I have a photo of each of my nipples at their worst.
I’m not going to post them online, of course. But if you go to this link – that’s pretty much what my bad nipple looked like.
Luckily, my “good” nipple wasn’t quite that bad. And yes, I continued to breastfeed. Did it hurt? Not nearly as much as you might expect. As I told my husband, it didn’t hurt any more when I was breastfeeding than when I wasn’t. Not really sure that’s a good thing…
I had several people look at it, and tried to search everything I could online. The possibility of it being thrush kept coming up, but neither I nor Baby J exhibited any symptoms. Other than, you know, the torn up nipple.
I think I know how my nipple got so bad, and it’s something I haven’t found anywhere online. So I thought I’d share it here. Maybe it will help someone.
At one point, I had this white dot on my nipple (the bad one), and I thought it might be a milk bleb. I read that you could try scrubbing it lightly with a washcloth to loosen it up. I think in the scrubbing, I ended up taking off the scabbing that had formed over my nipple, leaving fresh new raw skin exposed. And it never scabbed over again. And never fully healed because of it.
Baby J’s nurse suggested Bepanthon cream – it contains Vitamin B to aid healing, and is normally used for diaper rash. It didn’t help.
I tried to find the ingredients for DIY APNO, but couldn’t get Polysporin here. I asked my mother-in-law to bring some when she came, and I feel like I did see a bit of improvement in my “good” nipple after four days of use.
I made an appointment to get tested for thrush, but I had to wait three weeks to see the doctor. When I finally went in (on day 4 of using a Polysporin/Hydrocortizone cream), she said it wasn’t thrush, and prescribed an uber-cortizone cream and some sort of liquid for liquid bandages. She said if it wasn’t better in a week to come back in.
This past Monday morning I was begging for an appointment. A week of the prescribed cream (and using the DIY cream) and the “good” nipple was fully healed (which was wonderful!), but I didn’t see much difference in the “bad” nipple. I saw another doctor, who agreed it wasn’t thrush and prescribed a super-cortizone cream for me to use for a week – stronger than hydrocortizone, weaker than the first prescription I was given. “It should spontaneously heal,” he said. You know, because it’s had about five weeks to do so at this point…. (bitter? me? noooooo…..)
I don’t know. I’ve been using this new cream for four days now, and sometimes I think the nipple looks better, and other times I think it looks the same. Like I said, it normally doesn’t hurt (too much) to breastfeed, but there are times when it’s all I can do to psych myself up to latching Baby J on. I think about quitting every couple of days.
I posted previously about my breastfeeding issues. That was July 25th, and nursing has become easier, as I thought it would. Mostly, it’s better because Baby J has more control and coordination, so he’s not just dive-bombing my chest and hoping to get lucky. He knows what he’s looking for now, and is pretty good at finding it. I’ve started using the My Brest Friend pillow again, occasionally, rotating it with the Doomoo, random pillows, and no support at all. I found that the advice I read online, to put the MBF pillow just below your boobs, was NOT working for me, so I put it around my waist, at my belly button, as I think it was intended, and it works better. Now that the one nipple is healed, I’m able to do laid-back nursing and side-lying nursing, which is great, but I don’t want to subject my bad nipple to that.
In that first link I posted, the one with the picture of the nipple – the author asks if breastfeeding helps with bonding if your nipple is this torn up. Honestly…I don’t feel like breastfeeding has helped me bond with Baby J any more than I would have. It’s certainly caused a fair share of anxiety and both mental and physical anguish, starting in the hospital and up until today. I realize it would be easy enough to still give Baby J breast milk, without actually risking the loss of my nipples. But I like the ability to feed him anywhere and any time he becomes hungry. Especially since where we live, certain stores aren’t just up the road a few minutes like in the US, but an hour or more away. You can’t really plan around feeds (or pumping schedules) in that case.
One day, I hope to not have a bad nipple…
(can’t wait to see the hits that title brings…)