a breastfeeding coach who will offer you personalized support.

Check your baby's good sucking

The second reason that can explain the gradual formation of breastfeeding cracks is poor sucking by your baby, unrelated to his position during breastfeeding. A stiff neck, a lack of milk (discover our article on foods promoting breastfeeding), a tongue frenum that is too short, a labial frenum that is too thick and tight... these different elements can restrict or even prevent the movements necessary for a good suction.

This situation is generally noticed in the maternity ward. However, if you feel that your baby is having difficulty breastfeeding, regardless of the breastfeeding positions offered, and you are in pain, it is important to speak to a doctor or your midwife. They will be able to carry out a diagnosis and refer you to specialized health professionals, in particular an ENT specialist.

Use breastfeeding accessories correctly

Breastfeeding accessories have grown as women have begun to choose breastfeeding again. The purpose of these accessories? Simplify your life and promote a great experience so that breastfeeding is a pleasure.

Apply nursing shells to limit friction

Nursing shells are small shells to place on your nipples at the end of a breastfeeding session. They provide a sensation of intense cold which instantly relieves any discomfort that may appear. The shells can then be left in contact with your chest to protect you from friction from your underwear.

🌈 On our e-shop, we have selected nursing shells from the Hinamoon brand . They have the particularity of being polished in France by a craftsman specializing in mother-of-pearl.

nursing shell

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Wear a nursing bra to absorb excess milk

A nursing bra is a bra designed specifically for this purpose. In addition to being able to be easily opened at the front to facilitate your baby's access to your breast, it has absorbent pads to keep your nipples dry. While milk-related moisture is in no way the cause of nursing cracks, it can make them worse and cause them to become infected.

🌈 On our e-shop, we have selected the Smoon brand nursing bra because it has the advantage of being seamless and being flexible enough to adapt to the varying size of your chest. As a bonus, it comes from French and Italian materials and is made in Tunisia.

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Using a breast pump to continue breastfeeding

A breast pump is, as its name suggests, a small device that allows you to express milk. This is useful for stocking up on breast milk for your baby, especially when you have to be away. It is also important to limit breast engorgement. This may also allow you to continue producing milk and breastfeeding even if you take a break due to nursing cracks because the suction motion of the breast pump is different from your baby's sucking motion and should not amplify your pain.

🌈 On our e-shop, we have spotted the portable and wireless breast pump from the Perifit Pump brand for you. Discreet and effective, it slips into the bra to allow you to continue your activities without worrying about it. You will also like the application which will allow you to follow the quantity of milk extracted by your breast pump.

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How to relieve and treat breastfeeding cracks?

Despite your precautions, are you facing breastfeeding cracks? Do your nipples hurt and breastfeeding becomes an unpleasant experience that you are considering stopping? Here are our tips to help you relieve and treat breastfeeding cracks.

🚩 As often in our articles, our first advice is to consult a doctor and/or your midwife on this subject. Other pathologies can occur during breastfeeding and it is essential to verify that these are indeed breastfeeding cracks before providing any response whatsoever.

Adopt good daily hygiene

If you suffer from breastfeeding cracks, it is absolutely necessary to wash them regularly. Beyond your daily shower during which we recommend that you opt for a very gentle soap, wash with a mild soap after each feeding. The goal ? Keep the wound and avoid secondary infection!

Put nursing shells to relieve

Breastfeeding shells are shells that apply cold to the nipple just after breastfeeding if you manage to continue breastfeeding.

🌈 On our e-shop, we have selected nursing shells from the Hinamoon brand . They have the particularity of being polished in France by a craftsman specializing in mother-of-pearl.

Apply a healing balm

Healing balms will help accelerate the healing of the nipples. These balms can be prescribed to you by your doctor and you can find them in pharmacies. It is then interesting to protect this balm once applied with your breastfeeding shells.

Wear a nursing bra to limit infection

On a daily basis, we also recommend that you wear a nursing bra. These bras are designed to encourage breastfeeding (in particular through an easy opening on the front) but also and above all to absorb excess milk that may leak from your nipples. Again, the objective here is to avoid secondary infection: upon contact with your damaged nipples, stagnant milk can cause discomfort or even cause an infection.

Slow down breastfeeding

Finally, and more generally, the best way to let your breastfeeding cracks heal is to slow down breastfeeding your child. Indeed, with each new breastfeeding session, the cracks widen. If only one of your breasts suffers from cracks, let your child nurse on the healthy breast and express your milk with a breast pump to limit pain and avoid breast engorgement. If both breasts suffer from cracks, you can use a breast pump and feed your child with your breast milk until the cracks diminish.

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