Monday, November 21, 2011

Breastfeeding Trouble and Solutions

I feel like I haven't written any helpful, informative posts lately. My early blogging days were full of them! (Omg, I am such a helpful person.) My faithful readers return day after day, just to hear me blab away. (Oh look, I'm a poet too.) To them I say, thanks! Y'all are so sweet to leave comments and keep coming back despite my sometimes boring updates. Your inspiration and support means a lot! Okay, now that I've left the Grammy's stage...

I need to get back on track today and focus on my original theme. I must clear away the non-essentials and simplify, kind of like how the junk removal company does it out in Texas. (You have to say that in an accent like Rick Perry, and then add on "ice cream.") So my topic for today is purely informative, for women, and postpartum related: breastfeeding troubles!

Any nursing mother out there can probably relate to some discomfort while breastfeeding. Whether it be that initial latch shortly following birth, or aching cramps, aka afterbirth pains, brought on by feedings, breastfeeding can be painful! With Little Olive, breastfeeding was more or less uneventful. Tricky at first, but smooth sailing after that. However, I had a rough time breastfeeding Little Huck for a few days. It began with the usual sensitivity when he was first born. But over the next few days, nursing became excruciatingly painful. It felt like Little Huck was biting me with razor-sharp teeth. He wasn't doing anything wrong, but the pain was just getting worse. I would cry sometimes when he'd latch on. As it turned out, my nipple was cracked and bleeding; I didn't know what to do. Thank God for moms. Here are some tips my Mom passed along that healed me up within days.

1) Don't wear a bra. Instead, wear a very loose shirt to allow as much air as possible onto your skin. I wore one of my husband's shirts around the house until we had a visitor. Then I'd change into more appropriate clothes - but only as long as was necessary.

2) When I'd go out and needed a bra, I would make sure to change my nursing pads as often as possible to keep the skin dry. Nursing pads tend to trap moisture close to the skin, which keeps the nipples sensitive and tender.

3) Soak several wash cloths and keep them in the freezer. When it's time for a feeding, press the cloth onto your skin for a few minutes beforehand to a) help numb the tenderness and b) make the nipple stick out a little better. This will help the baby latch on much easier, so that the nipple doesn't roll inbetween hard gums (seriously, one of the most painful things ever).

4) After a feeding, cover the nipple with lanolin cream. Lanolin is waxy fat from lamb's wool, and it is known for its healing, protective, and moisturizing properties. I would also use this before a shower to keep the hot water and steam from aggravating the skin. It is safe for a baby to ingest (though mine certainly didn't like the taste - in this case, just gently wipe it away before a feeding), so you don't have to worry about it harming your little one.
5) Drink before/during a feeding. And by drink, yes, I mean alcohol! It will help calm and relax you. And after nine months of fasting, it might make you a little tipsy, easing the pain. Regardless, you deserve a nice beer or glass of wine!

6) If you have a pump, don't feel bad if you have to use it for a few minutes when your milk "comes in". Sometimes the breasts become engorged, and it's difficult for the baby to latch on. (Sounds like a nice problem, but it's really no fun.) Once some milk has been expressed, the breast will be a little softer. If you can express by hand, go right ahead.

So these are some tips, but if you know of any others, please share them below! We can all help each other out. Have a nice evening, everyone!


Natalie said...

GREAT tips, Maggie. Nursing was excruciating for me with baby #1 for months. It's always remained uncomfortable (which is annoying because I know how to get a good latch... it's just my darn nerve sensitivity), but tips like these help me get through! I've been getting more and more engorged with each baby, though, and next time I think I will have to buy or rent a pump, because that was the worst thing with baby #4. The same thing happened to my mom, though - so thank the Lord for moms who know some tips for relief... and have been there themselves!

Soft nursing pads, like Lansinoh Extra Soft, are something else that I've found very helpful when I simply must wear a bra. They were even softer than my washable cotton pads. Otherwise I just hold a burp cloth or blanket under my shirt on the opposite side, because I don't have to put much pressure on it and it hurts less than a bra. Now if only I could find relief from painful letdowns... any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Hi Maggie, it's Caitlin. Love reading your posts... you have a wonderful blog! Just wanted to say that this post really hit home, since Stephen and I have run the gamut of nursing problems over the past month. For any new moms reading, don't be afraid to ASK FOR HELP. It's easy to feel silly for not being *able* to nurse, but it's more common than people realize to have nursing issues. Just wanted to put my two cents in! :)

Maggie said...

@ Natalie, I still have painful letdowns so if someone has any tips, please share!

@ Caitlin, agreed! Seasoned moms make it look so easy! But it can take a while to figure things out. One reason I'm thankful it wasn't a flawless experience for me is so that now I can empathize with other mommas!