Monday, August 10, 2009

Raynaud's Phenomenon, Vasospasm and Breastfeeding Pain

Nipple Blanching and Vasospasm
By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

Nipple blanching (turning white) after a feeding occurs when the blood flow to the nipple is limited or cut off. Blanching is most often related to latch problems. Nipple blanching is often, but not always, associated with pain. Because women may describe shooting, burning breast/nipple pain, this can be mistakenly diagnosed as thrush. If the normal color returns after your baby has finished a feeding and there is no pain, then the blanching is not a problem.

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Raynaud's Syndrome and Breastfeeding

Raynaud’s phenomenon occurs when blood vessels spasm, preventing blood from getting to a particular area of the body. It can be triggered by a sudden drop in temperature.

The effects of Raynaud’s Syndrome are not confined to the fingers, toes, nose, earlobes, chin or cheeks. In some cases, the disease may also affect the nipples, making it difficult and sometimes causing pain for the breastfeeding mother. It is much more common than generally believed.


"Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipples can be treated in a number of different ways. The provision of warmth and avoidance of cold are the first-line management. I suggest that mom keep as warm as possible, warm compresses on nipples/wool pads in between feedings. Sometimes they may need to actually soak the nipples in warm water. Moms who suffer with Raynaud’s should avoid caffeine and nicotine as both are triggers for vasospasms. Additional magnesium supplements are also recommended. Nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker has been used successfully to treat Raynaud’s and the AAP considers it compatible with breastfeeding."

-Ellen Penchuk, IBLC, RLC

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