Raynaud’s phenomenon, also known as blanching of the nipple is now
a common breastfeeding problem, affecting up to 20% of all women of
Reynaud's is not caused by breastfeeding, but is due to abnormal
spasms of arteries that supply blood to your nipples, causing the
restriction of blood flow and therefore numbness, burning and pain. The
skin of the area usually also turns blue, and then when the blood starts
flushing back, the skin turns a reddish color.
Sometimes mothers with Raynauds disease are treated for Candida albicans infection (thrush), which makes it really difficult for the mother to find relief. That’s why it is so important to let your doctor know about all the symptoms you are experiencing.
How do you Know if you have Raynauds?
It is usually the color changes of your skin that will indicate Raynauds. Raynaud’s syndrome usually occurs during very hot or cold temperatures and also when experiencing emotional stress. You don’t have to be pregnant or breastfeeding to develop Raynauds, it can affect your fingers, toes and ear lobes too. Not all women who have nipple or breast pain or even nipple blanching have Raynaud disease.
Most times, mothers who breastfeed with Raynauds say that the pain occurs right after their baby has stopped breastfeeding. They say that their nipples turn white and feel as though they are being clamped down by a vice grip. After a while, the blood starts to return to the area, resulting in red nipples.
Signs of Raynaud's during Breastfeeding
Excruciating nipple and breast pain during nursing, pumping or at other times when your nipples are cold or wet.
Triphasic or biphasic color change in the breast or nipple area. (white nipples)
Sometimes the areola changes shape.
Intense throbbing breast or nipple pain.
Treatment for Raynauds Phenomenon
Nifedipine (high blood pressure medicine) has been given and used to
treat Raynaud’s symptoms with excellent results, because of its
vasodilator effects. (safe to use while breastfeeding)
Making sure that your baby is latching on correctly, can also lessen the pain
and eliminate any other sources of nipple pain associated with
Try to stay calm and in a stress free environment.
Stay away from coffee or any other caffeinated drinks, as these will worsen the symptoms of Raynaud syndrome.
Eliminate alcohol from your diet, alcohol also has a worsening effect on Reynauds.
Avoid quick temperature changes to your nipples.
Keep a warm cloth handy for after breastfeeding, this keeps your nipples warm after your baby stops breastfeeding.
Avoid medications like pseudoephedrine, oral contraceptives and beta blockers.
Supplements that can relieve Raynauds are Evening primrose oil and fish oil taken over a 6 week period.
Aerobic and cardio exercise have been found to relieve symptoms.
Vitamin B6. 150-200 mg once a day for four days, followed by 25 mg/day once a day.
Many mothers have reported that massaging olive oil into the breast and
nipple does give relief and decreases the occurrence of the vasospasms overall. Read more about breast massage here.
Drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration, which can lower the amount of blood moving through the blood vessels.