Three of my four children had tongue ties that caused severely sore nipples. In order to overcome this, I had to get a lot of breastfeeding support from WIC and LLL [La Leche League], as well as family. It was very painful, but with support (and some breast milk to heal them) I was able to nurse my children. To this day, powering through sore nipples to give my children breast milk is my greatest, most rewarding accomplishment.
Nova, Pleasant Plain
I knew when I found out I was pregnant that I would like to try to breastfeed. My mother and grandmother had both formula-fed and had told me of the problems they had, like colic. My own childhood was one very long ear infection and I didn’t want that for my son. After researching and reading everything I could find about the many benefits of breastfeeding, I confirmed my decision.
After I was home three days with my son, my milk came in. Prior to this, I had no soreness. I thought, “This is easy!” Within an hour my body had changed and I didn’t know what to do. I tried different positions, but every feeding session tested my threshold for pain. I didn’t want to give up. After getting support from My husband, mother, lots of advice from the breastfeeding peer at WIC, and two of my close friends who breastfed their children, we discovered a few problems. My son had trouble latching because he is tongue-tied. He slid down, pulling my nipples while feeding. I tried lanolin, massaging, hand-expressing, and hot and cold compresses. Those things helped, but I still ended up with clogged ducts, engorgement, and nipples so cracked they bled. I could hardly feed my son. I kept firmly in my mind, “Breastmilk is the best thing for him.” I felt it was my duty as a mother to provide milk.
I went to WIC for help. They loaned me a pump and advised me to pump every 2-3 hours to free clogged ducts and help with engorgement. My son was about three weeks old when I made the decision to only bottle-feed breastmilk. My nipples were not healing and it was frustrating for both of us. I felt unhappy about it, but he was getting the best nourishment and that’s what mattered.
About a month later, I was home alone and it was time for my son to eat and for me to pump. If I wait too long it becomes uncomfortable. On a whim, I decided to try to breastfeed. My nipples had finally healed and the tenderness was long gone from all the pumping. Breastfeeding was like riding a bike; he latched right on and it didn’t hurt at all! I had missed the closeness and bonding that I felt.
I’m back to work now and he’s almost 3 months old. I pump at work so Dad can feed him, and we have challenges sometimes, but we get through. When I’m home at night to feed him, he usually falls asleep on me when he’s full. There’s nothing like it in the world. I’m cherishing this time when he is so small and I’m being the best mother I can.
So after all the phone calls to WIC, thank you for being there for me and supporting us in the journey. I hope to breastfeed for six months, but we don’t have a hard date to stop as long as he’s happy and healthy.