Breastfeeding: Large nipples and areola

I have very large breasts with large nipples and areolas and have difficulty breastfeeding. I experienced bleeding and blistering right from the start with my first baby because my nipple didn't "fit" his small mouth. Also, I was told to get most of the areola in the baby's mouth and it just isn't possible. I am going to be nursing my newborn who is due in eight weeks and don't want to go through the pain again. Any ideas?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

This is a definite challenge -- but it may be possible to avoid it the second time around. Try to put your baby to your breast as soon as possible following the birth, preferably within the first two hours. Many babies don't attach wonderfully at that time or take a complete feed. The important thing is that he gets a chance to lick and nuzzle at your breast. This "imprinting" seems to make a big difference in future breastfeeding sessions.

It is so important to have your baby properly positioned and attached. You might find it easier to nurse with your baby lying along your side, supported to breast level by pillows. You can use a folded lightweight baby blanket to help support your breast, or use the opposite hand, keeping your fingers as far back from the areola as possible. Your arm will support your baby's body and your hand supports the upper part of his neck. Tickle your baby's lips with your nipple and when he opens his mouth very wide, bring him in quickly to your breast. He needs to be taking in about one inch of your areola. His nose and chin should be resting gently against your breast.

If you are having any difficulties with nursing, consider hiring a Lactation Consultant. Find one in your area, by contacting ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) at www.ilca.org.

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