Meghan McCain has a very important question: can nipples fall off from breastfeeding?
The new mom, who delivered baby girl Liberty Sage McCain Domenech in late September, took to Twitter from “newborn land” to bemoan one of the many aftereffects of new motherhood.
I know there is a LOT going on in the world that is much more important but I’m in the throes of newborn land.... but I just wanted to know if your nipples can actually fall off from breast feeding? 😫🙏🏻🗽😳
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) October 5, 2020
The View co-host found solidarity, support and advice from many who’ve been there.
User Jess Connell @_JessConnell shared her go-to’s as a mother of 9, including using lanolin, air drying her nippIes prior to covering them up and making “sure baby is getting an actual good latch.”
@th1uluv also brought up latch, writing: “Just a recommendation: when mine were sore it was sometimes due to not having enough of the nippIe in the mouth. Make sure they have a BIG mouth full,” and reminded McCain that “it will get better.”
Patricia Allen @Eamon0303 said that “if they get very sore pump and give in bottle use nippIe cream point nippIe towards nose usually helps.” Meanwhile, Katie Davis @KatieDavis82 recommended, “Fresh aloe & a good natural healing lotion” as well as dipping the nippIe in warm water prior to feeds. “They toughen up! ... Ride it out. Hang in there! It gets easier.”
Some of the advice given to McCain was a bit unorthodox. “Best advice I ever got was to have a beer before breastfeeding ... I know I’ll probably get yelled out for this advise [sic], but it came from my 85 year old grandmother and it worked 35 years ago,” said Marlene Sorota @MSorota.
And things took a slightly alarming turn when one user, Liddy Huntsman @LiddyHunstman, claimed that one of her nippIes did indeed “fall off.”
Considering it’s Twitter (and that Huntsman’s bio claims she’s a “self-proclaimed failed comedian”) however, the comment should be taken with a hefty grain of salt.
“I would say your nippIes couldn't actually fall off, although I know that permanent and cosmetic damage can occur in rare cases,” Amanda Pinkney White, a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Birth Doula in Pittsburgh, Pa., tells Yahoo Life. White says more than likely what would come closest to it would be small pieces falling off or changing in appearance, or surgical debridement altering the nippIes due to an infection.
“However, I would hesitate to say it is impossible,” she notes.
On the whole, nippIes can experience a number of changes and even injuries while in the process of feeding a baby. Aside from general soreness, nippIes can develop blisters, yeast infections, and even become cracked and bleed. The cracking and bleeding is typically referred to as nippIe fissures, and can often cause new parents to give up and invest in baby formula (which, hey, we can’t blame them). Using an antiseptic cream or lanolin balm (as some users recommended) actually can be helpful for these unpleasant side effects.
Additionally, folks can experience minor abrasions to their nippIes, especially due to latch issues (such as a shallow latch, or a lip or tongue tie) that make feeding more challenging.
For these issues, White recommends over the counter nippIe creams (“make sure that you are using something that is safe for baby to ingest”), or even using a few drops of one’s own breast milk post-feeding, and rubbed into the nippIe area.
“Breast milk has its own healing and protective properties naturally,” says White. She also recommends wearing a nippIe shell (not to be confused with a nippIe shield), essentially a plastic cap fitting over the nippIe so nothing ever comes into contact with them, allowing them to heal better between feeds.
As for falling entirely off, parents should rest easy: NippIe loss might come from extreme trauma due to accidents, or breast cancer surgery, but breastfeeding is a very unlikely reason someone would have to say goodbye to a nippIe (or two).
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