Sore Nipple Strategies

2019-08-17T22:50:34+00:00August 17th, 2019|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , |

.Most of us had an idea in our head about how breastfeeding would go. You probably pictured the serene moments gazing into each other’s eyes, then your milk drunk baby slipping off to sleep in your arms.  The reality of the early days of breastfeeding can be surprising, as those of us that have lived them can attest. For 80-90% of moms, nipple and breast pain is part of their new mom life, at least in the short term since almost all nipple pain resolves in the first 2 weeks.

Nipple pain it’s not just for new moms, it can re-emerge with each baby. Issues like a shallow latch, slow let-down and tongue tie are unique to each baby. Although your breastfeeding experience will help you solve these problems much faster the second time around.

If you are suffering from nipple pain, here is a list of possible reasons and solutions:

-Shallow latch. You baby should have a wide open mouth before latching onto the nipple and surrounding areola, not just the nipple. Top and bottom lips should both be curled back and the chin firmly pressed on the breast. This position allows the nose to remain unobstructed with correct positioning.

– Pulling your baby off before breaking suction. When you are ready to take your baby off the breast, place a finger in the side of the mouth to release the suction first. Otherwise you stretch and strain tender nipple tissue.

-Slow milk flow. Your baby may be spending extra time on your breast or try to suck with greater force if your let-down reflex takes a while. To speed it up, self express a bit of milk before feeding to get milk flowing and soften up your breast before latching your baby. Once your baby is on the breast, use breast compression to keep milk flowing quickly without much suction from your baby.

-Using the same breastfeeding position every time. Depending on the angle, you baby’s mouth can apply pressure in different parts of your breast and nipple. If you have a tender spot when using the football hold, try lying on your side next time you feed.

-Dry, cracked nipple tissue. Your nipple has natural lubrication from the oils released by your Montgomery Glands, the little bumps that surround your areola. But the friction of your baby’s mouth can strip away your natural oils leaving your nipples red and cracked. There are several nipple creams available that can help your tender tissue heal. Check out our Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm  for an organic olive oil based cream that doesn’t need to be removed prior to putting your baby to breast.

Your nipple pain should taper off and go away entirely by day 14. If your nipple pain lasts longer or is accompanied by other breastfeeding problems like full breasts or a frequently fussy baby, see your lactation consultant.


Breast Anatomy Beyond the Nipple

2019-07-18T13:29:10+00:00July 18th, 2019|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , |

The internal structures of breasts were first described in 1840 by Sir Astley Cooper. And since then, our knowledge of breasts has changed to include many more than Cooper could have visualized. He described the breast being composed of glandular and adipose (fat) tissue held together by a loose framework of fibers he called Cooper’s ligaments (of course). Cooper’s ligaments support the structure of our breasts and are blamed for stretching during pregnancy and breastfeeding, leading to sagging. If you are interested, there are several exercises that claim to strengthen Cooper’s ligaments. I reviewed them and it appears they work the pectoral muscles (push ups, chest flys and chest press) which lay under your breasts. Working out your pectoral muscles helps your posture but is unlikely to have an impact on the connective tissue inside the breast.


Beyond the ligaments, the inside of a breast is an amazingly complicated structure. Surrounding the nipple like daisy petals are 15 to 20 sections, or lobes. Inside these lobes are smaller sections, called lobules that are arranged in clusters, like grape bunches. At the end of each lobule are tiny “bulbs” that produce milk. The bulbs are called alveoli and that’s where the magic of milk production occurs. From the alveoli,your milk enters the ducts, the thin tubes that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple. When the milk-ejection reflex occurs, small muscles around the alveoli are squeezing the milk out into the lobules to the ducts and out of the nipples.


Imagine a stalk of broccoli and the tiny flower bits are the alveoli, the stem is the ducts which carry the milk to the nipple. Fat fills the spaces between the lobes and ducts. Actually, most of our breast volume is fat. When you shop for a bra, your cup size is mostly determined by how much fat you have between your connective tissue. That’s why your cup size has no relation to your ability to breastfeed. Smaller breasts (A to C cups) can be easier for babies to latch on, especially in the first days of life.


Working our way out of the breast, the last stop is the nipple. The nipple is in the center of a dark area of skin called the areola. The areola contains small glands that lubricate the nipple during breastfeeding. The bumps on the perimeter of your nipple are glands called Montgomery glands. They constantly secret oil to keep your areola and nipple healthy and moisturized. Montgomery glands also secret your unique scent that attracts your baby to the nipple and helps initiate breastfeeding. We have 12-14 openings in each nipple, and they can spray in any direction as anyone that his squirted milk in unpredictable directions knows.


How Breastfeeding Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

2016-03-15T20:45:03+00:00March 15th, 2016|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |

There is a long list of the ways breastfeeding benefits your baby’s health. It provides the perfect nutrition for a growing human body and brain with no cost or preparation. Breastfeeding protects moms, too – by lower their risk of breast cancer. Just like babies, the longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefit to your health.

Recently published research showed the longer moms breastfed, the less likely they were to develop a highly aggressive form of breast cancer. Hormone-receptor-negative (HRN) cancers are usually diagnosed in women under 50 and have fewer treatment options, making them especially dangerous. Women that have breastfed have a 20% lower risk of developing an HRN tumor.

Another study showed mothers that breastfed had a 30% lower risk of cancer recurrence after treatment for the most common type of breast cancer, estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+). In addition to a lower recurrence rate, women with a history of breastfeeding were 28% more likely to survive their cancer and see it into remission.

These are big benefits, the positive effects of breastfeeding means thousands more women will survive breast cancer to care for their children and watch them grow. Researchers are learning more about the many ways breastfeeding protects us from breast cancer, reinforcing the idea that the function of breasts is to make milk to nourish our young.

Taking a deeper look, scientists are finding out how breastfeeding works in our bodies to lower our breast cancer risk. The first protective benefit of breastfeeding is related to the break from menstruation that occurs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. During a normal menstrual cycle, ovaries release the hormone estrogen.

During puberty, estrogen sent the signal to cells on your chest to develop into breasts. In adulthood, estrogen helps our heart and bones stay strong and healthy, but can also promote the growth of ER+ cancer. The disruption of your menstrual cycle from pregnancy and breastfeeding results in less cumulative exposure to estrogen, resulting in a lower risk of developing and ER+ tumor.

The second way breastfeeding protects us from breast cancer is by giving our cells a job to do. The action of transitioning from a just a ‘breast’ to a ‘lactating breast’ causes your cells to mature and change into a more solid, less changeable state. These mature cells are less likely to mutate and become cancerous. The result is fewer tumors, or if a tumor does occur it grows slowly and responds well to treatment.

It is well established that breastfeeding is the best way to nourish our infants; research is now showing that it also has significant benefits for moms. As scientists search for ways to make people healthier and live longer, breastfeeding continues to prove itself to be a powerhouse of health promotion and disease suppression.