"Does breastfeeding hurt?" [the painful truth]

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."

"Does breastfeeding hurt?" [the painful truth] 1 "Does breastfeeding hurt?" [the painful truth] 2

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? 

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79 comments on “"Does breastfeeding hurt?" [the painful truth]”

  1. I breastfeed my 3 girls expecting the 4th on all my babies hurt like I couldn't even explain how painfull was for the first 2 weeks now I am most afraid of breastfeefing then the birth pain itself. But what kept me going was it will be alright and it was the better thing to do, If I could make that sacrifice for my daughters sake I would not be a proper mother. I am looking for alternative things now like Brest pump to leaves breast to heal a bit in between feed. Ps: I had one of my neples taken when I was a child because of a burn accident and its very sensitive ,

    1. Oh! I know so well how you feel! I dread breastfeeding more than labor because it is acutely painful and lasts so long (2-4 weeks for me!).

      Kudos to you for persevering in spite of the pain. So proud of you.

  2. I would put my pain on a 10 right now! I am also on day 12, 3rd baby and for the life of me I don't remember it hurting this much or for this long. If I stop breast feeding, it will absolutely be because of the pain.

    1. Hang in there! I know how awful and tremendous that pain is. I remember weeping every time the baby was ready to latch.

      There's hope around the corner. In just a little while, you'll breastfeed without wincing and all will be well.

      In the meantime, do you have lanolin, nursing pads, and a Shower Hug? http://www.showerhug.com

      Thinking of you!

  3. It is not for the weak. BF is not "easy" as many would have us believe but it is right and we know it. It is what it is. I was firmly rooted in the Lansinoh lanolin camp last time for sore tatas. This time I tried using coconut oil and whew, I am so happy I did! It is fantastic and safe for baby.
    I had hoped there would be "muscle memory" for nipples. Sadly, I now firmly know that is not the case ;)

  4. It was exactly how you explained it! I cried and wiggled trying not to disturb her and I clenched my fists and it lasted for 3 weeks. I told my husband I can't do it a million times... But I did... WE did. It is still so worth it 14 months later! People give me looks and make comments asking "isn't she over breastfeeding?!" or "you still do that?!" (these comments are always in a negative form) and I say "feed my child, yes, I still feed her". I think people expect babies and kids to grow up way too fast. It is so sad.

  5. I am on day 18, and it is still agony. I had my bawling-uncontrollably-all-over-her-beautiful-sleeping-face episode, which scared the daylights out of my poor husband (he's a first timer, too, after all), but since then I've managed to just hiss/moan/breathe through the pain. And it IS getting a little better, in some ways. Once the milk lets down and she realizes she's not actually starving to death, she stops chomping down so hard. And I've figured out a few tricks to get her to latch better (still trying to FIND a lactation consultant, much less see one, but I'm fairly sure she's got issues with having a shallow latch), which helps a little. But the pain....it's mind numbing. Thanks for the encouragement *hugs* Hoping you are doing much better now!

  6. I'm so sorry you had so much pain, my friend, but I am so, so glad that you are on the mend.

    I found breastfeeding excrutiating in the first few weeks with both of my girls. I know that with #2 the "10" rating days were gone a little sooner, though. I think I had a little more confidence in "helping" her.

    You are a better woman than I. I wish I had prayed through the pain. I'm pretty sure that with #1 I swore like a sailor with every latch. I don't think I did with #2 only because I had a very verbal two year old toddling around.

    Eventually, those dreamy milk eyes and every lovely nursing session in the years to follow more than made up for all that initial pain.

    Btw- thank you for calling the medical community out on this! I'm sure some of this false information discourages more moms than straightforward honest preparation ever would.

  7. So sorry you're in pain! Breastfeeding itself doesn't hurt me but I am producing so much milk that my full achy breasts feel like rocks a lot. And that hurts!

  8. I had so much pain with my first and second it was unbelievable. I remember thinking with my first that he must be biting me, but how could he, I wondered, with no teeth? I was just crazy from it, I know how hard it is. LOTS of lactation consultants looked and everyone said his latch was fine but I think there is a point where the mouth is too small and the boob is too big, at least in my case. I took a lot of Tylenol and I used to put ice on me every time I laid down and I used a lot of Lansinoh and eventually it got better. I used to desperate joke with my husband that maybe if he wasn't getting enough milk, maybe he could get protein from the blood. Hang in there, she is just beautiful and so are you.

    1. " I think there is a point where the mouth is too small and the boob is too big." Yes. This. In my case too.

  9. I hope the pain is easing up! I had thrush with my first and milk blisters with my second. Ugh. It is hard to get through those initial weeks, but it is so worth it!

  10. Great article! With my first I had only mild discomfort, but with my second.... it was agony... and it was agony for almost 4 weeks. Probably a 9 on your scale. It just took him a long time to latch correctly, but when he did finally figure it out, he was a breastfeeding champion! :) I came so close to quitting, but we somehow stuck it out and I ended up nursing him for 2.5 years.

  11. When I breast fed my first child it didn't go as easily as I thought it would and there was some discomfort but not that much. The next two babies went pretty smoothly too and so did my fourth for a while- until I got mastitis and then I can totally understand your pain. I was glad in a way that I did experience that however- so that I wouldn't be so judgemental when some women don't stick it out with breastfeeding. It is best for the baby (and nice for the Mama too in many ways) but when it is painful it is really hard. After experiencing the horrible pain I do now understand why some do quit.

    I hope things go better for you soon! That is hard when it hurts so much!

  12. I agree that it can be painful. I am a mother baby nurse, now in training to become a lactation consultant and I would always tell patients it shouldn't hurt until I had my own. I too was told that the latch, was perfect, etc. If you can hang in there for a few weeks, then the pain becomes a distant memory and breastfeeding is wonderful. I remember in the first few weeks I had bruised nipples and was in tears because of sore nipples. i remember one particular feeding hurting so bad (I was in tears) that I had to take him off and pump. After the first few weeks it was easy and I went on to breastfeed him for 11 months. Hang in there! Thanks for sharing and encouraging!

  13. I found nursing euphoric.. With my second son we did have to work on his latch, just pulling down on his chin right before he latched on. Keep trying and I know it can be hard. Try calling your local La Leche League, they can be a great help. How did it go with your first two?

    1. Exactly the same, actually!

      With all three of my babies, nursing was excruciating for the first 2-3 weeks...and after that? It was wonderful.

  14. Painful! Not as bad as kidney stones or appendix rupture but up there. But it passes, and it's worth it isn't it? My sister had a pediatric chiropractor adjust her baby's jaw and it really helped with one of her babies but that is more for babies with a tied tongue or lip. Hoping it's already getting easier than when you wrote this. My first midwife told me that the milk has healing properties as well as lanolin and to use both at the end. I think that helps.

  15. Amen!! Both of my girls hurt with the nursing... with my oldest I remember doing the exact same thing that you did and nursing with tears running down my face. Not to mention the problems of clogged ducts, mastisis (sp?), etc. And I'm about to have baby #3 in the next few weeks and have been reminded of this not so pleasant part (plus the pain of milk coming in!). But I'm so glad that I have been able to breastfeed my kids. My mom passed away from breast cancer and it's one of the things that I can do for my kids to try and reduce my own risk.

  16. Oh, yes. It wasn't bad with my 1st and 2nd babies, but with my 3rd and 4th it was just as you describe--excruciating for about 3 weeks until my nipples finally adjusted to the frequent nursing. So glad I was able to do it though, and that the pain did, eventually, go away.

  17. Oh Stephanie, I am so sorry! I remember that pain and the emotional energy it took to withstand it. You are awesome!!!

  18. Oh Stephanie I am so sorry! I was one of those woman who had no issues or pain nursing. Except for an occassional bit when they are teething, I really have had easy experiences breastfeeding. I will say though that the few times I have gotten bit, I was in so much pain with bleeding/blisters that I could not imagine how women just like you can make it past the start of nursing! Praying it passes soon! ((hugs))

  19. Cute Cute Bum Pic!

    Scale of 1-10? For the first two weeks - 15. We struggled like crazy with baby one! I cried, she cried, I pumped, and bawled as I fed with the bottle after countless attempts at a good latch... Finally, when I relaxed a little and begged God to help us, it worked. We quit pumping, I fed every few hours, and was blissfully joyful we'd gotten it figured out, but it still HURT!!!
    With baby two, we had NO artificial nipples, and she figured it out earlier (I let her nurse as long as she wanted and whenever she wanted those first few days), but it still HURT for the first few weeks. I was just like you - "Ugggg, here we go, brace yourself, you can do this, it is best for both of us, Heaven help us, OUCH OUCH OUCHY!!!!! TEARS FLOW - okay, we're going, okay done. I can make it another 3 hours or so, and I can do this again. It won't hurt like this forever. My cracked and bleeding nipples will heal, I'll take a nice warm shower to soothe them, and we will be okay." Two years later, I cried the first night she didn't ask for her milkies before bed, but I let her finish nursing on her terms and was at peace that we'd shared that time together.
    Hang in there my friend... you are in my prayers.

  20. Audrey is just darling! Congrats again!

    My breast and nipples always start sore, have cracks and hurt the first week or so. I usually have my breast open to air whenever possible and apply tons of nipple cream.

    So sorry they are painful right now..know that a lot of us go trough the same.

    Sending you tons of good thoughts to breastfeed pain free.

    1. Exposure to air is critical! In fact, I didn't even leave the house until two days ago because it was so much more comfortable to be shirtless.

  21. Yes, it hurt. The initial latch was the worst and then it would subside, but I gritted teeth and curled my toes and, "Owe, owe, owed," it out. (Luckily there was no cracking or bleeding.) The pain lasted about two weeks and then it changed to a different kind of pain (burning sensation.) It took me another week to determine I had thrush. It took another week and two doctors to convince them I had thrush (no white patches just redness and burning.) After that was sorted out, no more pain. My son is now 21 months and still nursing - still pain free. Hang in there. I know in the moment it's hard, but you can do it!

  22. I love her little heart outfit!

    I agree with you, breastfeeding is tough, but then it becomes so easy. Luckily Bryce loved to nurse so I was able to BF him exclusivley for 13 months. I was in pain for about 3 weeks...strangely it was all in my arms and upper back. BUT THE WORST PART was that my ENERGY level was SOOO low, and I was STARVING all of the time. I honestly would just eat out of the fridge, b/c getting a plate and making a meal took too long!

    The two things that saved me were the Mybreastfriend Nursing Pillow and nipple shields. I know how some feel about the nipple shields, but really I would have given up after a few weeks without them.

    I failed at breastfeeding Maxwell. He acted like it was pure torture. It was stressful on both of us so I decided at about 6 weeks to give up and just enjoy my baby. To this day he doesn't like to eat much! Hah.

    Enjoy your new baby

    1. I agree about the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow! I use it at every single feeding when I am at home. Nursing in public definitely isn't as comfortable b/c I can't exactly carry that huge pillow around with me. ;)

  23. Stephanie - Good for you for being so honest with your experience! It helps new moms know there is nothing "wrong" with them if breastfeeding isn't completely enjoyable at first.

    With Nicholas, I used a nipple shield for the first week because my nipples were flat. I don't remember it hurting at all with the shield, but I did read that the shield can interfere with letdown and potentially reduce your milk supply. Because of that, I didn't want to continue using the nipple shield. After that week, I went to the lactation consultant and she helped Nicholas and I nurse without the shield. That's when I experienced pain during let-down. My entire breast hurt. Someone told me to keep a burp cloth nearby and put it in my mouth to clench down on during the pain. It helped! I think after about 2 weeks the pain went away and I kept nursing until he weaned himself.

    My nipples were only slightly cracked. I'm sure the nipple shield helped with that. Also, the lactation consultant told me to spread any extra "drips" of milk around my nipple and let it air dry after he was done nursing. That seemed to keep my nipples in good shape and I never needed to use cream.

    PS - Your sweet little 3 year old's question made me laugh!

  24. With my first daughter I had excruciating pain (an 11 on a scale of 1-10) for 6 weeks straight and then finally had to quit because it was affecting me psychologically. I screamed, as did she, through every feeding. Although I longed to breastfeed, I felt that I would have a healthier baby if she had an emotionally healthy mommy, so I pumped until my milk left several weeks later, then switched her to formula.

    With my second daughter, I experienced the same degree of pain, only this time I kept going. The pain lasted for 3 months. I can truly say that "I feel your pain". I managed not to scream this time, but just silently wept through every feeding. Lansinoh, lactation consultants, "perfect latching", soothies - nothing helped and it was frustrating when well-meaning people made suggestions that I knew would NOT help. Needless to say, I am VERY proud when I see that milk squirting out every day!!! :)

  25. Oh, I'm so sorry, Stephanie! I remember having those latch-on moments and crying in agony. I wondered how I could have breathed so calmly through an intense contraction without an epidural just a few days before. I think my third baby eight months ago was the hardest of the three. I had spent a couple of weeks before she was born with my electric pump attempting to self-induce labor, and by the time she got here my nipples were sore and cracked. Then I was engorged and swollen, and it seemed like all I had time to do was nurse her and pump while she slept to try to relieve some of the pressure. When I pumped the bottle would fill with blood-tinged milk. Her spit-up was blood-tinged as well.

    Then came mastitis, which means I also felt like I had a terrible case of the flu. Fever, chills, exhaustion. I'd had cases with my other two kids and had treated those with antibiotics, but that led to terrible thrush with my second that got better and worse for months before I finally weaned him--sooner than we would have liked, because the pain was so bad. So when I got mastitis with my third, I ate garlic for three days until it resolved on its own.

    If I remember it took about three or four weeks before breastfeeding really settled into a normal routine. I would rate the pain in the 8-9 range. (And I would rate natural labor in the 7-8 range!)

    I wonder if people who try and give up think, "This hurts. This isn't perfect. It must not be right for me." But maybe they don't realize that those people who are still breastfeeding a year later had the same difficulties. I agree that sometimes the pain is normal, and not a reason to stop at all, but just something to work through.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on the situation! You know this already, but it does get better and is SO worth it!

  26. I really didn't have much pain - maybe a 5 for the first week or so then back to no pain at all. Until my oldest had teeth and bit me hard one night in the middle of the night during a half-asleep nursing session. That woke me up quick and the pain was definitely a 10. I ended up having to pump on that side until the nipple healed and developed a deep respect for the unfortunate women who have a painful time breastfeeding. With my second I didn't really have any pain at first - I had weaned my oldest about 1/3 of the way through my pregnancy so I'd had a break, but I guess my nipples were still toughened up a bit :) now with him the pain came when he got to be about 6 months old, had teeth and was easily distracted - turning his head without letting go to look at whatever else was going on - that hurt! I started using a nursing cover at home - not for modesty but to keep him focused! Both of my children were fully weaned at 15 or 16 months. I considered nursing longer both times but when I got to that point it just seemed right for us to quit.

    I hope this painful period passes for you quickly. Your newest little girl is just as beautiful as your older two - as she grows I'm sure that we'll see that she is beautiful on the inside too. I love it that your 3 year old is praying with you. Our children have so much natural compassion - it's a blessing to nurture it!

  27. Yes, it hurts! I've breastfeed two children and the pain in the beginning is toe curling, tear-jerking agony. BUT it gets better! On day twelve, I'm sure the end of the pain is very near!

  28. My story sounds exactly like yours. Every time my baby needed to eat, for about the first 6 weeks of her life, I would need to focus and prepare myself. Like you, I also told my husband I wasn't sure how long I could do it. I kept telling myself to just get to her 6 week well-baby check. But then, suddenly, it stopped hurting and I am so, so, so glad I didn't quit! However, the pump is now hurting quite a bit and I'm frustrated with that. WHen pumping though pain you don't get the sweet relief of looking into those beautiful eyes staring up at you.

    The pain, for the initial latch, was a toe-curling 8. But, even in those first few weeks, it would always ease.

    I lathered my breasts in breast-cream. I also tried nipple shields but they didn't work.

    Also, my toddler would ask, "Is Harper going to eat your bobes again?" (She literally calls them "bobes" instead of "boobs!"

    1. I know what you mean about the beautiful baby eyes! Sometimes looking down at her was the only thing that got me through!

      I sometimes marveled to my husband about how she could be so blissfully content...when I was hunched over, screaming, tears splashing down my chest.

  29. I am sorry you are in pain - and I was there too, with our first two children. Painful as you described - held my breath as my breast went into their mouth, and cried every time they nursed for the first month...and then it got better and I was always glad for persevering.
    Then, by design, I discovered the wonderful world of chiropractic care. Now I get the phrase, "just because it is common does not make it normal". Yes, breastfeeding is a learned behavior for both mom and baby. Yes, every breastfeeding relationship is different. Yes, I called them "chiro-quakers" because I thought they were a complete crock. Then we were blessed to find an amazing, gifted chiropractor who cared, not cracked, and took the time to explain what he was doing and gave our son a little adjustment with an activator - pain gone, never to return! I am still nursing him, pain-free, and when I nursed our newborn - NO PAIN!
    There is a lot more to this story than I am going to write as a comment - suffice it to say I recommend researching it and finding out if it would be something that you would want to explore.

  30. I totally agree!! My first breastfeeding experience was painful for 2 months! By God's grace we kept at it and finally the pain subsided. It hasn't been that long with my 4 subsequent babies, thankfully, but there is still pain at the beginning. I think I finally figured out that I've just got some painful let down at the very beginning of nursing, weird? Also, one breast flows better than the other, so I'm always pushing the "weak" one at the beginning of every feeding. It is quite amazing how it all works, isn't it??

  31. Oh gosh does it hurt at first! At least I was prepared for that the 2nd and this time around... I've got double whammy of course so it's taken a lot longer and now they've become lazy nursers somehow and break their suction with every suck. I'm back to the lanolin and teeth clenching. My best friend (and mother of 5) tells me this is something that just sometimes happens and there isn't anything to do about it. I sure hope they figure it out fast...
    Best wishes to you! (and yes, it's so wonderful the day you look down and realize it doesn't hurt anymore!)

  32. OOOH yes. I had excruciating pain breastfeeding - stings, tingles, zinging, burning, aching... you name it. I put grated potatoes in my bra, tried Soothies (they DO soothe but not for long), ice packs, air-drying, you name it! The best thing that worked for me was NUK nipple balm - it's lanolin free... turns ot I may have a small reaction to lanolin (at least on sensitive areas!) so that was making things worse to use the Lansinoh...
    Strangely I had no cracking or bleeding - but I felt like I might as well have been split wide open. This continued for 5+ weeks and ended in a huge case of mastitis that put me FLAT in bed for over 24 hours. FINALLY found out my son was tongue-tied and was causing me all this pain b/c his latch was fine but it was on-off-on-off continually. I had his tongue snipped and pumped/fed him for 48 hrs until I healed up... by about 10 weeks, we were doing really well and I nursed him for 16 months... but still... it was a rough rough road and I don't even know how I got thru it except for prayers and pure stubbornness! :)
    Good luck to you!!!! You'll make it! You ARE making it! :)

  33. I used a nipple shield for the first 7 weeks until my son had such a strong suck that he could draw my nipple all the way to the end of the shield. At that point, there seemed to be no use in having the shield, so I quit using it cold turkey. Then the pain skyrocketed to a 10. I would squirm and grimace and stamp my feet on the floor when he latched. I don't remember how long it went on, but my nipples started to eventually acclimate to my son's latch, but I felt deep down that something wasn't right, despite all the LCs saying otherwise. Finally when he was 5 months old he was diagnosed with a posterior tongue tie as well as a lip tie. We had to drive 2.5 hours to another city to find a doctor competent to diagnose it. His latch changed after he was clipped, and the pain increased a little again, but nothing like it was initially. With time and lots of cranial sacral therapy, things are going well now and pain free.... although now he has a tooth, and that's a whole different ballgame!

  34. Stephanie,

    My friend was having pain with her third and she never experienced pain with her other two children when breastfeeding. She delivered at a birthing center in Phoenix and they have a lactation consultant on site. We went today and the consultant watched the latch and helped adjust. As soon as the consultant made the adjustment, there was no more pain for my friend. Sometimes the insides of babies mouths are different so they latch or take the nipple differently. I also experienced pain and thought it was normal (with my second) and went to a lactation consultant and the latch was off just a little bit which caused a LOT of pain. I know you breast fed your other two so breast feeding is no new feat for you, but sometimes with newborns we (as mothers) have trouble. Have you tried talking to a lactation consultant? Also, is your daughter tongue tied? That can be a huge contributing factor to pain. Good luck and I'll send my prayers your way. :)

    1. Thanks for adding your thoughts, Tiffany. I saw lactation consultants and nurses with all three babies. I even attended a breastfeeding support group run by an LC with my first! Everyone always insisted that the latch was "perfect."

      And I actually think that...they were right.

      With all three, the pain disappeared somewhere between 2-4 weeks. I honestly think that my nipples just needed time to "adjust."

  35. Oh, Stephanie, I will pray for you. I usually pray for moms with newborns because I know this one thing (breastfeeding) goes overlooked in the typical prayers for mothers. Dear Lord, please help Stephanie's nipples to toughen up quickly and for the nursing to not cause cracks and bleeding. Please heal the current sores and help Audrey to get as much food as she needs efficiently without falling asleep prematurely so Stephanie doesn't have to re-latch more times just to fill Audrey up. And, may Stephanie not get any infections or engorgement. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Stephanie, I've nursed 10 little ones and with the exception of one of them, it hurt excruciatingly for the first 2 - 3 weeks. Sometimes longer. With my twins, I didn't get a break because I always had a breast going, even if it was cracked and bleeding. But, I would recommend if you have one side that is a little less painful and the other one is in really bad shape, then you could just give her one side over and over for a day while you simultaneously pump the other side. Use a one-handed pump while she's on the other breast. That way you won't get engorged on the side she's not using. It will give your super-sore breast a day to rest and believe me, even a few feedings makes a difference. I did like you, clenched my teeth, curled my toes and tried to think of the positive benefits of breastfeeding. But, amazingly, within a month or so, it started tickling instead of hurting.

    Keep it up and I'll keep praying for you. Love, Kathy

    1. Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers, Kathy! We just past the three week mark and I'm happy to report that my nipples are healing up. No more weeping or wincing or dreading the next feeding. Thanks be to God.

  36. It was a bit painful but it only lasted a little bit, I was told to avoid the over the counter creams and use breastmilk instead.

  37. I'd say mine was about a level 6-7, for about 10 days. Then it was fine till about 6 months, when she (a) got 6 teeth and (b) starting getting distracted and turning her head to look at stuff, without unlatching her little teeth, yowzers!

    So it was rough again for another 10 days or 2 weeks till she learned to let go when she turned her head. :)

    Hope your pain goes away soon!

  38. With my first there was definitely some pain and bloody nipples, but nothing intolerable. I'm beginning to think my nipples have very little feeling in them or something after reading all of these horrible accounts. With my 2nd and 3rd I was still nursing the big sister, so maybe my nipples were already conditioned to nonstop sucking because there really was no pain at all with the 2nd or 3rd baby. There was definitely some pain nursing while pregnant though, so maybe it was a trade off :)

    Hope it gets back fast and you can get to enjoying nursing soon.

  39. I tried but ended up on the pump. The breast milk was the important thing. It doubled the work load for me (pumping time and feeding time) because I could never get ahead but some mommies can pump more than is needed and refrigerate it or freeze it. Do I feel guilty because my little one wasn't on the breast? Heck no. She got breast milk, just in a bottle.

    1. Good for you! Pumping is hard work and I admire you for committing to give your daughter breast milk.

  40. My first was horrid pain. He was 9lbs 4oz at birth and nursed ALL the time and I didn't produce enough. I had the bleeding cracked nipples for over 6 weeks. Then just one day it didn't hurt anymore and I nursed him until he was 2 years 4 months old. My second didn't hurt at all and I thought I was doing something wrong--haha! She's 22 months and still nursing :)

    The pain is worth it :)

  41. I had minimal pain with my 2nd & 4th child. However, my 1st had major latching on issues & then the complete newness of it all did take a few weeks to push through. My 3rd was also pretty painful where, like you, I had to hold my breath for the first minute! I'd have to kind of give myself a pep talk before & during. Ha! I actually didn't look forward to "eating time". But like everyone else, pushed through even when I thought I couldn't anymore. You can do it, you've done it before & you'll do it again!! Praying the pain ends sooner than later.

    1. I hear you about the "pep talks"! I totally did the same thing and often quoted Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

  42. I don't understand why people say that it isn't suppose to hurt. How can it not hurt at first? Your nipples have to get used to the abuse, that takes time. And you are right, in the end it is so worth it. My daughter self-weaned last month after 3 years 3 months and 1 day and I'm glad it's over now, but I wouldn't have changed a thing, pain and all.

  43. Dearest Stephanie,

    You are an amazing mother! You can do this, you have already. I know how terrible the pain is, I have felt it. I think I set records for holding my breath longer than I should, to try and forget about the pain. I often thought that I couldn't possibly nurse again in an hour...but I did. Oh, that feeling is one I will never forget! The ointment, the cold wash cloths...yes, even the cabbage leaves, didn't make things better. Time seemed to go sooooo slow, but before I knew it, the pain was gone! I am sure that is how you feel, but guess what...in the next few days you will feel better! I promise and then that magical, awe-inspiring feeling will fill your heart again and you will treasure and cherish that time with your little one. The uninterrupted, one on one cuddling time, sit still for 30 minutes bonding session is something that I still miss...six years later:)

    You can do this! It will get better very soon...I promise!

    Until then, I am praying for you, friend!

  44. Oh, your photos are so precious. I definitely experienced soreness in those first couple weeks- I'd rate it about a 5. And I know that mine wasn't to do with latch or anything, it was basic newness and the usual first days of breastfeeding!


  45. oh man. this is incredibly educational for me, as I have no clue what to expect....this is something I hadn't really even considered...PAIN? geez. I have so much to learn.

  46. Painful. It was very very painful! I'd say the soreness, cracking and bleeding were a 9.5-10. Then came mastitis followed by a yeast infection in my breast (who knew that could even happen?!?!) then another round of mastitis. That was probably an 12 or so! Many lactation consultants will advise you not to use a nipple shield so you and baby can get used to the real thing. But, I found that using one for a feeding or two a day would allow me time to recover so that I wouldn't cry through every feeding and want to give up. Also, Mustela Nursing Comfort Balm is expensive but it was the only thing that provided any relief at all for me personally.
    Keep up the good work!!

  47. With my son the pain was maybe a 5 I knew I could still do it. With my daughter the pain was like a 10!!! I didn't want to do it at all!! I cried and bit my tounge and sometimes screamed when she would latch. Creams, pain pills nothing worked too ease my pain!!! I thought I was either going to die or give up!!! I didn't die and I didn't give up! I stuck with it and I am still breastfeeding my 9 month old little pincess.

    1. So proud of you! That pain is not for the faint of heart, to be sure. I wept so much during the latching process that my husband would stand by with a Kleenex to wipe my nose!

  48. Right there with ya sister! Nursed all four of mine and every time it was a 10! Oh sure those first couple days it doesn't really seem to hurt, maybe they aren't sucking too hard or maybe it's because my milk wasn't in. But fast forward to about day five and my toes are being buried into the carpet for the first minute of nursing. I can remember at one point having to consciously not hold the baby's head in my hand while beginning to nurse for fear I could accidentally squeeze too hard! But as you well know, what you are doing is totally worth it. Keep up the good work!

  49. I got angry at everyone that said breastfeeding should be painfree and easy b/c it was painful and work . . . for much longer that I ever anticipated. It was probably 6-8 weeks before I wasn't wincing every time my son latched, but I'm SO glad I stuck it out!

  50. My first 2 were the normal, expected pain. Not too bad and didn't last very long. My third, however, brought on the pain of 10 along with blood. I would also grit my teeth and try not to scream as she latched on. I searched all over for advice, nipple salve was not doing ANYTHING. I read somewhere to try getting rid of body wash and being very careful not to even get soap on my nipples so as a last ditch I figure why not? What could it hurt? And two days later I was on the mend!!!

    Good luck to you!

  51. It hurt so bad that I gave up with my first 2 and didn't even try with my 3rd. The first 2 months with my last baby were painful. I cried too every time she nursed. I'm so glad I didn't give up again though.

  52. O Stephanie, so sorry you're going through that :( It sounds so VERY familiar! I definitely was one who experienced like, a 9 or 10 on the excruciating pain scale - trying not to go through the roof as that precious baby latched on! Last time I tried a silicone nipple shield for a week or two while I healed, and felt like it really did help. And like you said, it WILL get better, and before you know it, this pain will be just a distant memory. Keep hangin' in there, brave mama!

  53. The pain at first was a 10 for me. Absolute torture. I ended up using APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) and it completely saved me from quitting.

  54. I did not experience as much pain, but I did battle through issues with my first born not wanting to latch on. My first night home, he (my firstborn) would be screaming for 30-60 minutes straight because he could not latch on to drink anything. Then he would just fall asleep exhausted after not really eating anything. Poor guy! I had virtually no one to ask to help me or to ask what was going on, so we only made it a few weeks before we started supplementing formula. Breastfeeding my second was so different - everything went great. So...I feel the same way you do - I commend those who do, but I know better than to judge those who don't!

  55. All 4 of my children were preemies and I nursed all of them. The first one was able to nurse right away and I didn't have too many problems, other than an over abundance of milk. I nursed for 13 months.The second one was born at 34 weeks and was not able to nurse for the first four days. That meant I had to use and electric pump and bring in my milk to the NICU once or twice a day. My nipples looked horrid and bled. It wasn't until two weeks after he came home did they heal. I nursed him for 14 months. Number three was born at 33 weeks but able to nurse right away. My nipples did the same thing as with number two and I had to pump off the extra because she was only drinking one ounce every three hours. It took a little longer for them to heal. I nursed her for 12 months. Number 4 sucked like a hoover and left my nipples raw and bleeding, for over a month. I nursed her for 14 months. To this day my nipples are really sensitive. I know this is not encouraging, but I gritted my teeth, prayed, and used lanolin. I would sometimes think, "I can't do this again. The pain is too much." But then I would think about how this is such a short moment in time. They are all healthy with no health problems from being preemies. You can do this. The pain won't last forever.

  56. Love the bum photo!

    My BFing pain lasted a solid 2 weeks. With my last baby the nurse gave me these gel pads instead of the cream and oh my they are wonderful! Try to get a free sample from a nurse if you can.

    My first baby was in the NICU on a ventilator for two weeks so they had me hooked up to a hospital grade pump every 2 hours. That was even more painful if you can believe it. Much of the time the bottles contained pink milk because of all the blood!

    Know this: mothers are warriors. It makes no sense to put ourselves through this. So it must be love. Carry on...you're almost to the downhill portion!

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Jenny! We just past the 3 week mark and things are definitely on the up-and-up.

      Now to find clothes that fit, are flattering, AND are "nursing-friendly"...not an easy task! ;)

  57. It was exscrutiating!!! My first one, as it turned out, really was doing it wrong which is why she had so many problems but the rest it just took time for my nipples to harden and then it didn't hurt anymore. There were many times when I asked myself why I tortured myself. But then I cried when my two middle ones had milk protein allergies and had to be on a special formula. Funny how we work! Know that many of us have cried those tears. Hugs to you!

  58. I didn't have too much pain, I'd probably say around a 3 or 4 on a bad day. But then Julia got thrush and then I got thrush and it was the most awful experience ever. 11 for sure.

  59. The only thing that totally helped me was a product called mother love nipple cteam.
    Totally saved me!
    Lansinoh was awful!!!

    1. So interesting, Leah! I used Lansinoh's lanolin with all three and it seemed to really help with the healing process. What did you like better about the mother love cream?

  60. Oh yes it hurt, but I remember the day when it no longer did and it was perfect. Breastfeeding is one of the best things I ever did for my child and myself.

    1. I agree, Kristin! Breastfeeding is indescribably rewarding.

      The pain is intense, but it's also fleeting. I just past the three week mark and am happy to report that nursing is *almost* pain-free.

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