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Raynauds Syndrome

A customer recently emailed us this story, about her breastfeeding journey and Raynaud's Syndrome.  I hope that if you come across this page on our website, that you can find the help that you need.

"I wanted to write to you about a breastfeeding condition called Raynaud's syndrome (or nipple vasospasm). I want to raise awareness about its treatment, because diagnosis is only the first hurdle.

When my first child was born after a traumatic labour I found breastfeeding incredibly painful - sharp, burning pain. As the days went on, the pain got worse and continued even when the feed had finished. The medical professionals had no answers because I had "beautiful attachment". Finally a lactation consultant diagnosed me with Raynaud's.

The telltale sign of Raynaud's is blanching of the nipple: the nipple turns white because of a constriction of the blood vessels, which causes pain. The nipple blanching can be hard to spot and unfortunately most medical professionals will miss it. I could hardly see it myself! (I have since heard of women who can see the blanching when they are cold, but this was not the case with me.)

To treat the condition, my GP prescribed me the medication Nifedipine (a 10mg tablet). Within a couple hours, the tablet gave me a migraine. After 3 months of stress I was forced to formula feed. This was agonising for me - I had always wanted to breastfeed.

After the birth of my second child, I was incredibly lucky. The paediatrician who did my baby's routine check at the hospital knew about Raynaud's and suggested I take Nifedipine. When I told him about the headaches, he said the dose was too high. He told me to get a pill cutter, chop the tablets in half and take one half in the morning and one at night. The outcome was amazing! No headaches, and the breastfeeding pain was considerably reduced.

I have to add here that the pain was not completely gone. Perhaps if I could have taken a higher dose it would have been. So it still took perseverance.

But I found out how much the medication helped when I forgot to take it one day and the pain returned!

I have now successfully breastfed my daughter for a year. I was very lucky to chance that doctor. The doctor himself urged me to tell everyone, since the condition - and worse the treatment - is not widely understood in the maternal health sector (at least here in Australia).

Of course, as with everything, you need to discuss with your doctor to make sure it's right for you.

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By the way, I just noticed and I'm very glad that you're now selling Raynauds Breastwarmers. I found these very hard to come by when I had my son and they were also tragically suggested to me too late. But I found them really good to ease the pain that continued even after I weaned him (the pain stayed with me for about a year until I got the breastwarmers!) The ones you're selling look very discreet, which is great (mine are quite bulky, still very good, but hard to wear out and about without feeling a bit self conscious).

Thanks for the opportunity to share.
(name withheld)

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