All new moms who plan to breastfeed should know the truth about breastfeeding pain. These are the things I wish someone had told me before my first baby was born.
So here’s the thing about motherhood. Every single person (and I do mean every.single.person.) on the face of this Earth, whether complete stranger or close family member, wants to give you advice when you have a baby. The best part? Nobody ever really tells you anything that’s helpful.
It’s always the same old cliches. The things you so desperately wish people would stop saying to you.
“It goes by so fast”
“Enjoy them while they’re at this stage”
“Sleep when the baby sleeps”
These little nuggets of wisdom are great and all, but when you’re in the thick of it – and I mean bleeding nipples, endless crying (baby and you), constantly covered in your own milk – in the thick of it, cliches will only get you so far.
There are so many things I wish I would have known before I ever breastfed my first child.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding is one of those things you sort of have to live in order to believe. That being said, I hope this post can provide you with some insight and prepare you for what lies ahead.
More Breastfeeding Tips & Advice
What I really wish someone would have told me?
Marla, when you first start to breastfeed, it will feel like Wolverine’s retractable claws are being forcibly extracted from your nipples. And sorry mama, I am not exaggerating.
So here I am, relaying that message to all new moms everywhere. Ladies, when a well-meaning friend tells you that “breastfeeding hurts at first,” just slap her across the face, grab her shoulders and say, “what is wrong with you?”
Not only would this well-meaning friend be providing you with the grossest understatement, they are also setting you up for THE MOST unhappy surprise.
The Truth About Breastfeeding Pain
About a month before my first baby was born, my husband and I sat through a 2 HOUR LONG class on breastfeeding, with first time moms and veterans, and not one single person said, “oh by the way, breastfeeding pain is unlike any pain you’ve ever felt in your life (besides the pain of childbirth).”
I often thought to myself, “am I missing something here?” Am I just extremely wimpy and everyone else has nipples made of steel? I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Right?
It wasn’t until a few days into this world of excruciating breastfeeding pain that I met with a lactation consultant who described this pain as “trucks being pulled from your breast.” Thank you! Where were her accurate words when I needed them? Preach.
But here’s the real catch, even if you’re “doing it right” it will still hurt. Think about it. Your body has never performed this action before. Your uterus is shrinking every time you breastfeed (a whole other pain entirely), and your new little person is nursing around the clock – hello, sore nipples!
While your mom-friends or relatives may be well-meaning, I will most certainly give it to you straight, breastfeeding is not for the weak of spirit.
Those first few postpartum days are rough, as any new mom can attest to. You are pretty much a hot mess from giving birth, and you may or may not feel like you got hit by a semi-truck, and now you have a newborn who needs you for survival, and you have to feed them from your body? And lots and lots of white wine is off the table for the time being? I’m telling you mama, prepare yourself now.
Now, for some relief…
After a few weeks, you will really start to get the hang out of it. So although you may want to call it quits, just know it gets better. Sooner or later the breastfeeding pain will fade, and it will simply become second nature.
My point here is not to scare anyone or to steer anyone in the other direction. Just the opposite actually. My point is tell it like it is. When you’re pregnant, some people will try to sugarcoat everything for you because you’re just this delicate flower (with gas?). But sometimes, you just need the truth. This would be that time. In summation, unless you have nipples of steel, breastfeeding pain can be unbearable, but it doesn’t last forever.
Actionable Steps to Take
1. Check out this incredible breastfeeding resource. It’s a self-paced online course full of videos, priceless tips, and packed with information on everything you need to know about breastfeeding. When I found this resource, I actually had a laugh-until-I-cried moment because it was honestly just everything. When I came across this course I was already well into nursing my second child and I still found things I didn’t know! Just promise me you’ll check it out.
2. Find a lactation consultant. Someone who will actually show you how to position your baby and get a good latch. The midwife where I gave birth had a lactation consultant on staff who was available to meet with for free. Can’t beat that.
3. Try out different positions. There is no single correct position to breastfeed. While the cradling position is popular, and easiest to do in public, lying side-by-side may work better for you at home – it did for me!
4. Read this post which shares the 10 Things No One Tells You About Breastfeeding. It’s packed with interesting information that you won’t read anywhere else.
5. Take it easy on yourself. Nothing about what you’re going through, or about to go through, is simple. It takes getting used to. It takes time. But you will get the hang of it.