How do I nurse with Raynaud’s?
Moms who are having unusual pain in the nipple area may be suffering from decreased blood flow to the breast, areola and nipple. The decreased blood flow is caused by constricted blood vessels, known as Raynaud’s syndrome or phenomenon. The pain generally begins shortly after the feeding is completed, and can last from 5 – 20 minutes. The nipple may appear white or even purple/blue in color. Once blood flows back into vessels in the nipple tissue, pain subsides and the color should go back to normal pinkish tones.
Please let your primary physician know if you are having this type of pain. You may need further evaluation by a physician to rule out medical conditions unrelated to breastfeeding.
If the physician feels your situation is a breastfeeding condition, you will need to begin this treatment plans as soon as possible:
- Make sure the baby latches on well and correct any improper positioning.
- Use a warm pack directly on the nipple after nursing for 5 – 7 minutes, then remove.
- Do not expose the nipple to cool air after nursing or pumping.
- Talk to your physician about medication known to increase blood flow to the nipple.
- Use nipple butter, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil on the nipple and areola areas after nursing to keep this area well moisturized and supple. This can often help with some of the tenderness and discomfort you are feeling after a feeding, especially one that has had pain associated with it.
- Consider taking a break from nursing for a day or two while the nipple area heals and blood flow increases. You will need to pump to maintain an adequate milk supply for baby; when you resume nursing after taking a break, you want your milk supply to be robust.
- Call for additional support or guidance if you are not getting any pain relief.
- Consider having your baby evaluated for tongue-tie, torticollis or oral motor issues if there has not been any relief with other treatment plans.
Still have more questions about nursing with Raynaud’s? Reach out to a healthcare professional on our team for more personalized care and support.