Pain from Raynaud’s Syndrome during breastfeeding is reported to be so intense it has been likened to a “vise clamping around the nipples”. Is it any wonder that women who suffer from this disorder temporarily stop breastfeeding and resort to expressing breast milk into a bottle for their babies until the pain subsides?
All in the Head?
There are many possible causes of breastfeeding pain, but Raynaud’s Syndrome, a disorder that affects 20% of women of childbearing age, has only recently been recognized as one possible cause of painful nipples during breastfeeding. The association between Raynaud’s Syndrome and breastfeeding was first reported in the early 1970′s, when it was described as “psychosomatic sore nipples”, implying that the cause of the pain is more a negative association to breastfeeding rather than a real, physiologic disorder.
Is Raynauld’s Syndrome to Blame?
When a woman reports pain during breastfeeding, lactation consultants will usually start out by ruling out other possible causes: the baby’s mouth clamping down on the nipple, improper positioning, or improper latching of the baby’s mouth. Once these other possible causes are ruled out, a Raynaud’s Phenomenon test, which includes exposure to sudden cold temperatures, is carried out, to see whether this would trigger blanching or any other color changes and pain in the nipples. If this test is positive, then Raynaud’s Syndrome becomes a strong suspect for breastfeeding pain.
Women who complain of the strong pain are sometimes misdiagnosed as suffering from Candida albicans infection and repeated inappropriate treatment with topical antifungal creams is not unusual for these breastfeeding mothers.
Interestingly, there are ongoing discussions in the medical community about the relationship between a history of breast surgery and use of breast implants vis-a-vis the onset of Raynaud’s Syndrome and other auto-immune disorders.
Get Quick Help
When women experience Raynaud’s Syndrome breastfeeding problems, it is important to seek treatment promptly in order to allow them to return to happily breastfeeding their babies as soon as possible.
The good news is that Raynaud’s Syndrome breastfeeding pain is considered to be a highly-treatable condition.
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