Pain vs. Discomfort with Breastfeeding: When to Call Your Provider

If you’ve breastfed, you know there can be some uncomfortable moments. It can be difficult to tell if what you’re experiencing is just your body getting used to breastfeeding or a serious issue. That was the inspiration to create Check with Ellie! We want to make sure that you are able to distinguish between the ordinary and critical, so we’ve compiled a list of symptoms you should be aware of.

Mastitis

What is it? Infection of the breast tissue

What can cause this? Trapped milk, clogged milk duct, bacteria entering breast from breaks in the skin

Symptoms? Swelling, redness, warm to touch, flu-like symptoms, pain/burning, fever

Call provider if: you have any combination of these symptoms! Mastitis can quickly be treated with oral antibiotics but if left untreated more aggressive procedures may become necessary. The good news is feeding your baby often will help the situation as you continue to remove milk from your breast.

Milk Blebs, Milk Blisters, Nipple Blisters…oh my!

This can get a little tricky as the terms are used sometimes interchangeably but quite a few different situations could be going on:

Nipple or Nursing Blister

What is it? Pressure point on the nipple or sometimes just skin that is not well adhered to the inside of the nipple

What can cause this? A compromised latch or improper positioning of baby at the breast.

What does it look like? A fluid (sometimes blood) filled pustule that may scab over after or between feeds, may pop and fall off at some point with no repercussions.

Treat at home if: not painful, will usually go away with time

Call provider if: persistent, some assistance to improve latch or positioning may be in order

Milk Bleb or Milk Blister

What is it? Skin that has grown over a milk duct or the end point of tissue and milk congested at the nipple from a blockage deeper in the milk duct/breast

What can cause this? Improper latch, excess milk supply, thrush

What does it look like? Raised, white dot on nipple; can be very painful during or after nursing

Treat at home with: help from an IBCLC to improve latch! Improved latch, frequent breastfeeding and keeping your nipple moist can help you heal. Placing a warm compress on the area for a few minutes prior to breastfeeding may also assist with pain relief and healing.

Call provider when: home remedies don’t work or when breastfeeding is too painful to continue! In some cases the blister may need to be opened up (by your provider in a sterile environment) or antibiotic ointment may be necessary to prevent infections such as mastitis.

Home-remedies not working? Not experiencing the exact symptoms we outlined? Not sure if it’s “painful enough” to justify medical treatment? When in doubt, call your provider! Just like Ellie, they are here to help you :)

Have other breastfeeding questions? Try chatting with Ellie

Ellie helps you overcome breastfeeding challenges with information verified by experienced IBCLC’s. She’ll help you identify and treat breastfeeding challenges and even connect you to Lactation Consultants for further care. Ellie is available 24/7 over Facebook Messenger. When in doubt, check with Ellie.

Interested in learning even more about Ellie? Visit our site www.checkwithellie.com

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