If you’ve been around Best of Baby for a while, you might have picked up on the fact I’m a lactivist…like really a lot. It’s hard not to be when there are so many amazing benefits to breastfeeding. But would you believe me if I told you that I hated nursing? Like hated it so much that I almost quit?
It’s true. With my first baby, nursing was hard…at times even downright MISERABLE. Most women will experience some discomfort in the early stages as their breasts adjust to nursing, but I had extreme pain for months on end. What made it even worse is that I kept hearing “if you’re doing it right, then it won’t hurt”.
But guess what? I was doing it right (according to three different lactation consultants) and it still hurt…a lot. And there were SO many challenges.
1) PAIN AT ONSET OF NURSING
Every time my son latched, I felt like he had hidden razor blades in his mouth. It was the toe curling, back arching, bite your tongue so you don’t scare the baby with your screams type of pain. This made me DREAD every nursing session. So much so, that if the nurses in the hospital had told me I could go 7 hours between each nursing session, I would have gladly taken their advice!
2) PAIN WHILE NURSING
For many people, after the initial latch, the pain mostly eases up. Not for me! It hurt the whole nursing session (all 30-40 minutes of it). I attribute that to extremely sensitive skin. My poor nips were RAW and no amount of nipple cream made it any better (TMI? Sorry…it’s a breastfeeding post though).
3) PAIN AFTER NURSING
Ok, so you’d think that after I was done nursing, I’d get a break from the pain, right? Not the case. For about half an hour straight after a feeding session, I got what I not-so-lovingly termed “Fire Breasts”…where I literally felt like I had fire coursing through my baby feeders. To this day, I still have no idea what caused it, though some have suggested an undiagnosed case of thrush.
Thankfully, after about 3 months, the pain diminished and nursing eventually became comfortable. But during those first 3 months, it was awful. I hated nursing and not a single day went by where I didn’t consider quitting. The only thing that kept me going was the absolute knowledge that I was doing the best thing for my baby (seriously, if you don’t know about the benefits of breastfeeding, check out this post I wrote).
My point in all of this…don’t be discouraged if something so natural doesn’t, in fact, come naturally at all. It can be very painful and very challenging, but ultimately, very rewarding. Get help when you need it (lactation consultants are your friend!), persevere as much as you can, and know that eventually it probably will get better. But if it doesn’t, take comfort in the fact that you’re doing something wonderful (and very sacrificial) for your child.
(Sidenote: Don’t beat yourself up if you need to supplement or quit altogether. You need to do what’s best for your baby, and that includes having a sane mama.)
(Sidenote 2: Nursing with #2 has been a breeze…so there’s definitely hope for anyone else who had a rough go of it the first time around.)