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Restarting Breastfeeding?

Can This Breastfeeding Relationship Be Saved?

By Amalah

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!

Best,
S

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

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 [email protected].

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.
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Dawn K.

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… Read more »

Hannah
Guest

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… Read more »

Katy
Guest
Katy

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… Read more »

Jenn
Guest
Jenn

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. http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/tips-and-solutions/112/nipple-shields 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… Read more »

Karlei
Guest
Karlei

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,… Read more »

HereWeGoAJen
Guest

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
Guest
Carolina

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
Guest
Katie

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
Guest
Amy B

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… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

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… Read more »

Moira
Guest
Moira

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
Guest
lolismum

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… Read more »

Linda
Guest

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… Read more »

Corie
Guest
Corie

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… Read more »

Kaela
Guest
Kaela

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… Read more »

Eden
Guest

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… Read more »

Karen
Guest
Karen

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… Read more »

Cammie
Guest
Cammie

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… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

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… Read more »

Liz
Guest
Liz

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… Read more »

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

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… Read more »

Lesley
Guest
Lesley

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… Read more »

Kari
Guest

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
Guest
Olivia

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… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

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… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

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… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

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… Read more »

Mandi
Guest
Mandi

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
Guest

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
Guest
Lizzie

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… Read more »

Kirsten
Guest
Kirsten

” 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… Read more »

AmyM
Guest
AmyM

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… Read more »

Ashlea
Guest
Ashlea

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… Read more »

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

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
Guest
Jennifer

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… Read more »

Erica
Guest
Erica

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… Read more »

Erica
Guest
Erica

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… Read more »

Trish
Guest
Trish

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… Read more »

Cara
Guest
Cara

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… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

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… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

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
Guest
Elisha

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
Guest
kim

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… Read more »

mara
Guest

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) – http://forums.ivillage.com/t5/Roll-Calls-Introductions/Updated-Beginner-s-Guide-looking-for-input-and-any-additions/m-p/116687945/message-uid/116687945#U116687945

liz
Guest

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
Guest
tasterspoon

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… Read more »

tasterspoon
Guest
tasterspoon

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
Guest

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-… Read more »

Jessica
Guest

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… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

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… Read more »