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Share How to prevent the appearance of cracks in the nipple

Armando @armando_bastida

One of the first barriers that many mothers find, and therefore, also the children, are the cracks that appear in the nipples of some mothers who breastfeed their babies.

Normally the first days appear when the technique is not completely adequate (the position of the baby is not correct), if the mother uses soaps, detergent on clothing or other aggressive chemical compounds or if alcohol-based cosmetics with glycerin are used or by a combination of several of these factors, the most common cause being the position of the baby.

Knowing the causes is possible to prevent them, because if the triggering factors are eliminated or minimized, the problem will not originate or, at least, we will know the possible solutions and a worsening of the aforementioned cracks can be prevented.

What are the cracks

The cracks in the nipples are wounds, very thin cuts that sometimes are not seen, but cause much pain when the baby begins to suckle. The skin cracks as our lips and hands do when it is cold and the area is very sensitive, transforming something that should be pleasant at a time that mothers do not want to arrive, just to avoid suffering.

There are several strategies that can help prevent cracks if they have not yet occurred and that are useful to solve them if they have already appeared:

First, a good first grip

One of the reasons that many babies suck at the breast is that they were not allowed to suckle during the first hour of life or that they were separated from their mother before having taken the first shot.

Babies are born ready to suck and it has been seen that, if at birth they are left on the breast of their mother, they are able to crawl and move until they reach the breast alone and start sucking it. Some take longer and others less, but normally, within the first two hours, they all do.

If you separate mother and child or even if something is inserted in the mouth of the baby (a tube, a finger, a nipple, a pacifier ...) it is possible that the baby makes an oral imprint with what has entered in the mouth and try to suckle, not as you know innately, but as you just learned to notice something in the mouth. In such a case, it is more likely that you will cling badly to your chest and start the problems . Therefore, it is insisted that, if the baby is healthy, continuous contact, skin to skin, with the mother is allowed, at least until the first feeding.

Assess the posture and grip of the baby

Given that a bad position at the time of suckling is the main reason that breastfeeding hurts and that cracks are made, the first thing that must be done is to assess the baby's position .

First you have to see how your body is positioned with respect to the mother. Throughout life we ​​have seen children taking bottles lying on their backs on our mother's arm. This causes many mothers to take babies in the same way, with one difference: instead of receiving the food with a bottle from above they receive it with the breast from the side. This makes babies have to turn their heads to eat, making everything more difficult (something very simple to understand if we try to eat sitting in a chair on the side and turning our heads to face the plate and the cover).

The ideal position, therefore, is one in which the baby comes face to the chest, that is, that his whole body is oriented towards the mother, almost belly with belly.

Children who take bottles support their head in the area of ​​flexion of the arm, so if they are placed like this, they would probably be a little away from the nipple and would have to "pull" the breast towards themselves to be able to suckle correctly. By forcing the position of the chest the grip is not adequate and can cause pain and cracks. Ideally, the child is at a point on the arm such that under normal conditions, without touching the breast, the nipple points to your nose . In this way, just by approaching and opening the mouth the baby will be able to hold on to the breast leaving the nipple in the upper part of the mouth, which is where it should be.

The mouth should be wide open before being caught. If the little opens it is very likely to take only the nipple and start milking (and that hurts a lot), coming to harm if you do often. For this reason, it is recommended to touch the nose a little with the same nipple, so that the baby begins to open his mouth little by little. If we do not let him catch himself in the moment, he will open it more and more (while nodding). The moment we see that it is open: plas! (tit p'adentro), while we tighten our baby a bit against the chest, so that it costs him to go back (with what would only suck the nipple), but without pressing on his head, as it bothers them and They tend to disengage from the chest.

There are occasions, especially in the first days, in which potentially "dangerous" situations are combined, such as the mother having a large nipple and the baby having a small mouth. In these cases you have to be even more aware of the grip, since babies can tend to hold on only the nipple. The good thing about this potential problem is that it solves itself, spending a few days, when the baby grows a little, with his mouth and when he is also more expert in the art of sucking.

Avoid the use of teats and pacifiers

The chest should be sucked, reaching it with the mouth wide open, teats and nipples, instead, are usually grasped with the mouth rather closed. In addition, the suction mechanism of the breast is very different from the way milk is taken in a bottle with traditional nipples, in which the baby does not have to do anything special for the milk to fall, but rather on the contrary, learn to stop it for that the flow is not continuous.

If a baby learns to put his tongue in the hole of the teat to stop the milk and pretends to do the same when he is going to suckle the breast ("look mom, what have I learned"), all he will get is to take the breast out of the mouth, again and again. If on top closes the mouth to catch the chest as it takes a pacifier, it is likely to end up clinging badly and causing cracks.

Do not wash the breasts

A few decades ago the breasts were washed after each feeding and the mothers were told to put on sterile gauze to prevent the skin from getting full of germs that the baby would suck. This, which was also a real torture because it was unnecessary, made the skin of the nipple dry, so that it was easier to crack.

Now the opposite is recommended, a daily shower and ready, without even soap.

Do not apply creams or lotions on the nipple

Unless there is a problem that indicates it, do not apply any lotion or cream in the areola . Nothing at all. The Montgomery tubers, which are the granites that are visible to the naked eye in the areola, secrete a fat that lubricates the same to protect from external aggressions. If we encrem the area we are preventing them from doing their natural function.

Use adequate breastfeeding discs

Use absorbent breastfeeding disks that do not irritate. I remember that Miriam got all the colors once we bought something cheaper, having to throw them back to the usual ones. It can be a good idea to use cloth ones, which are washable and therefore reusable.

Photos | Raphael Goetter, Daquella way on Flickr In Babies and more | Breastfeeding may hurt but should not hurt (I) and (II), Why many children do not latch on, How to prevent and heal nipple cracks