Nipple trauma caused bleeding

My four month old son is teething and has bitten me three times in two days on the same breast. When pumping this morning, blood settled to the bottom of my milk. He doesn't seem to want to feed on the side that he has bitten and starts to play and bites me again. What should I do?

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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

There is a good chance that the blood in your milk is the result of trauma to your breast, from your baby's biting. Other causes can include intraductal papilloma, fibrocystic breast changes, vascular engorgement, and damage resulting from pumping. The bleeding will probably go away as quickly as it came. It is not dangerous to your baby. If it does continue or more than a couple of days, it is important to speak with your Health Care Provider, as any unusual breast discharge needs to be properly evaluated.

If your baby is constantly refusing and biting on one breast, you might want to taste a bit of your milk to see what the problem is. Breastmilk is normally very sweet. If it has a salty taste, you may have a breast infection "brewing," or your little one may not be nursing much on that side and your breast is beginning to involute, or "dry-up." Tasting your milk will give you an idea if it's the taste that's bothering him.

You might want to express a bit of milk just prior to your little one's feed. It could be the milk ejection reflex (MER), or let-down, is slower in that breast. Babies know that breast stimulation (including chomping, rubbing, squeezing) can help your milk to eject. That may be your son's way of eliciting your MER. If you get your milk flowing before bringing him to breast he may not need to resort to his own way of "helping." Wishing you a quick return to pain-free feeds!

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