Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing” they said; “it’s easy”, they said. Yes it is beautiful and easy but let’s be real; in the beginning it hurts like hell and it is nowhere near easy, at least for me it wasn’t. When I first began breastfeeding my oldest, I thought to myself why the hell didn’t anyone tell me how difficult this was. I struggled with latching, sore, cracked and bleeding nipples, lumps in my breast from clogged milk ducts, and so on. I started thinking to myself are moms faking in all the pictures I see of them smiling as they nurse their babies. The pain I was feeling was not a joyful matter. I dreaded the moment when I would have to feed my daughter. So many times I wanted to quit and throw in the towel, but I encouraged myself to stick with it and honestly, it did get better. I can now relate to all the mothers in the pictures smiling as they breastfeed their babies. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took a little bit of trial and error and thinking of new ways to cope with the pain. Now with two breastfed babies under my belt I thought I would share with other mothers some of the difficulties I experienced and how I overcame them.
It Takes Time
First things first, becoming comfortable with breastfeeding takes time. I’ll be real with you, it took me about a good month or two before I became comfortable with my first and a good three months with my second mainly because I developed thrush in one of my breast (thrush is a common yeast infection that can develop in the baby’s mouth and be passed when breastfeeding). Now that was one of the most painful experiences in my life. I had shooting breast pains and burning nipples. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. My daughter and I had to receive prescribed medication by our doctors to help treat it. I also tried to let my nipples air out as much as possible to help prevent moisture. Luckily, thanks to the medication it cleared up in no time and I was then able to enjoy breastfeeding again.
In the beginning of breastfeeding my first, I suffered from sore nipples that were cracked and bleeding. It was definitely not a pretty sight. The excruciating pain I would feel every time I nursed was discouraging and I was ready to give up. I couldn’t take this anymore, but I really wanted to give my daughter the “Liquid Gold”, so I decided to take a break from breastfeeding and feed my daughter pumped milk. Now I know a lot of lactation specialist probably wouldn’t recommend this because they claim it can cause an oversupply in milk and nipple confusion, but my daughter had no trouble at all going from the bottle back to the boob. By doing this it gave my nipples a break and time to heal since the pump is not as powerful as your baby’s mouth. After about a week of constantly applying Aloe Vera gel, my nipples were healed and I was ready to try latching my daughter on again and to my surprise it was a success. (Side note, Aloe Vera gel is extremely helpful in healing cracked nipples, just make sure you rinse it off before pumping or breastfeeding as it can cause diarrhea in your little one.)
Clogged Milk Ducts
Another difficulty I faced, with both of my girls, was clogged milk ducts. Now those of my fellow mothers that have experienced this know it’s not fun. That small hard lump can become very tender and painful when touched. Two things that I found to help very effectively is nursing on all fours and using a diaper as a warm compress. Yes, I know they both sound crazy but when massaging the clog duct ain’t working you’ll be thanking me later when you try this method. Whenever I get a clogged milk duct, I will take one of my little one's diapers, open it up and pour some water inside and then place it in the microwave for a few seconds (please be careful as it can become hot really fast). Then I would take it out and apply it directly to the clogged milk duct. Girlllll when I tell you this is the best warm compress I have ever had, that diaper can hold heat longer than those breast therapy packs. After the compress, I would then get on all fours and lay my daughter directly underneath me to nurse. By doing this the gravity helped remove the clogged duct.
Oh and don’t let me forget about nipple blebs. I swear, between both of my girls I was experiencing almost every difficulty I could when it came to breastfeeding. For those that have never experienced them, they are tiny milk-filled blisters that form on the nipple, and they are painful AF. The fastest way I could remove it was by standing in the shower and while the hot water would hit it I would rub a warm washcloth over it. This took a few minutes, but the milk would finally break through and the pain was gone instantly.
Now after I probably scared you about all the difficulties I faced, trust me when I say breastfeeding my daughter now is a breeze. I honestly enjoy breastfeeding and find it easier and more convenient then formula feeding. Shoot, if it’s in the middle of the night and my daughter wakes up crying for some milk, I much rather whip the boob out and feed her then stumbling down the steps half sleep to make a bottle. Plus, I am a strong advocate of the “side-lying position” which easily helps me get through those nights with multiple interruptions. (If you have no idea what I am talking about, please google it, trust me you will LOVE it.) So I’m happy I stuck with it and actually gave breastfeeding a chance. I know many of you may be sitting there thinking I just can’t do it, I can’t take it anymore, but believe me when I say this too shall pass. The pain will not last forever and in no time you will be a pro. You too can be like all the moms we see in the pictures smiling as they breastfeed their babies.