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Does breastfeeding hurt?

(31 Posts)
2wwmadness Thu 29-Sep-11 09:01:50

hello, im pregnant with my first and really want to breastfeed. 
I don't know what to expect? Does it hurt? Do I need to prepare for the pain?
I know these might be odd questions, but I'm trying to be prepared as much as possible. I want to hear from real women as the midwife tells me how great it is (which I agree) But bit how it feels. 
What if I can't do it? Should I buy bottle stuff incase?  Thanks for your help

horribledinners Thu 29-Sep-11 09:07:27

yes. sometimes it can but, like labour, its worth it!  All the rest of the time it feels like the most amazing, nurturing, beautiful, bonding, blissful, lazy way to enjoy having your baby as close to you as possible!

(I'm a bf fan!)

RedBlanket Thu 29-Sep-11 09:13:53

It hurts a bit for the first few weeks, i think because I struggled getting the latch right (tiny prem DTs). It was a really sharp stabbing pain. I has cracked nipples for a while, but again only for the first couple of weeks. Once you get used to doing it, if doesn't hurt at all, I often used to fall asleep for some of the night feeds.

2wwmadness Thu 29-Sep-11 09:16:58

Thanks! That's re-assuring. I really want to do it. But I'm a bit scared

Pickering Thu 29-Sep-11 09:23:18

My little boy is now 6 months and breastfed.  I found that the first 8 weeks were the most challenging - it didn't hurt all the time, but when he first latched on there was a short but toe-curling discomfort which passed once he started feeding.  I can't remember this happening after about 8 weeks.

I was determined to breastfeed and so made sure that I got every bit of help that I needed.  Make sure to ask, ask, ask if you need any help.  For example, I called the nursing staff in the middle of the night on the postnatal ward to get them to help me to help him latch on.  Also, have confidence in your body and accept that you have to keep feeding regularly - it does feel like you are wedded to the sofa and constantly feeding at first - but this is good for you and your baby.  Feeds used to take 50 minutes, but now its just 5-10 and so enjoyable to spend time with your baby.

Hope this helps. Good luck! 

horribledinners Thu 29-Sep-11 09:23:36

Please don't be scared!  Is there anyone you know with a baby who breastfed you could talk to?   Its great that you are into the idea in the first place! 

Otherwise, you'll find lots of support amongst the threads on here.  Just don't get dragged into a 'breast versus bottle argument, they're deadly!  Youtube is also a good place to have a look at real women breastfeeding and how they manage.

Good Luck!

RedBlanket Thu 29-Sep-11 09:23:48

Well just give it a go and take it week by week.
If you're struggling ask for help either on here or your Midwife/HV.

theboobmeister Thu 29-Sep-11 09:34:55

Lots of mums get sore nipples and/or tender breasts in the early weeks, but real pain that doesn't go away is a sign that something is wrong - usually the baby is latched on ineffectively. If that happens, you need to find someone who can help you improve the latch - a midwife or breastfeeding counsellor - quickly, before your nipples get damaged. 

If the baby is latched on nicely, and you're feeding on demand, then BF doesn't hurt and many BF mums will testify that it actually feels very nice once you get into the swing of things! 

What if you can't do it? You won't be a bad person and no-one will judge you. 

Should you buy bottle stuff? I don't know. Would having bottles/formula in the house make you feel more or less confident about breastfeeding? How long would it take to buy the gear if you felt it was an emergency? A healthy baby can wait til the morning for a feed if he absolutely has to. Lots of mums turn to formula in the early days, but it doesn't have to be a one-way street - a BF counsellor could help you to get BF back on track, if that's what you wanted. 

For my money, the best thing you can do to prepare is to stock up on reliable sources of information and see if you can find a good local BF counsellor/BF support group. One step at a time! 

An0therName Thu 29-Sep-11 09:36:39

there may be antenatal bf class you could go to which might help - ask your midwife - or the nct antenatal classes include it, also ask your midwife about bf support groups as they were invaluable when I had mine
it might hurt a bit in the first few weeks -but if it hurts alot then there maybe issues you need to get help with

the main issue which I have seen people give up BF for is that some babies in the first few weeks feeed really really often- and sometimes for ages - if you, or your OH or family have only know bottle fed babies - you can think the baby is not getting enough and switch to bottles - but actually if you carry on it can all fall into place -

C4ro Thu 29-Sep-11 09:37:16

Certainly don't be scared! Just have a go and see how it works out for you. Regarding bottles, it's up to you- Hardcore pro-BF will say don't have them in the house as they will crack your willpower in tough times. However, you might be the sort of person that likes to be prepared and it won't make a difference to your determination to carry on. It's tough work the first week when there is no denying it is a bit sore and a challenge. I recommend you check out both now for some prep work and after you have the baby as there are so many things that you might experience but no point to think about them if they don't affect you- like cracked nipples, over-supply, getting the latch right...

startail Thu 29-Sep-11 09:39:59

Yes at first, but it really is worth keeping going.
I've done both and, believe me, the convenience of night feeds and days out without having to make up bottles is bliss.
Not to mention instant silence at weddings, funerals and during big sisters swimming lessonsgrin

Mspontipine Thu 29-Sep-11 09:51:51

Not as much as not being able to do it
I desperately tried but ds was so cheeky it was nigh on impossible to get him latched on. But when I did - I tell you - it was the most amazing feeling in the world smile
My advice would be read up and get as much expert advice as you can before birth. To some it just doesn't come as naturally as you'd expect (think giraffes, calfs etc!) and a few tips for positioning, latching on etc will prepare you. I wasn't prepared and didn't think that helped.
Ds is now nearly 9 and I am still full of regret that I couldn't manage it sad Also try to surround yourself with people who will encourage bf. My mother wasn't anti but I did feel she encouraged me more to give bottle (ebm) then formula as an easy remedy when it didn't go well and I just wonder if I had persevered more (and it wasn't Christmas Eve when came home - tons of outings, visitors, visiting etc arghhh!!) Good idea to hole up for a while until established.
Good luck grin

ShoutyHamster Thu 29-Sep-11 09:56:52

Yes it does at first.

For me it was pretty tough for the first eight weeks or so - horrid pinching pain when she latched on, sometimes it would carry on for some of the feed.

I had great support, had latch checked lots of times. There was nothing really wrong that anyone could see and nothing really helped until at about 8 weeks she just seemed to get better at it - and, I reckon, she just got that bit bigger and so did her mouth, and she started to latch on deeper and it sorted itself out.

It's really good to go into bf with your eyes open. It TAKES TIME. It is something that has to be worked on and concentrated on. You and your baby have to learn how to do it. Im still feeding now at 20 months and I'm SO glad I persevered.

I would say that one of the most important ways in which you can make it easier, and make it more possible to believe you can do it and keep going, is to be confident in yourself and your instincts as well as taking advice on latches, etc. No two babies and their mouths are the same. If it keeps hurting and doesn't seem to be getting 'sorted' - DON'T think it's 'all going wrong' and lose your belief that you can feed your baby. Almost EVERYONE can. It's a bit like learning to drive or something, there often isn't a magic point where you get that latch cracked and from then on it is bliss. We'd have good days and bad days and by about six weeks in, although it was sometimes still OW! - I had got to the point where I knew I'd get it sorted eventually, it became my little project.

Also - if you are expressing, DON'T get frightened if you can get hardly any out. It's totally different to actual feeding and lots of people feed like champions but can't get a drop out with a pump.

Good luck!

lenak Thu 29-Sep-11 10:18:05

For me - yes, at first it's bloody agony!

I BF's DD1 for 24 hours before my nipples were cracked and bleeding (she looked like a little vampire with blood dribbling out of her mouth). But, I had no support - when I asked the midwife for help in the middle of the night after a 2.5 hour feed from hell she told me that ofcourse breast feeding hurt and to get on with it, she didn't even check the latch.

I know now that her latch was poor which accounted for the pain, nipple damage and the marathon sessions - because she wasn't getting the milk.

With DD2 I was absolutely determined to BF, despite such a poor experience the first time. Not because I am a BF evangelist - far from it. Although I understand the benefits of BF, I also think there is nothing wrong with formula. My main motivation behind the determination to get it right this time is convenience!

I did a lot more reading and research before she was born and the support at the hospital had also improved radically. DD2 is now 6 days old and is sleeping peacefully on my shoulder after a lovely feed! smile.

When she was born I got several midwives and my health visitor SIL to check the latch - they all confirmed it was a good latch. It still hurt, particularly on day three when my milk still hadn't come in. DD was getting frustrated at the lack of milk and feeding more regularly. What kept me going was the thought that it would get better when my milk came in.

My milk came in on Monday afternoon. Immediately things got better because there was more lubrication when feeding. It's still a little bit sore - especially on the one side where there is a little bit of bleeding, and it is definitely toe curling when she first latches on - particularly as she like to 'stimulate' my nipples before latching properly, but once she has been on for about a minute and is into a proper feed, it's slightly uncomfortable, but not really painful - the only time it hurts during a feed is if she gets a bit of wind and tenses up as she clamps down.

It was definitely worth the first few days of discomfort though - feeds are so much easier than bottle feeding - we've been out and about the past few days and being able to find a bench and whip a boob out is a lot easier than having to find somewhere to make bottles up! Night feeds are also a lot easier and DD2 is a lot more settled than DD1 was (she slept for a five hour stretch last night after a two hour cluster feed - result!

However - all that is my experience. My SIL gave birth 5 months ago and didn't have any pain or problems what so ever - she didn't even need to open her tube of Lansinoh, whereas I'm using it constantly.

My advice would be to do the following:

Read up on correct latches and positioning.

Check what BF support the hospital offer. If they don't offer any, make sure you get the numbers for local BF councillors or the La Leche League. It really helps to talk to someone, even if its for reassurance that you are doing it right or that what you are experiencing is normal.

Buy a tube of Lansinoh and Infacol for the little one.

Don't buy a breast pump until you know whether you are going to carry on. However do buy bottles, because chances are you will use these even if you BF as you may want to express later.

Buy a few cartons of ready made formula but not the powder. Having it in will give you some reassurance that you can feed your baby if you need to. Having cartons rather than powder will allow you to give a top up if needs be while you are accessing support and advice if things are going badly but won't be a waste as powder would be if you get BF back on track.

Good Luck - having gone both ways with this and experienced absolute agony, I can definitely say that it is 100% worth it! smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 29-Sep-11 10:35:47

Well it does for some women but you may be lucky like me. The only problem I've ever had is a mild bout of mastistis (easy cured with antibiotics) when I returned to work after my mat leave with DD2. Not a sore or cracked nipple in sight.

If you are really keen to bf please don't buy in formula and bottles just in case. It would be too easy in the middle of the night to give a bottle instead of seeking help. Instead put the numbers of the bfing helplines in your phone, NCT is 0300 330 0771 and there are others. Also, try to find out if there are any local Bfing Counsellors in your area. Ask LLL and your local NCT. If you have any difficulties at all phone them. Sadly not all MW and HVs have much training or experience of bfing so always try to speak to a BFC first.

Also, try to find out if there are any local Bfing Support Groups in your area and go along before LO arrives. That way you can meet some local Mums and Mums-to-Be, have a cuppa and a chat and hopefully get some realistic expectations and some tips smile.

The thing I did have a problem with at first was how overwhelming it can be. My DC1 fed lots and I was really tired for the first few weeks. Try to plan things that will make it easier for you. Try to cook some meals now and freeze them. Make sure you've got a sling that is easy to use and have a practise before LO arrives too so that you can do some things, even if its only to get some lunch in peace. If you've got a slow cooker use that when LO arrives too. Its easy to throw something in the slowcooker in the morning when they are usually a little sleepy and then you don't have to worry about getting dinner later. Make sure you've got an online account with a supermarket too and we also got a milkman so that at least we had milk in the house! Having said all that though, none of this stuff is essential, will just make your life a bit easier. All you really need to bf is your baby and your boobs grin

With DC2 we didn't get random visitors either. We let parents and siblings come and go but with everyone else we sent around an invitation in the "she's arrived" text. We had a party for everyone the Sunday after she was born. Just tea/coffee/wine/beer and snacks. Made it plain that it was just drinks and nibbles and it was from 2 till 5. Was really great to see everyone together and meant that we weren't swamped with constant phone calls and visitors, which had happened with DC1. Got all the stuff in while I was still pregnant and a friend and my Mum helped with making drinks and washing up. Was fab.

I read this book before having DC2 and really wish I'd read it before having my first, can really recommend it. She's just written a new book The Babymoon Experience which you may find interesting too.

Kellymom is brilliant too, fully of evidence based information. Invaluable for any bfing Mum a Mum-to-Be smile.

and don't forget to keep posting on here!

EauRouge Thu 29-Sep-11 10:56:20

Like JJJ, I never had any pain either. One good analogy I heard is that it's normal for a pebble in your shoe to cause you pain but it's not normal to carry on walking and do nothing about it. So don't be afraid to ask for help and keep asking if you're still not happy.

Going along to an antenatal class or a LLL meeting before your baby arrives is a great idea. Seeing a mother breastfeed, learning what's normal and what isn't and who to ask for help will all make it easier for you to BF your baby smile

LLL do a great book called The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (old-fashioned title but it's very up-to-date) that you might find really useful. You might be able to borrow it from your local LLL group.

2wwmadness Thu 29-Sep-11 11:25:25

Thank you all so much. I've got a while to read up and Learn tips how to do it better. I don't have any family or friends with children close by so I guess that's bit helping. Thank you

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 29-Sep-11 11:27:52

In that case think its even more important that you go to antenatal classes and Bfing Support Groups, or even just your local NCT group before LO arrives and get yourself some friends with children/babies who live close by smile.

An0therName Thu 29-Sep-11 11:29:03

if you don't have friends with children I would really recommend the nct classes as a way of getting to know people

CinderellaSweepsUp Thu 29-Sep-11 11:34:17

The first few days after my milk came in the initial latch on was really painful, I remember having to really steel myself for it, but the actual feed was better once it got going. There was some soreness for a couple of weeks, but by the time I got to 6 weeks I was finding it quite easy and it didn't hurt at all. I'd say take things one feed at a time in the early days, be prepared for it to be hard, but don't be afraid to get help if you're in doubt or struggling.

I had very little real life support as I knew no one who had breastfed, and went into it thinking it probably wouldn't work out but that I'd give it a try. My Ds is now 5 months old, and I never needed to touch the cartons of formula I kept in the cupboard 'just in case'. It has been a fantastic experience and I couldn't imagine having done it differently now.

Mumsnet helped me enormously, prior to the birth I lurked on the feeding boards and tried to get as much info as possible about how bfing worked, it really helped my confidence afterward to feel like I knew what I was doing. Also, I watched lots of videos on YouTube to see how to get a baby latched correctly and how to look for proper swallowing etc. Can recommend searching for Dr Jack Newman, very useful.

Otherwise, make sure once your baby is here you get the time and space you need to establish it. You have 2 tasks after the birth, feeding and resting. Don't put any pressure on yourself and enjoy your baby - however you get the milk down them, they're amazing!

2wwmadness Thu 29-Sep-11 13:45:11

The midwife has classed me as "venerable" (which I wish they would change the wording of!!!) but because I don't have any family or friends with children close by I atomatically get places in the groups. I'm 12 weeks so to early to go yet but will go. Sure start as well (which I think is different) I'm going to keep reading and doing research.
In another note, I am the only one out of our group of 8 friends where in from without children. There is only 1 who breastfed (or even attempted to) I find that odd? I thought it was because it hurt that they wouldn't do it? Why would you bit try? (again, stupid questions sorry)

stillfrazzled Thu 29-Sep-11 13:57:34

I bf DS1 for seven months, DS2 and I are still going strong after nearly nine months - despite his first three weeks in SCBU where I had to express every three hours until he was strong enough and big enough to feed - and hand on heart, it hasn't caused me a minute's pain. Weird prickly feelings, the toe-curling let-down feelings yes, but no real pain.

I did have a slight problem with the latch for DS1 so I am hugely in favour of finding a bf group with a properly trained advisor. Kellymom is brilliant, as is the Analytical Armadillo - Google her or find her on Facebook.

Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out, but if it does, I've found it to be a fabulous experience - free, convenient and, especially with DS2, comforting to know he's getting exactly what nature intended him to have.

Until they start teething. try not to think about that yet grin

Good luck!

rememberingnothing Thu 29-Sep-11 13:58:26

LLL often do specific ante natal meetings but every meeting can be helpful to meet mums and have fun.

I was surprised when I thought about it how few women I had really SEEN breastfeeding. There is always someone feeding at LLL, once you spend time with women feeding it really does feel a lot more normal and comfortable doing it yourself.

Good luck.

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 29-Sep-11 13:59:56

Slightly odd wording I agree, but at least it seems to be working in your favour by getting you places.

Think there are lots of reasons why people don't try or give up. Things like breasts are seen as sexual objects, lack of training for MWs and HVs, just lots and lots of reasons. The important thing though isn't what others do its what you do. I was in a very similar position regarding friends when I had DC1. All my friends had already had children and the longest anyone had bf for was 2 weeks.

The best things you can do is get yourself some support, like the Bfing Support Groups/NCT Groups/NCT Antenatal Classes that have already been suggested and get yourself well informed. Haven't read the book that Eau recommended but know that its well regarded amongst bfers. Lastly make sure you know where to go and who to ring if you have a problem.

On the social side if you are lucky your local surestart centre might offer things like a sensory room, singing sessions, baby massage or swimming sessions which are all usually fairly cheap. Also, check out your local library and swimming pool to see what they offer for you and baby and find out where your local playgroups are. Lots of Mums-to-Be come along to our playgroup and there are mats, bouncy chairs and toys for LO when they arrive.

As for the NCT Antenatal Classes, they usually recommend that you book after your 12 week scan as classes fill up quickly. They do charge but you can get reductions for things like low income and you can pay in installments too if that helps. Find out too what your local NCT offers for Parents-to-Be as some offer regular groups where you can meet other Parents-to-Be in your area.

rememberingnothing Thu 29-Sep-11 14:00:41

oh it didn't hurt me except once when I let DD1 fall asleep with my nipple in her mouth (day 3 I think) and then fell asleep myself. 2 hours later it was a bit sore.

Got better and 4 1/2 years of constant breastfeeding later (with 2 and bit of those tandem feeding) I can honestly say it's great.

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