Breastfeeding: Is it safe to nurse your baby if your nipples are bleeding?

Is it safe to breastfeed a baby if your nipples are bleeding? [Photo: Getty]
Is it safe to breastfeed a baby if your nipples are bleeding? [Photo: Getty]

Stacey Solomon has revealed she has been suffering from bleeding nipples which has hindered her ability to breastfeed her new baby, Rex.

Thankfully, however, the 29-year-old ‘Loose Women’ star followed up with the news that her nipples had recovered, so she was able to continue with her breastfeeding journey.

Alongside a smiling image of her nursing baby Rex Stacey wrote: "There was a time, not so long ago, when I used to dread this.

"It’s so nice to uncurl my toes, not be fighting with shields or trying to sooth [sic] my bleeding nipples and actually get excited for the times that Rex wants to feed on me."

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Bleeding nipples is actually a common problem that many breastfeeding mums will suffer from.

But people are confused about what causes the nipples to bleed and whether it is safe to continue breastfeeding.

What causes bleeding nipples?

According to Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, baby expert at The Baby Show and author of Your Baby Skin to Skin bleeding nipples are usually a direct result of trauma from a baby who for whatever reason is not getting on the boob.

“Usually it’s because a woman has been incorrectly helped,” she explains. “Sometimes it is because no matter what the woman does there’s something going on with the baby, maybe a tongue tie which could cause the baby to bite.”

“Blood in your breast milk can also be caused by a small rupture in one of the capillaries in the breast,” adds Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives. “It is not harmful to baby, and will often resolve on its own.”

And there are some other causes of bleeding nipples including a condition called a intraductal papilloma where a little wart just inside the vessels through which mum’s milk flows which can bleed.

An infection called mastitis could also be cause.

According to the NHS mastitis is a condition which causes a woman’s breast tissue to become painful and inflamed, sometimes leading to bleeding nipples.

“If there’s not obvious trauma then a woman should always get checked by a doctor,” suggests Fitz-Desorgher. “If there is obvious trauma then the woman should see a breastfeeding specialist, a lactation consultant or a specialist midwife.”

Rarely the cause can be something more serious. “A bleeding nipple can actually be a sign of breast cancer so you’ve got to get this investigated if the cause isn’t obvious,” Fitz-Desorgher recommends.

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Many women suffer from bleeding nipples while breastfeeding [Photo: Getty]
Many women suffer from bleeding nipples while breastfeeding [Photo: Getty]

What to do if you’re suffering from bleeding nipples?

Rachel Fitz-Desorgher says women should always seek help from an appropriate person so she can be properly sign posted.

Some women will be tempted to try nipple creams to help soothe the soreness, but according to Fitz-Desorgher creams can sometimes make breasts more slippy which can cause the baby to slip and bite and make the situation worse.

“Most importantly, the mum needs someone to look at her nipples, look at her baby and show her how to do things properly. If the cut or graze is looking really manky then it might be an infection or thrush and she’s going to need some treatment for that,” she adds.

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Does blood cause problems for baby?

100% not. “A woman should carry on breastfeeding blood or not blood,” Fitz-Desorgher explains. “It really doesn’t upset the baby though it looks a bit grim.”

In fact stopping breastfeeding could lead to further problems, like engorgement, which is when when your breasts get too full of milk, causing them to feel hard, tight and painful.

According to Liz Halliday immediately stopping breastfeeding increases the chance of developing a breast abscess significantly.

“Nurse frequently and try to drain the breast thoroughly. If you’re unable to feed baby, pump regularly (every two hours),” she advises.

“Don’t stop breastfeeding, do ask for help, don’t smother your boobs in creams that could make them bite and always get seen by a specialist in case this isn’t trauma from a baby but could be something a little bit more worrying,” Fitz-Desorgher adds.