Breastfeeding or chestfeeding parents who've dealt with milk blebs know how uncomfortable they can be. In fact, milk blebs are an often unrecognized source of significant nipple pain. Ouch!
If you are dealing with a milk bleb, you're probably wondering, what's causing this painful bump on my nipple? But most of all, you likely want some relief. You want to know how to get rid of your milk bleb, and how to make sure you don't continue getting them.
We connected with a breastfeeding medicine specialist and a lactation consultant to answer common questions about milk blebs, and to help parents get some much-needed relief.
A milk bleb is also known as a nipple bleb, and sometimes referred to as a nipple blister. Milk blebs are white or yellow bumps that appear on the nipple themselves, and they present either singularly or several at once. Though small, they can cause pretty intense pain, especially when your baby latches. That said, some parents don't notice much pain or discomfort from them. Milk blebs tend to cover a milk duct, which can mean that milk may have trouble flowing from that spot.
Usually parents notice a milk bleb because of a white or yellow bump, but other times, they notice the physical sensations caused by the milk bleb first. "You may first notice new nipple pain and then notice the bump, but sometimes you may randomly find the bump if it's not painful," says Cindy Rubin, M.D., I.B.C.L.C., pediatrician and breastfeeding medicine specialist at Touch Pediatrics and Lactation.
You can often tell that you have a milk bleb because you can see an area on your nipple that appears "blocked," adds Kelly Kendall, R.N., I.B.C.L.C., nurse and lactation consultant at The Balanced Boob. "Some parents will have new onset nipple pain or engorgement in one part of the breast if milk is not able to exit that nipple pore," she explains. "Sometimes a breastfeeding parent will be able to express a hardened piece of milk that was blocking the nipple pore." Other times, the parent's own skin will grow back and block the nipple pore due to inflammation, she adds.