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Breastfeeding Pain and Other Obstacles
Flat Nipples, a Baby Stapler and Other Setbacks
When I had my son, I was expecting to breastfeed immediately and continue to do so for as long as possible. My schedule was cleared, my job was over and I was poised and ready to be a breastfeeding, stay-at-home super mom.
The first time I tried to breastfeed my son, a nurse commented that I had flat nipples. I thought I knew what flat nipples, were, and since a nipple did form on my breasts, I never would have thought they would be considered flat nipples.
But it HURT to breastfeed this tiny child. I asked the nurse if it was supposed to hurt this much. She said no. She dropped off a nipple shield and wheeled in a breast pump. She told me that if he wouldn't nurse, I would have to pump.
I did not want to pump, I just wanted to feed this little guy the natural way.
I never could have imagined how difficult breastfeeding actually was, but I kept trying. I used the nipple shields, the pain was minimal and the baby nursed. However, it was very difficult to tell if he was getting enough milk. He was nursing for a REALLY long time each time, though. The lactation consultant at the hospital checked us out and seemed to be happy with us, so I assumed everything was alright.
For the first week at home, I started to get really tired of nursing my baby for such a long time and still having him fussing afterward. I tried over and over to nurse him without the nipple shields because I felt like he was not getting enough milk, nursing for so long and then struggling to get more, but the pain was absolutely ridiculous!
The only way I could describe it was that it was like a baby stapling my nipples each time he latched on.
I'd spew expletives through clenched teeth every time he latched on. My son was like a little snapping turtle and I would dread that initial bite and those first few minutes of pain. I tried over and over to correct his latch until it exhausted and frustrated us both, but it still hurt!
The lactation consultant told me I should continue using the nipple shield due to the pain, but once the pediatrician confirmed that the baby was not gaining weight in the first two weeks, I stopped using the nipple shield altogether. I don't know if that was what caused a low milk supply or not, but I also started supplementing with formula.
Finally, the baby calmed down. All of his fussing was because he was hungry, and I wasn't physically able to feed him! This was my first child. I was devastated that my baby and I may not have been anatomically suited to work well together.
I searched the internet, I read everything I could, I spoke to my lactation consultant, my mom, my husband, but I didn't give up!
I continued to breastfeed, despite the pain. After breastfeeding for 15 minutes on each side, I would offer a bottle. Then I would pump. I did this for a week, pumping whenever I could, breastfeeding through pain until I had to pump and supplement less and less. The pain eventually subsided as the pumping helped tear the adhesions that were keeping my nipple from fully popping out. The baby gained weight and had an extremely healthy appetite!
Finally, I realized my dream of exculsively breastfeeding my baby. He is now a very healthy 5 month old. He got his first 2 teeth and that little bit of pain from the little teeth is nothing compared to where we started out.
I found that breastfeeding may be really difficult in the beginning, and feeding a baby formula seems so much easier, but it certainly switched around for me.
Now, I am enjoying very quick, natural feedings with my son. There are no bottles to clean, no formula to buy and no worries about whether he is eating enough or getting good nutrition. I am enjoying the extended time of not getting my period (possibly one of best parts!) the ease of feeding anytime, anywhere and the knowledge that I am setting my son up with the best immune system to combat this cruel world.
We are truly enjoying the fruits of our labor, now.
Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to share my story for any woman out there, searching the internet in the wee hours, beside herself, reluctantly feeling forced to give up breastfeeding. Although you may have to fight through some pain, it WILL go away and you CAN breastfeed your baby, too!