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Crevasse: get rid of them !

Les crevasses : on s'en débarrasse !

Written by MĂ©lanie Landru, IBCLC Lactation Consultant and Dietician and Naturopath - Updated on May 25, 2023

Summary :

    By MĂ©lanie Landru - IBCLC lactation consultant, dietician and naturopath

    ©Helena Cooper

    BREASTFEEDING AND CRACKS: HOW TO AVOID THEM AND TREAT THEM NATURALLY ?

    Cracks! Often this simple word is enough to frighten mothers or mothers-to-be who wish to breastfeed or who are in the process of breastfeeding.

    This is a subject that comes up very often in the pre- and post-natal discussions I have with mothers.

    Breastfeeding does not have to hurt.

    Cracks and pain are neither normal nor a necessary part of breastfeeding.

    However, they are a sign of a malfunction, and it is important to understand the cause quickly, and to find solutions to remove the trigger and treat the sore and damaged part of the nipple. Repeated severe pain at each feeding can be unbearable for the mother, and clearly interfere with continued breastfeeding.

    It is normal to decide to stop breastfeeding in such conditions! It is important to ask for help when you feel the pain.


    WHAT EXACTLY IS A CREVASSE ?

    Sometimes very inconspicuous, the crack can take the form of an erosion of the nipple skin. More visible, it is similar to a crack and sometimes a very pronounced wound that causes bleeding. This bleeding does not pose any risk to the baby. The baby can therefore continue to suckle even if the nipple is very damaged.



    A CREVASSE AND SEVERAL POSSIBLE CAUSES

    The causes of nipple pain are mainly mechanical:

    ©Pinterest

    • A non-optimal position of the baby and a non-optimal latch will encourage nipple pinching. This is the number one cause of pain

    • Abrupt removal from the baby's mouth during feeding

    • A sucking problem, the cause of which can be varied (small mouth opening, tension in the jaws, restrictive tongue or lip brakes, an anatomical specificity of the baby, etc.)

    • Overly tense and engorged breasts will make it difficult for the baby to latch on

    • A non-optimal position of the baby and a non-optimal latch will encourage nipple pinching. This is the number one cause of pain

    • Abrupt removal from the baby's mouth during feeding


    • A sucking problem, the cause of which can be varied (small mouth opening, tension in the jaws, restrictive tongue or lip brakes, an anatomical specificity of the baby, etc.)

    • Overly tense and engorged breasts will make it difficult for the baby to latch on

    As you can see, the causes are varied. That's why it's important to seek help from health professionals trained in breastfeeding to identify them and provide solutions.


    ARE CREVASSES AND PAINS INEVITABLE?

    I believe that the best remedy is prevention and information!


    Before the birth, the "breastfeeding preparation" meetings will allow to show different positions and to explain what is an optimal latch. Even if the baby is not yet in the parents' arms, this time of sharing will give you some reference points for the beginning of breastfeeding.



    Once the baby is born, I think it is essential to pay close attention to the baby's latching position and how he or she is latching on. It is at this point that parents will be able to use the reference points seen before the birth and above all call on the health professionals around them to work together and check that all the elements are in place to promote the most serene and painless breastfeeding possible.

    ©Pinterest

     

    AND IF, DESPITE EVERYTHING, CREVASSES APPEAR?

    Identifying the cause will help to correct what is causing the cracks and pain. It is possible to breastfeed your child with an unhealed crack without pain, just by improving the position and the latch. It is magical and so relieving for mothers!

     

    TO HELP THE BREASTS HEAL

    • Breast milk: the simple natural remedy that moisturises and promotes nipple healing. Simply express breast milk after feeding and apply it to the nipple, then leave the breasts in the open air for a few moments without getting cold.

    • Breast milk pads are often offered in maternity wards. It is important to be rigorous about hygiene and to change it very regularly at each feeding or every 2 hours.

    • Hydrogel compresses are also interesting because they would limit the risk of bacterial contamination. They help to soothe pain thanks to their cooling effect.

    • Purified lanolin, which is found in many "cream" type preparations, is also a possible ally thanks to its soothing and moisturising properties.

    • There are many nipple care oils and creams available. Always keep an eye on their composition as unfortunately some may contain chemicals and elements that can cause skin reactions and even allergies

    ©Pinterest

    • As for plants, the aromatic hydrosols of lavender and Damask rose (not to be confused with essential oils, which are not recommended at all when breastfeeding), to be mixed in equal parts and sprayed on, are compatible with breastfeeding and recommended in case of cracks.

    • Homeopathy also offers suitable remedies that can be prescribed by a homeopathic doctor or midwife.

    • Chinese medicine is also a good ally in the case of cracks. Ask your trained midwife or a trained professional.

     

    Focus on moxas :

    Camille, trained in traditional Chinese medicine and with whom I work, shares with us an effective tool: the moxa stick. This method does not require any contact with the skin.

    What it is: the moxa stick or mugwort branch provides a source of gentle heat whose effects are comparable to an acupuncture needle without the discomfort of needle insertion.

    This method helps to tone the energy and heal the damaged area more quickly.

    Smoked and smokeless moxa sticks are available.

    Cautions: For smoked moxa sticks, care must be taken not to burn yourself with the ash and to ventilate the room well. This last point is valid for the use of smoked and smokeless sticks.

    How to do it: Simply light the stick and make small circles in front of the area to be relieved.

    For about 15 minutes per painful nipple, the pain disappears in a few days and the skin is healed.

     

    Source : illustration canva.com

    Another tip for relieving pain that Camille gives us is point 18 located on the stomach meridian. It is located under the nipple in line with the root of the breast.


    How to do it: apply gentle pressure in a circular motion on the stomach point 18 on each side for about 2 minutes.

    ©Pinterest

     

    • Silver cups or nursing shells prevent the nipple from coming into direct contact with the fabric of clothing or bra. This contact can be very unpleasant for the mother.

    • The use of a silicone breast tip: very (too) often proposed to relieve pain during feeding. It would be really preferable to use them with a breastfeeding professional. It can sometimes limit the pain but sometimes it will not change anything or will even increase the pain, especially if the size is not adapted to the size of the mother's nipple. It is preferable that its use is ideally limited in time because it can lead to a decrease in milk production and it does not promote optimal and physiological latching. Now, I prefer to see a mother who is serenely breastfeeding her child with a silicone breast tip and who is carrying out her breastfeeding project as she wishes rather than a mother who stops her breastfeeding because of too much pain.

    • Diet also has a role to play in the healing process. A healthy, varied and balanced diet that meets the protein and fatty acid needs of the breastfeeding period. Consume the equivalent of 3 to 4 tablespoons of quality vegetable oils rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Good quality fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and a source of antioxidants. A specific course of fatty acids and minerals can also supplement the diet.

    There are several methods to relieve sore nipples. Studies do not show that one method is more effective than another. It's up to each of you to test and see which ones work best for you.

    Talk about your pain and get help from a professional trained in breastfeeding because it is not normal to be in pain while breastfeeding and there are solutions to relieve you and stop this process.

    And above all, trust yourself and your baby.
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