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Restarting Breastfeeding?

Can This Breastfeeding Relationship Be Saved?

By Amalah


I just had my first child, a baby girl, two weeks ago, and we are having some problems breastfeeding.  She tore me up in record time, to the point that the well-regarded lactation specialist at the hospital took one look and said “STOP!”  She said to only pump for four days (until my follow up appointment), at which point she said to allow my daughter to latch and nurse until the point of discomfort, and then pump.  Of course, during that time, my sweet girl got formula from a bottle (and colostrum from a syringe, and milk from a bottle once it came in).  Now that we are trying to nurse a little several times a day, she isn’t too psyched about the stationary non-rubbery nipple I keep trying to cram in her mouth.  So, at this point, I’m pumping enough that she is now getting exclusively breast milk, but… she’s getting 95% of it from bottles.  I have a very hard time getting her to latch, I think because of nipple confusion AND a tiny mouth/giant nipple combination.  We both get pretty frustrated when I try to nurse her, especially in the evening/at night.  It still hurts to nurse her – some of this I attribute to the poor latch, but even when I get her on pretty well it still hurts quite a bit more than pumping.

So, my question is…  should I keep trying to nurse her?  I have limited maternity leave – only three more weeks, and then I am back at work full time, so I will be pumping anyways during the day.  I am currently pumping every three hours for 15 to 30 minutes per session, so it’s a big time commitment (I don’t know how this compares to how much time one would spend nursing, nor if I would at some point get to cut down on the frequency of sessions).  My husband gets up with the baby at night to feed and change her, while I get up to pump.  Obviously if I could just nurse her, at least one of us would get more sleep… but I just can’t decide if it is worth the frustration?  I definitely feel sad that I am missing out on the bonding experience, that I am hooked up to my electric pump instead of gazing lovingly at my squishy newborn – but when we try to nurse, it’s more of a toe-curling, wincing experience than anything warm and fuzzy.  So I am just starting to wonder if pumping exclusively and then bottle feeding isn’t the most practical / least frustrating option.  I am wondering if I am leaving anything out of the equation?  Any guidance or words of wisdom would be much appreciated!


Ay yi yi, this is a tough one. Part of me wants to default to the ALL THAT MATTERS IS BABY IS FED AND MAMA IS HAPPY stance, but another part of me wants to smack your well-regarded lactation consultant sideways for telling the mother of a days-old infant to STOP NURSING ENTIRELY FOR FOUR DAYS. That’s a huge interruption, and yes, is probably directly to blame for your daughter’s reluctance to get back on the breast.

The first post-hospital LC I saw after Noah’s birth gave me similarly bad advice for my torn-up nipples/low supply problems (don’t nurse, pump instead) but that was for all of 24 HOURS until I came back in the next day. At which point I saw the other LC in the practice and sobbed in front of her because oh, I hated pumping and not nursing. And SHE was all, “oh, the other LC probably just thought you wanted a little break, but if you don’t want to do that, by all means nurse first, then pump.” So I did, but like you, I think the damage was done in even just that short window. Noah was never again going to be a patient, happy nurser. It wasn’t nipple confusion, exactly, but more like he’d figured out that there was an easier option out there, so we struggled on and off with nursing strikes and low supply (from both my boob anatomy and his poor suck) until I called it quits between five and six months. If I’d gone four days with that plan, good lord, yeah. It would have been even more of an uphill battle to get him back on the boob. I’m sorry that happened to you.

I have breastfed three newborns now, and let me tell you: My nipples bled and scabbed and hurt with every. Single. One. I don’t mean to scare any first-time not-yet-nursing pregnant women out there, but there it is. It took about two solid weeks of nursing before I could do it completely pain free. And the thing is, I always attributed the pain/bleeding to something being Majorly Wrong — obviously Noah and I had a barrage of difficulties, and Ezra had a tongue tie that wasn’t corrected until he was seven days old.

But then: Baby Ike. Who was not tongue tied or premature or high birth weight, who latches perfectly now, and gains weight just fine and is just an all-around enthusiastic, happy nurser. GUESS WHAT. It hurt at first. It hurt a lot. Those first clumsy newborn small-mouthed latches in the hospital tore me UP, and it took a full two weeks or so before I healed completely AND was at a point where we had the latching thing down enough that I wasn’t essentially re-injuring myself with his mouth. There was blood, then scabbing, and solid days where I had to brace myself and curl my toes and bite down on something every time he latched on. I even think I may have burst into involuntary tears once because it hurt so bad.

And that was all happening when everything was considered NORMAL. And FINE.

I can’t tell you whether or not you should continue trying to nurse or just pump exclusively. I can’t tell you for sure that your daughter will forget her bottle preference and move between boob and bottle with ease as long as you stick with it, because babies are wild cards like that. I can’t tell you which option will make you happier or saner because it’s different for everybody. Me? I hate pumping. HATE IT. I also hated those early painful days of nursing because yeah, who could possibly enjoy something that feels like you’re sticking a delicate part of your body into the gaping maws of a pencil sharpener?

I can tell you that for just two weeks in, you still sound pretty normal to me. Especially since you have been pumping so much more than nursing — your nipples have not had adequate opportunity to toughen up. Which they DO, eventually, as hard as it can be to believe when you’re in the worst of it. The one-and-a-half to two-week mark was very much the lowest point for me, each time, because it hurt. But then…it didn’t hurt quite as much. And then…even less. And then…not at all.

Again, this is all independent of your daughter’s latch and other extraneous bottle confusion circumstances, but still. It’s possible that her latch has in fact improved but you aren’t yet feeling it because you’re still healing from the old wounds. If you aren’t noticing those ugly dark marks on your nipples immediately after a feeding anymore, chances are her latch/mouth size problems are getting better. But it’s still normal for everything to be slowly clicking into place and for nursing to STILL HURT, this early on.

I know. Nobody told me, either. All I’d ever heard was that if it hurt, something was “wrong.” Which…yeah, maybe. Later on. But not right at first. And two weeks in is still “right at first,” in my book.

Obviously, plenty of women pump exclusively — and yeah, with your short maternity leave it’s GREAT that you have a good pumping routine established and are secure in the fact that your daughter will accept a bottle during the day. But if there’s even a twinge in your heart that worries you’ll regret giving up actual nursing entirely…it seems to me that two weeks postpartum is a little premature to make that call. I mean, it would be FOR ME, personally, because now I know my own breastfeeding learning curve and have come out the other side successfully with both Ezra and Ike. And it’s great. It really, really is a wonderful thing and I am totally that cheesy dolt who will talk about how much I genuinely treasure the experience blah blah SHUT UP.

With Noah and Ezra, since I was working from a bad first experience, I set very small goals. Nursing for three weeks was the first, since that gave me time to get past the torn-up toast-point nipples and toe-curling pain. Then I aimed for six weeks. Then 12, and so on. Since things weren’t ideal with Noah, I told myself I was allowed to reevaluate whether I wanted to continue at each mental goal point. And then I was pleasantly surprised when I’d hit that marker and realized how much better it was consistently getting (even if we weren’t “exclusively” nursing like I’d hoped). With Ezra, once I hit six weeks, I realized I didn’t even need to set another goal, because we were fine. We were NOT fine at two weeks (pain-wise, anyway; my supply was fine), we were better at three weeks, we were golden by six. With Ike I didn’t bother with the goalposts at all, but that’s the luxury of experience — I know it would suck at first, then suck less, and then be worth it in the end.

So I don’t know…I’m worried I sound like I’m trying to twist your arm here and pressure you to keep going, but I swear that’s not my intention. And I also realize that MY experiences are not like, some kind of universal one-size-fits-all experience. But I do know that if I thought breastfeeding was always going to be like it was at two weeks in, I would have drop-kicked the whole concept out the door and grabbed the Similac. But it wasn’t. It isn’t. Do with this information what you will, and what you feel is right for YOU.

In the meantime, if you DO decide to keep trying, I found a few things that really, really helped with the boob pain:

1) Soothies Gel Pads by Lansinoh: Lanolin cream is great, but when you’re really torn up or chafed, these pads protect you from bra friction and the comforting “feeling” last longer than the lanolin. (You can also store them in the fridge or freezer for even more relief.)

2) All-Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO): This requires a prescription and a compounding pharmacy, but it’s worth hassling a pediatrician, OB or a nurse practitioner (my LC was one) for it. SOOOOOOO much more healing power whallop in this stuff than plain lanolin, plus there’s an anti-fungal AND an anti-inflammatory in it. If your health care provider stares at you blankly, print out the linked article and/or ask for the following prescription: Mupirocin ointment 2%: 15 grams, Betamethasone ointment 0.1%: 15 grams, add to miconazole powder to a concentration of 2% miconazole.

Fabric/reusable nursing pads: I’m actually not prone to too much leaking, but when it happens, it’s ALWAYS been in the first few weeks after my milk initially comes in. I always thought washing nursing pads sounded like a ginormous pain, so I used the disposable kind for both Noah and Ezra. Now that I’m all weird and cloth-diaper-y and stuff, I bought some cotton ones in preparation for Ike. Duh. Sooooooo much more comfortable on sore nipples than the scratchy paper kind, and just as easy to wash as like, anything. Wash ’em with your bras, or whatever.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Amazon Mom

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Dawn K.

    November 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Have you tried a nipple shield? We have some latch problems due to tongue tie at first, and then just general newborn-ness, and I feel this was a good help for us. I know some people get all up in arms about using helpers (usually no one on these boards, b/c we’re all awesome!) but for us it worked well.

    I gave up nursing after 4 1/2 months for a few reasons, and we still bonded and she’s healthy, yada yada.

    You sound wonderful and loving, so I’m sure whatever decision you make will be the right one. Congratulations on your wonderful daughter!

  • Hannah

    November 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I’ve breastfed two and am planning to do so with my third (nine more weeks!) And yes, by the end of week one I would cheerfully have stuffed my nipples into a rat trap if it meant I wouldn’t have to offer them up to those voracious mouths all the live-long day.

    I too heard all the ‘wisdom’ from the breast-is-always-best-no-matter-what-you-hoser crowd that if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Lucky for me, my mom was a successful BF veteran of four children and encouraged me to stick it out for those two terrible weeks. And then one day… it just didn’t hurt nearly as much. At all.

    If you truly would rather pump & bottle feed, it will not (as I’m sure you know) harm your baby in any way. A dear friend of mine pumped & bottle-fed for a full year b/c of latching issues. It can work, if you want it to. But if the big thing standing in your way is worry that it will always hurt as much as it does right now, I echo Amy in saying it almost certainly won’t.

    And hey, congratulations on your new baby!

  • Katy

    November 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

    OK, so I don’t know if this is a good suggestion or not, but I’m going to throw it out there anyway.  Disclaimer, this is something you would want to talk to a LC about before trying.

    My daughter was born 5 weeks premature and had a 15 day NICU stay.  She had a lot of bottles during that time as well as latch issues due to her prematurity.  We ended up using a nipple shield until around the time of  her actual due date, so about a month.  I cursed that thing as it was a hassle, but it also carried us across a rough patch in the nursing relationship.

    Maybe a nipple shield would be helpful for you guys as a bottle/breast bridge.  Again, I’m simply speaking from my own experience, and this may not be a good solution for you and your daughter.  Good luck!

  • Jenn

    November 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I had one nipple that was so torn up I had to keep from screaming every time baby latched. What worked for us — and I am not suggesting it works for everyone — was using a nipple shield for several days.

    One of the main concerns with nipple shields is nipple confusion, but in your case since the baby already seems to be preferring the bottle nipple, the shield might help transition the baby back to the breast by giving her a half-and-half nipple… rubbery, but on the breast. The shield takes away like 9/10ths of the pain and gives your nipples time to heal, while still “nursing” the baby.

    It seems like you’re still interested in nursing or else you wouldn’t be writing for advice, right? I would encourage you to try every option before giving up or you might regret it later. The bonding experience is truly awesome, and I miss it every day. Also, don’t underestimate the time savings of not having to wash pump parts and bottles over and over and OVER again. AND at least in my case, nursing was MUCH faster than pumping, because I responded to the baby much better than the pump. As baby got older, nursing took less and less time (5-10 minutes) and pumping took more and more time (20-30 minutes), and then I had to wash all the @#$% parts.

  • Karlei

    November 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I had a similar experience with my son with the pain at the beginning. We went to lactation consultants, which always seemed to make me feel worse. They’d get him latched on and say, “see that’s correct and it doesn’t hurt, right?” and they’d always act all disbelieving when I said that actually it did still hurt. We gave up on the LCs. I kept nursing, but only because figuring out formula and bottles seemed super-daunting and overwhelming in my hormone-addled state. Anyway, it just abruptly stopped hurting a few weeks in – maybe their necks or mouths get stronger, maybe our nipples get tougher? I’m so relieved to read that others have had this experience as well. Best of luck whichever direction you decide to go. I’m sure your daughter will be happy however you work it out!

  • HereWeGoAJen

    November 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I’d like to throw out another nipple shield recommendation. Greatest thing ever. I know some people have problems with them, but it totally saved our breastfeeding relationship and took away all my stress. The first time my lactation consultant brought me one and we tried it, I was all like “WHERE DO I BUY MORE OF THESE?!?” We used it for a couple of months, my daughter started pulling it off and spitting it out on her own, and then she nursed for twenty-five months.

  • Carolina

    November 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I second (third? fourth?) the nipple shield suggestion. I didn’t experience pain necessarily (I was on a lot of pain meds from the c-section and a broken arm), but we could not get her to latch. It was like her little mouth just couldn’t comfortably get around the huge nipple. The lactation consultant handed me a couple of shields, which we used for about 2 weeks. After that, smooth sailing and we’re still nursing at 15 months. Good luck!

  • Katie

    November 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Count me as another member of team maybe-try-a-nipple-shield? Knowing how much the pump AND bottle routine is the worst of both worlds, I think it would be totally worth any risk of nipple confusion…especially if it got your daughter on the breast more, and saved you some pumping sessions. From what I understand, it both sheilds your nipple, and makes it a little more “bottle like” for your daughter.

  • Amy B

    November 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I just want to echo that even perfectly NORMAL nursing can hurt like the dickens…I think for me it hurt for 3 or 4 weeks even. So if you are at all inclined to keep trying, then realize that this won’t last forever. Once you get past that initial painful stage, it is quite wonderful. That is assuming there aren’t any other issues, of course.

    But if the struggle is just causing too much angst and sadness…and since you are going back to work and will be pumping a lot anyway…you aren’t going to ruin your child if you bottle feed. Either way, it will be ok. 

  • Laura

    November 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    It took a solid 2 months before I stopped toe-curling… but 18 months later I am very glad I stuck with it. Suffering through the tough initial phase worked for us, but I didn’t have a back-to-work date looming. (Fist pump to Canada’s 12-month maternity leave).

    Just trust your gut! And also, find an LC who is on board with nipple shields. (Do you have a public health nurse who could help? I am hours away from the nearest LC, but the public health nurse was amazing help on the breastfeeding front).

    (And regarding Amalah’s last suggestions, I found cloth boob pads really irritating until my nipples toughened up. It was like tearing a bandaid off each time. I tried cloth again after a month and they were the bees knees then.)

  • Moira

    November 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Jumping on the nipple shield bandwagon. That thing SAVED breastfeeding for me. I weaned my son off it at about 8 wks – which was a little difficult, but nothing compared to the horror of the first 3 weeks of nursing without it. And for me, my nipples were fine – no pain whatsoever, my son just couldn’t latch in the beginning (not entirely his fault, I have flat nipples).

    Hang in there, you’ll find what works for you!

  • lolismum

    November 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I have a suggestion you may want to try. My first baby was in NICU for 2 days, so I could not nurse her, she got some pumped pre-milk. When I came home, we just could not get the nursing going. I was a novice, it hurt like hell, she would not latch on properly and I was frustrated and upset. She was becoming disinterested quickly, just like your baby. So what did we do? My mom had this brilliant idea. She got a tiny spoon (or medicine dispenser) and while the baby latched on the first 10-20 seconds, she would push some milk from the corner my breast into the baby’s mouth, so that the baby did not pull away quickly and once my letdown worked, we found a good position and nursed. That said, the first 6 weeks were rough and I did need a lot of help. But if your husband is willing to help, try this trick, see if it helps. We continued on to breastfeed for more than 2 years. By the way, I nursed two kids, for 2 years each, and had interactions with about 4-5 lactation consultants, and never did I receive practical, useful advice. My mom was more practical and helpful than all of those 5 idiots combined. I agree with Amy that while a bottle here and there, especially when you are in pain or before your milk comes in does not hurt the nursing relationship, telling a newborn’s mother to take a 4-DAY! break is the dumbest thing I have heard. 

  • Linda

    November 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Have you had your baby checked for a tongue tie? I can’t speak to nursing getting better past a certain time because it just never did for us, and it was due to a posterior tongue tie. Most people know about the anterior one – the one that you can easily see because the tongue is heart-shaped at the tip. But a posterior is further back and in the case of my baby, he could stick out his tongue ok-ish and the tip looked normal, but if he was sucking he couldn’t get his tongue past the gumline, which triggered his bite reflex, which meant that he was biting me. And toothless gums? They effing HURT and there is some serious strength in that squishy newborn’s jaw. And we didn’t discover this until he was already 8 WEEKS old. Ugh. But I didn’t suffer through 8 weeks of him biting me. I stopped nursing at 1 week and exclusively pumped for 3 months, even after his tongue tie was fixed and he latched beautifully. We ended up pumping and then switching to formula because of the amount of damage that was done in that first week that simply wasn’t healing or toughening up or whatever is supposed to happen. It just wasn’t worth the grief and me missing out on my son’s early months because of pumping or else getting mad that he wasn’t complying with when I needed to pump or so on.

    So my LC thought to check my baby for a posterior tongue tie because his latch on the outside looked textbook perfect, but when he came off my nipple was creased and peaked due to the biting.

    At any rate, I found the community forum for exclusive pumping on iVillage to be extremely helpful for tips, pumping plans, explanations of how it works, and any random questions that are bound to come up. Some people pump for a year plus and are happy, like my sister-in-law. But it wasn’t for me.

  • Corie

    November 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I’m firmly in the “breastfeed if you can” side. My son was born 5 weeks early and wound up in the NICU for 12 days because he couldn’t eat for his first several days and then it took another week for him to gain weight and be able to come home. I started pumping while he couldn’t eat so he could still get breast milk pushed to him, and kept pumping after he could eat because he was put on a diet of fortified breast milk to help fatten him up. By the time he was cleared off that diet I was returning to work in three weeks, and I didn’t want to fight through the transition to the breast only to start giving him bottles again at day care, so I stuck with the exclusively pumping.

    I have to tell you, I HATED pumping. I had a supportive boss and coworkers, and flexibility in my job so that I could take pumping breaks whenever I needed to, but pumping full time SUCKED. I transitioned to 5 pumps per day right around the time I went back to work. I had to get up early every day (4:30!!! even on the weekends!!!) to pump before work, get myself ready to go and the baby for day care, and make sure that my pumping equipment was all packed up and ready for me to take to work. I pumped three times during the day, and then I couldn’t go to bed until I’d pumped for the last time of the night. My last pumping session was what is called a “power pump” (pumping off and on for an hour) so that I could have enough milk. (I usually pumped 35ish oz/day, and my son usually drank 28-32 oz/day. The extra was good for putting in the freezer for growth spurts and, later, for mixing with his cereal.)

    I was exhausted. I know that I still would have needed to pump at work, but I hated pumping at home. It was time I spent not cuddling my son or sleeping, and it sucked. I couldn’t go out running errands for very long – I had to be back home to pump every 4 hours. Over the holidays, I had to excuse myself from the family gatherings to go pump in solitude in a bedroom. (I would gladly have breastfed while still hanging out with everyone, but that wasn’t an option with pumping.). I had to make sure that anyplace we stayed with family, they could clear out some fridge space for us.

    All in all, it sucked. I did it full time for 7 months, and then I started cutting back. I cut out one pumping session, and then another, and then another. My supply dried up pretty quickly once I got down to 2 pump/day, and I pumped for the last time when he was a 9 months old.

    Do I begrudge him the milk? No. I know it was best for him, and I’m gals that I was able to do it. I would much rather have breastfed him, though, and I’ve already stated that I won’t do this again.

    Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself what’s best. I just wanted to lay out the cons for you (in case you didnt already know the cons). I would highly suggest doing what what Amy suggested, and set little goals for yourself – that’s what I did, and that’s how I made it to 7 months.

    Either way, good luck!!

  • Kaela

    November 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    This may be totally useless info to you or may be super helpful. Either way, file this under, “no one ever told me/internet never mentioned this option”. When I had my son he TORE ME UP in the hospital. No matter what the 8,000 different nurses tried, my nipple looked like a lipstick tube (all slanty) when my son nursed. Everyone was baffled, his latched looked great, my positioning looked great, etc. but every time it killed me and my nipple came out slanted. After getting out of the hospital we went to see the most amazing LC who specializes in cranial therapy (I know, I know, crazy voodoo baby chiropractor). We figured out that my son was mashing my nipple against the roof of his mouth, not sucking (which you could feel when you put your finger in his mouth). She said he his jaw muscles were tight and he was also really unbendy for a newborn, but being my first, I didn’t know how bendy he should be. She gave him an adjustment and you could literally feel the difference when you put your finger in his mouth. He was sucking now, not mashing. From that moment on nursing went exactly as planned. Yes, it still hurt while my chest healed and toughened up and yes, but it was normal now.

    To sum up a long story, it’s a long shot, but I always like to mention this option because before I had my son, I never came across any info about anything like this on the internet and neither had any of the nursing staff at my hospital. The poor latch could be due to something other than tongue tie or positioning.

    Good luck and hang in there! Those first couple weeks post partum are the worst feeding/hormone/sleep wise but hang in there!

  • Eden

    November 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I know you are going through a LOT. And you probably wish your post could send forth actual tears and sobs, to get us to see what your going through. My story is long, so here is something I hope will give you hope-My son and I struggled with breastfeeding for EIGHT weeks, never getting the skin-to-skin contact I wanted so desperately(we used nipple shields, supplemental nursing systems with tubing, latch assists, breast shells). We are at six months now, happily exclusively breastfeeding(since two months) and he latched on through my shirt today…Please don’t just see a lactation consultant, see an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or your local La Leche League. I wish you the best of luck, and remember, your baby changes everyday, so don’t give up hope!

  • Karen

    November 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    A nipple shield helped us too. I would try to buy yours through an LC because the size/fit makes a big difference. And hang in there. 2 weeks was definitely my low point too. But by 2-3 months I was golden and had ritually trashed the nipple shield. I eventually pumped at work and nursed the rest of the time and we did that for months and months. I was grateful to have her drinking breastmilk since she started daycare at the start of cold/flu season and caught exactly 2 colds. Next winter was another story. I hate pumping but I will pump again just to avoid those horrid newborn daycare colds.

  • Cammie

    November 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I feel your pain!  When my son was born nursing was HORRIBLE!  All started well, the LC came in and said “all looks good, you are a natural” I thought “duh!  Stick boob in mouth, easy enough right?”  HA!  Days later, and for no medical reason at all, my son became a horrible nurser.  I did everything suggested, still I was literally cramming rags in my mouth to bite down on to keep from screaming because I was in so much pain.  I had family in shock that would come in to see me biting down as hard as I could, shaking as hard as I was from the combination of pain and huge sobs because I felt like a failure (and because of the pain too).  The recovery and pain from the c-section was a snap compared to the near unbearable pain I was in from nursing.  I refused to give up, by golly I was going to nurse, even if it ended in my entire boob being ripped off (and it felt like it would).  I had a similar time crunch on getting back to work so I had a pump.  One night out of sheer frustration and severe pain I just pumped and put it in a bottle so that the “girls” could get a break and I could actually rest while hubby gave the bottle of breast milk.  He had wanted to nurse (and would be up and screaming) every hour or so.  After that one bottle, he -and I-slept for HOURS.  I guess he was suffering too!  That was my eye opener.  Yes I really REALLY wanted to nurse until that day I went to work and then had ideas that I’d pump during the day for milk he could have the next day but at night still nurse him.  After a few more attempts it was obvious that for us it wasn’t going to work.  So I pumped, every day, every 2-3 hours until I ran dry, for 6 months.  I wish I could have gone longer but because of illness and medication I had to take to get better I dried up.  At first I beat myself up over it and then I realized a few things and came to peace with our situation.  1) He was still getting breast milk and the nutrition benefits from that.  2) It helped me get rest too.  At first I thought that was selfish of me to feel that way but with recovery I needed some rest.  Nursing to what came to about every 30 minutes was taking a toll.  3) He seemed to be eating better, gaining better, and then resting better with the arrangement we had.  4) Hubby was able, and thankful to be able to, be involved.  Whatever you decide to do, know you are a good momma–don’t let bumps in the road like this make you feel like you are any less than that.  Good luck 🙂

  • MR

    November 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I also highly recommend a nipple shield! You can find them a Target, Walmart and some pharmacies, and they only cost I think $20. My daughter gave me horribly bloody and raw nipples the very first time she nursed. The LC said i had the worst case she had ever seen in her 25 years of being a nurse and LC. Yay me. Lol. When I was crying in pain because I couldn’t heal in between feedings, my mom sent my hubby to the store for a nipple shield. The first time I put it on and she nursed through it, it was like the clouds parted and angels sang HALLELUJAH! BEST INVENTION EVER. I used it exclusively until my nipples healed, and then slowly started weaning off. It is recommended to use it for the first several minutes of nursing until you have letdown and your breast deflates a little, then take the shield off and latch directly. This lets you have the protection of the shield during the part baby sucks hardest (before let down) but lets you slowly toughen up. I pump for work and nurse when I am at home. If you want to exclusively pump, know that you are AWESOME. Exclusively pumping is WAY harder than breastfeeding. So, if you want to do that, do it. It won’t make your bond any less with your baby, and you are extraordinary for putting in that effort! But, if you want to keep trying, buy a nipple shield. Really, it is a total game changer. P.S. If you have difficulty getting it to stick, run it under a little water first so the water helps suction it, or put a little lanolin all around the outside to help kind of glue it there. Personally, my baby was a “barracuda” nurser, meaning she sucked really hard (hence the raw bleeding nipples) that she always pulled the thing off, so I just held it in place. Oh, and to address the big nipple problem you mentioned, when trying to latch baby directly, it helps if you squeeze your areola between two fingers to change its shape from an ‘o’ to more of a football shape. That makes an easier target for them to latch. And, since baby is having some nipple confusion, you may need to pump a bit first to have letdown so baby immediately gets milk when latching. Helps them figure out what they are supposed to do. You can do this if you want to. And if you don’t want to, you are STILL A GREAT MOM.

  • Liz

    November 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    OP, I’m so sorry to hear about your stress! It’s amazing how a poor nursing relationship can change how you feel in the early days with your newborn. I had serious undersupply issues with my daughter, and due to a severe hemorrhage on the (emergency) c-section table, my milk took 12 days to come in. So she was fed formula quite a bit at first, and found nursing very frustrating. Even after my milk came in, we had a poor nursing relationship – she had a very small mouth, poor latch, and only got about 7 mLs of milk when she would nurse. Nursing was frustrating for her and she would cry and scream when we’d try. After two months of incredibly painful, unfruitful nursing, while feeding her about 25% of her diet from my pumping sessions and 75% of her diet from formula, we gave up. I’m now exclusively pumping, and over time have managed to up my supply to get her 90-100% of her daily diet from my pumping sessions (she’s 6 months now). That said, it’s really time-consuming and still somewhat painful to pump every 3-4 hours around the clock. I wish our nursing had worked out, but I’m writing to tell you that it’s okay if you choose to pump! When you feed her pumped milk in a bottle, you still get that special cuddling time. I feel I definitely made the right decision to give up trying to nurse, and while I regret it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, the pain and undersupply problems were too much. Now I put her in a bouncer next to me while I pump, and I sing her silly songs and we play for 20 minutes. I just wanted to tell you that nursing isn’t the be-all-end-all of breastfeeding…. exclusive pumping is a workable solution, too! Good luck!

  • Rebecca

    November 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so please forgive me if I am repeating something someone else already said. Your situation sounds much like my first two weeks of nursing and I was really torn about what to do. ILike Amalah, I started giving myself deadlines, ie I will nurse until the end of this month/week/day and re-evaluate again (see how those deadlines got shorter and shorter?). There was a point that just thinking about nursing made me want to cry, but I was determined to finish out that day and then things looked better to me in the morning. If you are at the end of your rope with the whole nursing/pumping thing, then I say move on! It is exhausting trying to nurse and then also pump.

    I really hated pumping and cannot say enough nice things about people who manage to exclusively pump. I also had a bit of a block about formula in the beginning, but when my milk took forever to come in the baby got formula and seems to have survived just fine. My ped. saw how upset I was about the formula he wanted me to use when the baby lost more than 10% of her birth weight at her first check up and reminded me that all that truly matters is that baby is being fed, so do that in whatever way is going to work best for everyone.

    My daughter ended up catching on to the whole latch thing, but I had some pain (and mastitis, etc) up until about week 6 or 7until it just became no big deal. I also started getting more sleep at that point, which helped tremendously.

  • Lesley

    November 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Soooo not a fan of all the “you’re going to regret it if you don’t nurse!” responses. Please please please don’t beat yourself up if you decide to pump exclusively, go to formula, etc. Obviously you want to nurse, or you wouldn’t have asked the question in the first place.

    I went through a similar situation when my son was around 2 months old. I had been nursing him and giving him a pumped bottle every once in a while so he would be used to both, for when we left him with a sitter, or my husband was taking over a feeding, or whatever. Well, like your baby, my son started to prefer the bottle–not because he liked the texture of the nipple better, but because he figured out really quick that bottle=instant gratification, no having to wait for a let-down. One morning he woke up, I went in to nurse him, and when it didn’t start flowing immediately he screamed. We were able to nurse a few times after that, but mostly I pumped and gave him bottles. Nursing became so stressful for me because of my son’s anxiety that I became anxious too and the letdown just wouldn’t happen. Eventually though, after so much pumping, I realized that I was spending so much of my son’s wake time sitting there pumping while he was being occupied with something else, when I could have been spending ACTUAL TIME with my son. So that was it for me. We went to formula and I never looked back. It was such a relief. I am definitely not trying to steer you that way at all–just want to let you know that you are NOT alone, and YOU have to do what is best for your baby and yourself. And guess what? I was SO RELIEVED so many times that he WOULD take a bottle. So many moms cannot leave their baby for any amount of time at all because their baby refuses to eat when they don’t have their mama’s boob. I guess some people can deal with that, but I couldn’t. And if you are working during the day, your baby HAS to be able to take a bottle, which means you can’t just make your child quit the bottle cold turkey.

    I totally feel for you. Every nursing session for me was not wonderful and sweet, it was a time when I began to resent my sweet, innocent baby because WHY WON’T YOU JUST NURSE. What an emotional roller coaster. I can’t stress enough–don’t beat yourself up. Do what is best for you and your baby, which means BOTH of you need to be happy. You will bond great either way.

  • Kari

    November 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I have had a fairly uncomplicated nursing relationship with my son, so I don’t have any advice, but I do hope that some of this advice works for you. I just wanted to say that I don’t understand why people perpetuate this myth that if you are “doing it right” that it won’t hurt at all. It hurts like the dickens at first.

  • Olivia

    November 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I think Amalah has summed it up pretty well. Two weeks is early to throw in the towel IF you really do want to nurse. Something to consider is pain now vs. amount of work later. I pumped at work, and hated it every single day. Going home and being able to nurse my baby was such a relief and so incredibly happy making. Not to mention easier night time nursing, and not having to take bottles with us when we went out of the house. I know some women pump around the clock for months, I just don’t know how they do it because that would have driven me batshit.

  • Laura

    November 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I loved Amy’s response to the OP, and I love that so many of the responses are suggesting that she try a shield. Amy’s descriptions of those early days bring tears to my eyes, remembering the pain and frustration of my own early days of nursing my firstborn last year. The only thing that saved our nursing relationship was a nipple shield. M was born full-term and healthy and I have no idea why she quit latching on our third night in the hospital, but she did, and it was awful. She wasn’t eating, neither of us were sleeping, both of us were miserable… until a nurse showed me how to use a shield with a little formula dripped on it from a capillary tube, and M latched right on. We did struggle with slow weigh gain the first few weeks – I think because she wasn’t drawing deeply enough with the shield to get enough milk – but fortunately my mother kept encouraging me to try latching her after a few minutes with the shield and eventually M figured it out. 16 months later we’re still going strong, but we’d never have made it past the first month without a shield. Amalah has a good post about nipple shields here: Whatever you decide to do, good luck, and congratulations!

  • Laura

    November 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Generally, I love your advice, but this time, I just couldn’t get past the part where you said that the LC consultant was wrong to tell her to stop nursing for a few days. That is absolutely the correct advice for seriously torn up nipples. My second daughter was rushed to the ER from vomiting massive amounts of blood because I didn’t stop sooner (she luckily latched right back on after not nursing, just pumping and bottle feeding, from day 4-6 and starting nursing again on day 7). Plus, my first born wrecked my nipples so badly I have massive scar tissue now. It was the worst pain I’ve ever been in. I wish I’d stopped, let them heal, and then tried again. So ease off on the LC judgment on this one, please. And also consider the inverse of your argument, that the pain is somehow manageable and a new mom should work/suffer through it (because you did?). Just because you had some sore and bleeding nipples, doesn’t mean you know what this LC saw or what this woman is going through. Nipple pain is not nipple pain is not nipple pain.

  • Sarah

    November 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I’m going to suggest the nipple shield as well – The medela ones are only $8, and the Ameda onees are $10 for a pack of 2… I have one Medela one, and 2 Ameda ones, and keep one in the diaper bag, one in the nursery by the chair, and one downstairs by the pump / chair that i nurse in during teh day. I’ve even heard of some people who keep them tucked into their bra so it was always handy. They are small, thin silicone, and work great with helping latching, and with pain. My son is only 2 weeks old now, but i have flat nipples and he hasn’t been able to latch yet w/out one. The BF support group nurse said that its pretty common to need one the first few weeks and that most babies who use one are switched to not needing one by 4 or 5 weeks. we’ll see if that works with me – i pumped exclusively with my first one (also due to latch issues)… good luck!

  • Mandi

    November 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Oh keep trying! My baby is 6 weeks old and exclusively pumping gets old quick. I started pumping due to a nicu stay and never got back to the breast due to to many visitors and am quite bitter about it. It’s nit double thee work, it’s triple the work. My advice is to keep trying!

  • Erin

    November 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I don’t have any new suggestions to contribute but I just want to say that I will never, ever understand why no one TRULY prepares you for the discomfort and awkwardness of nursing your first baby. All my friends who’ve had babies after me got the whole “this is what no one tells you” talk from me and I know it’s probably annoying as hell to listen to me but the ones who’ve had their babies already have said, “Yeah, you’re the only one who warned me about that, and I’m glad you did”.

  • Lizzie

    November 4, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I just want to reiterate that the “stop and heal” advice from the LC can be a lifesaver. It definitely was for me. 3 days into nursing I was so torn up and exhausted and emotional I would just sob randomly all day. Nursing was miserable, and we were doing everything right. My LC showed up at my house, set me up with a pump, showed my husband how to syringe/finger feed, and told me to take a day or two to heal. It was the best thing that could have happened for us. Granted, it was right for me because my daughter went right back to nursing and I know I never would’ve kept going without that break. That may not be the best option for everyone but I wouldn’t beat yourself (or your LC) up mentally for making that decision!

  • Kirsten

    November 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    ” I don’t mean to scare any first-time not-yet-nursing pregnant women out there…” 

    Mission TOTALLY failed. Due with my first in February.  I’m trying SO hard not to be scared of this, but I am freaking terrified, and I don’t know how to make that go away, and I’m scared that my fear of it will make it harder to nurse, and GAH.  And the pencil sharpener comparisons you love so much make me want to cry just imagining it.  

    I mean, yeah, I suppose when I’m there I’ll be glad to know nothing is really wrong. But I think I’m going to go and cry right now.  

  • AmyM

    November 5, 2011 at 12:05 am

    We had a lot of trouble nursing from day 1. It took a monumental effort to get my son to latch and then he’d be too sleepy to eat. We did have great support from a lactation consultant and La Leche League. It took 9 weeks but he finally decided that the boob was better (to the point he no longer takes a bottle). We’ve been successfully nursing ever since, and my son is almost 8 months old now. I can tell you it did hurt when he finally latched, for at least a week, probably more. But then like everyone says it did slowly get better. I was about ready to give up entirely and am so glad I didn’t. You have to do what your heart tells you to do. Life is easier when you aren’t essentially feeding your baby twice. If you do continue to pump please consider renting a hospital grade pump to help establish your supply. You’ll also get more milk faster. The difference between the Medela Symphony (hospital grade) and Pump in Style Advanced is pretty big.

  • Ashlea

    November 5, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I fully recommend sticking with breastfeeding! you have heaps of advice above about breastfeeding, but here is one for when you are giving her bottles. Make her work for it. make breastfeeding seem “easier” and hopefully that may help her to want to nurse more. 

    Put a smaller sized nipple on the bottle. Preemie if you can, with only one or two tiny holes. With pumping you probably see how your milk comes out, and if you compare it to a bottle (even one labelled for newborns) the milk gushes out of a bottle, and its more controlled from the breast. 

    There is also a lot of information online about how to bottle feed that helps make the baby work for it more, or makes it more compatible with breastfeeding. Generally they say to have the baby sitting upright, so the bottle is parallel to the ground. That way the milk won’t flow down and out with gravity, they actually need to suck harder to get it out. And then baby will hopefully mimic that action at the breast, and get a better flow. 

    I hope this helps!

  • Jackie

    November 5, 2011 at 8:08 am

    My son is ten days old and I am typing this with cold cabbage leaves on my boobs.  I didn’t do it with my first, but it has been like magic to soothe my nipples and reduce engorgement.  Supposedly it can decrease supply so I’ve been careful about not using it too long, but it comforts more than anything else I’ve tried.  

    Best of luck for whatever you choose.  Your baby will do wonderfully no matter what!

  • Jennifer

    November 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I’m going to be the umpteenth person to recommend this, but I have to throw in my recommendation to try a nipple shield. I can only relay my experience, but nursing wouldn’t have been possible for us without one. I’ve had two perfect little girls with perfect little latches and have two supposedly perfect nipples. By day 3 with each girl I was crying through each feeding with the pain, and this is without any blistering/cracking/bleeding. Both times I consulted with an LC, and both times ended up using a shield – through the entire breastfeeding relationship (13 months and 17 months). I have the honor of working with many LCs (working as an RN in L&D) and have learned that some women just have extremely sensitive nipples. Also, the comment above, suggesting the slow-flow nipples is great. You can also try paced bottle feedings where you let the baby suck a few times, then pull out the nipple for a few seconds, then let them suck a few times, and repeat through the feeding. These measures help keep newborns “working” to get their milk.

  • Erica

    November 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I used nipple shields and was able to wean off them after a while. They’re worth a shot.

    Give a chiropractor who works with infants a try. They can really do some good in situations like this.

    And finally, flexibility is a trait of highly intelligent people. For this reason, I was determined that I wasn’t going to fall into that “nipple confusion” trap that so many people talk about. I had to go back to work too, so my kids both HAD to be able to take a bottle, AND nurse (because I WANTED to), AND I was a firm believer in pacifiers, so … all in all? They were learning “nipple flexibility” and increasing their skills for critical thinking. So there. 😀 All my friends and family told me learning nursing takes 4-6 weeks per child to learn nursing. if you want to keep going, you’re well within the learning curve, and it really will get better. On the other hand, if you don’t pursue it?
    That’s ok too. Do what’s right for you and your child. You won’t break the baby with this decision, I promise.

  • Erica

    November 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I used nipple shields and was able to wean off them after a while. They’re worth a shot.

    Give a chiropractor who works with infants a try. They can really do some good in situations like this.

    And finally, flexibility is a trait of highly intelligent people. For this reason, I was determined that I wasn’t going to fall into that “nipple confusion” trap that so many people talk about. I had to go back to work too, so my kids both HAD to be able to take a bottle, AND nurse (because I WANTED to), AND I was a firm believer in pacifiers, so … all in all? They were learning “nipple flexibility” and increasing their skills for critical thinking. So there. 😀 All my friends and family told me learning nursing takes 4-6 weeks per child to learn nursing. if you want to keep going, you’re well within the learning curve, and it really will get better. On the other hand, if you don’t pursue it?
    That’s ok too. Do what’s right for you and your child. You won’t break the baby with this decision, I promise.

  • Trish

    November 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Still BFing after 23 months, but we had a horrible start due to posterior tongue-tie. A nipple shield saved us, but we had to supplement almost right away because she lots so much weight, and yes, breastfeeding hurt at first (the nipple shield really really helped with that).  One thing I don’t see mentioned in the comments yet is the idea that the nipple shield can hurt your supply – some LCs and hard-core BF nazis will tell you that and encourage you to stay away from nipple shields for that reason.  If you decide to use one, I definitely recommend doing it with the supervision of an LC that you trust.  Another thing to note is that the correction of a tongue-tie does not always result in “immediate” latching, although that is what many ENT docs and LCs claim.  If you find you have a tongue-tied baby, and they don’t nurse without the shield right away after the tongue-tie is corrected, don’t give up.  It took me about 3-4 weeks of constantly offering the breast without the shield only to be rejected, but one day she just latched right on without it, and never needed it again. She nurses like a champ to this day.

    To Kirsten who’s totally freaking out: one of the reasons that breastfeeding seems so hard is that it hasn’t been the norm in our culture for several decades. In other societies where bottles are rare, breastfeeding is the norm and nobody considers it hard. Many of us don’t have role models because our family members did not breastfeed, so we have to become the role models for our sons and daughters if we want to bring breastfeeding back as the norm here in the US. Set up a good support system, but realize that the people you’re not seeing here are all the ones who have breastfed without any problems (they do exist). Millions of women around the world do it every day. If it was so awful, the whole word would’ve stopped a long time ago.

  • Cara

    November 6, 2011 at 9:24 am

    First, it wont be the end of the world if she takes all her milk by bottle. So, dont be bullied by the feeling you ‘should.’ But it sounds like you want to breastfeed, so I’d suggest you find a Le Leche League meeting near you. A whole bunch of nursing Moms with all their different trial and error experience can be amazing. I had trouble only offering the breast when she was fighting me, but her doctor told me that, if I wanted to nurse her, I should just keep offering the breast and nothing else. She really won’t starve herself. He told me not to worry unless we saw a dramatic weight loss. We never did and she settled on to the breast, at 16 mos I’m starting to wonder if she’ll ever wean. Also, breastfeeding didn’t hurt the way you and Amy have described and really didn’t hurt at all once my milk supply regulated for me. In my case, the trick was using the hand pump to bring down the engorgement. She could latch on much more easily and didn’t feel like she was drowning, so she didn’t fight me. That and a good nipple cream. Finally, use caution with nipple shields if you think nipple confusion is an issue, unless you are willing to use a nipple shield always.

  • Sarah

    November 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Just wanted to chime in that nipple shields may not solve everything, alas. In my own, particular case of severe nipple damage, nipple shields did not help and may have made matters worse. Plus it really freaked me out to have her come off (she had trouble staying latched on) and see the tips of them full of blood. But then, I also had thrush, and that turned out to be causing even worse horrid pain on top of the nipple damage. Damaged nipples get infected more easily than undamaged ones, so if you’re dealing with shooting pain that radiates deep in your breasts and even through to your back, you could be dealing with thrush in the milk ducts. I needed prescription antifungal medication (Diflucan, IIRC) to get rid of it, and once I did, things got MUCH better even though the sloooow healing of my wrecked nipples was still painful. Nobody can tell you what you should do, but I was really glad I persisted with nursing even though it took around 8 weeks for both sides to fully heal. Everything seems like it is forever when you’re sleep-deprived and hormonal and in horrible pain… but it’s really not, it just feels that way.

  • Melissa

    November 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    For us, we found out about a tongue-tie with our baby and that caused a world of hurt for me when nursing. At 10 days old, he had this clipped and he SLEPT through it…it was such a quick thing.

    However, for my other two babies everything was perfectly normal and fine and yes, it hurt for a good month. And then? No more pain and we nursed for a long time after that.

    I definitely suggest talking to a La Leche League leader, these are nursing moms who have been there too!

  • Elisha

    November 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

    My nipples were crazy also from newborn nursing. I used a nipple shield for about 16 weeks w my first and about 6 with my second. It made me not want to cry every time I had to nurse. My son bf for a little over 2 years and my daughter is 6 months and goes boob or bottle w/ out any trouble. Hang in there it gets better!

  • kim

    November 7, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I’m shouting this out from the rooftops, because I *never* see it mentioned on these boards:occupational therapy for nursing. My second had a miserable time nursing. She was a late-term preemie (36 weeks) and had a very small head and mouth. Even working with my truly fantastic LC, i was having to pump and supplement, and she finally referred me to the OT. She gave me mouth exercises for the baby (running my pinkie on her gums, working her jaw muscles by making her “chew” on my pinkie.) The exercises began to work the very first day, and I stopped supplementing with EBF within 10 days. It helped that I had had a successful bf relationship with my first. but OT truly made the difference (I also used nipple shields with both girls, and both weaned off of them by 4 mos. Do not understand the bias against them.)

  • mara

    November 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I ended up exclusively pumping and while I wouldn’t say it’s been easy (I would definitely suggest trying to make nursing work before going down this path), it HAS worked. Just wanted to pass on this guide in case you do end up EP (it made my life so much easier) –

  • liz

    November 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I pumped exclusively because my son hated facing IN, he wanted to face OUT! OUT! No nuzzling!!

    So 9 months of pumping, supplemented with formula. It worked for us. It can work for you.

  • tasterspoon

    November 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    No advice because I think Amalah’s right that it’s your personal call, but I totallly identify. In my case, it was six weeks before nursing was tolerable, i.e. without swearing and/or crying, and that’s with alternating 24 hours of exclusive pumping every other day to “heal.” And three months before it was comfortable. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and I AM glad I stuck it out for two reasons. One, the convenience of not having to pump/deal with refrigerating bottles, washing nipples, etc., which was huge because I had a long maternity leave. Two, once you return to work there’s something just…nice…about connecting with your baby first thing in the morning and last thing at night, even if you are separated all day. It sort of stops time and settles the world in its place. On the other hand, my baby nurses to sleep and now that she’s finally weaning I’m dreading the drama that is putting her down without the boob. With maternity leave ending so soon for you, I can see how you are torn. On the one hand, you still have the hassle of pumping-related chores, plus you probably want to maximize face time with your bebe. On the other hand, if it’s sad, combative face time, maybe you’re better off snuggling happily with a bottle. I will say that I found it satisfying even when it was uncomfortable and I was dramatically helped by a LC at a neighborhood LLL. She showed me the trick about holding your boob like a taco, and rolling the nipple into her mouth like if you were taking a bite from a too-big sandwich. Who knew there was so much technique to it?!

  • tasterspoon

    November 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Hey Kirsten, SOME people breastfeed without any trouble or discomfort at all. I know three mothers who were totally confused by my extended breastfeeding woes. Don’t freak out about something that might not happen to you! Instead, freak out about getting the sweetest little nightlight. I like the rechargeable mushroom LED one from Target.

  • Crabby Apple Seed

    November 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    It’s mostly already been said, but have to jump on a few bandwagons here:

    1- YES, there is definitely a difference between “holy wow, that latching business HURTS” and “OMG AM GOING TO DIE”. And, in fact, it is not appropriate to nurse thru the latter. The toughening process does NOT have to involve bleeding, cracked, scabbed nipples (which are, in fact a huge risk for mastitis, so if ya got those, you reeeeally wanna invest in the APNO). I had the latter with my first daughter and a 24 hour break with pumping and bottles did not- repeat NOT- destroy our nursing relationship. She nursed for twelve full months after that, and since I had to return to work, did beautifully going back and forth between bottle and boob. I had the former with my younger daughter, and never bruised, bled, or otherwise had visible trauma, though I was certainly quite tender and uncomfortable in the beginning for quite awhile, probably six weeks?

    2- There is a world of difference between a breastfeeding counselor and an IBCLC. Find an IBCLC!!! Mine saved my nursing relationship with my first and ensured it with my second. The hospital where I delivered had “breastfeeding counselors” whose entire line of advice consisted of “wait til her mouth is open really wide, and then just shove your breast in as fast as you can.” Yeah. You can see how we got off to a bad start.

    I think my favorite comment about all of this came from a friend of mine, who said, “Nursing your baby is amazing. Nursing a newborn is HORRIBLE.” I think it’s really worth it in the long run to try to muscle thru the horribleness. Just find the right support. You can do it!

  • Jessica

    November 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Oh, the nipple shield. Okay, so for me, that thing SAVED my nursing relationship with my son (now 15 weeks), so that’s the good news. The bad news is that I was never able to wean him off it, which has made me HATE the damn thing, and also diminished my supply. I now have to supplement about half of what he needs with formula, which is a bummer that I attribute to the shield. Maybe I should have tried sooner to get him off it, I don’t know. But at any rate, it is a mixed bag, so just know that going into it. I wrote allllll about my boob drama here: In case you don’t go read that, I just want to say GOOD FOR YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING TO FEED YOUR BABY! It’s hard, so much harder than anyone tells you, and really emotionally fraught. You sound remarkably together and determined, and your baby is lucky to have a mama like that, breastfeeding or not.

  • Olivia

    November 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Kirsten, just want to add to taterspoon’s comment. I had no trouble breastfeeding at all. My baby had trouble latching to one side when my milk came in, but that only lasted for one night. No bloody nipples, no mastitis or plugged ducts (and I’m still nursing at 2.5 yrs), not even much soreness even at first. I hesitate to share this on a thread about bf problems, but I just want to let you know that while it’s good to have the info about what kind of problems can occur, it’s a toss up as to whether you will have any problems or if they will be severe. Don’t let the potential problems scare you.

  • Christine

    November 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Lots of great advice here, and I hope it works for you. I just wanted to add a data point about pain. When I had my first baby it hurt like hell at let-down for 7 weeks, though the LC said he was doing everything right and I never bled. I continued to nurse him all through my next pregnancy and when the next baby latched on – hey presto! – it hurt again! So I have to infer that a lot of the pain is post-partum hormones and nothing else. Just in case that helps anyone.

  • Karen

    November 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I agree with everyone on here who is encouraging you to continue trying to nurse. Use a dark, quiet setting and just be patient, make eye contact….

    When you are exhausted and even more so after those long-exhausting days at work….nursing at night is so easy and simple. My guy is 8 months old now and I can pull him into bed with me and nurse while I sleep. You are up when you pump and those precious minutes add up.

  • Kristy

    November 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    What I can offer you is my sincere sympathies and complete understanding of what you’re going through. My long story short is that after 3 weeks of trying to nurse and pump I was just not producing anything. The baby wouldn’t latch every time and when he did there just wasn’t anything coming out. I tried nipple shields and they’d work for whatever I was producing but the poor little guy would suck and suck and then give up.

    I’d sit for 45 minutes trying to pump and would get maybe an ounce which so stressed me out. It was especially horrible because my “birth plan” went out the window when I wound up having a c-section rather than natural. I just wanted it to work so bad and felt like a failure.
    The more I thought about it the more I just told myself that I
    didn’t want to spend my entire maternity leave upset and crying all the time so rather than pursue options of calling a LC or trying herbs like fenugreek to get my milk supply going.. I quit. And I’ll honestly tell you that I regretted it until my son was weaned at 14 months. Imagine a whole year of feeling depressed and guilty every time you give your baby a bottle. It sucked.

    I really would suggest that you do everything you can before stopping.

  • Newmom

    April 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Try the Medela nipple shield/ cover. It protects your nipple and makes it seem smaller in the babies mouth until they can handle the size of your nipple. Also, it resembles a bottle nipple more than your natural one does so there is less confusion. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed; it’s amazing!!

  • Lana

    March 26, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant with my second child and wish to breastfeed this time as I bottle fed my first cause of flat nipples I have tried using nipple developers but they have left my nipples cracked and itchy what do you recommend ??x