Breastfeeding hurts. Help me!
I’m not a “real” breastfeeding expert. But I nursed my little one for over two and a half years, and I can tell you that when breastfeeding was painful, 100 per cent of the time it was because of a poor latch.Otherwise, breastfeeding was pain-free, and actually quite enjoyable.
Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. Of course, that does not mean that it never does. Pain is the sign that something is wrong, we should all listen to our bodies.
Think about your nipple, about a full, big open mouth, and then about a tiny mouth with teeth. Your baby may not have teeth yet, but believe me, their gums are hard. If the baby takes only the end of your nipple, not only is he not going to drink a lot of milk, but it is most probably going to hurt. In order for the baby to access the big reserves (or have your breasts produce more milk for him), he needs to open wide and really take in as much breast as possible, not only the nipple.
I once heard a mother of three telling her pregnant friends that breastfeeding pain goes away by itself. She recommended patience and perseverance. I was surprised. How can the pain go away if nothing is changed in the way the baby feeds?
Well, some babies correct themselves on their own after a few days or weeks. They may figure out that if they open their mouth wider, they will drink more milk, and the nipple pain will go away. Sometimes a mom will have a very tender nipple that will get damaged by the baby’s strong suction during the first week even though the baby’s latch is picture-perfect. Breastfeeding creams may save that mom the first few days.
One important thing to remember is that creams will not help if your baby is “biting” your nipples. Luckily for the mom of three that I had met, the situation did fix itself. “Toughing it out” is not something that I would recommend.
Please, do not let your baby hurt you. After her first baby, my best friend Daphnée could not leave her house. She had to stay naked because her nipples were bleeding and it hurt too much to put a shirt on. It was only then that she decided to see a professional breastfeeding consultant. Imagine. Poor girl! She did persevere and ended up breastfeeding her daughter for over a year.
My friend wished she had seen a consultant before. It is much easier to correct a problem at the very beginning, before damage has been done. Try to get your baby to “open wide”, watch videos (like the ones from Dr. Jack Newman, available on www.momzelle.com) of successful latches to know what to look for, but for your sake and breastfeeding’s reputation, ask for help without delay if you feel any pain.
Christine Poirier is the co-founder, with her brother Vincent, of Momzelle Nursing Clothing (www.momzelle.com). When she does not play with her three year old daughter, Christine can be found running in the streets of Toronto. You can read more of her articles about breastfeeding on the Momzelle breastfeeding blog: www.momzelle.com/blog.