Friday, December 14, 2007

Avoiding Cracked Nipples

Guys may want to stop reading now. You've been forewarned....

My mom's career (in addition to momming) was an RN in the hospital nursery. In her last decade or so before retirement, she also worked as a lactation consultant. Nursing seemed to come very easily to me, but when I read How My Breasts Saved the World, I realized that a large part of my ease probably was a result of having my own personal lactation consultant on hand 24 hours a day for the first week after my eldest was born.

Nevertheless, I frequently had cracked nipples and also suffered greatly with mastitis. Eventually, sometime during Kid#2 or Kid#3's nursing days, I learned to recognize the signs of a breast infection early and take steps to prevent its worsening. (By the way, in case anybody is inclined to listen to a doctor's advice to stop breastfeeding when mom has a breast infection, take the doctor and stick his/her head in a toilet and flush, and then go home and nurse your baby more than ever.)

Some time after I'd had 3 or 4 kids, Mom happened to be at work and ran across a new mom, still in the hospital, who was nursing her baby for 30-45 minutes per side. This is usually not a good plan for new moms; it's usually a perfect plan for obtaining sore and cracked nipples. But this mom was doing fine. So my mom the lactation consultant asked her about it. It seems this woman had pulled on her nipples 300 times a day for the last couple of months of pregnancy.

That's it? No complicated exercises from the Lamaze teacher? No "nipple conditioning" out of a modern book on pregnancy and labor? Nope. Just holding onto the nipple (not the areola) and pulling straight out 300 times a day.

Now, with my track record of sit-ups, jogging, dusting, saying my prayers, and other things that I struggled to make habits, I never managed to do the 300x per day thing. But I probably did manage to work in 150-200 yanks on most days, divided between getting dressed, showering, changing into jammies at bedtime, etc.

And that was the END of my cracked nipples. So simple. So easy. No problems with any of the kids after I heard this tip. And so I want to shout it from the rooftops, beat mommies over the head with it, and foist this information upon them, to save themselves trouble when the baby is newborn. So any of you pregnant people out there (Melynda!!) consider yourself whopped upside the head.


  1. Flashing accross my mind's movie screen is a scene of a man trying to give this advice to any woman.

    It's a pretty funny show.

  2. That's why I can say it. So there, Mr Funny!

    I did think, though, that maybe I should renege on my suggestion to give the doctor a swirly. I mean, hey, the swirly would hurt him a lot less than his advice would hurt a woman with mastitis, and it would hurt him less than his advice would hurt the baby, and the swirly would hurt him less than the lawsuit which should be due him for such wretched advice. But you can't give doctors swirlies without getting into trouble with police.

    (Ever since Higher Things conference last summer, I have this compulsion to spell the word "cwirly"....)

  3. Several ladies in my husband's vicarage congregation, where I had my first child, told me to use the towel after I shower to "rub really hard." I didn't heed their advice, silly me. Looking back it would have made a world of difference. I'll keep this in my mommy brain in hopes of sharing it with my daughters in the future.

  4. 'Suppose that would fix inverted nipples pretty well, too.

  5. It does do wonders for inverted nipples!

  6. I'll join the party.... : )

    Wet washcloth, in the shower, circular motion. Never had any problems.


  7. When I was pregnant with our first, I dutifully bought the La Leche League book and, knowing absolutely nothing on the topic, assumed everything it said was true. The year following the birth of our baby is a little episode of our lives we refer to as "Boob Hell." Now why do these famed experts tell morons like me that preparatory activities are unnecessary and really don't help?