What causes nipple blanching during breastfeeding

The name may sound rather unappealing but nipple blanching is actually quite common in breastfeeding mothers.

Nipple blanching occurs when there is a temporary lack of blood flow to that area of the breast and as a result they appear white in colour. Much like when the blood drains from your face if you are in shock!

There are two types of the condition which can be painful. Nipple blanching due to compression and the other due to Vasospasm.

How is it caused – compression? 

The blood vessels surrounding the nipple become obstructed during a breastfeeding session. Here is what to look out for.

Does your baby;

  • have a shallow or improper latch while feeding?
  • have a clampdown bite reflex (especially during teething)?
  • pull the nipple instead of the normal sucking action?
  • cling tightly on the breast?

If a baby has a phase of using one of these unusual methods to get milk then you may be at risk of nipple blanching.

RELATED: Ouch! What do I do about my sore nipples while breastfeeding?

You can often notice there are some difficulties by the shape of the nipple when it is released. If they look out of shape then your baby might not be feeding effectively. Plus, you may also see white strips across the nipple. It is often a painful condition and it can take several seconds or even minutes for the blood circulation and nerve function to go back to normal.

Nipple blanching is often misdiagnosed as thrush because of the pale appearance and pain that is caused. However, this is just a normal reaction of the nipple to the pressure exerted by your baby during feeding. If you think you could have thrush then contact your doctor for advice.

Find out how Vasospasm is caused on the next page…