Breastfeeding Issues Due To Skin Conditions?

We currently don’t have children, but are doing IVF. [name_m]Just[/name_m] as a precursor, if you’re sensitive to descriptions or bodily related things, maybe skip my topic. But this is in regards to not being able to breastfeed potentially and the way its viewed by healthcare professionals.

Anyway, I was born with inverted nipples, this didn’t correct itself until I was much older, maybe midway through Grade 10. It was something that the doctor stressed about when I was a kid and it scared me a lot. On top of that, I have severe eczema that I have had since I was a newborn. When I say severe I mean I have to wear a bra all day every day. [name_m]Even[/name_m] to bed. If I don’t, my nipples crack, flake off and weep. Usually sticking to my clothes. I had a really bad flare up of this in 7th Grade and had to wear toilet paper in my bra to school every day for a year. The only thing that helps is steroid cream on the nipple.

All this to say, I don’t know if I will be able to breastfeed when the time comes and I am unsure how to navigate the conversation with healthcare professionals, as I feel like they are going to feel I’m exaggerating. [name_f]My[/name_f] priority is ensuring I have good self-care from the beginning, so I can do what’s best for my family.

Have you been in a similar situation or know somebody who has? Thanks!

I haven’t been in this position. But I will say from experience…most healthcare professionals are not generally considered breastfeeding experts and therefore are the ones quick to default to formula supplementation as the method to go. There are sources for you to bounce off your concerns if breastfeeding is important to you. A IBCLC lactation consultant would be the place to start. [name_u]Infant[/name_u] Risk or Lactimed are also great resources.

Other things to consider is if a nipple shield would be useful. And even being an exclusive pumper might be a route to consider. Breastfeeding isn’t easy and you bring up valid concerns but if you talk to the right experienced professionals you should be able to be heard but also figure out what the safe path would be…… it might be to not breastfeed but could also be the same or just look a little different.

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The inverted nipples is something a lactation consultant can help with but the eczema is not something they’re going to know what to do with. The only thing I can think of is you’d be better off seeking a dermatologist sooner rather than later and seeing if there’s alternatives to the cream like a steroid injection?
Anything you do like pump, baby’s mouth, shield, it’s all going to irritate the skin. It takes a long time for the nipple to adjust and stop hurting. Like a callous on a hand from repeated use. It’s not pleasant.

[name_m]Just[/name_m] from one mother who planned to breastfeed to another, I feel the need to share that sometimes things just don’t work out, and that’s okay.

I personally wanted to breast feed and then I had my baby at 24 weeks via cesarean and basically slaved away at pumping and massage and supplements and introducing feeds when he was old enough, (and then he didn’t suck) and paid for lactation consultations and then was told by several nicu staff I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I was getting 5ml a day. 5ml!

Between lack of sleep from stress and travelling backwards and forwards to the hospital, pulling over on the side of the road to pump so I didn’t miss a time slot, looking back, I put in far more effort than any one else I’ve ever known.

I only found out after my second baby, (managed to get to 37 weeks) who I also tried and failed to breast feed, that I’m actually missing mammary glands and it was all out of my control.

I’ve actually spent 4 years coming to terms with it not being my fault, learning to love my body again and being thankful for just being able to feed my baby, and that my first baby is even here at all. I got so caught up in the breastfeeding and my “other failures” at being or staying pregnant, that I forgot to enjoy my child at all.

It’s not “breast is best”. It’s “fed is best”.
And if it’s something that’s just not going to happen for your body, don’t get caught up on it. Enjoy your baby in other ways and keep yourself sane by not forcing suffering on your nipples, if it turns out that way.
I wish you all the best of luck and happiness


While I don’t have the same eczema issue, I also planned to breastfeed my son. However, when he was born, we discovered that he had a severe tongue tie that really complicated things. I had midwives and they tried to help encourage me to breastfeed and tried helping me with the latch in the hospital, but he really just couldn’t get it, so we were sent home with formula.

We tried nipple shields, different techniques,
getting the tie fixed AND a lactation consultant who repeatedly just guilted and bullied me for needing to pump and formula feed, completely disregarded my mental health concerns and told me I needed to just force my son to nurse whether he was able or not.

Two weeks of a screaming baby for 30 mins whenever I tried to latch him, sleepless, crying nights for me, and calls to my midwives later, we found that pumping and combo feeding worked best for us.

There’s no shame in not breastfeeding if you decide that isn’t what’s best for you. [name_f]My[/name_f] son gets a solid 50/50 split of pumped breastmilk and formula and he’s a very healthy, well fed little guy who’s maintained his growth curve in the 80th percentile for weight and 99th for height since birth.

Have a discussion with a healthcare provider to address your concerns - advocate for yourself and discuss what you feel is best for your individual situation.

I think a healthcare professional/ dr. (rather than a midwife or lactation consultant) would be more open to alternate forms of feeding.

I feel like most of the moms i know use formula to some degree. Either because breastfeeding was impossible (or extremely uncomfortable) or their work schedules just didnt allow for breastfeeding. A dr. Should be supportive of whatever plan you choose in regards to feeding your child.

I would really hope that each professional can be supportive of one’s choices whether to breastfeed or formula feed. I only mentioned referring to lactation consultants and infant risk first over any other healthcare professional because it’s been my experience in these past years of nursing that LCs are the most knowledgeable in how to increase your chance of having a successful nursing relationship.

  • an APRN told me to not even bother trying to tandem nurse when I inquire what information she could offer me to make tandem nursing possible when I was pregnant with my second while still nursing my first

  • a pediatrician that was I was trying out for my 2nd child then told me stop tandem nursing my 18mo (she stated there was really no point to continue) and start supplementing my newborn with formula when I wondered about her weight at a couple days old. I called lactation from that doctors parking lot. They offered me some options on nursing schedules I picked one and two weeks later she exceeded her weight expectations and I never had to stop tandem nursing or offer formula. Interestingly since then the American Academy of Pediatics has acknowledged and updated their guidelines to state they recommend nursing until at least age two when possible.

I was told during that time the line “doctors are not breastfeeding experts.”

And I carried that with me when a few months ago I had to get my wisdom teeth out. At the consultation I was told by one nurse I would have to pump and dump for at least 24 hours post surgery because everything they would give me wouldn’t be safe. I tried to get a list of what exactly they were giving me and was met with “everything we give you will be unsafe.” At my surgery prior to going under I was asked by an entirely different set of nurses who work with the same doctor “so we’re you able to talk to your doctor about what things we could give you that could be safe for nursing?” When I said “”No.” I was met with a very annoyed response I of “well, how are we supposed to know were not baby doctors.” I woke up from that surgery with a handwritten list of every Med they gave me. Intook that list and went to [name_u]Infant[/name_u] Risk (it’s a hotline you can call but also an app you can refer to of actual research from those who have looked at medications effect on milk and it’s safety). [name_f]Every[/name_f] medication that was listed was deemed safe for continued nursing…. Had I not liked it up I would have been pumping and dumping and putting my baby through 24 hours of misery unnecessarily.

I’m part of a pretty populated social media group of nursing Moms and unfortunately my experiences are actually rather common. So that’s why Insaid making sure who you are going to for breastfeeding support is knowledgeable in the area because most of those in healthcare aren’t required to be.

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I totally agree with you lactation specialists are the best source of finding accurate information on breastfeeding.

But the way I read her post was she was afraid that her Dr. would force her to try breastfeeding when she might not be able/ or want to. And like you said Dr.'s are not breastfeeding experts and tend to be more open to alternate forms of feeding and wouldnt be likely to force her to breastfeed if she wasnt comfortable. So that’s where my comments are coming from.

But I agree if she does want to breastfeed a lactation specialist would be the best person to talk to.

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Wow! I feel when I first read the OP post I read it one way but now after your comment I can see it being the other way as well. Like I said, I do just hope regardless of the mothers choice of to breastfeed or not I hope they can feel supported.

I also reread my comment and hope my tone didn’t come off wrong. It really wasn’t my intention but I can see it can be read as such. So I apologize.

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No worries! Trying to navigate breastfeeding is complicated and knowing who to talk to is always helpful.