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Author Topic: DOES BREAST FEEDING REALLY HURT?  (Read 68983 times)
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« on: December 27, 2012, 06:50:48 PM »

I'm having my first baby in April and at the beginning of my pregnancy I was so sure I wanted to just breast feed but as I get more and more closer to the due date I'm second guessing my self because a lot of people tell me that breast feeding hurts. Should I breast feed one day and feed him formula the next or just breast feed or just formula? I'm honestly not up for the pain!

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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 07:21:42 PM »

I'll be honest:  Breastfeeding CAN hurt.  It doesn't always, and many people don't have any pain whatsoever when they breastfeed.  I'm a member of the LLL, and I recently brought up that breastfeeding did hurt for me at the beginning with each of my children, and it wasn't because of a bad latch or anything like that.  It really bothered me that their response was things like, "well it shouldn't", or "some women have a higher pain tolerance than others".  Hello, I just gave birth naturally for each of my kids, obviously I'm willing to tolerate pain for the greater good.  I did tolerate the pain for a bit.  But I will give you this good news:  IF it hurts at all, it doesn't last long.  If you can make it through the first couple of weeks, it almost never goes beyond that.  Your breasts just need a chance to adapt to the process, they'll toughen up/adapt, and then it doesn't hurt anymore.  Oh what a beautiful gift to give your baby!  It's worth it.  Yes, it did hurt me at first, but after that initial adaption period, I really enjoy breastfeeding my children.  There are so many nutritional benefits.  There are bonding benefits.  In "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" they pose the question:  Would you rather have your baby get the nutritional benefits of breastmilk from a bottle every 3 hours, or give your baby formula from your breasts and have the bonding experience of being able to respond to your baby's cues.  There is no right answer to that question, but I would choose the formula with the bonding experience, even if it came with the initial pain during the first couple of weeks- one week of pain adapting and one week recovering from soreness.  Seriously, I really do enjoy breastfeeding.
My advice is to try to make it two weeks.  I've never heard of it hurting past that unless there was some kind of complication.


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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 09:08:52 PM »

I may have been lucky, but it was never that painful, annoying and somewhat uncomfortable at times, yes. They will hopefully catch on pretty quick, and everything will go smoothly.


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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 09:15:56 PM »

I nursed for almost 18 months and I can't remember pain but I know that i had it at times. Going back and forth between breast and formula will hurt more because your breasts will become engorged then not have enough then enforced again.
It will take a little bit of time for your nipples to toughen up but after a week or so they should adjust. I did have a few days of pain when my son cut each new tooth because his latch changed.
We did battle thrush (yeast infection) and that was quite painful but not a standard issue for most women.
If you do have pain you would be best consulting with a lactation consultant. There could be a latch issue or thrush or something else.

All in all I never once thought of quitting. I let my son self wean. And I will not hesitate to nurse again.


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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 09:46:19 PM »

For me mostly the first 3 days hurt. Now it is much better, sometimes I have even very pleasant feelings during breastfeeding smile

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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 11:47:39 PM »

My wife and I breastfed, and I didn't feel any pain.  Sorry...  Just had to throw that in there from a man's perspective.  At the doctors office, we are asked if she is still breastfeeding, and I always respond...  "Yes, we are".

In all seriousness though.  The lactation nurses will tell you something like what Tamsyn just criticized other people about.  or at least they did for us. (Yes, still talking like I'm part of the team).

One thing that I do know though....  Buying one of those clear plastic shields really did help.  it lessened the pain significantly.  I'll let one of the mothers here debunk that idea if it's not always true.

Something my wife also did was buy a Medela breast pump  (the one that attached to the bra so you can walk around doing other things at the same time (multitasking))!  The pump we have has lasted thru twins and a baby girl, and it's still going strong.

At night, my wife pumps, and I feed the baby breastmilk from a bottle.  Of course, there were plenty of times when the baby did physically breastfeed.

The benefits of breastfeeding are enormous.  Every mother is different and ultimately it is up to you.  My wife and I would like to encourage you to breastfeed!   nowink

« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 12:09:07 AM by Humbler9 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2012, 12:11:14 AM »

My wife and I breastfed, and I didn't feel any pain. 


To answer your question? YES!  BUT, I am a super weenie when it comes to pain apparently. I took natural childbirth classes for weeks, got special permission to bring a birthing tub to the (very conventional) hospital, was geeked up for natural childbirth and planned to breastfeed. In the end, those preparations were for nothing because I had an epidural as soon as humanly possible after arriving at the hospital. I was certain I was ready to deliver any moment when I got there....I was like 3 CM.  LOL Labored for 24 hours and it ended in a c-section. BUT enough about that!  tongue

Since I my birth plan didn't turn out the way I intended, I was DETERMINED to nurse. Nothing was going to stop me! I met with the lactation consultants in the hospital and then hired one a few weeks later. I read "if it hurts, you're doing something wrong" so I was certain I wasn't doing it right....B.S! I remember crying during every single feeding session (being hormonal didn't help either I'm sure) due to pain, a baby that couldn't get her stuff together either, and the frustration of it all. The thing that finally saved me was a nursing shield by Medela. I actually bought 1 or 2 extra b/c I couldn't nurse without it for a few months and they are clear, which makes it so easy to misplace them in plain sight. After a while, we just didn't need it anymore. It helped with the pain immensely in the beginning but using them has a learning curve of it's own, be forewarned. It was so worth it!

I did a combination of pumping and nursing, especially in the beginning, but I was and still am so PROUD that through the adversity, my kid didn't have any formula. It's not the end of the world if babies have it, but it was important to me that I was triumphant after such a lousy birth experience.  It wasn't until I got pg again and my milk dried up some (which is normal) that I had to supplement. But I ended up nursing #1 for nearly 2 years and #2 for about 8-9 months. He wasn't as into it and tandem nursing wore me out.

The short version. It hurt, it sucked big time, but we found our groove and it was totally worth it in the end!


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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2012, 12:57:47 AM »

I am a long term breastfeeder, my son is 2 years and 2 months old and I don't really have any plans to stop until he's ready to himself. I exclusively breastfed for the first 5-6 months of his life and yeah it did hurt at first because I didn't know how to get him to latch on. Like TmT and Tamsyn, I had planned a natural homebirth, but ended up with an epidural and forceps in hospital, which apparently leaves baby too groggy to latch on as soon as born. That first instinct to latch is important if you can achieve it. Anyway I found getting help from a breastfeeding expert (provided free the NHS if you're in the UK) really helped me learn how to position him for a good latch. Soon I was breastfeeding discreetly while walking to around town with DS in a sling smile

Don't worry, relax, its a lot more of a natural instinct and process than bottle feeding. But be prepared to do what it takes to get through any tough bits, pretty soon you'll find out its the most beautiful bond (and behaviour management tool!) you've got with your LO smile

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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 12:59:37 AM »

Oh boy, rereading my post sounds super discouraging. Surely the other Moms here are not nearly as dramatic about it as I am!  LOL  Really, don't be discouraged, I am so, so glad I did it with both kids. I wanted to come back and post this thing, the BEST nursing pillow! The boppy was nice to put the baby in (supervised) or just cuddle them with, but when trying to coordinate nursing and having the pillow slipping was so frustrating. The baby would slip in the "gap" as the pillow shifted. And when you finally get the baby latched and in position, you're like "Quick! Nobody move, we're dooooooooing this!!!"   big grin

So, like anything, for me isolating the tricky skills helped (focusing on working on latch) and NOT worrying about the stupid pillow! Here's the pillow I used, the "My Brest Friend Pillow (dumb name, great product). It clicks around your waist for a secure fit and it provides a semi firm surface to work on You can remove the cover for washing although it is a minor pain to get it zipped back in. The Baby Depot at Burlington Coat Factory sells them if you are in the states, it's been a few years, they may carry them at other retailers now, too.

Dang, they make LOTS of cool stuff now!

And I found some other ones with a belt, which I found to be one of the most important parts, in case you can't find that first one in your area.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 01:24:23 AM by TeachingMyToddlers » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2012, 05:27:46 AM »

Well TmT looks like you're going to have to go back & have another one just to get to try out all the new equipement, ha ha.

I had a similar disappointing/ not according to my plan birth experience & I was also very determined to breast feed. Now I'll share my story but everyone is different - some people experience pain, others infection. But IMHO if you can give birth you can do anything.

It took my litle guy 11 days to figure out how to latch on, I'm in central America & it was just me & the internet trying to figure out what I was doing wrong (a plastic shield helped us too). I don't think we were doing anything wrong per se, just it took a while for my little boy to figure it out. Once he did learn it really really hurt, a few seconds of toe curling pain each time he latched on for the first maybe 2 days, I would want to tear him off but couldn't since I had just spent an hr of him (us) crying trying to get him latched on.  wacko I didn't supplement which for me would have been the beginning of the end. Once he did latch on, he was there for an hr & then very content for 2-3hrs, then an hr of frustration again.

(Embarrasingly....) Despite my medical background I didn't know how to dislatch him... you put your pinkie in btwn your breast & his mouth to break the suction. I just pulled him off till my Mum explained to me that there was a better way... Yes, that REALLY hurt.  LOL

From day 12 it was so easy & from day 14 no pain at all. So 11 hard days for 14 months of sweet time together, we sang, read, rocked... & I could closet myself away from the busyness of the world & it just be us.

Ultimately so so worth it, so very special. You need a good support system even if they are on the other side of the world, who understand that to mention formula to you is on pain of death.  smile  My husband was great, he understood how important it was to me & it was to him too. We were worried about things like dehydration living in the tropics but he was such a contented little thing, it probably helped that we didn't have a bunch of experts to hand! Most people I know (friends/ patients) who begin to supplement usually end up dropping breasfeeding all together & I always feel a little sad for them.

It is a little daunting at first then it just seems like the most natural thing in the world & what on earth were you worrying about in the first place? Take a day at a time & you'll do fine.

All the best,

P.S Lasinoh nipple cream, a breastfeeder's best friend smile

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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2012, 05:44:42 AM »

I completely agree with Tamsyn, Humbler, and TMT. It does hurt at the start but I reckon that's because our nipples aren't used to the friction from our baby's tongue. It takes a while for the skin to toughen up and then it doesn't hurt any more. Like TMT, I also thought I was doing something wrong because it hurt. Luckily, I had a friend who went through it all before me and her encouragement was what kept me going. She said, and I quote, "Just tell yourself everyday: 'Just one more day'." Before you know it, you'll be breastfeeding like a pro.

If you find you can't tolerate the pain, I also recommend what Humbler said - use the nipple shield. It really helped me as well. The other thing I used was Bepanthen ointment. It can be used as a diaper cream or for applying to sore/cracked nipples. I would apply a little on after every feed. It's formulated for this purpose so you don't have to wipe it off before your baby nurses again.

I nursed my elder boy all the way through my second pregnancy so when I started nursing my second child, I didn't have any pain the second time around. My cousin who stopped, said she felt the pain again at the start but it goes away pretty quick after.

The thing is to make sure you have a proper latch (you can get the lactation consultant to check) so you know it isn't hurting because of incorrect attachment. After that, it's just a matter of time before the pain goes away. Hang in there. It's really really worth it. I find it easier to bf because I don't have to get up at night to fiddle with milk bottles and making sure the temperature is right. I even fall asleep while I'm nursing (we co-sleep). Sometimes it's so automatic, I'll wake up to find my son suckling and I don't remember waking up to nurse him.

I also do NOT recommend alternating - as in one day bf and one day formula. The way breastfeeding works is that the milk is produced on demand. If your baby doesn't suckle, your body makes less milk. This is the biggest mistake of a lot of mothers here - they think they do not have enough milk and then they supplement with formula thinking that it just takes time for their breastmilk to come in but they don't realise that they are sabotaging their milk supply in the process.

What I also recommend is having a strong support - people who fully support your decision to breastfeed. It's a tough time, especially the first time around. You don't need people criticising you or telling you why you should formula feed. Tell your hubby to deal with these people (get rid of them) and surround yourself only with those who support you. The hardest part I experienced was having an overbearing relative breathing down my neck and making unhelpful comments like, "Oh, he's so angry because he can't get any milk." And this is all while I'm struggling to get my baby to latch on properly. Also make sure your hubby is fully on board. With all the naysayers around us, even my hubby was a bit uncertain at times.

So hang in there. It really, really is worth it.


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« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2012, 06:20:31 AM »

Something else I wanted to add- They gave us formula in the hospital as a sample in the standard giveaway diaper bag full of coupons, etc. I got rid of it immediately, either sent it back or threw it away, I can't remember. I got an unsolicited sample in the mail at home as well, I also got rid of it immediately. If you don't keep it in the house, it takes a LOT more effort to get up and go to the store in a moment of desperation versus just reaching in the pantry and pull it out. If it had been in the house, things might have ended poorly for us.

Once we got the hang of it, I did keep a single use already prepped bottle or two in the trunk for the times DH took DD out by himself (rarely). I always sent him with expressed BM but my motherly instinct had me worried he would spill it or something and leave my sweet baby starving, or maybe he would  stay out longer than intended or run into another emergency situation. Yes, he could have bought some, but well, I know my hubby and know that I have to make it as easy as possible on him and God forbid he get stranded on the side of the road or something with a hungry baby.

If you find yourself giving pumped bottles from the fridge, never microwave them! Breast milk is "alive" and the microwave kills a lot of the properties that make it so amazing, including being antibacterial. Just heat it enough to take the edge off in a pan of water or under the hot running tap while it sits in a cup or bowl. Lastly, Shen Li is so right! When it comes to nursing, "the more you take, the more you make." In the beginning, I suffered from oversupply, particularly at night and would get so uncomfortable. So after nursing DD, I would pump one or both sides. Sure, I had a fridge full of milk on hand if I needed it but I didn't realize at the time that I was training my body to keep making that much milk at night! Once I educated myself, I slowly discontinued the nighttime pumping and dealt with the discomfort. My supply was able to regulate within a week or so if I remember correctly and I didn't have to deal with that anymore! If you let yourself get too engorged, it can be difficult for baby to latch on and sometimes it helps to take a little off the top so to speak and hand express into a bottle or towel. Same goes for if you have a super strong initial flow.

Also wanted to add- check with your dr/lactation consultant, but one of the most common herbs to help boost your milk supply is Fenugreek. Be forwarned, you'll smell like maple syrup  laugh  but I found it to be effective.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 06:27:37 AM by TeachingMyToddlers » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2012, 06:32:30 AM »

One of my favorite articles on this subject- yet another reason why BF'ing rocks!


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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2012, 01:33:20 PM »

My son is 22 months and I am still breastfeeding. It never really hurt for me apart from a bit sore from the growth spurts (my son feed non stop during growth spurts). I exclusively breasfeed for the first 6-7 months and he still feeding a lot. I don't have any plans to stop until my son wants to. I am definitely seeing the benefit of breastfeeding as he's hardly ever ill and is growing tall and strong ( 97th percentile on all measures) and we are very close.

Highly recommended.


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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2012, 04:18:22 PM »

Oh yes, I had the same problem initially as TMT, too - oversupply. I also made the same mistake of pumping to relieve the pressure. Felt like I had rocks in there. I was told you can place a cabbage leaf over your breast (

We were lucky over here with formula samples. The hospital I was at had a breastfeeding policy so they weren't allowed to give out samples or even feed our babies formula unless we'd signed a form to show that we OK'd it. The Ministry of Health here promotes breastfeeding so even the formula promoters at the supermarkets have to leave me alone if I tell them I breastfeed. They're not allowed to push their products to breastfeeding mothers.

I did have overbearing relatives who said I should keep a tin of formula on hand "just in case". I was so scared that they would sabotage me and feed my baby formula while I was sleeping that I forbade the hubby from buying a tin. I got rid of all the bottles we were given, too, just to make it that much harder. Yes, I was very determined to breastfeed and very paranoid about sabotage (because it happened to a number of other mothers I knew).

Also, KellyMom was my main "goto" site for information on breastfeeding. Anything I wasn't sure about (e.g. what meds are okay to take, problems with mastitis, etc.) It's awesome! Check it out here:


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