The Silence of the Boobs.

Forgive me for any grammar/spelling errors in advance. I’m writing this quickly as I am paying a woman decent money to come over, look at my boobs and help me figure out how to make them feel better. How I will get through this awkward meeting without booze? No clue. But getting drunk and working on one’s latch in order to feed a newborn doesn’t seem like such a great idea. So, I’m going to sit through this meeting sober.

This post may include information that will gross out the childless and/or those who are (for some stupid reason) freaked out about the idea that a boob is sometimes used to feed someone. So: stop reading right now if you’re not interested.

I’m trying to breastfeed again. And this time the little booger is super interested. He latched on immediately. We were breastfeeding within an hour of his birth. I was floored, excited. Yeah, things were good.

And we continued this way for the two days we were in the hospital. I fed him literally around the clock. I have what they referred to as a “cluster feeder” or something like that. He feeds every half hour, sometimes more, all night long. We got little sleep but I didn’t care.

He lost weight but nothing too bad. He was peeing a lot. The nurses were pleased. Things seemed fine. And they were. Mostly.

By day three he’d lost 10% of his bodyweight. He was also jaundiced, dehydrated, and just really fucking hungry. His pediatrician said, Enough already! Start feeding him from the breast and then give him 2 ounces (or more) of pumped milk or formula. We took him home and immediately gave him a bottle of formula. He ate up that bottle so damned fast, it was kinda sad. He was a new baby—active, awake, happy.

The problem is, again, my breasts just don’t produce enough milk to sustain this child. Em was the same way. I pumped with Em exclusively because we never got a latch down. I tried. It just didn’t work. So I pumped. I wasn’t ever able to sustain him this way alone. I always supplemented. He was happy.

This time the kid is interested, but he’s just not getting enough. Not yet.

But here’s why I’m hiring someone: it’s not because I don’t have enough milk. I’m OK with giving him what I can and then supplementing whatever I need. This time it’s because I must have gotten the latch wrong. Because the pain I’m experiencing is some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I won’t go into too many glorious and therefore disgusting details, but my nipples are absolutely falling apart. A piece of cotton—shit! AIR hurts them. And they are so beat up and scabbed over, milk can no longer get out. So the milk I do have in there is actually stuck.

My boobs are screaming. Someone needs to make the boobs stop screaming.

I have read that it’s not supposed to hurt THIS bad, so I hired someone to show me what I’m doing wrong. And I’m hoping for the best. I would like to make this work to some degree. If it doesn’t, I won’t beat myself up again like last time. I refuse to. But I’d like to make it work.

I know. Many of you are probably thoroughly grossed out. But I warned you to stop reading at the beginning. I guess what I’m saying is it’s your fault. :]

So, that’s where I am this time around regarding the whole boob thing. Any insight you might have is greatly appreciated. Hell, I’d love to hear about your battle wounds because misery DOES love company. And my boobs are miserable.

It rubs the Lanolin on the skin…

(Yeah, this joke is getting old, am I right?)

OK! I’m off. I need to mentally prepare myself for this very awkward meeting.


  1. I could write an essay here – but in brief – it’s this woman’s job – it needn’t be awkward.

    I thoroughly recommend nipple covers/protectors – when I was crying out every time my baby latched they really helped. Midwives & lactation consultants can be quite negative about them because of nipple confusion – but they helped me keep feeding.

    I also bought gel pads for my nipples – chill them in the fridge – they really helped too.

    A few days and you’ll be healed – good luck while everything settles down.


  2. Gosh! I feel for you. I hope the lactation specialist is helpful. With my second curtain climber, I decided to nurse. HE could not make it work, I know it sounds dumb, but he kept curling his lip under. I know the pain you are talking about. Mine were BLEEDING. So I quit. Third kid, tried BRIEFLY, in the hospital. It was sore, so I figured I just was not capable. When I was gloriously fat with the fourth (and last) somebody let me in on the news flash that it hurts a bit at first. Success. He was a champ and after a while no problems. This tirade is really meant to tell you that at first it hurts some, but your degree of pain definitely warrants a consultant. It is probably a latch issue, and possibly after the latch is fixed your milk will be enough.


  3. I’ve never breastfed (it’s kinda hard to do without kids), but my nipples are singing a pained high note in sympathy for your mangled spigots.


  4. Hopefully your LC, and if not, your OB, should be able to prescribe you a stronger cream than what you can find at the store. I can’t remember what it’s called, but the pharmacist needs to mix it, and it’s anti-fungal, anti-biotic and all around great. It also clears up a diaper rash within minutes.

    And oatmeal and Guinesss help with milk supply. So drink some beer and good luck :)


  5. I had pain in the beginning every time my daughter latched. It would literally take my breath away every time she latched for about two weeks. I slathered as much lanolin on as possible to keep from cracking and drying up. Someone also recommended to rub some of the actual milk on the nipple. I did not try this but heard about it. Also, if production is on the lower side, you may want to ask about Fenugreek tea or pills. It is an herbal supplement that increases production. it helped me greatly, as I only had one producing breast. It allowed my to breastfeed with one boob with little supplementing from formula for 6 months. Congratulations and best of luck with the nipples!


  6. It might be tongue-tie? Kelly Mom is a pretty helpful site, and the Nursing Mother’s Companion is a really useful book–both helped me much more than the La Leche League equivalents (although LLL meetings can be wonderful for in-person support, depending on the group).


  7. Oh, I remember the pain of a bad latch all too well. I hope the lactation consultant can help with your pain and I am sure she has seen and heard everything. With my first, I had the hardest time getting him to latch–I didn’t realize how much of the boob had to be in his mouth–but after a visit to the LC which helped so much, we worked it out. I used olive oil after feeding to keep the nipples from cracking and vitamin e oil–from the capsules. If you haven’t looked at the site:
    I found many of her bf suggestions to be so helpful.
    Good luck and congratulations on your beautiful boys!


  8. Vicky: I am socially awkward without exposing my boobs to people I don’t know. :] I know this woman is a professional and she’s seen it all. I just feel awkward around people I don’t know in general. So that’s kinda what I meant with regards to this meeting. Obviously I’m not socially stunted enough to NOT hire her, so that’s good.


  9. Hi Michelle,
    I’m sure you don’t remember, but we met on the exclusively pumping message board 3 1/2 years ago. My youngest is just hours older than Em. Congratulations on Elliot, he is beautiful. I don’t really have any advice, except please don’t beat yourself up over this. (I sure wish I hadn’t). You are doing the right thing by working with an LC. If you don’t trust her advice try another one until you find one you like. Good Luck!


  10. I also recommend the kellymom website. My experience nursing the first time sounds very similar to where you are now. I’d practically cry every time she nursed (which was a lot) because it hurt so bad. I was committed and knew it would hurt some, so I thought I just needed to forge ahead. However, when my nipples cracked, bleed and then got stuck to my bra with the scabs (that was brutal separating them), when yes even air was painful, I decided something was not right. It was the latch. My girl was doing the lip curling thing as well as not getting enough in her mouth. Because I had let her nurse that way for so long, it did take a lot of effort to get her to switch. We did it though. The lanolin was my good friend, in addition to putting it right on my nipples I would smear it on a cotton breast pad thing. This extra dose seemed to help. Plus, I did (sorry this is gross) squirt a little milk out and rub it on my nipples.

    Hopefully the LC will be awesome, supportive and calm. I’d imagine that while she might want a quick look at your nipples she’ll mostly be interested in watching how Elliot latches and then working with you to alter it if needed.


  11. Cherie: of course I remember you! Thosee were the days, eh? Hope things are well!


  12. Greyson nursed like a charm… Vi made me bleed and cry in pain, and got thrush…. for 12 weeks we went through pain and agony… but my milk came in, from persisting i’m guessing. but i did everything i was supposed to, the lanolin, washing my bras properly, using disposable breast pads instead of washable ones, the thrush medicine…. on and on, until at 12 weeks i decided i was not going to dread feeding her any longer and went to formula.

    my only suggestion, give it a shot, but don’t make it a negative task to feed your little monster. formula fed babies are so much chubbier and pinchable than breast fed:) sorry, just trying to put a positive on this.


  13. I just gave birth 2 days ago to my second child. My daughter ( first child) caused me no end of grief and the pain was insane, I was in tears each time she cried to eat. I would recommend Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to breast-feeding. He is a breast-feeding expert from Toronto and his book helped SO much this time around, there is still pain initially when my son latches, and he is a champion sucker so he gave me blisters the first day, but other than that I feel pretty confident this time. Jack Newman also has a website , lots of super useful info, and he has video’s on youtube that help with latching, etc. Good luck, you can do it!


  14. No advice, just sympathy. I’ve been lucky with breastfeeding both times and while it did hurt quite a bit in the beginning (esp with the first), it was nothing like what you are describing. You are so right to get help and to get it early. Here’s hoping for a kind, empathetic and competent LC!


  15. Well, that was an enlightening experience all around. I feel like I can do this but it’s gonna take time. I really like this woman and it wasn’t awkward after all.

    Here’s hoping this works!

    Thanks all for the comments, emails. I’ll definitely keep ya posted. :)


  16. I know your pain. I, too, struggled with breastfeeding and had cracked, bleeding nipples. I got some relief from gel pads (I think I used Soothies) and from a consultant. I also heard that cold cabbage leaves in your bra help. Why, I don’t know!

    Glad you had some help from her and it wasn’t awkward. I found myself wishing my consultant could come live with me to get the latch right every time!


  17. Just for the record, people who say a correct latch doesn’t hurt should be taken out back and shot.

    I bf both my kids for 12 months each, and it doesn’t hurt– after the first 6 weeks. That’s right, the latching on, even a good latch just hurts for a while, because yer nipples? They ain’t used to that kind of abuse (well to each there own, I suppose.) Even with baby #2, same period of adjustment necessary. Also, no bra while your nipples are raw is the worst- those silicone lily-padz types pads are the best. You need them at all times. Ugh just think about the cotton t-shirt rubbing on postpartum nipples… save me.

    The pain does go away. you wont need the pads forever, but it takes longer, I think, then most people are lead to believe. And I think many people give up thinking they’re doing it wrong, when really they just need time. Unless of course, you want to just move on to an alternative, which is totally fine… just feed the baby however works for you and your family…

    congratulations on the new guy! best of luck with the nursing… new babies and all they’re assorted issues are stressful, be kind to yourself.


  18. I too know your pain. I was so tired and so happy she seemed to be latching that I let bad latch happen and it caused a bunch of damage. It did stop once I made sure she was really on. I had tylenol from the c section and that helped. Good luck!
    Also I have a almost 3 year old and a 3 month old. The transition was a bit rough on all of us, not what I expected. Sleep issues returning, tantrums – 2 weeks and it started to smooth out. I wish we had kept more of his routine those first 2 weeks, I was on mat. leave and wanted to be with both of them but that was dumb. It gets a million times better and now the payoff is watching my son crack my daughter up. Emory looks so proud in that photo.


  19. Jeanne: I love what you just wrote and have wondered this often. Is it just meant to hurt for a while? And would we be more successful if we were told that?


  20. Good luck with your consultant! I fed non-stop w/ the first one too for the first few days and then one boob scabbed over. It’s never been the same since. It’s the bigger boob normally (TMI?) but when breastfeeding it’s the smaller one because the holes got plugged up forever.


  21. I agree with Jeanne–the first 6 weeks are just kind of hard. With my first I had a lot of trouble/poorly latching baby/pumped for 7 months. When I had my second child, I decided I was not going to hitch myself to a pump in the same way again. The baby latched better but it was still **painful**. I ended up using a nipple shield for a few weeks to get over the hump and it really helped. It was the only thing that allowed me to handle the pain for the first few weeks. The soothies brand nipple soothing discs that I kept in the fridge(you can get them at the drugstore) and slapped on after feeding helped some as well. I never thought the lansinoh cream was all that fantastic, except for keeping my sore nips from sticking to my bra/nursing pad.

    The nipple pain really will get better. Also, if you end up supplementing with formuala (or soley formula feeling), it really will be OK. With my second child my milk supply never rebounded after a few bouts of mastitis so I both bf and formula fed–baby did fine, I got a break bc my husband could take over some of the feedings, and it all worked out.

    In fact, everything will get better-those first weeks are just raw.


  22. God, the whole, if you are doing it right, it won’t hurt statement. What a fucking crock of shit. You could take my heel, the most calloused, rough, thick skinned part of my body and IT would get sore in the beginning with someone constantly sucking on it. Let alone a porous membrane body part that is sensitive in and of itself without a second party going to town on it at least ten hours a day.

    I was literally topless around my house for the first month of baby’s life. Expressed milk on nipples and air drying was my key to sanity.


  23. Best of luck with the LC and nursing! The first 12 weeks of nursing my daughter were torture. After ending up with an emergency c-section and dealing with that disappointment, I was determined to make BFing work. Ouch! The nipple shields were a huge help until my nipples toughened up and my daughter’s mouth grew a little more to get a better latch. I ended up with a laundry list of obstacles: bad latch, sore bleeding nipples, flat nipples, mastitis, then thrush from the antibiotics to help the mastitis, finally a clogged duct that didn’t go away for weeks. I ended up having to go a breast specialist (not realizing she was also an oncologist, which scared the shit out of me) so she could do a needle aspiration to break up the clog. Around 12 weeks, everything changed. Feeding her became so comfortable and easy. I finally figured out the best way to hold her and was no longer walking around topless with my breast friend attached to my waist! Hang in there. It will get so much better and you will hopefully look back on these early weeks like a painful blip in a long nursing relationship with your new son.


  24. oh god, i was there too. bad latch, bleeding, thrush, blocked ducts, mastitis, all the fun stuff. my kid lost weight at first too, and i supplemented, which was fine. it was excrutiatingly painful for the first few months, and then it got better, and now i can’t get the damn kid weaned.

    here are all the things that worked for me: — nursing lying down, on my side with the kid next to me. takes the weight off while you’re healing.
    — NO lanolin, only vasoline to moisturize.
    — dipping the breast in warm salt water after nursing — you’ll feel like an idiot, but it really helped heal the shredded skin.
    — finally, the thing that kept me going all this time: fenugreek. lots and lots of fenugreek pills. the more milk you have, the less he’ll have to suck, the easier it will be. seriously, i took a dozen of these things a day and my cup(s) ranneth over.

    i’m glad i held on, for what it’s worth, though good god did it hurt. hope this helps a little.


  25. I went to a lactation consult before my guy was born last September. I kept waiting for the lady to tell me we were done with the direct boob work and I could put my top on. When I finally asked if I could get dressed TWENTY MINUTES LATER she acted relieved that I had finally decided to put my clothes back on…like I was some stealth nudist preying on unsuspecting lactation consultants. The rest of the meeting was a million times more awkward than the first half when I was showing a stranger my boobs and letting her feel me up.

    And let me second what a lot of people have already said….it hurts even when you’re doing it right in the beginning. For probably the first 3 months I had to pump and olive oil my nipples almost every day to not be in serious pain/avoid cracking/bleeding. It was sort of a pain but the upside is that I have quite the stock of frozen breast milk. I think someone else mentioned nipple shields earlier and it’s definitely true that a lot of people shy away from them BUT if that’s what gets your kid breast feeding and breast feeding is the goal–who cares? I use a nipple shield and my kid is almost six months and breast feeding like a damn champ.


  26. Billy will be 3 weeks tomorrow (monday) and I’m still just able to pump 2-3 oz every 3-5 hours. He’s already drinking 3 oz at a time. We’ve been suplementing with formula as well. I tried to breastfeed with both the other boys (9 and 7) and ran into the same problem. Loosing to much weight and not getting enough. That’s why I desided to pump, at least i can see how much he’s getting.


  27. It’s just a lie and only to make us feel bad that it’s sth we are doing wrong that causes the pain. I think you just have to make the decision. If you want to breastfeed you just have to wait some weeks. I had the same problem and had to supplement for two days. I had the pain for 6 weeks, went to a lactation consultant, cried a whole lot and read and read on the internet, but then everything got normal and it’s so easy now carrying his food always with me for free :D


  28. I just had my little one on Thursday and she too latched on like a champ with that hour. Now we r home and my milk has come through and I’m in excruciating pain. Last night, my firstmnight home, she was feeding every 1/2 hr and I hardly had any milk. She’s latching on to just my nip because I’m so engorged! I took a warm shower and the second I got out I was shivering from pain and almost threw up. I feel your pain! hang in there,i will too I hope to see what good tips you get.



  29. Oh gosh! Breastfeeding fucking sucks at first.
    None of my friends or I had an easy time, especially at first.
    No one has mentioned this yet but there might be another cause for the pain. I had terrible letdown pain for a couple of months. The lactation consultant told me count to 10 and it should feel better. It was more like count to 100 and it eased up.

    Oh and I know you didn’t have a c-section but for anyone else reading this, looking for answers. What they didn’t tell me in the hospital, while my son kept losing weight (and thus further stressing me out) was that:
    1) C-section babies are pumped full of fluids when they’re born from mom being on a saline drip (so they weigh more at birth and thus lose more)
    2)Your milk takes longer to come in after a c-section.

    Hope nice lactation lady was able to help you. Oh and…picture or it didn’t happen :)


  30. I agree – successfully bfed both my boys from the beginning and it hurt like a bujeezus with both for the first 2 weeks. And they both had perfect latch.

    It hurt MUCH worse with my first, who nursed frequently and for a long time, than with me second who was more content to go 2 hours between feedings right from the start. So simply the fact that Elliot nursed so often in the hospital was a good sign that you were gonna be in pain. It’ll ease up and you won’t remember how bad it was in a month.


  31. Yep — make sure you get Elliot’s tongue checked. I was in horrific pain, turned out he was tongue tied. By the time we found out it was too late… both my kid and my boobs had lost interest.

    Good luck!


  32. Firstly, well done for writing this. I think more dialogue needs to be had about breastfeeding.

    Here in Australia (yes, reading all the way from down under) the ABA, which is our equivalent of the LLL runs breastfeeding education classes for pregnant mothers and their partners. One of the best things I got out of it was an open discussion about feeding and the ups and downs. We also got to see a mother feeding here baby and have a really good (and educational) look at real-life latching and feeding.

    The other great thing the told us was to plan out our support network when things aren’t going to plan or need some support. The great thing they offer is a 24 hour helpline to call when you need.

    And finally, kellymom is great. I especially recommend reading the stuff about supply and comp feeding.

    Good luck and fingers crossed for you.


  33. Sorry about your struggles. I will tell you that both my babies latched on just fine and it hurt like a BITCH anyway. I was literally in tears before feeding them. However, after a couple weeks it was much better and worth all the pain. The first days of breastfeeding to me were much worse than the labor and delivery! Good luck.


  34. It is painful, especially the first few days. My nipples started to crack and bleed within 24 hours after my daughter’s birth.

    Like you, I was shy about letting strangers see my boobs, but I had no problem letting my boobs hang out around the house. I basically spent the first six months topless at home because I didn’t want to breastfeed in public. I agree with the other posters about squeezing out a few drops of breastmilk and rubbing it in after a feeding. The lanolin also helps and has no taste (I tasted it since my daughter had to).

    My LC recommended acidophilus (sp?) to prevent thrush; I took it, and never had a problem. My LC was wonderful; she checked up on us 3 times and was always helpful. I ended up nursing for 2 years.

    Good luck to you, and just do whatever works for you and your family.


  35. I completely agree with the whole “if you are doing it right it doesn’t hurt” being a crock of shit. I’m still breastfeeding at a year, and those first 3 or 4 weeks were terrible. The very definition of toe-curling pain for me.
    KellyMom is great. Also, I got this recipe from the lactation consultants at our hospital when James was born. It helped me a lot more than the Lasinoh by itself.

    Dr. Hale’s Nipple Ointment
    Mix approximately equal amounts of the three ingredients together in a small container with a lid.
    Apply a small amount after each breast feeding until nipples have healed.
    Does not have to be washed off before baby feeds.
    Bacitracin ointment (also called polysporin or Neosporin ointment)
    Hydrocortizone 1% ointment
    Monistat ointment or Lansinoh ointment
    Wash hands prior to applying, and do not put fingers back in once they’ve applied ointment. You don’t want the ointment to be contaminated.


  36. First of all – congrats!
    Secondly, breastfeeding was the most painful experience for me as well. I also experienced bleeding, scabbing and clogged ducts from my over-excited nurser and ended up with double mastitis and a 102 fever.
    My LC recommended a cream mix similar to Dr. Hales from Becky and that – along with unclogging the ducts (and antibiotics for the infection) did the trick.
    Sorry for your pain!


  37. Why, why, why do the “experts” insist on telling us that breastfeeding, if done correctly, will not hurt? Of course it effing hurts! Do we normally go around with bulldog clips clamped on to our nipples for seveal hours a day, bulldog clips with the suction power of a Dyson, no less!!! (Well, some people might but that’s not the kind of thing polite people discuss). I have nursed 3 kidlets and the first day of nursing was blissful, and then the literally toe-curling pain would kick in and my husband would laugh at the expression on my face until I threatened him with the purple nurple. I somehow plowed on through with my firstborn, survived with Soothies gel-pads with my first girl, and took it one day at a time (with Soothies) with my baby girl. I had the number of a lactation consultant bookmarked and was 24 hours away from calling her when my nipples decided to accept the battering (supply issues were another story). I hope it gets better for you but remember a happy (and pain-free) momma makes for a happy baby.


  38. I fully agree with Jeanne! A good latch is on the uncomfortable side of pain for the first month or two, and most people will have chapped, raw feeling nipples during this time with maybe a little cracking. A bad latch will leave you with bloody, scabbed nipples and searing pain during the feeding and after. I had some bad latches and coupled with the baby blues it was a hard time for me. It is great that you are talking to a consultant and being proactive! Breastfeeding is a lot of work, from establishing a latch to maintaining supply, and few people will tell you that, but it is worth the effort. Good luck!


  39. I wholeheartedly recommend the cream several people have mentioned. After my first child, my nipples were torn (“nipple trauma,” the LC called it), and the pain was so acute that I would gag when he latched on. At about week eight, I finally got the cream and it did wonders. My bfeeding experience the second time was still painful, but I started the cream preventatively, and it helped, but it still took several weeks for the pain to subside completely.
    Congrats to you and your family, and good luck with whatever route you take.


  40. Mihow – I know you said you won’t – but absolutely do NOT beat yourself up over low milk production. As I said back-in-the-day, you can only do what you can do. Been there, done that. As far as production – I tried fenugreek capsules with little success. I tried incessant pumping without success. I had a bit more success when the OB agreed to write me a script for metoclopramide, increasing production ~30%.

    As far as pain goes… it just sucks sometimes… I remember biting my lip until it bled one time because the cracks hurt so badly. On the positive side, it didn’t go on forever… but give yourself permission to stop if you want to. Once you do that, if you stick it out, good for you. If you stop, you can be OK with it long-term, no ongoing guilt. There are so many other stressors in these early days with the lack of sleep, recovery, etc. that breast feeding shouldn’t be an intensely negative experience.

    Good luck, chica!


  41. I’m just here to say: YES. I hope you get the help you need, because while it is ridiculously akward, the lactation consultant we had made everything OK. She was funny and comforting and, above all, totally capable, and helped me with all the problems I had with baby #2. It took work, but in the end it was worth it!


  42. Oh I feel for you. I hope the meeting goes well. And for consolation, I was were you are too. I remembered thinking how bad is really bad that something is definitely not right because it was constantly painful no matter what. I still cried those first few weeks. And yes, girl, I never thought air would be so painful either.

    Best of luck! Keep us posted.


  43. Oh gawd… I remember when I was in so much pain I would cry and fear the next feeding. The DC girls helped me a ton! Breast milk on the nips and air drying really helped, but mine never got scabby and closed up like you are describing. You poor thing.. I wish I could make it all better! I hope the consultant has some great ideas that work for you!


  44. Let me join the chorus on how awful it can feel for weeks and weeks even if you and the baby are doing everything right. Holy shit. I think dooce compared it to having your nipples stapled, which is an understatement in my opinion. And then when my baby spit up bloody milk, I freaked out. I think it was mostly healed after about 6 weeks or so.

    Anyway, in addition to the normal routine of lanolin, exposing the nips after each feeding, etc, I found the warm saline boob baths to be the most helpful. It’s a little awkward to stick each boob in its own hot tub for 10 minutes, but they felt much better afterwards.

    Good luck!


  45. I have a friend who had something similar happen. It turns out that there was some kind of muscle or skeletal misalignment from birth and the muscles were all tight from the babies shoulders through it’s jaw so the baby latched and unlatched constantly during feeding. It caused a lot of rawness and meant she didn’t get much milk. I’m only sharing this because I know the hell she went through until her lactation consultant figured it out.

    Good luck!


  46. I am both sorry you’re going through this, and sympathetic because of course it was very hard for me too. I used to squeeze lanolin into the nursing pads and just smoosh them onto my breasts several times a day. I also read once that lettuce leaves help, which was an odd feeling but was an intermittent breath of fresh air.

    Hang in there. He’s beautiful! (They both are!)


  47. Hi! I have so enjoyed your musings on dooce and now recently your blog. I am a Queens mama who is de-lurking today solely to offer some support for your dilemma. I am also 40 weeks today, so de-lurking required some waddling and groaning. :-)

    I had these issues with my daughter at the beginning of nursing her. With the help of my sister-in-law who is a labor and delivery nurse, a lactation consultant, and a great doctor, we were able to get through it.

    First of all, tongue tie is very common but there is little information on it as many women did not breastfeed for so many years- my daughter had it and we elected to have her frenulum snipped at 10 days old by a great doctor on the UES. It sounds scary and nasty, but it wasn’t – she let out a cry, and then was completely fine after that. The nursing improved immensely as did the state of my very sore nipples. I’m happy to give you her info if you are interested.

    In the meantime, here are some techniques I used:

    Dr. Jack Newman’s Nipple Ointment – Bigelow’s in the Village has the recipe and the will make it for you. It is genius. I can also get the recipe to you or check it online on his great website (referenced above).

    Nipple shells (not shields) will protect your nipples and give them some air so they can heal. Medela makes them.

    Gel packs. Medela makes them.

    A shot glass with salt water will bathe your nipple and allow it to heal (3-5 minutes). Not is this extremely humorous, it does actually work.

    Most importantly, follow your instincts. You are right to think it’s a crock of BS when people tell you it shouldn’t hurt. It does, but believe me, it gets so much better! If you want to breastfeed, stick with it. If the pain is having an impact on you that is too negative, follow your gut on that as well.

    Best of luck!


  48. I’m sure everyone has already given you wonderful advice. I’m in the commiseration crowd. Nursing was super painful for me for the first month and a half. Painful when they latched on and painful letdown. PAINFUL. I was doing nothing wrong and neither were the babies.

    I still remember having to clench my jaw and curl my toes up during the first minute of nursing! Aaaah! I’m having flashbacks!

    But it does get better. Much better.

    I have known some women who will pump more often than nurse, just to give the nips a break and allow them to heal a little faster. I don’t know if it works. I just used to coat the titties in lanolin and keep fresh dry pads in the bra.

    Good luck and congrats!


  49. Your story was my story with my second baby. When the pain was so bad that I dreaded feeding my son…actually felt fear and anxiety around his meal time…I stopped. My family convinced me to just stop. I’m so glad they did. I ended up pumping (which is a whole hell of a lot easier on the boobs) and it was fine. He’s fine. It wasn’t perfect, but so what? My son ate, we cuddled, and he loves me and never knew the difference.

    Hang in there. Do what works best for you.


  50. Just commiserating on the mastitis. Had it once, live in terror of it again. Felt like I was expressing shards of glass and not milk. You’re a rock star.


  51. I hope the LC’s advice is already working for you and the pain has eased. My first son was jaundiced and little and the old-school pediatrician recommended supplementing with formula, scaring us with words about “cretinism” and such. No new parent wants to hear about jaundice causing cretinism!

    The jaundice cleared, but my son got used to the fast flow or the bottle, as opposed to the slow flow of my nipples, and it was only our lovely LC and her “finger feeder” that got him back to nursing when I was ready to give up. For me, it wasn’t the physical pain so much as the thought that I wasn’t meeting my son’s needs as evidenced by his screaming every time I nursed him.

    If jaundice continues to creep up, putting him under the bili-lights or at-home bili-blanket is generally preferred. Whatever you choose to do will be right for you!


  52. Oh God, reading this post gave me flashbacks. My baby lost weight in the first 2 weeks, and I had no idea because I *thought* she was latching on fine and eating, but I wasn’t producing enough and she would just fall asleep on my boob. I also got conflicting advice about nipple shields, but I used them anyway because nursing hurt like a motherhugger.

    Anyway, I pumped like crazy (and it sounded like you had to do that before), and used a supplemental feeding system, and as she got stronger, her latch got better, and we made it through.

    But I had one really sore nipple for 3 months before it finally toughened up. I remember cursing under my breath stomping my feet and counting to 10 every time she latched on on that side. Christ that hurt!

    Anyway, hang in there. I hope things have gotten better. You are certainly not alone.


  53. Yes, I remember that no one said that it would hurt like a *&^&*^ the first couple of weeks. Oh a little pain, a little discomfort. Yeah right! I was bleeding though tshirts, completely raw. The LCs in the hospital couldn’t figure it out because it looked like he was latching on fine. I was so frustrated because I thought my milk had come in after a week like they said in the books. Finally, a male friend in Japan said that the Japanese doctors told his wife that Japanese women’s milk takes longer to come in, but to keep at it. And he was right. Turns out that he was not only sucking hard, but freaking grinding at my boobs because he was so hungry and my milk hadn’t come in yet. And he was always strong! Once my milk came in it was all good as he had to just look at my boobs and they would start leaking. Hardly any pressure was needed at all. I’m glad that I did keep at it though because the next year of not having to warm up milk in the middle of the night was worth it. Every time I lifted up my shirt for night feedings I thanked myself. But it’s ok if you supplement. I was exclusively formula fed after all.


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