Breastfeeding is best for your baby. It should be enjoyable for both mom and baby. However, some women suffer from vasospasm, which may cause pain. Vasospasm is the sudden constriction or narrowing of blood vessels. In breastfeeding women, vasospasm occurs when blood vessels tighten up and go into spasm, therefore, the blood does not flow to the nipple. This can happen during, between or after breastfeeding. Vasospasm can occur in nipples. It can be triggered by a shallow latch.
It is connected to Raynaud’s Phenomenon. Raynaud’s Phenomenon can cause the nipples to turn white and return back to its color as the blood flow returns. As the baby compresses the nipple, it may cause the mom to feel sharp pain, burning or tingling sensations in her nipples. This pain can vary from mild discomfort to severe pain. Raynaud’s Phenomenon is a disorder of the tiny blood vessels of the extremities which reduce blood flow. The pain can cause numbness,throbbing and tingling sensations in the fingers, toes etc.
Mom’s who suffer from Raynaud’s Phenomenon, are at a higher risk of experiencing nipple vasospasm. How do you avoid vasospasm symptoms? Get help with positioning the baby on your breast. If needed, make an appointment with a Lactation Consultant. Keep yourself warm and use a heating pad on your nipples if needed. Use a cloth in between the heating pad and your nipple for a few minutes at a time. Avoid cigarette smoking, caffeine, alcohol or medications that promote vasoconstrictions. Ask your healthcare provider for advice if your pain continues. They will help you solve your problems. They may recommend ibuprofen, supplementing with calcium/magnesium, Vitamin B complex, fish oil or even low doses of Adalat, Nifedipine. Calcium/ magnesium relaxes the blood vessels and fish oil improve blood vessel relaxation. Adalat, Nifedipine is used to treat painful nipple vasospasm. It is a calcium channel blocker drug that relaxes, widens blood vessels veins and arteries. It is taken orally. There are side effects so always ask your healthcare provider before taking this drug while breastfeeding.
In conclusion, identify and fix the causes of your pain, such as fixing your poor latch etc, Use a warm compress on your nipples when needed. A warm compress is effective at stopping the vasospasm and treating the pain. Consult your healthcare provider if pain persists. I wish all of you good luck breastfeeding your beautiful baby. I hope you cherish this breastfeeding journey.