This is for all of you who have breastfed your children, you know how difficult it is. It is something that every new mother who decides to breastfeed goes through. I had no idea that my nipples would crack, bleed, and sting until I was in the middle of experiencing it. So, of course I kept reading things online written by lactation consultants and talked to lactation consultants at WIC, everything and everyone telling me that it shouldn't hurt and if it does then I am doing it wrong.
I recently talked to my cousin, who just gave birth to her second child last January and has breastfed both of her children. She actually made an appointment and talked to a lactation consultant as well, who said the same thing: "If it hurts, you must be doing it wrong."
How could this be when her babies and my baby are gaining weight beautifully and don't seem to have any other issues? Also, everyone else I talk to says that breastfeeding does hurt and most of them felt that they had to stop after just a couple of months because it was too difficult. It is simple really, lactation consultants lie! It takes time for women's breasts to get used to being used in this new utilitarian way, as the food source for a little human being. It also should be noted that the first food source that the baby gets from his/her mother, colostrum, is very thick and the baby has to suck hard in order to get it out. There is no way to prepare a woman's breasts for this new activity, it just takes time to get used to. After what I have heard sometimes takes 8 weeks or longer, your nipples will heal and the pain will subside. Some articles I read even advised to continue feeding your baby even if your nipples are bleeding,
"Painful cracked and bleeding nipples are not a normal
side effect of breastfeeding. Nursing shouldn't be painful
– in fact, pain is a warning sign that you have a problem
that needs correcting... The fact that your nipples are
cracked or bleeding won't bother your baby. She may
swallow some blood and you may see it come out in her
diaper, but it won't do her any harm." (click here to see
This just seems ridiculous to me. If you need to pump instead and used other aids, even for weeks, I think you should just do it!
My pediatrician was good enough not to mislead me. She said that I needed to do what I could to in order for breastfeeding to be an enjoyable experience for me and my baby. So, feel free to pump and use bottles, I had to as early as the first week with Squeaker. I also had to use nipple shields and slowly let Squeaker use my breast again after the cracks had healed.
Another misunderstanding is this scary thing called "nipple confusion", which can happen and make it more difficult for your baby to latch onto your breast again. However, it turns out that many babies have no problem going back and forth between different forms of nipples, they can handle different ways of getting their food just fine. Only a very small percent of babies introduced to bottles early on have a difficult time going back to the breast. Even if your baby does have a hard time going back to the breast, wouldn't be better to use bottles and heal than continue torturing yourself, frustrating and confusing your baby even more? It's a personal decision that should be based on the mother's and baby's needs, not forced by misleading so called "professionals" and their advice.
There was one lactation consultant I ended up talking to who was open and honest with me, she said that most lactation consultants do lie because they want women to not be afraid to breastfeed their children. In the end I think that we are all adults though, and well aware that having a baby is going to be hard. Why not just be up front and prepare us for the worst instead? I would have been a lot more content and self assured if I had known that the process would take time.
I am sick of hearing about, and experiencing for myself, a feeling of inadequacy that many mothers feel. The most important thing is that your child is fed the nutrients he/she needs, not whether or not you use a bottle. All of you mothers out there who feel this way or have felt this way, you are good mothers and are doing all you can. That is evident by the very fact that you feel inadequate and are genuinely worried about your little one.
I don't mean for this to be a personal attack on lactation consultants either, I just hope that some out their, like the one I had the privilage of talking to after days and days of difficulty, are honest and helpful instead of causing more grief and pain.
Anyone else out there have a similar experience? Or if you have a different opinion I would love to hear it.