My nipple fissures weren’t showing any signs of improving, so after a day of deliberation, I phoned the National Childbirth Trust. I was starting to realise that the fact that there were helplines (and whole charities, in the case of La Leche League) dedicated to solving breastfeeding problems should probably have served as a warning that it might not be that easy. The counsellor who answered the phone was helpful, if a little abrupt. She asked me which direction my nipples pointed (!) and when I said it was slightly outwards, rather than directly forwards, she said that they were probably getting bent backwards in C’s mouth when I was holding her in the cradle feeding position. She suggested using a different position to feed her (such as the rugby/football hold, where C’s mouth would approach the nipple from the opposite direction) while I waited for them to heal. This seemed sensible advice, and after a few goes, C and I managed to perfect some new feeding positions. Although I can’t say it was definitely less painful, the knowledge that C’s mouth probably wasn’t putting pressure on my nipples in the same way seemed to help at least psychologically.
The NCT counsellor, like every midwife I spoke to, also recommended I use Lansinoh cream – ‘absolutely loads of it, as a barrier’ – to protect my nipples. I had been religiously applying it since the bleeding had started, and following advice, continued to do so as the state of my nipples got worse. After a few more days, I stopped to think about this: the state of my nipples was getting worse…
Up to now, still in a post-birth haze, I’d been relying on the NHS resources, reading the leaflets and speaking to midwives and health visitors. They’d been very understanding and sympathetic, but things weren’t really improving, and I was getting desperate. I decided to start Googling in earnest, searching for things like ‘nipple fissures’, and going beyond the first page – sometimes even as far as the fifth! What I ended up with was quite a lot of hits for ‘anal fissures’ (not terribly useful), but in amongst these and the general parenting advice sites, was a scientific paper looking at treatments for cracked nipples1.
The study compared using lanolin cream (like Lansinoh) with using breast milk, and leaving nipples untreated. A short summary of the results goes as follows: the women who used breast milk on their nipples, or who did nothing at all, recovered significantly faster than the ones using lanolin (for a longer discussion see the is lanolin cream a waste of money? post).
Armed with this knowledge, I dumped the Lansinoh, and within only a few hours, things seemed to improve. I can’t be sure whether this was as a direct consequence of not applying the cream, but it seemed to be working, and I decided to stick with it.
January 14, 2009 at 11:37 am
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February 15, 2009 at 5:03 pm
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December 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm
I just your post in lanolin and I’m a sympathizer my breastfeeding issues started to improve only after I stopped using lanolin. Breastfeeding advocates really push Landinoh and I don’t know why. All I know is that it seems to be the root cause of my plugged ducts for the first 10 weeks of breastfeeding, which lead me down a path of related complications. It was a nightmare and I almost gave up breastfeeding. Luckily, I switched to mother love ( once at bedtime only) and just let my nipples air dry otherwise. Made all the difference in the world! Natural is really always best. And breastfeeding is so misunderstood in modern society. It’s truly a lost art that no science can fix.
December 31, 2012 at 2:14 am
I just saw your post on lanolin and I’m a sympathizer. My breastfeeding issues started to improve only after I stopped using lanolin. Breastfeeding advocates really push Lansinoh and I don’t know why. All I know is that it seemed to be the root cause of my plugged ducts for the first 10 weeks of breastfeeding, which lead me down a path of related complications. It was a nightmare and I almost gave up breastfeeding. Luckily, I switched to Motherlove (at bedtime only and after showers) and just let my nipples air dry otherwise. Made all the difference in the world! Natural is really always best. And breastfeeding is so misunderstood in modern society. It’s truly a lost art that no science can fix.
February 2, 2015 at 11:57 am
I am so pleased to come across this. I got into a dependent patter of using moisturisers and in the end depended on topical steroids to heal and have pain free breastfeeding. I had pretty much no pain free feeds for two years which is I believe because I didn’t go through the process of nipple healing in the first place and smothered in moisturiser or lansinoh at the first hint of a problem. My skin never adapted to bf as a result. I’m now having to go through topical steroid withdrawal and it’s tough. Feeding my two year old twice a day is tough and I’m going through cracking and swelling and fissures like having a new born but I believe in time this will bring the healing – wish I’d done nothing long ago! My blog is found here detailing more of my story http://www.beautifulparenting.co.uk/breastfeeding-tsa-and-tsw-blog.
Thanks for your post, helpful…