I tell the mama’s that I work with all the time that breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world but it is not the easiest by far. This was true for me both times I began the journey of breastfeeding my boys.
There were several essential breastfeeding products that made it easier to nurse them and get through the pain that women often experience in the first few days and weeks.
Breastfeeding in the Newborn Period.
Our culture would like us to believe that breastfeeding is easy and natural.. While it is 100% natural, normal and best for our babies, not every mother can breastfeed or wants to breastfeed.
Let me let you in on a little secret. If your a first time pregnant mama, new breastfeeding mama, or the mama who is currently in tears because you want this to work so badly but you are struggling to feed your precious baby… this is for you.
Breastfeeding is beautiful, rewarding and creates a bond like no other. It is hard, exhausting, frustrating and painful. It will push you to the limits of what you think your mind and body can do. You will be amazed at what your body can do for another soul. you will gain new appreciation and respect for yourself.
You may feel guilty at not enjoying it the way you think you should or being able to navigate it with the ease that Brenda down the street did. Wherever you are in that journey I want to share with you the essential products that saved my sanity when breastfeeding..
Why Does Breastfeeding Hurt Sometimes?
- Nurse Heather opinion or Mama Heather opinion? I’ll go with the latter, I didn’t use my breasts for breastfeeding on a daily every 2-3 hour basis with a human vacuum suctioned to it before I gave birth. Both times that I have breastfeed my boys there was an initial period that I think my body just had to adjust to what was going on. Both times it took about 2 weeks for the initial latch on pain to subside. ** However if you are in excruciating pain the whole time you are breastfeeding, there is something that needs to be addressed and you should seek out the opinion of a lactation consultant. **
- One of the biggest things that can affect whether or not you have pain while breastfeeding is your baby’s latch. If your baby has a shallow latch it can cause the nipple to blistered, have cracks or even bleed. Sometimes a small change in positioning the baby can help with adjusting the latch.
- Tongue Tie/Lip Tie. My second son had a severe tongue and lip tie when he was born. Our midwife suggested getting it fixed right away to help with the pain I was experiencing with breastfeeding. On his third day of life we had both his tongue and lip tie released by a dentist who specializes in this area. It helped TREMENDOUSLY but I had already sustained damage to the nipple from his poor latch the first few days.
- Engorgement- When your milk comes in about 3-5 days after you give birth it is trying to regulate how much milk you actually need based on your body’s cues and baby’s cues. When the baby is not able to adequately drain the breast or you go too long in between feedings the breast will continue to produce milk leading to a very uncomfortable full and swollen feeling.
- Mastitis- This is an inflammation of the breast due to poor drainage or an infection in one of the milk ducts of the breast. A plugged duct stops the flow of you milk and sometimes an infection can occur. Sometimes cracked nipples or untreated thrush allows bacteria to enter the breast causing this condition. I actually experienced mastitis in both breasts at the same time with my second son and I can tell you it is NO joke!
Best Products to Overcome Pain Experienced While Breastfeeding.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.
- Nipple cream- This is a must have! I recommend using it right away after each feeding. Apply it to the nipple after the baby feeds and you can wipe it off with a clean/wet cloth prior to feeding. Lansinoh has fantastic products although I personally felt that Medela’s nipple cream worked best for me.
- Hydrogel Pads- These were a life saver for my sore nipples! They are a soothing gel pad that you can place on the breast in between feedings. You can use the same set for 24 hours so they go a long way.
- Nursing Support Pillow – This helped so much with getting my baby in the best position to latch. We had to try several different positions to find the best latch to decrease my nipple pain and I couldn’t live without one of these!
- Nursing Pads – Once your milk comes in your body doesn’t know exactly how much it need to produce so there tends to be an overabundance at first. . . cue the leaky faucets! While my baby fed on one side my milk would “let down” and my other breast would drip milk OR I would hear my baby crying and my breast would start leaking OR if I got too full they just let go! I had to wear these for the first few months after I had my son until my milk regulated. I really loved this brand!
- A good pump- This is a must have even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed. There were many times my baby could not empty my breast effectively. He was having difficulty getting a good latch. He got too sleepy at the breast to get all of the milk out. I had mastitis and needed to drain my breast more frequently than my baby could… I could go on and on! I used the Medela Pump in Style with my last pregnancy and it was fantastic. This pregancy I plan on using the Spectra Pump and I have heard ALOT of mamas rave about it so I am excited to try it!
- A comfortable nursing bra – I LIVED in my nursing bra for weeks, like I NEVER took it off! I needed to have the constant, comfortable support for these new breast that were way too large for my body and SUPER sensitive. Plus I wore my nursing pads for the first few months postpartum and I had to have a place to put them! I would recommend buying a nursing bra a size larger than you currently wear, supportive but not too tight. AVOID ANYTHING WITH UNDERWIRE!
- Milk collection device- This doesn’t have anything to do with the pain experienced with breastfeeding but IS A LIFESAVER! I would leak ALOT on the opposite side when nursing my babies. I hated for all that milk to go to waste. When someone introduced me to the Haakaa I was amazed at how much milk I could collect! Up to an ounce!!
Common Questions/FAQ About Breastfeeding.
How long will breastfeeding hurt?
- Ideally breastfeeding will not hurt at all except for mild discomfort during the initial period of adjustment.
- If you have experienced any of the problems mentioned previously ( bad latch, tongue or lip tie, mastitis…) you can expect healing time to vary from 1-3 weeks depending on how quickly you can resolve the issue you are dealing with.
How can I relieve the pain with breastfeeding?
- First and foremost, GET A GOOD LATCH! If you have sore/cracked or bleeding nipples you can use the Hydrogel pads and lanolin mentioned above in between feedings.
- Also you can apply a saline compress on the nipple and allow it to air dry after.
- Saline compress: Mix 1 cup of warm water to 1-2 tsp. of salt. Mix well. Soak a cotton ball of gauze pad in the solutions and remove excess water. Apply compress to the affected area for 10-15 min. Allow breast to air dry completely.
- If the nipple is severely affected please contact a Lactation Consultant in your area for more help.
How do I know if the baby has a good latch?
- Make sure that your baby is positioned correctly. Baby should be pulled in close to you and “tummy to tummy” or “tummy to side” if in the football position.
- You should never bring your breast to the baby, rather bring the baby to the breast.
- Hold your breast with your thumb and forefinger above and below the areola in a “C” hold. Almost as if you would hold a hamburger. Make sure to pull your fingers back a bit so they are not in the way of the baby latching.
- Stimulate the baby to open his/her mouth VERY WIDE. Never try to stuff your nipple in their mouth for the sake of getting it in there.
- You can rub your nipple from the nose to the chin to stimulate them to open their mouth or rub the nipple right under their nose.
- You can also try to express colostrum so the baby can smell it/lick it and taste it to entice them to open up wide.
- When the baby’s mouth is open wide, insert the nipple in the mouth aiming for the roof of the baby’s mouth.
- When baby has a deep latch you should be able to see both lips flanged out, the corners of their mouth should have a wide angle rather than a small narrow one, you should be able to see more of the areola above the top lip vs below and the chin should be touching the breast.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Breastfeeding your Newborn.
Breastfeeding my children was one of the most rewarding and special times in my motherhood journey. It was also one of the most frustrating and challenging. I have NO idea where we would be or if I even would have kept breastfeeding my children if I had not had help along the way.
I truly hope this helps any mamas out there that are suffering or wanting to give up. Seek out the help you need . . . we are not meant to do this ALONE!
I would love to hear your journey with breastfeeding. Was it challenging? Was it easy peasy lemon squeezy? How did you overcome your difficulties? What did you enjoy? What did you hate? I’d love to hear your thoughts.