Most nursing sessions begin like this:
I turn on music, clench my lips, gather my courage from way down deep, and muffle a scream as she latches. I breathe. My shoulders tense. Sometimes I cry, tears splashing down my chest. I ALWAYS pray – for mercy, for strength. Most of all – for healing of my sore nipples.
After the worst passes, I relax and stare into her blue eyes, seeing my reflection there. “Don’t worry,” I whisper, “I’ll always feed you. We can do this together.”
When she drifts into sleep, I google things on my iPhone. Things that I wish I didn’t have to google. Like what to do about blood and cracks, do soothies work, how long will this last?!?. And I look at latch pictures for the millionth time – even though the lactation consultants and nurses say it’s “perfect.” Even though I have Tim check it constantly – “Does her mouth look like a fish?”
And, more than anything, I come across this one piece of terrible advice. You may have heard it? It’s splashed over almost every breastfeeding website: “Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful.” I always want to scream at the screen at that point. I think the medical industry needs a good scolding, to be honest. Everything is “the latch this, the latch that” – with no acknowledgement that it just might take a bit of time to get accustomed to sucking every 1-4 hours around the clock.
Better advice would be this: There’s a good chance that breastfeeding will hurt for the first few weeks. For most women, it ranges from mild discomfort to absolute agony. BUT it is worth it. You CAN do it. One day – very soon – you’ll be able to nurse pain-free. Don’t hesitate to see a lactation consultant, but KNOW that you might be doing everything exactly right and it still might hurt at first.
More than ever, I admire women who breastfeed (oh, how I commend you) AND I understand when women don’t (because this pain? Oh – it’s somethin’ else).
In the mornings, my 3-year-old peers at her tiny sister and asks sweetly, “Are your boobs all better now?” “Not yet,” I reply, “…but soon.” She prays for me and I pray right along with her, saying the “Amen” out loud with my lips and my everything.
Today is day twelve. A few nights ago, I told Tim, “I’m not sure I can do this anymore.” But it’s really just hyperbole. I know I can. I’ve been here twice before and I am confident that it’s all going to work out in the end.
(In the meantime, bring on the ibuprofen).
Did you experience breastfeeding pain? How would you rate it on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = mild discomfort; 10 = excruciating pain)? if you chose not to breastfeed, was pain a contributing factor?