Caution: Breastfeeding again and again

I wanted to call this post La Leche lies, but then I get enough hate mail over criticizing children’s shows.  Besides, I just read a whole bunch of articles on the official La Leche League website, and on there, they fully admit that breastfeeding is harder than it looks.  Or sounds.  Or assumed.

Nothing pisses me off more than hearing in those first few days after giving birth, “Breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt.”  Well, no shit.  If it hurt this bad weeks down the road, no one would breastfeed after 6 weeks.  No one.  But those first few days are trying to say the least as you the mother is trying to get that huge nipple in that tiny mouth of an infant who refuses to open his mouth half way much less the whole way.

The second night in the hospital with Tornado E, he cried, and I cried as we just couldn’t get the hang of breastfeeding.  After five minutes of crying, I was able to jam some nipple into his mouth, and he managed to suck out some kind of sustenance.  As luck would have it, the bright side of Tornado E being in the hospital for a week is that at every feeding time I had a nurse or two around to help teach me a different technique.  Of course, I had more strange hands on my breast than I ever thought I would have, unless I made a porn.

Tornado S took to breastfeeding like a pro those first few days, but then he fell off the wagon.  He would refuse to open his mouth all the way and just suck on the very end of the nipple.  Not fun after two feedings.  Thank God I had a breast pump to help toughen the nipples as I worked to break Tornado S out of his new formed habit.

Tornado A rooted the moment he could and just latched on.  Improperly.  As I hissed a breath against the pain, the nurse said “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.”  Yeah, I know that.  But every child I started to breast feed hurt me as we tried to figure out latching, as my nipples toughened, as we tried to get the hang of this “natural” process.

Natural doesn’t mean easy.  And yes, I knew several women who gave up on breastfeeding because it hurt.  But I’m stubborn, if you haven’t noticed, and there was no way I was going to let a little pain get in the way of the healthy, free food for my baby.  Besides after two days, I was gushing milk and needed to put it somewhere.

After several days, perhaps a couple of weeks and a hundred feedings, breastfeeding begins to feel natural.  But of course, I’m still rubbing a nipple against a baby’s lower lip, saying, “Come on; open wider; bigger; open up; you can do it.”  I know it won’t be much longer before we’re pros and I’ll be able to feed him hidden under a blanket without looking and without missing a word in the conversation.

So yeah, breastfeeding is harder than it looks.  It takes practice.  It takes some help.  And I still don’t think I jam enough nipple into the baby’s mouth, but at least it doesn’t hurt, except during the gushing let down where I pray that I don’t leak in public and curse myself for not wearing a shirt that wouldn’t show off nursing pads so that I have to go without.


7 Responses to “Caution: Breastfeeding again and again”

  1. Fie Upon This Quiet Life Says:

    YES. It hurts. It’s hard. For a while. I think that I still had nipple soreness for about a month this time. But I knew that it wasn’t going to last forever, so I stuck to it. I nursed eldest for 17 months, and then he quit on his own. (We’d weened down to just one feeding at night by that point.) My plan with baby is to nurse for the full first year, and then see how it goes — which is what I did with eldest. So we’ll see how long baby wants to go. I know some people who nursed their kids until they were three. I’m not quite that dedicated, but more power to them! I really think breast is best for that first year at least, though!

  2. ck Says:

    The pain of that, for the first two weeks is shocking, even the second time around. Oh man, I’m having sympathy pains for you right now. It’s just one of those things you never, ever forget.

  3. kimmy8989 Says:

    It’s really painful at first and hard but no matter how hard it is breastfeeding is the best way to feed our baby.

  4. Steel magnolia Says:

    So true, so true. The lactation consultant told me to jam as much as I could into her mouth, then use my thumb to scoot more in as she was sucking. Don’t know if that was useful or if you’ve already heard that . . . .
    Sitting here next to my big (2 yr old) boy, I’m a little nostalgic, despite remembering the pain!

  5. Gibby Says:

    “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.”

    I’m going to use that phrase more often, as it seems to pertain to a lot of motherhood. And then after saying it, I’m going to add “No Sh*t”

    HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, FAE!! Here’s hoping for a nipple-pain free day.

  6. Jane Says:

    So glad you’re hanging in there, though. My sister told me (but you already know this) that if you can just make it through the first few weeks – everything after will be a breeze.

  7. rakster Says:

    I’m with the ‘no shit’ response.

    Best advice I ever got was from a lactation consultant who said when watching me breastfeed on day 4 after my husband called her to come after I spent the morning crying in the shower:

    “you’re beautiful. You’re a wonderful mother. You’ll get there, do whatever works for you. You look like you’re doing a great job, both of you look wonderful”.

    Yep, I thought. I am. I can do it. F* this hurts but I can do it and I am wonderful.

    So to you:
    “I haven’t met you in person but I’m sure you’re beautiful. You’re a wonderful sounding mother. You’ll get there, doing whatever works for you. You sound like you’re doing a great job and I’m sure you look wonderful.”

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