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Nipple vasospasm factsheet

What is nipple vasospasm? It is when the blood vessels in the nipple get too tight and cause pain and discomfort, typically after or between breastfeeds.(It is worth noting that vasospasm can occur anywhere in the body’s blood vessels, but here we will focus on the nipples.Raynaud’s phenomenon is where the blood vessels in the fingers constrict, making the fingers go white in the cold.)

Nipple vasospasm can cause mild discomfort in the breastfeeding mother, but it can also cause severe pain and sometime can force a woman to sop breastfeeding.

What are the symptoms of nipple vasospasm?

Vasospasms that occur anywhere in the body are often intensified by the cold weather. The same is true for nipple vasospasm. Intense pain that can be throbbing and/or burning is often worse when the woman is cold. As with Raynaud’s phenomenon when the fingers turn white, the nipples too can turn white in cold conditions.

What can I do to relieve the symptoms?

One key idea to help with symptoms of vasospasms is to keep as warm as possible. If possible avoid exposing the nipples to the cold. Also, it is imperative to take care of the nipples when breastfeeding. Ensuring the baby attaches correctly is essential in helping with this condition. Seek advice from a lactation consultant as early in the breastfeeding journey as you can if you are in any doubt.

Also seek help if your nipples are damaged as you will want to avoid further pain and possible infection. Some supplements can be taken to help with the condition too so it is always worth talking to your lactation consultant, midwife or GP.

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