Excuse my language but if this is the case why on earth didn't Mother Nature make the first week after your baby is born 'easy', foolproof in fact, and PAINLESS! It's not meant to hurt they say! You're telling me a mini Hoover clamped on to your nipple isn't meant to hurt? If you are a man, or a woman who hasn't had children or not breast fed for whatever reason, next time you are near a newborn (one you know, I'm not saying a random baby you happen to walk past in the street - that could get you in to a world of trouble) stick your (clean) little finger in their mouth and imagine that your finger was your nipple then tell me that wouldn't hurt!
There is some truth though in that fable - that if it hurts the latch isn't right. After the initial first week, your nipples should acclimatise to the mini blood sucker (& I mean that literally) and shouldnt hurt but by this stage your lovely little leech has had a week's practice of latching incorrectly so the damage has already been done! Your nipple is cracked, red raw, contains open sores! Plus, they say if you know a latch is bad or it hurts, put your little finger in the corner of their mouth and break the latch. Yeah, right! No easy feat in itself! And when they do come away, shouting at your boob in complaint, they pull on your poor tender nipple! OUCH! Then, as if to punish you more they claw at your poor unfortunate nipple with their tiny weeny yet razor sharp nails.
So, "how is the feeding going?" you ask...
I've a nipple with a smiley mouth that shouldn't be there - and believe me it isn't a happy nipple. I've squeezed, sorry 'compressed' my boob until it feels bruised, I've had my nipples pulled & tugged this way and that, every time Millie latches on my right, used to be flat, nipple I have to endure toe curling pain (even once you fix the latch the damage done to your nipple takes time to repair and this still hurts until it does), I'm on my second tube of lansinoh (a little tube of magic) and at £10 a pop I've hardly been using it generously!
So why am I continuing? Bloody mindedness! Last time I managed 4 weeks and was just getting into swing of things as I stopped so I wanted to make it further to the point where it did feel second nature and I could really experience the benefits of breast feeding. Especially since this time I had conquered the first challenge, with the help of nipple shields (meleda), of getting Millie to feed off both sides, unlike Callum, and, yes, I can see myself getting there finally at 3 weeks. My left side is now comfortable with feeding and I think my right side is at last starting to heal! I hope so, I could just be getting used to the pain now (which is still toe curling & often makes me cry out) that it doesn't feel so bad!
One things for sure, I'm pleased this is our last baby as I doubt I would go through it again.
I'm not even the type of person to look down at my feeding baby and feel warmed by the sight and enjoy the bonding and closeness it provides. Sorry, that's not just me.
But rather than focus on the negatives, I need to look at how far I've come!
- I've survived over 3 weeks now already
- I'm no longer 'scared' to use my left side and no longer need lansinoh on that nipple
- I am no longer using the nipple shields at all and haven't been doing so for a week now
- I've only used formula top ups twice (60ml & 60ml respectively)
I'm sorry for anyone who reads this that hasn't breast fed before and is hoping to, it's not said to put you off and it is just my experience. Yours may be very different and I truly hope you are one of the lucky ones that takes to it like duck to water.
But here's my advice:
- Have lansinoh at the ready. It is expensive but it will be your saviour! You can buy it cheaper from amazon than on the high street. In the event that you don't need it or you don't use it all, it is fantastic on sore bottoms too (as in nappy rash). Warm between fingers to make more spreadable then put on bottom before bed. By morning the redness will have reduced! My poor boy's bottom was red raw & bleeding once & this along with drapoline succeeded where all others (there had been many) had failed!
- Do use nipple shields if you have flat or inverted nipples and/or really sore cracked nipples, they really made a difference to me at the start. They say that you shouldn't use them in the first 6 weeks but the lovely breast advisor lady said they had their place & shouldn't affect your supply if you use them correctly. She also advised ensuring you compressed your breast towards the end to make sure your boob was drained to avoid getting mastitis.
- To follow on from the last tip, don't rely on the nipple shields. If you don't 'need' to use them then don't and try to get off them as soon as you can as babies often use a different suck/latch for the shields to your nipple - more similar to that of a bottle teat - so this could affect the latch when you go without the shield and cause you unnecessary damage (as what happened to me).
- Contact your breast feeding support person straight away, even if you think you are doing ok as it is great just to get the reassurance that you are doing well plus they can still give you good tips (stuff I wouldn't have known if I didn't contact mine). You've also made contact which means, if later you do experience difficulty, it won't be so scary asking for help.