Breast-feeding provides a valuable method of feeding your baby nutrients and the antibodies your body naturally possesses. However, dry skin makes it a difficult process for some women. If you have dry skin, particularly on the nipple, breast-feeding becomes painful. Having dry skin all over your body may indicate a different postpartum medical condition, however.
Breast-feeding is initially uncomfortable for many women. If your nipples become too dry, the skin cracks, which invites infection and also makes the process of the baby latching on and feeding painful. Using lanolin-based ointments, letting breast milk dry naturally on your nipples and avoiding synthetic material next to the nipple minimizes the potential for dry skin to develop.
In 5 to 9 percent of women, the process of re-setting the body's functions postpartum causes issues with the thyroid, according to a 1999 study published in the July issue of "Thyroid." Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism become permanent for a quarter to a third of this group. Symptoms include systemic dry skin, an intolerance for cold, lethargy and poor memory for those who have hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism manifests as irritability combined with lack of energy. If these symptoms occur as you are nursing, consult your doctor for testing.
Nursing requires that you stay hydrated. At least eight 8-oz. servings of liquid, such as water, milk or juice, help you maintain your nursing supply. However, the general rule is to drink if you feel thirsty. Especially the first few days after birth, when your body is shedding excess fluids, drink as much as you need, paying attention to the additional demands that nursing places on your hydration levels. If you become dehydrated, you endanger your milk supply and may also suffer from dry skin.
Infant Dry Skin
If you are breast-feeding and your infant has dry skin, speak with your doctors. Moderate dehydration symptoms include dry skin that is spongy and doesn't spring back when gently pressed. If your milk supply is compromised or you live in a very hot climate, pay careful attention to your infant's skin. If she cries without tears, has dry skin and seems lethargic, contact your doctor immediately.