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what is breastfeeding supposed to feel like?

(92 Posts)
Spink Sat 07-Feb-09 19:27:41

this might sound like a bit of a numpty question, but I'm wondering if it is really true that "if you're doing it right, it doesn't hurt".

In my own experience, it often HAS hurt, and I really don't know if that is because I have always done it 'wrong' or if I just have sensitive boobs / children with a particularly piranha-like approach shock
I breastfed ds til he was 14 months and am breastfeeding dd, who is 4 weeks, so I should know I guess blush - but if I'm honest, with ds it was horribly painful for the first few months and then was sometimes uncomfortable but always noticeable - a definite sucking/pulling sensation. Let down often stings. With dd, it was very sore for the first two weeks and now just uncomfortable at times. Apparently my (and my dc's) positioning and latch have always been fine.

For those of you who have found breastfeeding fairly straightforward, what does it feel like?? Is there any sensation at all? and where on the spectrum of comfort-discomfort is it?
Just want to make sure my expectations of what 'correct' breastfeeding should feel like are right...

fridascruffs Tue 10-Feb-09 21:39:59

my midwife described it as 'nipple caught in the doorlatch' and that's exactly what it was like for the first weeks. I discovered nipple protectors, silicon things you can buy in Boots for a couple of quid, they really relieved the pain and after the first few weeks it was not painful at all till they started biting at 13/15 months. Let-down itself never hurt for me. Perhaps some babies suck harder than others.

scubagirl Tue 10-Feb-09 21:57:33

absolutely agree with spicemonster even to the lansinoh recommendation. I fed both kids for 13 months and had a dreadful time with the first slightly better with the second until a few nasty bouts of mastitis knocked the smug grin off my face. A personal theory I developed was that its not you doing it wrong. When the baby gets a bit bigger and stronger they just latch on better. It's not just you who hasn't a clue what to do first time! Also a friend with twins had one great feeder and one terrible - that couldn't have been her fault! Its easier to blame yourself than a baby but let them share...after all they are getting the benefit of all your hard work.
oh and kilty...give it a go. I have some friends who had no pain and no problems. They are out there and you night be one of those happy people

sleeplessinstretford Tue 10-Feb-09 22:07:54

i described it as a 'ten second toe turner upper'while they get latched on at first-then it's just a nothing feeling-i really had to persevere though-have got celtic skin,big tits (am an E cup normally and was unable to see either of my children to get them latched on-oh,and really soft breasts too apparently-shitty combo) i wish people were more honest about it-for the majority of people it's not the most natural thing in the world-and when one is experiencing no sleep/poor supply\growth spurt etc and IMHO the answer to any breastfeeding issue is only ever going to be 'breastfeed more'which-if you're weeping through lack of sleep etc etc is the bloody LAST thing you need to hear!

independiente Wed 11-Feb-09 11:29:46

IME, teeth-grinding for up to a minute at latch-on for the first few weeks. Definitely painful, nothing to do with 'not doing it right'! Gradually got better, and for me, totally worth persisting with; I kept going for 18 months. However, I was really lucky that I had honest info from my community midwife and family members - so I was prepared for the pain and accepted it as my 'initiation' if you like! I think I would have been gutted to have been told that 'you are experiencing pain because you're doing it wrong'. No wonder some women feel like giving up at what is already an emotional (and knackering) time!

independiente Wed 11-Feb-09 11:34:34

Wanted to add, when I say 'persisting' - it sounds as if I was forcing myself to do it - not at all! I really liked breastfeeding after the initial period of 'settling in', it was a really special time.

Poledra Wed 11-Feb-09 11:55:18

Do you not find (those of you with more than one DC) that it also depends on the baby? DD2 was born knowing what to do to feed - after DD1 (terrible latch undiagnosed till NCT bfing counsellor came, cracked nipples, mastitis), it was a totally different experience. DD3 was different again, as she was in SCBU for a week and I had to express - the hospital electric pumps made my nipples sore in a different way, and I got blocked ducts which DD3 cleared up in no time once they let her feed from mesmile

Let-down was always described as a 'warm, tingly feeling' in everything I read but was more like horrible pins and needles across the top of my breasts.

biskybat Wed 11-Feb-09 12:59:16

Thought I'd add an alternative experience.
I didn't have a problem with latching and never found it painful. The letdown is intense at the beginning and I would say a little uncomfortable in the first couple of weeks when your milk is at its most abundant. The worst I felt was when my milk came in and I felt engorged and my breasts felt painful to touch but as soon as DD relieved the pressure, it was lovely.

I had a tube of lansinoh that has never been opened. This is just my experience though.

biskybat Wed 11-Feb-09 13:03:41

oops posted too soon...

for me breastfeeding after the letdown doesnt feel like much really. It is relaxing though. DD has never fed for more than 10 mins but it is a good chance to catch up on some reading smile

sundew Wed 11-Feb-09 13:10:49

I agree that babies are born different - for me it took a good 2 - 3 weeks to get breast feeding established with dd1 but dd2 was feeding like a trooper after 45 minutes and never looked back. That said for me even with dd2 BF hurt for th first couple of weeks - I can still remeber the toe curling sencsation nearly 5 years on! A lot of it is the latch though I found holding my boob, squeezing it and shoving it in DDs mouth as far as you could worked. It sounds brutal I know but worked for me smile.

Good luck

Raychill Wed 11-Feb-09 15:09:05

I hurt for a while especially on the right side. The first 3 months were quite painful. All reports from midwives/doctors etc what that she was latching on fine & all was good. They looked at me like I was making a lot of fuss about nothing. Baby certainly fed OK.

Eventually I met up with my step-Mum in NZ who is a mid-wife of over 30 years experience. She's given me the 'if it hurts your not doing it right' line too but once she met us she went "AHHHHH - the baby is slightly tounge-tied - no wonder it's been hurting you." No one had spotted it!

I fed up to 14 months - after 3 months the problems with toungue-tied stopped - I guess she grew out of it & grew bigger so it didn't matter.

beanbearer Wed 11-Feb-09 16:02:36

Had horrendous pain (fingernails-gauging palms, whole body spasming as ice splintered through my breasts) for the first few weeks. Completely agree that the double-whammy of "it hurts so you're doing it wrong" made it seem even worse. It is true that my position wasn't great - I was copying the books and holding DD straight across my body whereas eventually a BFC saw that my nipples pointed out sideways so each suck resulted in them being pulled through 45 degrees. That's what made them bleed. Once I adjusted her so her bottom was almost a foot from my body (chest still close), all healed quickly. But the ice-splintering sensation, which was harder to deal with than the nipple pain, was "just" letdown and lasted about 2 months. Gutted I missed out on the 'champagne-flowing through my breasts' sensation I've heard others describe! Maybe some of you pregnant ladies will get lucky.

LizaJ Wed 11-Feb-09 17:46:48

Hi there ladies - I totally hear your frustration at being told it shouldn't hurt if you're doing it right... I'm now finding bf dead easy, although I had a nightmare to start with. I got so frustrated at the nonsense talked about breastfeeding (even by the professionals) that I started looking into what the clinical research says about it (I work as a research scientist and am a member of HealthWatch), and found that a lot of the info out there is totally inaccurate. Have now started a blog (the truth about breastfeeding) in an attempt to spread the word!

scubagirl Wed 11-Feb-09 20:35:21

good for you LizaJ. mums need to know the truth. Despite my few nightmares I was really disappointed when both kids gave up on me at at 13 months. Also am I the only weirdo who quite liked the let down reflex feeling? not in an orgasmic sort of way more as a big wave of relief - I'll let you draw your own parallels to that feeling!

mummycat1 Wed 11-Feb-09 21:06:06

Rhubarb is right. I've had three children and breastfed them all and it hurt every time to start off with. I think your nipples just have to get used to being sucked at so vigourously! Once they toughen up it's fine and then eventually really nice. smile

Midwives etc. refuse to admit this simple truth which is wrong - women are not stupid and need to know what to expect. At the end of the day, you just want to know that your experience is normal and that you are doing ok.

notperfectmum Wed 11-Feb-09 22:52:40

Don't remember let down being painful with baby 1 but it has been with baby 2. Agree with Iatemakkapakka, Lanisohl helps - squeeze a blob onto a breastpad and let it soak into your skin - like a face pack for the nipples! I still remember the relief when I tried this 11 months ago! Good luck smile.

Spink Fri 13-Feb-09 08:53:32

i've just remembered - mw told me that, apart from let down, another reason that it can hurt lots esp at the start is that sucking is meant to elongate your nipples. which can smart a tad.. anyone else heard this or is it another bf myth?

eachpeach hello lady, thank you - pain did get a bit better and then i got mastitis so am feeling rubbish - the flu-ey side of it is actually worse than the boob pain tho. see you on postnat for more 1 handed typing adventures!!

LizaJ Sat 14-Feb-09 08:35:20

Yup, your nipples do stretch right back in the baby's mouth (I was shocked when I found out how much!), which is why you need to get plenty of boob in there. Initially there isn't much milk coming out, so your poor nip is taking the all the strain until letdown.

I also find letdown a relief scubagirl. It's funny - I couldn't feel it at all to begin with, and now I really notice it.

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