I can only speak for myself when it comes to this topic. I found the first few weeks the hardest. After this, the sentiments you hear from breastfeeding moms like ‘It doesn’t hurt’, ‘It’s not a big deal’, ‘It’s super convenient to have perfectly warm, mixed, clean food at the ready’ become true.
But how to get through those initial issues of poor latching and my personal favourite – bleeding around the nipples? For me and my kids, the latching improved with practice and wasn’t much of an issue. (I know that sounds trite but it was entirely true. I don’t remember the early days with my first one as well but it was true with the second. She latched terribly at first. She wouldn’t take enough into her mouth for a good feed for her or a less-painful experience for me. Somehow after a few days she just started doing it right. It was days more before my breasts started to feel better but it did happen.)
The bleeding those first few days of nursing however – sheesh. I recall vividly my little one looking like a vampire with bright red blood leaking out of the corner of her mouth during a few feeds – I kid you not! And I fully admit that I cringed when getting her to latch on knowing that it was going to hurt, I was going to continue to bruise and bleed. (It didn’t help that I was reading the Twilight series at the time.)
This was cured with the use of lanolin. Lanolin is a wax-like substance produced by wool-bearing animals – like sheep. Because lanolin is natural, your baby can ingest it without you worrying about chemicals. (So no need to remove or rinse before feeds.) Of course, if you have any wool-bearing animal allergies, you may need another solution. I found that using pure lanolin after every feed on both nipples (even the one I didn’t have baby feed from) enabled them to heal in just a couple of days. No more cracking, redness, bleeding or bruising. Don’t get me wrong, those days were torture but I knew they’d pass and that when they did we’d have the breastfeeding relationship that I always wanted. And now I do.
There are physical issues that can hinder nursing on both sides. Inverted nipples can cause problems that can be overcome. Unfortunately if baby is tongue-tied, there is little that can be done. My kiddos have tongues like Gene Simmons so it wasn’t a problem. It is something that any competent doctor, midwife or lactation specialist will check. Of, BTW they also open baby’s mouth to verify if baby is dehydrated. I’ve never used pacifiers (mostly because my kids wouldn’t use them) but they can lead to fewer feeds than is needed which in turn can lead to dehydration. Just a head’s up.
For some great resources – see LaLeche’s website. Again, I can only speak for myself, but I thought this would be a real ‘grassroots’ kind of place with associated advice. It was a wonderful resource and I would encourage anyone wanting to breastfeed or having troubles with breastfeeding to give them a chance to work their magic on your breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
In my experience, if you can make it through the first 2-3 weeks, you can make it for as long as you want; a few months or years.
Reposted with modifications from You Get Well Soon Inc.