*Forewarned is forearmed, right?
It hurts so badly when I nurse.
Felix (currently 16 months) started cutting molars back in September, and shortly afterwards nursing started to get painful. I just assumed it was due to his highly increased nursing frequency and a clenched latch. I tried to ignore it, figuring it would go away once my body adjusted to the increase in nursing or when he cut the teeth or or or or... but the pain got worse and worse.
I started wondering about yeast, but I don't see any sign of thrush in Felix's mouth. For the past month, I haven't had any sugars - I expected that if the pain were yeast related, it would have started to dissipate once I stopped all sugars/yeast/etc from my diet. But yeast seems to be a big winner when I talk with my mama friends about the pain I'm experiencing. The fact that the pain seems to be more limited to my nipples rather than within the breast tells me it's latch related, not yeast. Or maybe it started as yeast and then turned extra nasty. Or the bad latch caused cracking which let in the yeast. Or it could be both. Or something else. Or a mysterious and random assortment of 9865413248624 different things and the kitchen sink.
I switched birth control pills (from Micronor to Alesse) in early October, so perhaps the different hormones are also contributing to whatever is causing the pain. (Pregnancy did cross my mind, but all the tests I've taken have been negative. Phew!) I understand the pill could have affected my milk supply, causing him to work hard to get nourishment, so that's another possible factor. I had problems with Raynaud's Syndrome after Elliot was born 3 years ago, but didn't have it with Felix. The pain feels similar, but is longer lasting. And sharper.
I've been using an organic Nipple Butter by Earth Mama Angel Baby for the last few days and I can see a small difference for the better, I *think* - the calloused looking spots on my nips have softened and started to come off. BUT it's leaving cracks and bleeding (oh joy!) - not sure if that's being uncovered by or created by the sloughing off of the hard skin. I'm still experiencing a lot of sensitivity - clothing rubbing on me is painful, but the pain upon nursing is *slightly* improved. It's not the same toe-curling-glass-being-shoved-into-me sensation as before.
I emailed Dr. Jack Newman, breastfeeding guru, and he gave me a bit of advice, but nothing that seemed really pertinent to my situation. I initially contacted him because all research I've done says his All Purpose Nipple Ointment is the best thing ever for sore nipples, whether the problem is yeast related or not. I went to the compounding pharmacy near me and they were familiar with the ointment but said I needed a prescription. Instead of schlepping the kids with me to the doctor, someone suggested I email Dr. Newman for the prescription. He sent it to me (lightening fast, I might add!) but cautioned that it probably would be useless since he's not licensed to practice here. But he suggested I get my doctor to co-sign the prescription to save time. So that's my next plan of attack. But at this point, it looks like I won't be able to get an appointment with my doctor until, hmmmm, maybe this weekend?? I'll have to call again tomorrow.
I've found that Felix has a better (ie: deeper) latch when he's hungry vs comfort nursing. I've played with different positions and latches but never get relief the same way twice. Over the last few nights, I've stopped going to him for night time feeds - Jay has been spending the night in Felix's room. So I'm getting a good 10 hour stretch in which I can heal (and sleep - who'da thunk it?!) We nurse (both sides) in the morning and before bed, and then he comfort/snack nurses on one side before his nap and then again in the late afternoon. Nursing 4x per day is better than the 8+ we were doing recently, and it's giving me relief. Just not fast enough.
Since the skin is currently broken & bleeding & stinging, I'm sure that if a yeast infection isn't the cause, that a bacterial infection is now (or soon to be) an issue. What fun! Until I get that ointment, I'm going to continue with the Nipple Butter I have, expressed milk and lots of air time... and work on deeper latches, I guess. I've contacted my local La Leche League leaders and we're working though some ideas, too.
ETA 12/17/09: this morning I pumped instead of nursing on the worst side, and behold - it didn't hurt!!!! Now if only pumping were as quick & brainless as nursing.
So, all in all, this is a big whiny post about my poor nipples. Aren't you glad you found it?! Maybe I should complain about something more global... like, um... I don't know. I don't keep up with current events. I should do that, too. Something else to put away for a RainyDay.