Experience makes perfect
When I was pregnant with Catalina I spent hours doing research about everything I needed to know for when my baby arrived. I read and read about labor & delivery, about parenting, about sleeping techniques and about breastfeeding. I wanted to know everything I could possibly know and breastfeeding was a big issue for me because my mother had tried to breastfeed each and every one of us (we are 12 children) and was never able to. So I wanted to be prepared and know if I had milk, how to breastfeed, how the milk had to be, how much milk my baby needed, pumping..etc.
Once I delivered Catalina, all the knowledge I acquired doing research went out the window. Clearly, I knew nothing. Nothing can prepare you for motherhood, except to be willing. Be willing to go through stuff you don’t understand or don’t want to go through, and do it out of love. That is the only thing that matters and the only thing that helped me to be okay during the times I had no clue of what was going on.
A week before giving birth I manually tried to pump to see if I had milk (and honestly, to try to induce labor haha it didn’t work at all) and to my surprise I had Colostrum which is the “pre-milk”, it looked like a transparent honey. After delivery I put Catalina straight to my nipple and I tried to get her to latch. To my surprise she latched instantly. Her latch was very good and strong. It wasn’t hurting me–Voila! I thought everything was over! Little did I know it was just starting!
During the 3 days I spent at the hospital I attended a breastfeeding class and once again they explained everything about breastfeeding and how I had to latch the baby etc. Then it happened. It started to hurt.
I asked for a nipple cream and I asked for help to latch her correctly because every time I mentioned it hurt me they would tell me it was because I was not doing it right. I felt it was my fault. The breastfeeding counselor told me that if it hurt it meant I was doing it wrong. Well, that stressed me out so much. Until today, I still don’t think that is true. I talked to a bunch of mothers and they all said it hurt them at the beginning so maybe it is the way it is. I am not sure, but one thing is for sure: If breastfeeding hurts you it is not your fault. It is nobody’s fault. You don’t need to feel like you are doing something wrong.
I went home and for a week and a half I was in pain. To the point that if the baby cried I would start crying too just thinking that I had to feed her. Also, postpartum hormones didn’t help. I was sore and I was bleeding and even if I put nipple cream on, it still hurt. The good news was that I did have milk, tons of it. The milk had come about 2 days after leaving the hospital. I sent my husband to buy all types of breastfeeding things, and after a week and a half I was ready to give up. I was going to start formula (and honestly, I don’t think there is nothing wrong in doing so if you can’t breastfeed). My mom had given formula to all of us and we are healthy and happy and nothing wrong had happened to us, so why not?
My aunt – who had a baby 3 weeks before I did – told me it also hurt her, but she had found a solution: A nipple shield. So I did more research. It didn’t seem like the best option since it was to correct latch and Catalina had an amazing latch. But it also said it helped to cure and prevent wounds so…what the heck, I tried it.
It saved my life. I wore it for about 2 or 3 weeks and after that I didn’t have to use it again. It was amazing. It still bothered me but it was nothing in comparison. I was able to continue breastfeeding (and I still am breastfeeding) and now I love it! Catalina is 4 months old and I can honestly say it is super convenient, relaxing and it connects you with your baby. Breastfeeding rocks!
I had no idea it was going to hurt like hell at the beginning (what a nightmare) but it was worth it. After 2 months or a month and a half I promise it doesn’t hurt at all anymore. My theory is that the mouth of the baby grows and your nipples get used to it. They say the first time breastfeeding its the hardest. Also I bet it depends on the baby. Never trust anyone that tells you that you are not trying hard enough. I tried breastfeeding Catalina in all positions possible, with all techniques possible and nothing. What no one told me was that maybe it was normal, and that it would go away.
So here it goes:
Don’t worry, you are a good mom! Try the nipple shield and pump to give it a rest. If the pain continues for a month, bottle feed your baby. IT IS OKAY. Obviously, it is better to breastfeed because it is the natural thing but it is also better to use formula rather than to be depressed and not enjoy the precious time with your brand new baby.
Here are some tips that helped me:
- Nipple Shield when necessary.
- think that It DOES stop hurting
- Pump when you need a break and don’t worry about nipple confusion.
- Use nipple cream (I used the Medela Tender Care Lanolin Tube)
- Use coconut oil (it also helps)
- If pumping hurts, check the size (there is different sizes)
BTW, In my experience (please, this is just my experience) nipple confusion does not exist. So use the pacifier if you are comfortable with it because it is amazing! My baby loves her paci.
If you liked this maybe you will like my labor & delivery experience and my postpartum tips.