I nursed all nine of my children. They weaned themselves when I became pregnant with the next; I guess the milk changed. Anyway, from day 3 (when my milk came in) through the second week I had to find something to hold so I wouldn't hurt my baby. The pain is there. Everyone is different and everyone's pain is different. Yay to those who nursed pain free; but don't minimize what someone else feels. That's why we have this forum.
Doula / Student Midwife
Oh, I actually just wrote a blog post on this very topic, but I don't think I'm allowed to share my posts here... let me try to remember the basics:
-You really need to prepare yourself for the pain of breastfeeding--and know that it only hurst for the first few weeks! Once you get past this hump, it really is the most beautiful and relaxing gift you can give your infant! It helped me to count for 30 seconds when I started nursing, deep breaths (like getting through a contraction)--and after those quick 30 seconds, the pain is gone!
-Kangaroo Touch is a great way to get the baby to latch on faster and easier after birth (skin to skin contact).
-Buy washable breast pads, because you can leak often, especially when you're nursing on the other breast! I have used the same washable breast pads since my first was born, and I never have any embarrassing wet spots on my shirt! (plus- I save a lot of trash from going to the landfill by not buying disposable breast pads).
I can't remember the rest, but I hope these tips help! =)
CDing, BFing, BWing, bread-baking, animal-loving, non-stop traveling Mama of 2 sweeties, and loving every minute of it!
I to often hear unsettling stories about women who can't breast feed or think that they are not producing enough milk, etc. There is almost nothing more frustrating to me than hearing so many women give up on breastfeeding because they think they can't. Just about any woman who can give birth can nurse their babies. certainly there are rare exceptions, but they are extremely rare. The problem is, is that women don't understand how daunting a task it can be at first. In order to produce a sufficient amount of milk a mom needs to be relaxed. Further the other problem, is that breastfeeding is not that easy at first. It can be painful, uncomfortable, and tedious. too many women give up before they get the hang of it. That is unfortunate because once you get the hang of it (in my opinion) it is easy, peasy :-)
New moms can't expect that it will be simple at first. It most likely won't be. I think that too many hospitals push formula as well and have a habit of making women think they are not producing enough milk. What new moms need to realize is that a babies stomach is only as big as their tiny fist. they don't need too much at first. They will nurse throughout the day and they will do so sufficiently as long as mom is relaxed.
From my own experience, I struggled with my daughter at first and there were moments when I thought about just switching to the bottle. Thankfully for me I was persuaded to hang in there and keep trying. Sooner than later my milk flowed and flowed and my daughter had a FREE unlimited supply of nutrition. I nursed her for two years and I am so thankful that I did. My daughter is 12 years old now and till this day she rarely ever gets sick. When she does come down with something it only ever lasts about 12 hours and then she's fine. Her immune system is very strong. Further, she was an easy baby. Never had colic or all the other baby ailments. She has never had any digestion issues, etc. Furthermore she is very bright and I think that being breastfed for so long has a lot to do with. Not only is she super healthy and super smart but because I had that bond with her, she is a very confident kid. I contribute the bulk of her good health and wonderful qualities to having been breastfed.
I stopped nursing her after a little more than two years because I just felt that I needed my body back. Sometimes I wish I had nursed her longer, but at least she got the necessary time frame to reap all of the benefits. I know a lot of women struggle with how to stop nursing their toddlers without emotionally hurting their little ones. So here is how I did it and it worked for me..She was already two years old and many kids at that age have discovered the difference between being a bay and being a big kid. generally they all want to be like the big kids. They become proud of themselves when they do more grown up things like using the potty and feeding themselves, etc. So when I noticed that my little one was becoming more and more proud of her milestones I simply told her that she had drank all of mommies milk. That she drank it all up and there was no more left. She was not hurt or upset, yet she was very proud of herself. She graduated from breast to sippy cup and never used a bottle. She even went around and declared her accomplishment to everyone saying, "I'm a big girl now, I drank up all of mommies milk!"
Over a decade later I am having baby number 2 and i am looking forward to nursing him as well. I wish I knew then (with my first) what I know now :-)
1) Breastfeeding is a skill to be learned and it may not get off the ground smoothly right away. I had a healthy, full term, just about 8 lb baby girl and she would flick the nipple out with her tongue every time, then scream in frustration.
2) you may need to pump or even give formula in the beginning until the baby learns to nurse. Hopefully this won't apply to many but some babies need more help before they learn to breastfeed effectively.
3) Needing the help of a pump/formula initially doesn't mean you've failed but that you're trying hard to persevere. I ended up EPing for ten weeks for my little girl before she transitioned to being EBF. This is not typical but it can happen and I don't for a minute regret any bottles or formula I had to use to get us over that hump. She's 21 months but nursing like a champ in spite of my current pregnancy.
4) follow your gut and seek help sooner rather than later if something about nursing or the baby has you concerned.
5) nursing changes week to week and month to month. For many it gets easier but usually there are a few rough patches here and there
6) babies don't self wean. Babies will sometimes go on a nursing strike but the nursing relationship will survive in the vast majority of cases. (I do remember reading a thread here on MDC where sadly, the baby continued to refuse the breast for weeks. This is very rare but I certainly don't want to negate any moms' experiences who have gone through this.)
7) most moms get less shy about NIP as their confidence and skill grow. I'm hoping to tandem nurse once my second LO is born and really hope to nurse simultaneously in public. Why? Just so it's not so unheard of :-)
Use the bathroom (if possible) before sitting down to nurse baby bc as a new mother it's often difficult to hold your pee for any length of time and it's also difficult to get pants down, wipe, pants back up, and wash hands, all while nursing a baby (trust me, I know)
Also grab a snack and definitely something to drink before you sit down to nurse. I was always sooooo thirsty while nursing!
Keep a pillow nearby also. Our maybe 2. One for propping up baby, and one for resting on. Breastfeeding also made me very sleepy, especially early on.
And finally, I finally figured out that you might as well wait until after you feed the baby to change the diaper bc chances are they will poop again either while eating or while burping
I hope this helps I'll be nursing my 5th baby soon!
I concur with everyone here. One thing you really need to get in your head is that in the beginning, the baby is going to nurse very frequently, sometimes every hour. Baby is hungry frequently and the more you nurse, the more milk you produce. So, let's say it takes 30 minutes per nursing session. Yep, you literally will be turning around and doing it all over again after hardly any time has gone by after the last session, and feel like you are nursing constantly. Well, yes, you pretty much will be. It's hard to grasp this idea with a first baby. I had trouble wrapping my head around this with DD despite everything I read and was taught. It's different when you are actually doing it. With my second I expected this so I just threw my hands up and said ready, set, go!!!! Set up a nursing station at home with books, magazines, pillows, blankets, burp cloths, wipes, the remote to the tv, phone, laptop, drinks, snacks, etc so that you will have everything you need close while you nurse your baby. Someone said go to the bathroom first. Yep, do that. Someone else mentioned about waiting to change baby's diaper until after he eats. Yes, it works better that way. I can add to this advice... after the baby eats, wait a few minutes, then change the diaper. Keep baby close and listen. With both DD and DS, and right around the same age (1-2 months), I went to change their diaper after nursing and did not wait those few minutes. I had a lovely experience with both children that is vivid in my memory. They both pooped and peed, with extreme force, which caused it to go airborne across the room. They both did it to me. DD's was a mess, but not as bad as DS and didn't go as far as his. DS's shot across the room and hit everything in its path until it rested all over my blinds in the window!!! Adding insult to injury, both these incidents were in the middle of the night. DH was woken up to help!! That yellow BM poop is hard to remove! It's funny now, but I was so mad!! I just wanted to go back to sleep, but couldn't because I had to clean up. DH helped somewhat.
Tell people who discourage you or are not supportive to go away! Three months into BF my son, my father, who is a doctor, told me basically that DS had had enough BM and that formula is no big deal. Disclaimer... he is not a pediatrician or OB/Gyn. Then, around the time my son was 1.5, my mother started asking me every single time we talked on the phone if I was still nursing DS. One time she said, "Really? You're not going to nurse him until he's 5 are you?" She should know better, much better than my dad, she's a nurse!! I had to put her in her place that day. Actually I think they acted crazy with DD too. She was first so they should have remembered when DS came.
Once you get your groove on, it will be sooo easy.
My only question is, what do you do with a two and a half year old when you're always breastfeeding ? Lol I have come to the conclusion that I'm going to breasted and pump simply because I can only take a short time off work, maybe two months if I'm lucky, but still what's everyone's advice when it comes to breastfeeding and entertaining a two year old?
I had a 16 month old and a newborn. It was hard to keep an eye and give attention to the 'big' one while BFIng. Here are some tips that helped:
-Basket of 'special' toys/books to be played with beside you or at your feet while you are BFing. Played with only then so that they remain special.
-Basket of prepacked snacks and water bottle for your 'big' one kept where you BF. Mine ALWAYS got thirsty/hungry as soon as I got baby latched.
-Learn to BF in a ring sling/wrap/carrier asap. From quite early on I could atleast follow 'big' into another room, or eventually run at the park while BFing. Even if you need one arm to support baby/your boob in the first few months, you still get one arm free to help your other child.
-Come to grips with the fact that not everyone can get instant assistance all the time (this was really hard for me). Big had to learn that sometimes she had to wait a few min to get her needs met. Baby also occasionally had to wait 5 min so I could get the big one settled before I was able to feed.
-If you end up pumping. Buy or make a pumping bra (cut slits into a cheap sportsbra). It will make you hands free and better able to deal with real life while pumping. Bonus points for getting a 'sexy' or lacy pumping bra. They make me smile/laugh and smiling and laughing increases letdown ;)
* evidence based crunch *
Trust your instincts and get like-minded support while pregnant. I had visions while pregnant of breastfeeding bliss. I was so unprepared for the immense challenge it was for me in the beginning. My LO was tiny and lethargic and losing weight - we needed to get milk in her fast! We supplemented with other moms' milk and goat milk and I pumped and nursed constantly. I was so scared and exhausted and recovering from a fairly traumatic birth experience (I also had visions of a blissful labor) that there were many times I wanted to give up - meaning switch to formula. I am grateful for the support I got from my midwife, doula, husband and friends. But it came down to my own determination because it was so important to me to be able to BF. I would say to my pregnant self that yes, breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and eventually easy, but it may be hard in the beginning, so hard that you want to give up. And if you push past that feeling and keep trying and get all the help you can, it will be so incredibly worth it.
I should clarify: I am not saying I don't believe a woman who says she has "screaming pain" while breastfeeding. Having had the experience of having my own sense data invalidated by hospital staff during labor with my first child, I would never do that to another woman. But I still find it mystifying that someone would have pain of that caliber with no apparent cause. I sympathize with women who had that experience but I am confused by it. I wonder if there are historical accounts of this kind of pain in breastfeeding women?
I didn't read all the comments but agree with those I did. There's one thing I didn't run into - how the breast actually works. I didn't understand this at first and it caused a lot of unnecessary worry. For example, I was concerned about pumping and how if I pumped too close to when my newborn might need to feed, I thought I'd be hurting his supply. Now that I understand I'm constantly producing milk, it's not an issue. I found a great description of it here:
Also, I've gotta agree with: IT GETS BETTER!!! How hard it is in the first couple weeks or months is in no way indicative of how it will be. The pain stops. You figure out what works for you. Baby figures it out. Everything gets easier. (CANNOT say the same about baby sleep :)) I also wanted to know when it gets better - I'd estimate 6 - 8 weeks in.
For me, I could not get the breast pump to work. I had a consultant help me and still it would not work. I ended up manually pumping my milk with my hand. This was easy and very efficient. I breastfed my oldest for 18 months. my two other children, for 12 months and they self weaned. My sister had preeclampsia, her son was born early and the breast pump would not work for her either. I showed her how to manually pump using her hand and she successfully breastfed her son and her second child. No body ever taught me this, it was something I had to research on my own. I know of others that could not pump or breast feed because of inverted nipples and if they had know about manually pumping they may have been able to continue using their breast milk.
Yeah - hospitals are not the best places to learn how to breastfeed. I mean, it's good that they try to teach and everything, but honestly, they're aiming the teaching at entirely the wrong person. The mamas are NOT going to retain ANYTHING that is said in the hospital. They should help the mamas, but teach the partners anything technical about pumps or latching technique or whatever. I'm a postpartum doula, I think I've asked all my clients who gave birth in the hospital what the nurses told them about breastfeeding (because I don't want to go and say something completely opposite, that's just confusing) but most of them have no clue what they were told.
Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).
I heard lots of fluffy nonsense about breastfeeding, and the nightnurse at the hospital set me straight.
1. That screaming pain that reaches your toes when she first latches on and begins to nurse? That's normal. And it will stop.
2. Try the football hold first, and give it to her like a sandwich. Your breast, that is; flatten it like a sandwich, and put it straight into her mouth. Presto, latch!
3. Rub your own breast milk into your nipples after feeding. It's far superior to the cream in terms of preventing and helping to heal cracks and sore, chafed nipples.
4. If she's fussing for more, and your breast is empty (and the other breast is empty as well, or you're using only one side a feeding) go ahead and put her back to the empty breast for as long as you can. She won't like it, you might get bit, but a baby nursing on a dry breast is the fastest way I found to increase supply.
It's so worth it! All the early frustration and pain are such a small price when I see my sleek, fat, bright-eyed daughter.
Thanks for writing my post for me :)
4x Breastfeeding mama - heading for our 5th in last Spring
My tip: don't be discouraged if nursing doesn't work right away and don't stress if baby refuses at first. There's a very good chance that nursing will work in a few days/weeks - provided you build your supply and keep at it.