Breastfeeding, like every other part of motherhood, can present unexpected challenges that you may not immediately know the answer to. Breasts can be sensitive, and sometimes, breastfeeding moms will be faced with the unexpected reality of bleeding nipples. It's concerning, and those moms may wonder, can my baby breastfeed if my nipples are bleeding? It's time to get answers from the experts so you can rest easy.
According to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Rachel O'Brien, it is totally safe to continue to nurse your baby if your nipples are damaged or bleeding, but you should consider giving them a rest.
"Sometimes people need to rest their nipples by not nursing for 24 to 48 hours, while pumping or hand expressing to protect their milk supply, giving them time to heal," O'Brien says. She also notes that it's important to address the problem that caused the damage in the first place, otherwise it could get worse.
La Leche League International (LLLI) explained that the leading cause of sore or bleeding nipples is either increased nursing or unusual nursing positions that stretch the nipple, but they also be caused by thrush or other infections. If improper latch is the cause, then LLLI suggested adjusting your baby's position, or working with your baby to develop proper sucking. If an infection or thrush is the reason behind your bleeding nipples, then you should talk to your healthcare provider to get properly treated.
IBCLC Sarah Lester, owner of Naturally The Best Lactation Services, advises getting proper support and help. "Seeing a well-versed IBCLC can help you to fix your baby's latch so it doesn't worsen," she says. It's important to remember that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt and if your nipples are consistently bleeding, there's a bigger issue at play.
While it's safe to continue breastfeeding if your nipples are bleeding, you can give them a break if you want to — just make sure to keep emptying your breasts so that you don't hinder your milk supply. No matter what unexpected twists and turns motherhood will throw at you, you'll continue to power through them like a boss. With extra breast pads.