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Latch-22

By Amalah

breastfeeding.pngDear Amy,

Here it is, 2am. My nipples are sore yet again from yet another feeding by my almost 5-week old son. I have a bad latch and I know it and have not been able to correct it in spite of every bit of advice that I can read, every lactation consultant I’ve talked to, every video or picture of what the correct way to do it shows me. I’ve resorted to simply being on ibuprofen most of the time and attempting to simply try to keep the damage from being on the tip of the nipple where it will be the worst and will hence crack, bleed and cause those black, tarry poops that are horrible and make me feel as though I’ve created a little unwilling vampire.

Here’s the horrible part: I had this 5-second window last week where he ‘accidentally’ latched correctly. He got so much milk that he panicked, choked and he broke the seal. The sensation was so foreign (of not being in pain) that I don’t have ANY CLUE how we achieved it and now that I’ve seen this glimpse of what could be, I am doubly frustrated that I can’t recreate it no matter what I try! So I’m spending a lot of time furious at the lactation consultants in the hospital both of whom I now realize were worthless, the other LC I paid $80 to learn a decent position but not how to get him to latch correctly and the class I’ve attended in which I’ve been told what a great job he’s doing and that I’ll just have to stay on ibuprofen until it feels better naturally. I am also furious with every document that says, ‘if you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt!’ which now just seems like someone punching me OVER AND OVER since obviously I’m failing b/c it HURTS and I cannot get him, for the life of me, to open his mouth wider & for longer and I cannot seem to move my hand/arm any faster than I am to get him on quickly. And I’m furious at all those posters and videos showing women with perfect breasts and their perfect little latchers sucking so calmly away. I hate them, Amy. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. And in my worst, worst, worst moments I am mad at my perfect little son who just wants to eat his fill. Hence, I am feeling like the Awful Mother of the Year on about every level there is.

And nowhere can I find someone who can tell me what to actually do to get him to transition from his old ways to what needs to be his new ways. The sad part is that he would be so happy to get more milk and not have to work so damn hard for it. He’s got the strongest little jaw in the world at this point since he’s pulling that milk out of me and he is doing what the pump couldn’t do (yes, it’s hospital-grade) which was to establish my supply and cause let-downs, etc. (we started exclusively breast-feeding which we’ve been doing for just over 2 weeks now.) He’s getting milk and gaining weight, but it’s just not any sort of good experience. I’m heartbroken. I so want to have this for him and for me. I so want to get there. I so want to not cry or cringe when I anticipate that he’s hungry. Since I’ve read everything else in the universe about this and all that I can find just says, “fix your latch” which makes me crazy with NO DUHness, I thought I’d try your faithful readership to find someone who might just have any useful help…any thoughts, Amy?

Thanks…
E

I…

God. I’m so sorry. I’m just…SORRY. Because I know (and you probably know) that there’s nothing I can type that will FIX THIS FOR YOU. I mean, words on a computer screen are going to be infinitely less helpful than videos and posters and in-person demonstrations.

I had terrible, awful, no-good latchers both times, at first. The first few days and weeks of Noah’s life are a blur of inexplicable nursing strikes and bloody, scabbed nipples (crunchy burnt toast points, is how I believe I referred to them at the time) and thanks to Ezra’s tongue tie and my own how-to-breastfeed memory loss between babies, the first two weeks of his life weren’t much better. I needed a big-time refresher course on latching, and once I got that, it got better. Much better.

Latching a newborn on is not about the nipple. The nipple needs to pretty much bypass the tongue and cheeks altogether and get aimed straight down the back of their little throats. You’re really trying to get the entire areola into his mouth — put your thumb on the top of your boob, just parallel to the edge of the areola, with your index and middle finger on the bottom of your boob. Push down with your thumb until your nipple is basically pointing straight up at the ceiling. Once your baby opens his mouth — hold the back of his head, aim for just above his bottom lip and SHOVE AND MASH that boob in there, forcing his bottom jaw down with it — and the bottom of your areola should be what goes in first. Imagine the boob going in sideways, with the nipple pointed upward, essentially dragging across the roof of his mouth. Once you’ve mashed it good and in there, release your thumb so the nipple aims down his throat and his top lip completely covers the top of the areola. Ideally, you should see nothing but skin on the outside of his lips. This keeps him from sucking ON the delicate nipple and areola and allows him to get the deep sucking action and compression of your actual boob and milk ducts.

(And yeah, I totally had to sit here and mime that whole thing out while I typed it. My husband is all, “what in the world are you writing about now?”)

But…like I said. I am sure you KNOW ALL OF THIS. It’s been explained and demonstrated. So either it just hasn’t been explained in *quite the right way* with the right thumb/forefinger/nipple-to-the-ceiling technique adequately demonstrated…or there’s something else going on. A couple possible problems:

1) Tongue-tie. Have you ever seen your baby’s tongue extend past the edge of his lower lip, or does it seem like he actually can’t stick his tongue out? Does the tip of his tongue resemble the top of a heart shape, with a deep center “seam?” If you run your finger under his tongue, does the frenulum (little fleshy flap thing) seem to be extremely thick or tight or does it come right to the very tip? These are signs of a tongue-tie, which definitely impacts breastfeeding and latching and how much milk a baby can get and it DEFINITELY causes a LOT of pain for the mother, even a mother who is getting her baby to latch “correctly.” His tongue might just BE IN THE WAY, causing a shallow nipple-sucking latch. This is nothing that you are doing wrong. I really, REALLY hope one of these LCs you’ve seen has thought to check his tongue and rule this out, but when you’re talking about five weeks of bloody nipples and black tarry poops and LCs telling you that things are “great,” just pop some pain medication…well. I can’t say I’m overly impressed with the care you’ve received thus far.

2) A small mouth. You’re describing a problem that a lot of preemie moms encounter: a baby who just cannot latch deeply enough no matter what angle he’s at or how much boob/face mashing/squshing you do. Was your baby on the small side, by any chance? It could be that he’s just…still small, and needs to grow a bit more before he can take in enough of your nipple to bypass the parts that will cause you pain. As I am not a lactation consultant and haven’t seen your situation in person, I can’t in good conscience suggest a nursing aid like a nipple shield…but maybe you should talk to someone about whether that would be an appropriate stop-gap solution for you.

That said…six weeks was the turning point for me and Noah. Granted, we never had the breastfeeding relationship that *I* wanted — though I’ve since been able to let go of the guilt and fear that *I* was the failure, now that we realize he’s always had oral-motor issues and difficulties with his mouth muscles and tongue. But at six weeks I no longer feared that I would have to give up because of the pain and the frustration and the fear that he simply wasn’t getting enough. I have no idea what happened — he wasn’t tongue-tied and he CERTAINLY wasn’t small — but something finally, blissfully clicked for the two of us and the scabs healed for good at last. I no longer needed a complicated array of pillows and two or three latching attempts before I got it right. We reached the point where we could nurse lying down or while I talked on the phone and latching became less of a orchestrated dance of compressing my boob JUUUUUUST right to get the nipple all the way in and more of…just me offering it to him. He learned how to do it, and hopefully your son will too.

In the meantime, please: Oh My God, you are not a failure. No one is judging you, grading you. Even if you up and quit tomorrow I don’t think there are many people who could possibly accuse you of not trying hard enough. If anything, I want you to cut yourself some freaking slack here. Breastfeeding is a wonderful, amazing thing…but it’s not wonderful or amazing enough to be worth driving yourself to PPD over. You’re tired, you’re hurting, you’re frustrated, you’re throwing negative names at yourself and resenting your baby and about to punch out a poster at your OB/GYN’s office. It’s all understandable, but it’s not okay.

And I don’t mean “not okay” as in “UR DOIN IT WRONG”…I mean “not okay” as in you need to step back and take care of yourself. Exclusively breastfeeding is a totally admirable goal, but…if you find yourself sobbing at the computer at 2 am in pain and frustration, typing the words “Awful Mother of the Year” ever again…I’m gonna go ahead and suggest that you hand the baby off to your husband at 5 am for a bottle. Pump for a bit and go back to bed, take a bath, take a jog, take a trashy magazine and curl up with it off in a corner somewhere. Again, NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR GOLD STAR if you give yourself a freaking break when it gets this bad.
Readers? Any suggestions? Stories from the “been there, done that” trenches? Perfectly-worded descriptions of proper latching technique?

Here are some articles we have written about breastfeeding.

Picture by Wha’ppen

 

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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maggie
Guest

I don’t know who those evil people are who say “If they are doing it correctly, it won’t hurt”. THEY LIE! I ‘think’ we had a proper latch on and it hurt like hell for weeks, but it did get better at about six weeks, same as Amy. I beat myself up, cried, screamed, etc about the situation with my first one, but I was glad I stuck with it. It still hurt like hell with my second baby, but at least I knew that I could make it through again and it would get easier. Good luck!

Kristin
Guest
Kristin

What about trying some All Purpose Nipple Cream?? Can’t hurt and might super help. Also the gel soothie pad thing- stick in fridge before wearing. Hopefully they will help with healing while working on the latch.
Trust me, I HATED breastfeeding for the first 8 week or so. When I told my pediatrician, his first words were, “you don’t have to do it, you know” because his philosophy is happy mom, happy baby.

Camille
Guest
Camille

You may have already looked into this, but the women who lead and those who attend my local LaLeche League group are fantastic. I’m still nursing my nearly nine month old, but I had pain, cracks and bleeding for the first few weeks because I wasn’t hold her quite right even though the latch was okay (so she was pulling at the boob). My issue was really easy to spot and fix, but other women who have attended have had issues that sound similar to yours. If you don’t mind nursing in front of a bunch of other mamas to… Read more »

Courtney
Guest
Courtney

Let’s just say that about 9 months ago I was spending my days crying and trying to get my daughter to latch on. Which is to say, you’re not alone in this and you are doing awesome by continuing to try. My daughter was 3 weeks early – she had a small mouth and just wasn’t coordinated in her sucking. What turned everything around for us was a fabulous LC. She came to the house and sat with us for 1-2 hours, and then came back when I still didn’t feel like the latch was as easy as it should… Read more »

Cecily
Guest

Dude, everyone says not to do this, but it saved me: nipple shields. So simple, fast, and easy.
You know who told me to try them? My pediatrician, who is also a LC. It really helped. Good luck!

Beth
Guest
Beth

I had the burnt toast points (LOL) with both my little ones, although much less so with the second. I agree–the whole “it won’t hurt if you’re doing it right” is total BS. My problem was that the latch would start off correct, but after just a few minutes, my little ones would get tired and relax a bit, and the latch would “undo.” To keep re-latching over and over got incredibly frustrating for both of us. But after about 6 weeks, the babies got stronger and it was all pretty much good after 8 weeks. It was a long… Read more »

Angela
Guest

I second everything Amy said.
I didn’t try nearly that long before giving up and pumping, and then I only pumped for 3 weeks before giving that up too. And while I forgave myself for it. My son is fine, and while I sincerely hope to set up a better support system before my twins are born because I do really want to bf, I know if it doesn’t work out, I am still a good mother.
That said, I hope soemthing Amy put in there will help you fix the latch. I’ll definitely be back to read this again in May!

wallydraigle
Guest

As far as I know, my first breastfeeding experience was very normal. The first two months sucked (hah! pun!), and then it evened out. By golly, yes it DID hurt, even WITH a good latch, thank you very much you jerks who keep telling people it shouldn’t, because human skin isn’t mean to be doused in saliva 23 hours a day, for one thing. Ahem. Anyway, by comparison, I’m pretty sure my experience was a thousand times better than yours. And I STILL had nursing sessions where the frustration and anger (at what? me, the baby, usually the stupid pillows… Read more »

Mouse
Guest

Six weeks was a turning point for my son and me too. And someone’s probably suggested this, but the football hold ended up being the best position for us. The lactation consultant I saw said to use it 80-90% of the time and cross-cradle for an occasional break. My son seemed to get a better angle (like Amalah describes) in the football hold.

Bettina@bestforbabes.org
Guest

How awful. We all feel for you, and have been there! It is important to know that not all lactation consultants are good. Many are lousy. It sounds like you had the latter. I would suggest calling Kate Sharp, IBCLC (you can get her number from http://www.ilca.org ) — she does a type of cranio-sacral adjustment that works wonders with babies that are difficult to latch. It is a technique known by few and Kate is one of the most respected and gifted IBCLCs in New York City. You don’t need just any IBCLC, you need the VERY BEST. Just… Read more »

psumommy
Guest

Three things popped into my mind! 1) OVERSUPPLY. You mention that you had 5 seconds of correct latching and it made your baby gag and stuff? Well, if you have an oversupply, a baby won’t WANT to latch properly because of the gushing and the too-much-milk. Are your baby’s poops green or few and far between? But with lots and lots of pee problems? If yes: try block nursing. That’s where you nurse on one side per nursing over a period of time (eg: the right boob from 6am to 10am, then the left boob from 10am to 2pm…you get… Read more »

Jen
Guest
Jen

I agree with the others who have suggested getting some APNO as well as going to LaLeche. For more information about the APNO, take a look at http://www.kellymom.com where you will find all the breastfeeding advice you could want in one place. I also recommend Soothies gel pads for sore nipples- much better than using lanolin. Then take yourself to an LLL meeting and ask for some help- and it won’t cost you the money that a LC will. And yes, it does hurt at first to breastfeed- your skin just isn’t used to it and if you have latch… Read more »

Clare
Guest
Clare

I had similar problems with my first son, so I will pass along to you what the LC told me:
Coat your nipple with olive oil. This is safe for the baby and will help him latch on properly. He will slide off the nipple onto the areola. And the extra moisturizing helps heal cracks.
Feed in the foot ball hold. I found this really useful, as I could more easily adjust his latch.

Annemie
Guest
Annemie

Ditto everything Courtney said, as well as Camille’s recommendation for going to a LLL meeting if you can find one near you. As an L&D nurse, I tell each and every new-to-breastfeeding mom I take care of to ignore the LC mantra about if you do it right, it doesn’t hurt. I KNOW what a good latch looks like – have taken classes and gone to seminars, etc – and yet with both my first son and now with my 6 week-old, their perfect latches have not saved me from all pain. Granted, it was more with my first (who… Read more »

eva
Guest

1) APNO. Do it…check jack newman’s breastfeeding website for the “recipe” 2) watch some of the videos at Jack Newman’s breastfeeding website. 3) if you’re dark skinned like me, don’t ever expect that a proper latch will result in no areola showing while your baby is breastfeeding. Darker seems to equal bigger aureolas (aureolae?)and even at 17 months when my daughter gave up on the boob, her mouth really couldn’t contain my freakishly huge aureolas. And by then we had a proper latch! It took weeks and weeks though, and I went through three rounds of antibiotics to clear nasty… Read more »

Annie G.
Guest
Annie G.

Oh god, I was right where Erica was when my son was born 13 weeks ago– a supposed “perfect” latch that hurt like hell, causing me to dread feeding him and shake my fist at all the advice to “correct his latch!” Like that was so easy! I finally saw a good LC, who told me that my son had a bad latch, and gave me a couple of practical tips for how to fix it, and I did and now breastfeeding is much smoother sailing. I’ll second everybody else’s recommendations to find yourself a good LC (I too can… Read more »

MommiePie
Guest

I remember that even with a good latch, it still hurt like hell for at least 6 weeks. You both have to get used to the sensation, the positioning, trying to relax…then, eventually, like magic, it’s like, “what was the big deal – this is soooo easy!” It becomes much easier when you can move to the cradle hold rather than the cross cradle (or it was for me anyway).
Also, I use the Boppy pillow for support. My son is 11 months old and we still use the Boppy. LOVE ME SUM BOPPY!

lisa
Guest
lisa

i went through it too. i call it the hamburger nipple phase. my baby was getting enough, but had a tongue-tie. once that was clipped, the healing began. i agree with amy that it will likely get better as your baby’s mouth gets bigger too. hang in there!
one other tip i’m sure you’ve heard but was the key for me was “baby to boob, not boob to baby”.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

Oh, my god the breastfeeding. I have to say that breastfeeding was the hardest thing I have EVER done and I survived. For the first 8ish weeks I was in hell. Supply issues, pain/bleeding/cracking, nipple shield reliance, etc. It was awful. The only thing that made it any easier: giving myself a break. I decided to supplement, some is better than none. Once I let up on myself and my little guy everything kind of clicked into place.
Hang in there.

Kristin
Guest

First – YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. YOU ARE NOT THE MOST AWFUL MOM. YOU ARE FABULOUS. YOU ARE A FIGHTER. YOU ARE STRONG. And…Wow. I have been there. Although after nine days of crying, begging, sobbing, pleading and a lot of name calling (of myself), I gave up. It was yet another painful feeding and my husband heard me crying on the baby monitor. He came in, took our little girl, told me that I hadn’t failed and went to make her a bottle with some supplemental formula. I walked in the guest room, burst into harder sobs, and… Read more »

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Oy the pain. You aren’t alone. I cried for a good month every time my daughter latched onto my right side and we have a really good nursing story. My problem came from those reusable breast pads that stuck to my nipple and pulled off skin. OMG thought I was going to die. The only thing that really stuck with me that I was taught by the LC that someone hasn’t already mentioned was bringing the baby to the boob, not the boob to the baby. Hold the back of your child’s head and push it into your nipple really… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

When I had latch problems, it was because my kids weren’t in the correct spot in front of me. I finally realized that their head has to be farther over than where I thought it should be. Their heads were always too close to my center instead of being far enough over they could probably see past my side. I don’t know if that’ll help, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to respond. Also, don’t forget that you are hormonal. I’m there myself (#2 is 8 weeks), so I know how you feel. You are NOT a failure, you are… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Flashbacks of almost six months ago! Those first few days were so bad, and I was in so much pain that I thought about giving up. What really helped was when the LC told me to take my hand (the one holding the baby) and put it around the baby’s neck, hold down onto his ears with your thumb and middle finger (ring finger? whichever is easiest and don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt the baby) and then when the baby opens him mouth, just shove him onto your boob. The hand trick gives you control to literally give your baby… Read more »

Heidi
Guest

Oh, honey! I was SO there! I was there at three mother frocking weeks. My daughter refused to latch and when she DID, she’d suck maybe twice and then let go, meanwhile, my nipple is spraying milk up her nose, in her hear, on the dog…I remember thinking in a moment of “I haven’t slept for 36 hours” fueled desperation at 3 AM “I hate this child.” I mean, obviously, I DIDN’T. But I hated the 2 hours nursing sessions where she never emptied my breasts, it was OMFG KILL ME NOW PUHLEEZ painful, and did I mention I never… Read more »

Heidi
Guest

Oh, honey! I was SO there! I was there at three mother frocking weeks. My daughter refused to latch and when she DID, she’d suck maybe twice and then let go, meanwhile, my nipple is spraying milk up her nose, in her hear, on the dog…I remember thinking in a moment of “I haven’t slept for 36 hours” fueled desperation at 3 AM “I hate this child.” I mean, obviously, I DIDN’T. But I hated the 2 hours nursing sessions where she never emptied my breasts, it was OMFG KILL ME NOW PUHLEEZ painful, and did I mention I never… Read more »

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

Don’t let him stay on if the latch isn’t good. Put your finger in his mouth and pull back on you breast to break the latch and try again, as many times as it takes. That would make my daughter sufficiently mad that she would really open her maw to scream and that is the point I would shove my boob in.
I hope I’m not repeating something you already do.

jive turkey
Guest

Honestly, the most difficult part of the whole pregnancy/childbirth/postpartum experience for me was the breastfeeding stuff. I expected it would either WORK or NOT WORK; I never expected it to WORK and be INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT AND PAINFUL. I had a few bad latches at the hospital that turned one of my nipples into a total mess, and it just never got the chance to heal UNTIL I got some of that wonderful, glorious Newman’s nipple ointment (all-purpose nipple cream) from the lactation consultant (my ped can also prescribe it; maybe yours can too). That stuff healed me up in 24… Read more »

Lisa M
Guest
Lisa M

OH, I have so been at that point, and I’m so sorry that anyone has to go there. But Amy (as usual) was right on with the C-hold (where you cup your breast like the letter C and compress it) and the head mashing/smashing. It’s gotta be a really quick (but gentle) shove into the boob. It helps if you can have someone else do the shoving so you can hold the baby with one hand/arm, and your breast with the other. Once it becomes more natural, you won’t forever need someone on standby to shove a baby face first… Read more »

Roberta
Guest

I didn’t have any particularly bad breastfeeding issues, but it did take a full six weeks for it to stop being pretty painful. My baby was full term, but on the small side, which may have contributed, though we seemed to be getting a good latch. I also had some pretty serious engorgement and oversupply for awhile, which didn’t help either. The ointment that others mentioned – the All Purpose Nipple Cream – was VERY helpful to me. It’s also called “triple nipple cream,” and your OB or midwife or maybe even a pede can write you a prescription for… Read more »

LauraL
Guest
LauraL

First, I totally second the other suggestions. Check out La Leche, check for tongue-tying, ask around about LCs, etc. IF, however, you continue to have problems but still want to feed your baby breast milk, maybe try pumping again now that your supply has been established. My second child had trouble breastfeeding (low muscle tone = problems sucking & latching = not enough food = screamy baby = weepy mama). And it took him forever to get in a meal. So I ended up solely pumping and putting it in a bottle. In fact, I don’t think I even tried… Read more »

Elana E
Guest
Elana E

In my next life I want to be a trained lactation consultant. So it is so interesting to hear these questions and see how they get answered. Here is my suggestion as a breastfeeder of preemie twins: nipple covers. One of my girls was a nipple nibbler too. Ow! The nurse at the hospital got me a Medela nipple cover and it was amazing. It is silicon (I believe) and protects your nipple from just this problem. It did two things for me: one, it protected my nipple from being tortured; two, it gave my baby more to grab on… Read more »

Jenn
Guest

Everyone who says that six weeks seemed to be a turning point are on to something. That seemed to be the case with me, too with all three of my kids. I used a nipple shield with all of them, which I know has many detractors, but with my third kid, it was either that or stop nursing altogether, the pain was so bad. She has a small mouth and just wasn’t able to open wide enough. The shield at least let me heal and once I did, nursing became much easier, probably helped by the fact that she was… Read more »

Christine
Guest
Christine

Just adding yet more data points: my nipples hurt like heck for the first seven weeks, and latch-on was painful, especially on my “bad” side for a while after that. I never had cracked or bleeding nipples, so that’s not what was hurting, and the LCs I saw said we had a perfect latch. I firmly believe the pain (that particular bit of the pain) is hormonal – especially as I then nursed child #1 all through my second pregnancy and it still hurt for the first few days of nursing child #2. Part of that was her learning to… Read more »

Trish
Guest
Trish

Moms who cannot breastfeed: please, PLEASE stop feeling bad about it. My mom could NOT breastfeed (due to chronic high blood pressure and the medication she HAD to take to control it). I never had breast milk: formula 100%. I am not deficient, deformed, and I don’t have health problems or digestion issues. I’m not dumb either (good student, dual master’s degrees, blah blah blah). If you CAN breastfeed, fantastic: do it. If you cannot, you have not failed. Your kid is not going to be dumb, or a failure, or an axe murderer. I wholeheartedly support teaching people about… Read more »

Been there...
Guest
Been there...

A couple of things for you to consider (I’ve nursed three kids until 18 months, but the first didn’t nurse well until 7 weeks, all three had bad latches and it hurt for weeks to nurse): 1) Read some things from this website for mothers whose breastfeeding experience wasn’t what they expected – it’s a great site: http://www.mobimotherhood.org/MM/default.aspx 2) If you use a shield, make sure you put it on properly. You don’t just pop it on over your nipple, instead follow these steps: a) invert the thing so just the tip is extending out, b) have your breast slightly… Read more »

Alias Mother
Guest

Oh god. Been there. Done that. The pain, the bleeding, the unhelpful LCs telling me that it shouldn’t hurt. You’ve got tons of good advice above, so I won’t do anything other than nod. Yes, it hurts. For some of us, it hurts like hell. It took me 12 weeks, to be exact. 12 weeks until I felt human. I spent every nursing session doing yoga breathing and crying through the pain. But I did it, it got better, and I nursed my daughter for almost 16 months. And I know that no one likes to be told that their… Read more »

HereWeGoAJen
Guest

Keep trying and hang in there. But also, once you’ve tried everything you want to try, don’t be afraid to stop nursing if this just doesn’t work. You don’t have to nurse to be a fantastic mother.

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

First of all, WELL DONE for perservering this far! No one tells you how hard breastfeeding is and you’ve done amazing to get this far with all the pain you describe. When I read your post–especially the part about dreading each feed–I could completely relate. I am breastfeeding my three month old but nearly had to stop in the beginning on account of the excruciating pain. We hired a lactation consultant who examined my nipples and baby’s mouth and immediately diagnosed the problem: thrush. Basically, baby had oral thrush and I nipple thrush and we were just constantly passing it… Read more »

Miranda
Guest
Miranda

Nipple shields are a God-send.. my LC gave me mine, but you can get them at Target or BRU, also..

kiesa
Guest
kiesa

In my opinion, nothing is more important than making sure you have a good bond with your baby. Under ideal circumstances, breastfeeding can enhance bonding. However, if you feel it is making the relationship with your child worst, I would really suggest you sit down and evaluate if it is worth it. I realize this may be hard. Both my mother and my mother-in-law who are very aware of the benefits of breastmilk tried to gently suggest that my determination to feed my son breastmilk might not the healthiest option in our case. I couldn’t hear them. It’s only now… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

@wallydraigle, OMG I am so with you on the Boppy thing. I found it completely useless until I started using it for its actual original purpose, as a pillow to prop the baby on while he was on his tummy or back. I was lucky enough to receive a “My Brest Friend” as a hand me down and it is seriously awesome despite the ridiculous name. I also second, third? the recommendation for the gel healing pads. I used them to recover from the damage my son caused in his first few days because he was tongue tied. I hope… Read more »

Cheri
Guest
Cheri

Could I also suggest going to the nursing support group at the hospital? The first two weeks with each kid, my nipples were raw, cracked and bleeding. My nc from the hospital suggested a cream you can make yourself— a dab of cortisone, a dab of monistat, and a dab of antibiotic cream mixed together- you could have a yeast infection in the nipples. Nursing shields helped my friend, who had inverted nipples- could that be a part of the problem? You need support as well as help with this. I had to do a cross cradle position to keep… Read more »

Stephanie 2
Guest
Stephanie 2

I have to second the suggestion to consider a bottle at one of the night time or early morning feedings. I had lots of trouble with breastfeeding the first time around and only managed to stick with it for two weeks. The second time was a little bit easier, but it still hurt for the first several weeks. And the 2:00am feedings were very frustrating. I started having my husband get up and give my son a bottle for that feeding and it made a HUGE difference. Getting a little more sleep makes everything much more bearable. And it took… Read more »

Heather Ann
Guest
Heather Ann

I cannot read the comments because my own 2 month old will not last long…but look for a better LC! Tongue-tie… All my four children were tongue-tied, but my last is the one who caused me extreme pain and in whom we saw the weight loss. She had a posterior tongue-tie, which is much harder to recognize. She is the only one that I had to get it corrected in, and I had alot of nipple pain and it kind of felt like her tongue clicked in and out of position while nursing. Obviously, I can’t really help from here,… Read more »

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. One thing that helped with my sore nipples was to rub lanolin into the breast pad and not directly on my skin. I think Amy and the commenters have given some really good suggestions, but my $.02 is that I wish I had given up on breastfeeding sooner. (My daughter had tongue-tie and a bad latch, and I had a low supply. I kept it up for 5 months and it was pretty miserable. And yes, I did have multiple LCs and tried everything to establish my supply). I don’t mean to… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think that whole thing about it not hurting if you’re doing it right is correct…MUCH later on when everything is well established and both momma and baby know what they’re doing. Like, I’m think about six months in or so, my daughter would occasionally latch incorrectly, and it would hurt and be immediately obvious, where as a corect latch felt perfectly fine. (And once or twice she’d miss the nipple entirely and latch onto the side of my boob or my stomach or something. That hurts too! Those babies can create some vacuum!) But again, that was months into… Read more »

Jaymee
Guest
Jaymee

I am fairly certain that nobody is going to read this comment because let’s face it, who actually read ALL of the comments. I usually give up after the first 5 especially if they are as long as the ones here! But hey, I’ll give it a try anyways because I feel for you! Plus I might be able to help!!(I say this feeling very high and mighty. Me all knowing wonderful breastfeeder that I am… HAHA FUNNY!!) I had the exact same problem! No matter what I tried, who I talked to nothing worked. I even did the whole… Read more »

Lori
Guest
Lori

I’m so sorry this has been so difficult for you. I haven’t been in your shoes (I had very littlepain and never any bleeding in 2 1/2 years breastfeeding my son), but just maybe I can help a little bit. Something I read somewhere told me that infants this reflex – if they’re hungry, if you touch their bottom lip, they’ll refexively open their mouth. I never waited until my son cried to feed him (unless he woke up hungry). I would test him by touching his lip. If he opened his mouth, I fed him. He was usually relaxed… Read more »

NewMommyToTwins
Guest
NewMommyToTwins

Thanks so much for this column. I’m a new mom to twin boys, 5 weeks old tomorrow. We’ve had so many similar experiences, it truly makes me feel better that I’m not alone. One baby couldn’t latch at all in the beginning, he lost 20% of his birthweight by 1 week and our pediatrician basically told us either I feed him every 2 hours AND supplement him with pumped milk and formula or he goes into the hospital and someone else will feed him. His twin also lost weight, though not as severely, so he had to get formula too.… Read more »

shylo Bisnett
Guest

you might try giving yourself a break by pumping for a week while you feed your nb with a hazelbaker finger feeder. it’s a tube you strap to your finger attached to a bulb of milk. it’s kind of a bitch, but it can help reset your kid;s latch … and you can get the psychological break you need to help you deal with the pain better.
i understand exactly where you are. breastfeeding nearly broke me and u;m now in month eight of exclusive pumping.