I'm sorry, but I'm no longer accepting new breastfeeding clients or scheduling breastfeeding classes.
There are many great lactation professionals listed here: Hudson Valley Birth Network.
For the new moms' group, please visit https://hilarybaxendalechildbirth.com.
From My Blog: Breastfeeding Should Not Hurt
Of all the things I cover in my breastfeeding class, the thing I most want to impress upon expecting mamas and their partners is that breastfeeding should not hurt. Pain is not acceptable, period. Discomfort, yes. But pain? No, no, no. If you're cringing or wincing or crying out "ow, ow, ow, OW!" (even if you don't say it out loud) while breastfeeding, something is not right.
Can we repeat that once more for good measure? Breastfeeding should not hurt.
For some women -- a small minority of women -- breastfeeding is easy and painless. Baby comes to the breast on his own, the milk flows, baby sucks beautifully, mama feels euphoric, and the angels sing. But for most women -- yes, MOST WOMEN -- breastfeeding takes practice. After all, if this is your first baby, neither of you has ever done this before. And if it's your second or third, 50% of the partnership is brand new at this and needs practice. Have patience -- with yourself most of all -- and it'll work out in time.
So what to do if breastfeeding is painful? The most common reason for pain -- both while breastfeeding, and the nipple irritation, cracking, and bleeding (ouch!) that can come later -- is an inadequate latch. In order for your baby to properly extract the milk from your breast, her mouth must be open wide (really wide) and take in much more than just the nipple. (The picture on the Palo Alto Medical Association website shows it well. Take a look.) If your baby only has your nipple in his mouth, nursing will be painful; if he has a wide open mouth that takes in some or all of the areola (depending on the size of your areola) deep into his mouth, nursing will not be painful. Uncomfortable (weird, tingly, awkward, etc., etc.) at first -- for a minute or so -- but not painful.
There are books written about breastfeeding and how to get a great latch, but my guess is that since you're reading this now either the books didn't help you or it's 3am and you're desperate, so I'll try to keep things brief. Keep referring to that picture as you read this (it should have opened in a separate window).
- Get comfortable. Sit or lie where you can relax and hold the baby securely (and don't worry if that's not in the fancy nursing chair you bought... you'll use it eventually. Your old, stained couch may just fit the bill perfectly).
- Position your baby well. In the cross-cradle hold (see modifications below if you prefer the football hold), you should be belly-to-belly with your baby, with her full body leaning into yours. If you're nursing on your right breast, hold her head with your left hand so that your left arm is supporting her body and your left hand is securely holding her head. Hold your right breast with your right hand.
- For the football hold: While nursing from the right breast, baby should be positioned in a V side-to-side on your right, with her bum against the couch or chair and her legs toward the ceiling. Prop up her body with some pillows so that her mouth is about level with your nipple, and support her back with your right arm and hold her head in your right hand. Hold your right breast with your left hand.
- Wait for baby to open his mouth widely. Some babies instinctively open wide and tilt their head back, others need a little encouragement. If yours is in the second category, you can encourage him to open his mouth by dragging your nipple from his nose down to his chin (firmly enough so that his lower lip folds down), squeezing your nipple to hand-express a few drops of milk and then dragging from nose to chin, or manually tilting his head back with your hand (just his head, still keeping his body smooshed against you) -- this will instinctively cause him to open his mouth, just as you do when you tilt your head back. (An important note: This assumes that your baby is not in a deep sleep. Your baby doesn't need to be super awake to eat, but in the early days when you're both getting the hang of nursing, he should be pretty alert. I'll cover ways to wake a sleepy baby separately.)
- Bring your baby to the breast, aligning baby's nose to your nipple. Again, baby to the breast -- not breast to baby. When she opens her mouth widely, bring her whole body to your breast and firmly press her body into yours. (The firmness is so that a seal forms between your breast and her mouth -- placing her on your breast rather than pressing her to it won't form a tight seal.) Aim for your nipple to hit the roof of her mouth -- that's what stimulates her to suck.
- Focus on yourself for a minute. Once he's latched on, evaluate how you feel. Is it painful? Are you holding back tears or literally crying out in pain? No problem. Just take him off your breast (use your finger to break the seal on his mouth if necessary), take a few deep breaths and try again. (And again and again. Remember what I said about patience and practicing?) If you're feeling OK, a little uncomfortable but basically fine (maybe a 5 on a pain scale of 10?) reevaluate in another minute or so. The discomfort should gradually subside, both over the course of each individual feeding and over days and weeks.
And what if you're still having trouble? Please seek professional help. I say this as both a mom (I had major, major, major difficulties nursing my oldest daughter, and one visit with a lactation professional really turned things around) and as a lactation counselor. Very often just a minor tweak to what you're already doing will make a world of difference -- changing positioning, working on timing, learning about hunger cues. And now that the Affordable Care Act is in effect, lactation consultations are often reimbursed (partially or in full) by insurance companies (you should check with your individual carrier first, though). My contact information is below if you're local, but if you're not, find someone nearby to help you.
More Breastfeeding Posts