Breast feeding is probably one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I remember the rough start I had with it when Spud came into this world. For something that seemed so natural, it never then occurred to me that it could be so hard.
Even after having some breast feeding experience with Spud, and despite having a hiatus of only 2 years since my last nursing session, I did not think that the second time round would be just as hard. But I was proven wrong. Breast feeding again did prove to be a challenge, albeit in a different way in its initial stages.
The truth was, despite my experience with it, I had actually forgotten about the technique. I thought I knew what to do, but after about a week of having Squirt latching real strong on me, I started writhing in pain – a classic case of improper latching.
Every nursing session thereafter was a torture. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. The skin started to peel off and they were sore all the time. Every latch hurt excruciatingly – I had to close my eyes, held my breath and grit my teeth really, really hard each time Squirt latched. The pain was just debilitating. (Although Silver Bullet never fails to laugh whenever he saw the expression on my face each time Squirt latched on – he thought that it was just too funny)
My nipple soreness began after about 5 days of nursing. It took me a good two weeks of getting used to again. It peaked on the 7-12 days or so – I tear each time Squirt latched, and there was nothing I could do about the pain but to suck it up.
It got so sore and painful with a burning sensation that I had to seek help to overcome the challenges. All in all, these were some of the tips I did different following the advice of a lactation consultation to be able to pull through the initial difficulties in trying to establish a successful breast feeding:
Ensuring tummy-to-tummy positioning so that he does not have to turn his head to reach the breasts, while using my forearm to support his head and back. (I had clearly forgotten about this!)
A friend was kind enough to send over a pair of breast and nipple shields for me to combat the awful soreness. While the nipple shield was more of a hindrance for both baby and me (it was hard for him to extract the milk, and not very comfortable for me to use), the breast shield ensured that I keep the nipples dry so that it does not get stuck to the bra or breast pads. This proved really useful and really aided with the healing.
Soothes, heals and protected my sore, cracked nipples. Safe for babies.
A very useful tip from the lactation consultant is to dilute some salt into warm water and dip the nipples in several times for a few days. As bizarre as that may sound, after doing this religiously for at least 3-5 days, I have to say that this did the trick to heal up my really cracked nipples real good.
And then, just like that, the pain all disappeared within days. I was pain-free when Squirt was slightly more than 2 weeks old.
Who would have thought breast feeding can be such a pain. Those moms who claimed that they did not experience such pain with breastfeeding were either lying or just plain lucky.