Breastfeeding sucks

by DaniGirl on February 13, 2008 · 36 comments

in Baby days


No really? Ouch.

I’m not sure you’re getting the message here. I mean it. Ouch.

It gets better, I know. I nursed Tristan for ten months and Simon for 16 months, so I know it gets better, but holy fuck does it ever hurt right now. I’m lumpy and engorged and bruised because the milk has come in but the supply hasn’t regulated yet, and my nipples are cracked and raw. Even my shoulders are aching from being rolled forward and from tensing up with the pain. I swear, the shock of pain when Lucas latches on is as intense as the worst of the labour contractions — just focused to a laser point one centimeter wide across my nipple. Luckily, it eases to a dull throb after the first few sucks, but it still takes a conscious effort on my part not to clench my hands and squeeze his poor wee skull as I hold him to the breast.

It would probably be funny watching me getting him ready to latch, if it didn’t hurt so damn much. Only five days old and already he recognizes when we have assumed the position — nursing pillow on lap, blanket on pillow, baby on blanket — and he’ll settle down and open his mouth in anticipation. He’s pretty good about opening his mouth wide, but still gets his hands up in the way as often as not. I’ll tease him a few times just to make sure his mouth is open as wide as possible before stuffing the boob in, but every now and then I’ll flinch in anticipation of the pain and back off. He’s not overfond of the teasing, go figure, and has given me an earful if I feint too many times.

One of the midwives has expressed concern that he may be tongue-tied, which only makes nursing more difficult and painful, but the others are not convinced. I guess we’ll just have to wait it out and hope it gets better soon. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s worth it in the long run to endure what is hopefully a short term pain, and I still have lots of tylenol and ibuprofin left over that I never had to use after the delivery. In the interim, can someone tell me why I keep having new babies in the coldest season of the year? Because in addition to all the other aches and pains associated with breastfeeding, it’s just cruel to add the extra pain of the effect of a cold draft on wet nipples, if you get my meaning.


{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Javamom February 13, 2008 at 8:16 am

Oh Dani, I feel for you!! I was there just a few months ago, and longingly gazed at the Tylenol bottle a few feet away everytime that child opened her mouth. But as you say, it gets better. Grin and bear it….hey, at almost 4 months, I’m completely lopsided. She prefers the left side, even though that was the side she hated at first. And the side that got infected. And engorged. And had a plugged duct. No matter how often I try to equalize the feedings, I’m lopsided. My bra doesn’t fit right, and I’m off-balance. The joys…

2 alison February 13, 2008 at 8:16 am

Oh man, can I relate. Leah was a February baby (she’ll be 8 on Saturday), and while she breastfed like a champ, it hurt like crazy at first. That’s some pretty tender skin, and it does get cracked and sore. I remember letting her feed with a terrible latch, just because it would hurt too much to get her to stop and latch again properly. I remember it getting easier, either the nipples toughened up, or Leah and I got the latching thing down better. The same thing happened with Rae, but I don’t remember it being as bad or lasting as long. Sending nipple relief vibes in the meantime.

3 bubandpie February 13, 2008 at 8:17 am

I’m sure you’re already trying everything, but I found with the Pie that the pain lessened considerably when I actually grabbed the breast in my hand and shoved it in, rather than simply holding the baby to the breast (as you can do with an older baby).

Here’s a link to the funniest ode to breastfeeding I’ve come across.

4 MomOnTheGo February 13, 2008 at 8:54 am

Dani – It sucks that breastfeeding hurts you (sorry, it had to be said). Other than getting used to the ferocity of her suction, I didn’t have trouble with starting nursing with Reid. I have to admire you for knowing it would hurt and planning to nurse and then actually doing it despite your pain. Good luck as you wait for the not painful time to start.

5 Cait February 13, 2008 at 8:55 am

Poor Dani.
And thanks for (once again) completely putting me off having kids anytime soon!
Though I’m reasonably sure that’ll disappear when I actually see the little dude and am reduced to a puddle of cooing and gurgling goo…
And hey, Manon Dagenais in the ACO had her baby last weekend too!

6 Annika February 13, 2008 at 8:55 am

Girl, you know how to write! Your post perfectly sums up my first three weeks of breastfeeding hell with Baby #1. I am hoping against hope that it won’t be so bad the next time around…but I am already dreading it.

Thinking of you, you’re doing great and keep remembering that it does get easier. Oh, and crank up the heat!!!

7 daysgoby February 13, 2008 at 9:13 am

Count back nine months, darlin’ – WHAT were you doing?

Apparently you get VERY excited about the coming of Spring. May flowering, and all that.

I salute you. Breastfeeding hell (and it is hell when it’s not working optimally) is NOT fun.

8 Not So Little Sister February 13, 2008 at 9:17 am


9 Chantal February 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

Ouch for sure. Take Care!

10 Sue February 13, 2008 at 9:52 am


I can remember that even the water from the shower hurt. Blech.

11 ccap February 13, 2008 at 9:54 am

Oh man! I was hoping it wouldn’t hurt with #2 as much as it did for #1. Shucks.

12 andrea from the fishbowl February 13, 2008 at 10:02 am

Do you have any pure lanolin (like this brand?)
It was recommended to me by a nurse and it is THE BEST THING EVER.
A teeny dab will do ya… all you need is the smallest tube.

Seriously, it saved my life.

13 kgirl February 13, 2008 at 10:04 am

my chapped nipples feel for yours.

14 mamaloo February 13, 2008 at 10:19 am

Pain is your first indicator that something isn’t going right. Cracked nipples is confirmation. While your midwife is obviously pro-breastfeeding, it’s likely she doesn’t have the depth of experience or training that professional breastfeeding support would. I always recommend mothers see an IBCLC (Lactation Consultant).

We see surgeons for surgery, Optometrists for eye problems… we need to see LCs for breastfeeding issues.

The LC will be able to diagnose a tongue tie or see if there is a latch problem that can be corrected. And it’s likely she can have you sorted out within a few days, and not the hypothetical couple of weeks you are imagining things will sort themselves out in.

Your midwife should have the contact info for any breastfeeding clinics and OHIP paid LCs in the Ottawa area.

Good luck!

15 Mom On The Run February 13, 2008 at 10:38 am

Arrrgh! Those days are so so so painful. I found the uterus contracting everytime I nursed to be even more painful than the cracked nipples – so much so that I would pull the baby off and run to the bathroom to throw up! And to think I had 2 babies drug-free and still found nursing more painful.

I hope it gets better soon!

16 Rosebud & Papoosie Girl February 13, 2008 at 11:07 am

I agree with the suggestion to use the PureLan or whatever brand you can find. In the end I didn’t last very long nursing, but that stuff did help a lot.

17 Fawn February 13, 2008 at 11:52 am

I remember those first days. The doc told me when Jade was first born to let her nurse as much as she wanted, and so I let her go 40 minutes on one side on the very first feed… MISTAKE! After that, I wanted to cry whenever she wanted to nurse. Thank God it didn’t take long to get better, a week or two maybe?

Good luck, hon!

18 p. February 13, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Oh, the vivid memories you are bringing back for me. My LC told me it shouldn’t hurt THAT much … she asked if I could pass the towel test (as in, would you let a towel touch your nip*ples and from the sounds of your cold air experience, you can’t) I couldn’t and she confirmed the pain was definitely too much. Turns out my little one was latching on fine but then pinching to curb the flow. I dreaded the latch on, dreaded the next feed, cried as she latched …. oh the memories. Under her advice, I stopped BF for about a day and a half to let my poor blistered and bleeding b’s heal while I pumped instead. I healed a little and then worked with the LC to get this BF-ing thing right. All this to say …. Call a LC now and get yourself some help! Good luck.

19 Kathryn February 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Ouch. Really. Ouch.
I didn’t have too many nipple problems, but I remember my boobs being hard as rocks and hot as fire. Ouch.
You are a champion for hanging in there! Yeah You!!!

20 Jeanne February 13, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I’m due with my second child in three days and was hoping that breastfeeding only hurt with the first child. Like my nipples are now tough from the first go around. Well at least now I know that the first few weeks will hurt again. Thanks for the heads up.

21 Renee February 13, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Oh Dani, I so remember those days. But the great thing is knowing how much easier it gets and how nothing beats the feeling you get after you get over the hump! Good luck!

22 cinnamon gurl February 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Lansinoh! You DO have some right?

As for the possibility of him being tongue-tied, maybe you should see a lactation consultant? I was shocked by the difference (and increased value) of information from the lactation consultant versus the midwives and public health nurses. And I didn’t have any trouble and the sore nipples stopped after a few days, and I still found value in visiting with a lactation consultant.

But I remember that ambivalence, that conflict between wanting wanting to nourish my precious new baby and not wanting any more pain.

captcha: server woe

23 Ella February 13, 2008 at 5:11 pm

I had so much pain last time that I actually cried.Ed

I’m already putting on lanolin in preparation even though I’m not due for five weeks, that’s how much I’m dreading it…

24 Chantal (Bread Crumbs) February 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Some tenderness and getting used to the idea of doing it again is normal. Pain, cracks, and rawness are not. Also, the burning pain (especially when air hits them) is a sign of either thrush or Reynaud’s Syndrome. I think you should delve deeper with the midwife who speculates there is a problem. Maybe try Birthcare Ottawa ( I believe) or another LC your midwives can put you in touch with?

25 Ingrid February 13, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I found Vitamin E spread over, then 5-10 mins under a “heat lamp” ( I used a bedside light that got hot) and perfect positioning all helped. And that was with my 3rd – no problems with #1 and #2.
But the bleeding and pain brought on tears – sorry that you have to go through it.

26 mespetitesabeilles February 13, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Dani – I’m breaking out of my always the reader, never the commenter role…great suggestions on here. Great post. Brings back memories!
I used the Medela Purelan for both Bees, and it was awesome. Bee #1 and I had a terrible experience nursing for the first couple of weeks. The nurses kept telling us it was the most natural thing, but each one made us try nursing a different way, which only made it worse šŸ™ So when we came home and it didn’t get better, we went to a LC. It was the BEST thing we could have done. She helped us within the first 15 minutes we were there. Saw her twice, and although it cost us money, it was well worth it, bc everything got significantly better right away! With Bee #2, I didn’t have any problems at all bc I had already been coached on it!
I feel your pain…and hope you find something that makes it better. If you’d like the LC’s name/website, let me know.
You have 3 gorgeous boys…sure to be wonderful men šŸ™‚ Lucky Mommy!

27 Karen February 13, 2008 at 8:38 pm

I feel your pain, sister. I had the WORST time with Emily and breastfeeding. It was so painful. There was blood, cracks, sores, blisters; I sometimes cried when she latched on. It took about 4 weeks until it stopped hurting and I went on to nurse her until she was almost 15 month. Still, it seriously sucked and I am there with you.

28 nancy February 13, 2008 at 8:52 pm

It will get better. I remember my nipples being so sore I would SLATHER on the Lansinoh and sit there with no shirt on…for hours, really very attractive!!

29 juls February 13, 2008 at 9:24 pm

The LC was wonderful for me. I can recommend Lana Matthews in Ottawa. She is off Conroy (I have her number if you like). The midwives did as much as they could for me, but Lana helped so much with the pain. My friend’s baby was tongue-tied. I went with her for moral support when he got it cut. He didn’t even blink. It took 30 seconds!

Good luck and I really hope the pain goes away soon!

30 Michelle Dunn February 13, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I totally feel you!! I know what you mean, my breast feeding days hurt rather badly…but I have to admit that I do miss that closeness with my child, that part was always nice and made up for all the pain. šŸ™‚

Trying To Have a Baby – A Mother’s Story

31 Terry February 14, 2008 at 12:32 am

Dani- good for you for hanging in there! I really recommend Joan Fisher as a lactation consultant in Ottawa. Her technical knowledge is incredible, and I do believe that she can fix all breastfeeding problems! I used her with both my babes, and her professional expertise was well worth the investment. Call a LC right away! Don’t suffer any longer!!!n

32 DaniGirl February 14, 2008 at 8:35 am

Awww, you guys are so sweet!! It’s amazing to hear how many of us have gone through the same thing — I only wish I had known you all when I was struggling with Tristan’s BF issues!! Solidarity, sisters!

I’m honestly not sure that an LC could help, though. We saw a slew of them when I was nursing Tristan and they were a huge help, but I’m pretty sure we have a good strong latch and good positioning — I just have really sensitive nipples. I remember reading somewhere that people with freckles, fair skin and red hair (well, mine’s dark with reddish tones) are the most likely to have sore and sensitive nipples. Lucky me.

Lansinoh — I live in it!! Got a tube stashed on each floor!!

Ugh, the baby who did not sleep all night is also not sleeping all morning. It’s our first venture out to the world in a minute, dropping off the boys and then on a major expedition to the drug store. My world is suddenly very, very tiny!!

33 suze February 14, 2008 at 2:14 pm

and suddenly I no longer want the breast-feeding experience…lol. (Fair, freckled, red head here…) Luckily my first child is still just a thought and a few hesitant discussions with the fiance at the moment, so by the time we actually get around to producing a baby, I’ll have forgotten all about this post…

(I think the captcha is telling me i stink… ‘move, shower’)

34 Steph February 14, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Hi there I am new to your blog, I remember all to well the feeling of my little ones latching on, I even tried to show my husband how much it hurt by pinching the hell out of his nipples I still don’t think he quite got the message. However I am in shock that you are up and blogging when you have 2 other kids at home as well as a new new born! You rock! Best of luck I am sure it will get better.

35 nomotherearth February 15, 2008 at 6:04 pm

My first was a tiny bit tongue-tied, and boy did the breastfeeding every get better after a tiny little snip. I was floored. I had no idea – and no doctor had even thought to look (It took a trip to Dr Newman to find out. He’s not the nicest person but he did help..)

The hands in the way drove me nuts this time. I had to pin the baby down more than once.

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