The other day there was a new mom in my moms group wanting tips on how to get her baby to latch well so that breastfeeding wouldn’t hurt. It brought back all sorts of feelings and memories from when I was a first time mom going through the same thing.
My midwife asked me in the last week of my first pregnancy if I had taken any breastfeeding classes. Seriously? How hard can it be? You stick a boob in the baby’s mouth and she eats….right?
I anticipated that first moment of bonding with my new baby with excitement. And when that moment finally arrived….
I asked people, “Should it hurt this much? It really hurts!” They all said that it might hurt a bit but it shouldn’t hurt a lot…there must be something wrong with the latch.
I spent a bunch of money on a lactation consultant (which is silly because there are so many free ones out there, but I had already met this lady and liked her and wanted someone who really knew their stuff). I spent a very frustrating hour trying to do everything she was telling me to do, but in the end I went away with a few helpful tips, some Mother’s Love nipple cream, and a bad attitude. Because my baby was showing all the signs of having a proper latch and I felt like I hadn’t really learned much of anything.
My daughter was eating well. She was gaining weight. Everything was great except she was really hurting me!
Thankfully, the cream really helped. The lasinoh I had been using was not helpful but within a couple of days of using the Mother’s Love, my blisters were starting to heal. It still hurt but it wasn’t quite as excruciatingly painful.
I had a friend tell me to give it five weeks. It isn’t like I had any plans of giving up, but I was thinking about trying some shortcuts to try and make things easier…like pumping and just using a bottle to give myself a break (which I have done in very small amounts with second and third babies.) But I had heard of moms who did that in the beginning and then had to pump forever because their babies wouldn’t nurse. So I told myself to push through.
It helped to have a time frame.
Things slowly got easier. Five weeks came and we had the nursing thing pretty much down. It didn’t hurt anymore and even the difficult task of nursing in public had gotten much easier.
My second and third babies came along and it was so easy. I knew exactly what I was doing. But guess what…it still hurt! For both my second and third babies. I was definitely not doing anything wrong. They were great little eaters and caught on to nursing right away. But it hurt just as much with them as it did with my first. I don’t know why. I know it is not like that for everyone. But that’s just how it is for me. Every time I have a baby.
Some things that help me in those first weeks and might help you…
– Talk to a lactation consultant…breastfeeding is not as easy as it seems at first. And although my kids were all latching correctly, some babies don’t. Things like tongue ties can make latching extremely difficult and might require medical help.
– Once a baby has latched and is sucking, you can move the baby’s lips to make the latch better. If they have a sort of shallow suck, spreading their lips wider around you can help. Or as I got better at it I would just push their top lip up as they opened their mouth to latch.
– Try different positions so that it isn’t so hard on one spot. I like to nurse the “normal way” and also laying down on my side. Laying down is my favorite because it is so snuggly, I can rest and it is easy on my lady parts that are crazy sore from giving birth 😉
– In addition to nursing in different positions I like to nurse on just one side for each feeding. This might not work for you if you are trying to keep up a small supply but if that’s not a concern, nursing on just one side for one feeding and then the other side when the baby is hungry again two hours or so later helps because it gives each side a little break.
– Find things that help you heal. For me it was the Mother’s Love cream and an herbal bath. It was a special postpartum herbal blend made locally but I am sure you can find some online. The Mother’s Love can be found online as well…and no I don’t sell it or anything…I just love it and talk about it way too much 😉
Has anyone else out there experienced this? What helped you get through those difficult first weeks?
Thanks for reading!