Lauren was born in August and the days were warm and still. I felt relatively well and especially grateful to not be pregnant anymore in this hot weather. Lauren was breastfeeding around the clock and my older boys were busy with outside activities.
The nipple pain started on day two. Lauren always had a shallow latch but I kept working with her to take more breast tissue, enough that her top and bottom lips would curl over. I tried the positioning technique I learned from Dr. Newman – pulling her belly button in close and keeping her head aligned with her little body. It seemed like a natural way to hold her; she seemed comfortable and swallowed easily. Her latch remained shallow although I tried everything – pumping before feeding, holding the breast to make it the size of her mouth and waiting for the wide open mouth before putting her to breast. Nothing helped.
The nipple pain continued and they were bloody and cracked by day 3. Each time I fed Lauren I tried to get more breast tissue into her mouth and deepen her latch, but she would always slip down, causing pain with each feeding. Making matters worse, Lauren was not emptying the breast well with her shallow latch and she would often become frustrated, crying inconsolably. Oh the early days with a newborn – it is a tough time mommies!
Near the middle of day 3 I tried breast compressions as Dr. Newman had taught in his seminar. The technique is simple and easy to master. Place the hand on the breast the baby is nursing on and gently squeeze or push down on the ducts which are located above the areola. More milk is pushed down into the baby’s mouth than by suckling alone. This helps baby get full and mom’s body gets the signal to produce more milk. A win-win situation.
Day 4 and 5 we turned a corner and things got easier. I was using breast compression at every feeding; Lauren was growing bigger and stronger. As her mouth grew she was able to take more breast tissue into her mouth and my nipple pain subsided. She was still fussy in the evening, but soon she outgrew that too.
My early days with Lauren reminded me that each baby is different. Although I had breastfed before, Lauren hadn’t. It took us almost a week to learn this new skill. I was grateful to have a toolbox of interventions to try, since nothing seemed to work in the beginning. I also had the experience of successfully breastfeeding my other kids; I believed I would eventually be successful with Lauren too. Sometimes things just get better with time and experience. When the photo at the top of this post was taken, Lauren was 7 weeks and already traveling with me to talk about Milkies. She is showing a hunger cue I got to know well – sucking on her fist.
I also give credit to Dr. Newman. He has worked with thousands of mom and baby pairs and gives practical, easy-to-follow advice that worked very well for Lauren and I and so many others.
Here is the link to his website again.