This week (August 1-7) is World Breastfeeding Week!
Because of this, I wanted to share my experiences with breastfeeding, and hopefully encourage others who want to breastfeed. First, let me say that nursing is almost never easy and pain-free right from the beginning. Even if baby has a good latch (and it often takes them a couple days at LEAST to get a good latch, right away, with every feed), your nipples just aren’t used to the assault of a not-so-gentle baby sucking on them every couple of hours.
So if it hurts the first couple of weeks, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Lanolin can be helpful for cracked nipples, and lactation consultants are wonderful for advice and encouragement. Also, one of the most common reasons that I hear for people giving up on breastfeeding is the fear that baby isn’t getting enough. It takes a few days for your milk to come in, and that’s how God made us; as long as baby is otherwise healthy, Dr.’s aren’t concerned unless baby loses more than 10% of it’s birth weight. As long as baby is peeing and pooping, they’re getting enough.
With my 1st son, he was in NICU the first couple of days and they didn’t let me nurse him right away. Because of this, when it came time to breastfeed, he wanted nothing to do with the breast because he liked the easy bottle! It took several sessions with a nurse and lactation consultant to get him nursing. It’s a hard balance to make sure baby is getting enough food, while at the same time not giving them the bottle too much because then he’ll resist the breast more!
Finally, after about a week, and with the nipple shield, Tobi took to the breast. After a couple more weeks (I only used the nipple shield for a couple of days), it was pain-free.
My daughter latched fine on one side from the start, though it still hurt for a few weeks until my skin was used to it, but for some reason she didn’t latch well on the left side and it hurt for WEEKS! Actually, I think about 2 months. Each time, I’d grit my teeth, curl my toes, and try to latch her on. Thankfully, I’m so lazy (don’t want to heat bottles in the night) and frugal (don’t want to spend on formula) that I kept at it, and finally she got the hang of it.
My 2nd son was the easiest nurser. Yes, it still hurt for about 2 weeks while my nipples got used to him chomping on them, but he latched well, I knew how to position him better, and finally it was pain-free.
Now, I don’t want to get the wrong message across; I have nothing against formula feeding! As long as baby is being fed one or the other, you’re a good mommy! I just hate to see when moms give up on breastfeeding really quickly because of a temporary problem. And yes, I realize that some women have MUCH harder times nursing than the usual nipple sensitivity, and if nursing is becoming something they feel is harming the bond they feel with their baby, there is nothing wrong with switching to formula. After all, feeding your baby should never be something you dread!
I’ve heard that a lot of women also get flack for nursing their babies in public. This is something I’ve never encountered. Are Canadians really just more polite? I don’t know. But I’ve heard awful stories of women being asked to leave public places because they were (modestly, no less) nursing their babies.