Breastfeeding is a natural and intimate gesture, very useful for both the infant and the mother. The baby, in fact, finds all the nutrients he needs in breast milk… but the advantages are many for you too – first of all, being able to immediately establish a close and almost magical relationship with your baby.
The feeding moment usually generates a deep well-being in both protagonists, but sometimes pain can ruin it. A little annoyance, especially in the early days, is actually physiological. However, if it does not pass, it is better to contact a midwife or doctor: it could be caused by the appearance of breast fissures.
Breast fissures: what they are and why they appear
Fissures are small lesions, in the form of chapping or more or light cuts, which can appear on the nipple or on the areola sometimes causing slight bleeding too.
They occur mainly in the primiparous, whose breasts are more delicate and who still have little experience in breastfeeding.
Sometimes fissures resolve spontaneously, but as long as they are present they are extremely painful for the new mother. So much so that, if healing is slow in coming, they often lead to the interruption of natural breastfeedingbecause the pain is too unbearable. But this would be a real shame, given all the benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother!
Why do breast fissures appear?
Beyond the fact that some women may have more delicate skin than others, which certainly makes the development of fissures more likely, the main reason why they appear is one: the wrong attack of the newborn to the breast.
This can happen due to the anatomical characteristics of the mother, such as the retracting nipple, or the baby, such as the frenulum of the tongue that is too short: in both cases, the rubbing of the nipple on the baby’s palate causes the irritation that leads to the fissures.
In those cases in which it is not a matter of anatomy, the baby’s attack during feeding takes a little technique to be put into practice perfectly… and it is always there that the cause of breast fissures lies.
Breast fissures: remedies and prevention
Bringing breast fissures to quick healing is important for several reasons. First of all, as we have already said, the first one is avoiding being forced to stop the precious natural breastfeeding because of too much pain. Even when you don’t reach this extreme level, mothers often tend to decrease the frequency or duration of feedings and this could lead to mastitis. Finally, do not forget that fissures are open lesions, therefore they can represent a way of access for bacteria or a place of proliferation of yeasts such as candida albicans.
For all these reasons, it is essential to find the right remedies for breast fissures – or even try to prevent them. Which are the precautions that you can take?
- Since the attack of the newborn is the main cause of fissures in the breast, to prevent them it is essential that his positioning is as correct as possible. The baby must introduce both the nipple and the areola into the mouth, and suck, creating an effect similar to that of a sucker. The position must also be comfortable for the mother, because she does not have to bend over to the baby. The baby can be kept in different positions (in fact, doing so helps to stimulate the nipple in different places so it is recommended), but the important thing is that his head is always well turned towards the breast and the neck is not twisted. If you have problems with this aspect, do not be discouraged: ask a midwife for help, so that she will show you how to properly attach your baby to the breast.
- If the fissures are already very painful, it is good to attach the baby to the less painful breast first so that his voracity is released on the one and that the feeding on the other is sweeter.
- If it is necessary to offer the breast to the newborn to make him stick, it is better to hold it as a cup instead of tightening the nipple between index and middle as to squeeze it.
- To wash the nipples, do not use irritating soaps: simple lukewarm water is fine. And pat them dry, do not rub.
- When you are at home relaxing, leave your breasts uncovered for as long as you can so that they get air.
- If you use milk-absorbing cups, change them often so as not to leave the nipple in contact with a wet surface.
- At the end of each feed, massage your nipple and areola with a few drops of your milk: its beneficial substances moisturize the skin and help it heal.
- Between feedings, use silver nipple shields… how is it possible that you’ve never heard of them?
Silver nipple shields: allies against breast fissures
Silver nipple shields, in their simplicity, are among the best allies against breast fissures!
As the word says, they are simply small objects that cover the nipple and areola and that must be placed on that area of the breast between one feed and the other. Making them adhere is not difficult: just insert them between the breast and the bra and they will keep their position thanks to their anatomical shape.
Pure silver has healing, disinfectant and antibacterial properties, so the silver nipple shields will help fissures heal faster… as well as giving you immediate relief when you are not breastfeeding, making you feel less pain and also protecting injuries from external agents.
Why are silver nipple shields better than other possible remedies?
- Because they do not cause skin irritation or dryness as disinfectants and many creams do.
- Because they do not release substances harmful to the baby or a bad taste, unlike creams.
- Because they do not leave the nipple wet, like the milk-absorbing cups that instead prevent scarring.
Our grandmothers had already discovered these properties and used silver spoons with the same purpose… luckily, now there are even more effective tools such as silver nipple shields, which you can use both as a prevention and as a remedy for breast fissures.
Clearly, we wish you not to encounter any problems while breastfeeding your baby… but if the fissures on the breast disturb you, now you know how to recognize them and fight them effectively!