Last week I got the mother of all cracks on my right nipple.
I first noticed it whilst pumping at work (yup, just said "whilst"). At first I thought, "Hmm, maybe this is what a clogged duct feels like..." So I immediately began texting other breastfeeding mothers for advice. I then texted Casey, not a breastfeeding mother, but a boob man, and insisted he examine my nipple the moment I got home that evening.
I had an inkling that maybe my spiffy new flanges were too big. Casey later confirmed my suspicions when he pointed out a crack in the shape of a perfect circle at the base of my nipple. You see when your breastshield is too big, it pulls too much of the breast tissue into the funnel. This causes chafing and, ultimately, cracking.
It was crazy painful to pump - like cringing, fighting back tears painful. The pain actually reminded me of the first two weeks I breastfed Goose. Fortunately, nursing was not painful.
When I first told Casey about the pain I was having, he responded with, "Just put some breast milk on it." So I did just that. Throughout the day I would massage breast milk into the crack, and I used a little Lansinoh nipple cream at nighttime. But what I find interesting about this whole situation is that the crack only happened on my right side...that same side is also the "under performer". Coincidence?
So, let this be a lesson to all the breastfeeding mothers that pump at one point or another: a proper fitting breastshield/flange/whatchamacallit is of the utmost importance!! I never would've thought that I, of all people, would have smaller than average nipples, but that apparently is the case...
For more information on proper sizing, check out the Medela website. I also like this diagram for comparing different size shields.