5 Breastfeeding Tips for Less Pain
Breastfeeding is hard. Maybe not for everyone, but it was definitely quite a struggle for me. My baby was a late premie born at 36 weeks 3 days so she had a hard time latching well. Many babies can have a hard time latching well though, not just premies! And I learned that having a good latch means all the difference in the world when it comes to pain and breastfeeding.
Now there are people who say breastfeeding should not hurt at all but I did not have that experience. Even when my baby did learn to latch well it took a while for the pain to decrease but it was significantly better. Eventually I did get to a place where it did not hurt but for me that took a good 6-8 weeks. During that time I learned a lot of things that helped get me through and not give up!
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1. Dr. Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment
Seriously ladies, this saved my nipples and my sanity! When my baby was about 10-12 days old I was at a point where I would cry every time I nursed or even thought about nursing my baby. In hindsight, I think I may have had a thrush infection at the time. I didn’t realize how red I was until after I was able to heal! I just had to take a break from breastfeeding.
So for two days my husband and I would finger feed our baby (read more about that here). I was also pumping and lathering my nipples with this cream as much as I could. After 2 days I was able to return to nursing with some pain when she first latched that eased off quickly. Totally tolerable compared to the agony I was going through before this break.
I highly recommend getting some as soon as you can, even before your baby is born if you can! This way you can have it immediately if/when you do need it. You will need a prescription from your OB and it needs to be made at a compounding pharmacy but is worth every penny!
2. Finger Feeding for a Break
I was really hoping to breastfeed my baby but I was also open to the fact that it may not work out and we may have to change our plans. I had always thought that it was an all or nothing deal though. I never thought it would be possible to just take a break for a couple days and still be able to return. So even though I was in a lot of pain I was really reluctant to stop breastfeeding. I was scared that I would never pick it back up. But I was wrong!
I was able to take a 2 day break from breastfeeding when my baby was just 10-12 days old and return to nursing without affecting my baby. I was certainly never told by anyone that this could be an option. My baby was having such a hard time latching in the beginning and it wasn’t recommended to start using a bottle until she was at least 4 weeks old…so what did we do? We used a finger feeding method to allow me to rest and still keep the breastfeeding dream alive. Read all the details about finger feeding in my post here.
I want to share with other struggling breastfeeding mamas out there that it is OK to take a break if you need it! And a break does not have to mean that you are giving up breastfeeding if you don’t want to. This short break was a lifesaver for me. With so much less pain when I returned to nursing it was so much less stressful. No one needs any unnecessary stress when you are a new mom! Remember to be kind to yourself and take a break if you need to!
When your nipples hurt like crazy just the thought of anything at all touching them is painful. Seriously I never thought just taking a shower could be so painful! Unfortunately it is not always acceptable to be walking around with nothing on.
When you need to be wearing clothes these nipple shells are the only thing that really helped me. It’s like having a protective bubble around your nipples, and it does kinda look like you have a weird force field under your clothes. But I know I was never concerned about what I looked like during this time frame! Anything to help the pain.
These also help with any cream or ointment as it actually stays on your nipples better without being rubbed off. Just being able to have lots of time with nothing in contact with my nipples was so helpful in actually allowing them to heal!
4. Proper Latching…See a Lactation consultant!
How your baby latches is so important for many reasons. They will be able to get more milk with less effort with a proper latch but my favorite is that it hurts less!
I saw a lactation consultant while I was in the hospital and then after as an outpatient as well and this was an invaluable experience! They are really so helpful and can work with you and your baby to find positions and techniques that work for you! It really is different for every mom and baby, but lactation consultants can really make things work.
If you aren’t automatically referred to see a lactation consultant then please ask for one! You are your best advocate!
5. Spectra Pump
I know Medela is one of the most popular brands out there but I love my Spectra pump. I used a hospital grade Medela while I was in the hospital since my baby was not latching and I needed to start pumping to get my milk going.
It was OK and I made some good progress with it. I actually even rented it for a month afterward as well so I could continue pumping. Typically you are not covered by insurance to receive a pump until after you actually give birth so this usually leaves some time where you don’t have one of your own.
When I got my Spectra after using the Medela I could definitely feel the difference. The Spectra has a bit of a vibrating motion to it while pumping which somehow makes it feel much more comfortable. And I also noticed that I would get just about the same amount of milk from this as from the Medela hospital grade pump! I had always heard that no pump would work as well as the hospital one, so this was a pleasant surprise.
There are also these handy adapters that you can snap onto the Spectra so you can continue to use any Medela parts you already have. I had already stocked up on storage containers and bought the right size flanges for me to work with the Medela pump so I didn’t want them to go to waste. This little piece of plastic makes everything fit!
Like I mentioned above you should qualify for one breast pump to be covered by insurance (or at least a large portion of it covered). So definitely use a company that will work with your insurance. I went through Aeroflow and they were great to work with. I think I had my pump within 3 days of talking to them!
If you already have a pump or just want to read a little more about the Spectra you can see it here. I believe the only difference between the S1 and the S2 is that the S1 has a rechargeable battery so that you don’t always have to use it plugged in. I ended up getting the S1 so that I wouldn’t always feel tied down while pumping. And through Aeroflow they were able to still charge this upgrade through my insurance and I just covered the difference.
Hopefully you will find some of this information helpful in your breastfeeding journey! It doesn’t have to be painful all the time, but when it is I hope some of my tips can help! Please feel free to share any helpful hints you may have to make breastfeeding easier or less painful in the comments!