Breastfeeding was NEVER easy for me (until Miles) and I struggled for weeks following the birth of both of my girls which is why I wanted to create this post on breastfeeding tips. It became a lonely and dark time because my nipples were bleeding, cracked and I even developed a fissure at one point. It was a nightmare and I couldn’t enjoy breastfeeding at all until I was a month into it. So many moms kept telling me that it gets better so I pushed through the pain and was finally able to get to a point where we were both comfortable. I wanted to share these experiences with you to tell you that YOU are not alone.
If you think that breastfeeding is the most difficult thing you’ve ever attempted, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
If you think baby latching on is the most painful experience (worse than childbirth), YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I hope that this post encourages you to keep going. Stick with it and battle against that pain because once you are a few weeks in, breastfeeding becomes this beautiful experience that connects you and your baby. YOU can do this mama!
When Miles’ latches on now, I have about 3-5 seconds of pain and it goes away. If it doesn’t go away, you need to talk your baby off and re-latch. I have also been asked about when milk typically comes in and every mama is different, but I had Miles on Monday evening and had milk coming out for sure on Wednesday (small amount) and fully engorged by Thursday. So don’t panic if it takes a few days to feel like your milk is coming in! 🙂
Tip #1: If you already have damaged nipples (from a poor latch), here is how I healed mine in record time…
Once you are done nursing, express milk and rub it onto the nipple on both sides. Leave your nipples open to air as much as possible. This will help dry out the cracks and heal them faster than if they are underneath a bunch of clothing. If you are going out or have company, express milk and rub it on there and then rub on Earth mama, angel baby nipple balm and place a Soothie Gel on each breast! Within a few days, you will be feeling a lot better!
A bunch of mamas from my community also mentioned that they swear by Dr. Newmans nipple cream (APNO all purpose nipple ointment). You can call your OB/midwife to ask for a prescription of it to try!
Tip #2: Get a great WIDE OPEN latch from the very beginning
I get it, you’ve never been more tired in your life but it is SO important to get your baby latched on correctly from the first instant that they are born. If you are in the hospital, ask for the lactation consultant to come in and help you. There are several ways to hold your baby to nurse and they can show you those. I prefer to cross cradle him in front. I never use a nursing pillow because I was told that those actually hinder a good latch at times but ask your LC what they think/prefer. Every time Miles nursed at the hospital, I had the nurse come in (they also take lactation classes) and make sure he was on correctly. I also always pull down on his chin once he’s latched so that his bottom lip is turned outwards (creating a wider latch). Once you are home, it may also help to see if your pediatrician’s office has lactation consultants (ours does) and make an appointment with one to make sure you’ve nailed it all down! 🙂
You can also speak to a lactation consultant RIGHT ONLINE here and get the help you need in real time.
Images by Victoria Gloria
Tip #3: Use Amorini
One of my readers sent me an email about these and OH MY GOODNESS. How I wish I knew about these prior to my breastfeeding journey! You put these nipple shells over your nipple to heal them when you are not nursing. They have natural anti-bacterial properties and honestly, you just need to go read up on them over on the website. They sound like godsends. If and when you do use them, make sure you tell me how they worked for you!
Tip #4: Don’t let baby use you as a pacifier.
I am very pro nursing on demand, however, if you are nursing constantly for a few hours because baby is fussy, it’s likely that he/she is nursing to be soothed and not to eat. This can destroy your nipple tissue and should be avoided if you can! I nurse Miles on 20 minutes each side (sometimes he is full sooner because my let down is fast) and then I take at least a 40 minute break. Even when they cluster during growth spurts, they will eat and then break for a bit in between so try not to let them nurse for more than 20 minutes on each side 🙂
Tip #5: Wait to pump until you are healed (if you can)
I typically start pumping to save milk after 4 weeks or so. I know that my nipples are healed and they are roughened up enough to handle breastfeeding AND pumping. I know that sometimes you are advised to pump and feed, so always follow whatever your doctor tells you is right for the baby. But, if you are able to wait to pump, I would! 🙂
Tip #6: Get a towel to bite down on
I know, seems crazy but when you are in THAT much pain when they first latch –> you’ll want something to bite down on!
Tip #7: If you have pain throughout the feeding, take your baby off and re-latch
Unless you already have cracked nipples, you should not have pain the entire time your nursing. You will have pain with the initial latch but this should go away within a few seconds or so. If it does not and if the latch feels “funny”, then it probably is. Take your baby off and re-latch 🙂
If you have any tips or tricks that really helped you, please leave them in the comment section here for others to read! 🙂
Other breastfeeding posts that you may enjoy: