You’ve probably heard tales of cracked, sore nipples from breastfeeding mothers or even experienced the pain yourself. There are many women who say, “I stopped breastfeeding because it hurt too much.” But, if you are breastfeeding correctly it will not hurt. That bears repeating. If you are breastfeeding correctly, it will not hurt. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for breastfeeding to be painful and difficult particularly in the beginning for new mothers. Good positioning and correct latch-on are key to helping you breastfeed correctly and cherish the precious time with your baby.
Although breastfeeding is a mother’s choice to do what she feels is best for both her and her baby, if you do choose to breastfeed, you should know how to do it correctly. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to find the crucial support you need. Most women experience breastfeeding difficulty at some point, so you should not feel embarrassed, nervous or anxious about seeking help. Whether you reach out to another mom who is successfully breastfeeding their baby, a nurse for help before you leave the hospital, or a board-certified lactation consultant, it is important you begin breastfeeding correctly so you can continue to be comfortable.
There are several ways to hold your baby as you breastfeed. You may find that you need to try a variety of them until you and your baby are both comfortable. The most common positions include the football hold, cradle hold, and cross-cradle hold. Another popular position for nursing is side-laying. This is particularly comfortable if you have had a C-section. When you are properly positioned you will not experience a sore back, shoulders or breasts, and your baby will be able to properly latch on.
Properly Latching On
A common misconception is that breastfeeding is all about the nipple when it is, in fact, about how your baby latches onto the areola. Your baby should open his mouth as wide as possible (cup your hand under your breast to help the baby latch on, if necessary) which stimulates milk production and avoids sore nipples. If your baby is constantly sucking on the nipple, you can encourage him to open his mouth wider by placing a clean finger in his mouth and persuading him to suck wider.
A labor nurse can help you start nursing within minutes of giving birth. By learning how to help your baby latch on properly, you are less likely to experience pain and soreness. It is in your best interest to get a good handle on breastfeeding before you are discharged from the hospital. Do not hesitate to ask any questions. The nurses and board certified lactation consultants have heard every question and have seen ever scenario, so don’t be afraid to utilize your time with them.
Rest assured that even if you and your baby do not breastfeed beautifully from the start, most mothers have the technique down by the second week. The good news is, newborns eat frequently so you will have plenty of time to practice getting it right.