Nipple blanching due to compression will happen when the nipple becomes squished during nursing stopping the blood from circulating and leaving the nipple white. As the blood rushes back in you can feel pain similar to pins and needles which usually starts after the feed and can last quite a long time between feeds. The pain can be tingly, shooting. I felt like I wanted to hold my breast and couldn't easily ignore the pain. There are a number of causes of nipple blanching due to compression -
- A poor or shallow latch when the nipple doesn't reach the soft palate during feeds.
- Baby clamping down on the nipple/breast due to a fast flow or fast let-down to slow the flow.
- A high or bubble palate which can cause the nipple to not reach the soft palate during feeds.
- A tongue-tie which prevents the tongue from having a typical range of motion.
Improvement of the latch through working with a breastfeeding specialist or a referral to a tongue-tie specialist can reduce and indeed remove all symptoms.
Nipple blanching due to Raynaud's phenomenon can occur with anyone that suffers from this condition which causes sudden vasospasm in the extremities (hands, feet, nipples). The nipple turns white and then often blue and red before returning to its normal colour as the blood rushes back in. Coldness can often set off the symptoms, so women often report feeling pain when they step out of the shower or when they walk down the freezer aisle at the supermarket.
There are a number of ways to reduce or treat symptoms -
- Keeping the breast/nipples warm and avoiding cold (Breast Aid Breast Warming Pads are perfect as they cover the nipple and use body heat to keep the area warm)
- Avoiding caffeine and nicotine (vasosconstrictors)
- Nifedipine has been found to help in some cases at low dosage.