Breastfeeding Pain:: Why You Should SPEAK UP When it Hurts

Breastfeeding Pain:: Why You Should SPEAK UP When it Hurts | Houston Moms Blog
Breastfeeding pain is not normal, and moms who experience it should speak up and work with their doctor to find the cause and a solution.
Most first-time moms can probably relate to the feeling that breastfeeding is equally something you want to do more than anything for your child, and also you don’t really want to because it kind of freaks you out–and what if it hurts? It becomes this strange paradox of emotion in the beginning, and from what I have witnessed, you end up feeling one of three general ways by the end::
  1. You love, love, love it, and you feel so connected to your baby,
  2. It’s kinda gross and takes so much time and you honestly just did not enjoy it,
  3. Things just weren’t quite right and you wish you could have had the amazing experience you’ve heard about.
My personal feelings about it have been different with my two children because I didn’t know one simple truth the first time around:: BREASTFEEDING SHOULD NOT HURT. If it does, SPEAK UP.

I began breastfeeding my daughter in the hospital and saw two different lactation consultants that helped me and my girl figure out our technique. It was amazing the first time she latched, and I could feel my body springing into action to supply the exact nutrition she needed. At the time, I wasn’t as aware of the pain. I know I mentioned it at some point, but having just gone through labor and childbirth, pain had become pretty relative to me. The consultants told me that it might be “uncomfortable” at first. My other mommy friends had told me that it did hurt at first, so I just assumed breastfeeding pain was normal and it would get better. There was also this clicking sound she would make as she drank that can be indicative of a latching issue. Just to make sure, we had our baby girl checked for a tongue tie, and there was none to be found. We went home and I continued trying to do this natural, ancient way of feeding my child.

When the Breastfeeding Pain Won’t Go Away

But the breastfeeding pain did not go away. The initial latch wasn’t even the worst part, but it would hurt every. single. time. I’m talking teeth-gritting, eyes-watering PAIN. For months. It would take my breath away–in a very bad way, and I would have to brace myself for the “impact.” The worst part was when she would click and click and click and then lose her latch and just pinch down so hard, right where it hurt. Oftentimes in the early weeks, I would cry right along with my hungry baby because I didn’t want to feed her, knowing it was going to hurt. But at the same time, I desperately wanted to. 

One day while spending the afternoon with a close friend, she heard the clicking sound my girl would make while feeding. She told me about her son who’d had a tongue tie and recommended we revisit the conversation again. At her 4 month check-up, I finally spoke up to our pediatrician, “Okay. I’m not sure if you’re even the person to ask, or if you would know anything about this, but nursing just hurts. It has always hurt. So bad.” I told her about the clicking sound and how the breastfeeding pain worsens every time I hear it. She looked all around her mouth and finally said, “I can’t officially diagnose this, but I think she may have a posterior tongue-tie.”

She went on to explain that it would be something the hospital doctors would have missed, but it could greatly affect my breastfeeding experience. Not only was my daughter having to work extra hard to get the milk to flow {because her latch did not allow for an efficient flow}, my supply was taking a major hit because of it. She referred us to an ENT and we set up an appointment as quickly as we could get in.

The ENT confirmed that my daughter did, in fact, have a posterior tongue tie and it was likely the cause of my pain. The doctor said that most children whose parents had brought them in for this procedure were weeks old, not months. But he also said it was better late than never, and may help down the road when she would begin to learn how to talk.

A Better Breastfeeding Experience

The ENT leveled with us:: this would not be an instant fix. She had spent 4 months learning how to latch and feed one way, and she would have to relearn to do it a different way. He was right. It took a little time, but it did eventually get better. The clicking happened less and less, the pain steadily decreased, and our girl speaks beautifully now–though I’ll never know if she would have been inhibited without the procedure, anyway. Looking back now, truthfully, I only wish we’d known to have it done sooner. But because of our experience with this, when my son was born with a tongue tie, I knew it immediately and had the procedure done within two weeks. My breastfeeding journey with him has looked outrageously different, and nursing him is some of the sweetest time we have together.

An Encouragement to All New Moms 

Now, as much as I would encourage every mother to breastfeed her children if she’s able to, I also very firmly believe that formula is an amazing product and we are very privileged people to be able to provide our children a factory manufactured alternative that is so wonderfully packed with nutrients. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding and those common feelings of inadequacy that get tangled up with it when your supply starts dropping, don’t be afraid of formula. I promise, from experience:: your kids will not turn into nutrient-deficient, chemical-ridden enigmas.

That being said, {and yes, I’ll say it again} if you’re struggling with breastfeeding pain… SPEAK UP. ASK QUESTIONS. There are answers and they will help both you and your baby.

Stay strong, mamas. 

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