Does breastfeeding seem a little painful lately? Maybe you are expereincing nipple vasospams.
What Are Nipple Vasospasms?
Nipple vasospasms are the painful sensations that affect some women during breastfeeding. Women affected by nipple vasospasms describe the pain as an intense throbbing or stabbing sensation in the breast and back area. The veins within the breast constrict, causing these painful sensations.
Nipple vasospasms are linked to Raynaud’s Phenomenon, a disorder typified by episodes of vasospastic attacks in the fingers and toes and, occasionally, the nose and earlobes. Raynaud’s Phenomenon affects between 5 and 10% of the general population. It has been estimated that nipple vasospasms affects up to 20% of women! It’s surprising therefore that the literature on nipple vasospasms is so limited.
Do You Have Nipple Vasospasms?
Do you suffer from painful stabbing sensations in your chest area and back? You’re not alone. Many women visit their lactation consultants, eager to find a solution to these pains that make breastfeeding a difficult journey. Frequently, the symptoms are overlooked or misdiagnosed by lactation consultants as symptoms of plugged ducts or a yeast infection.
The lack of awareness is particularly distressing as many mothers look forward to the benefits and joys of breastfeeding only to become discouraged by their painful experiences with nipple vasospasms. The good news is that nipple vasospasms will subside and can be successfully treated with medication and alternative treatments.
Nipple Vasospasm: Causes and Symptoms
If you have breast pains and you’re not sure what’s causing them, take a look at some of the symptoms of nipple vasospasms, which include:
- having circulatory problems that intensify in cold weather or under emotional stress
- nipples that will change colors from white to purple in between breast feedings
- stabbing, stinging, or burning pain throughout the chest area, back, and shoulders
Nipple Vasospasm Treatment
There are many methods of relieving nipple vasospasms. One coping strategy is to reduce the stressors in your life. Many mothers also find it helpful to keep warm during breastfeeding — you can try placing a heating pad on whichever breast is not currently feeding.
The drug Nifidipine is prescribed for nipple vasospasms and women find it to be the most effective treatment choice.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of nipple vasospasms or have any other breastfeeding problems, talk to your lactation consultant.
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