Nursing Is Awful (TMI, Perhaps)

UGH. Friends of mine have told me before that breastfeeding is "an art." La Leche League has a book titled The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I never understood the claim, and after nearly a month of doing it myself, I still don't. Not unless one means that it's art in the sense of some kind of masochistic performance art, like if an artist stands in a museum and lets people come up to her and inflict pain on her in the form of pinches, burns, and cuts.

In other words, nursing HURTS and I hate it. They say it goes away after a while, but it hasn't yet for me. I completely understand why so many women don't want to do it and why they stop after a short period of time. I lay in bed for an hour today simply knocked down by the terrible stinging pain. I've had problems, too, including a plugged duct and milk blisters. The pain takes up all of my mindspace; it really affects my ability to function or even think about anything else. I think I may need to go to the doctor this week.


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Nursing was terribly painful for me for six weeks. I had bleeding nipples and nightmares about it. It was awful. I don't know why I stuck with it, but I did. Probably because I'm stubborn. Anyway, after six weeks of hell, the pain completely disappeared and nursing became wonderful and peaceful and my baby and I loved it.

What was really frustrating to me was reading over and over, on the Internet, in books, magazines, everywhere that nursing doesn't hurt or that if it does it's because the mother is doing something wrong. I consulted lactation experts and my doctor and they watched me nurse and everyone said I was doing everything right. Still, they didn't acknowledge that my pain was real. It was!

Sorry your experience isn't good so far, but if it makes you feel any better, I do know how horrible it can be. Good luck. Maybe your doctor will be able to help.


I had the same experience.


I had the same experience, only mine was compounded by thrush, which caused shooting pain all the way to my toes. Have you been checked for thrush? It's nasty stuff--it took two weeks of antibiotics to get rid of it.

Nursing only became less painful when I eased off a bit by supplementing with formula. Formula gave me time to heal by making it possible for me to breastfeed less frequently. That said, I live in such an anti-formula town that I had to go to therapy to convince myself that yes, it's OK to give my son formula if I'm out of my mind with pain.

Go see a doctor, and consider all your options.




I had a relatively easy time with it, so I cannot offer any advice, but if it doesn't get better and you want to stop, you totally should. It was really important for me for the experience since T was a preemie, and I felt like I'd missed out on virtually every single other newborn traditional experience, but I know plenty of people who have troubled experiences and new motherhood is just made better by skipping it. Best of luck.

Saw a lactation consultant, AND

I have almost every breastfeeding-related problem one can possibly have:

1. inflammatory mastitis. She didn't think there was an infection, but some severe swelling and inflammation. The hardness and swelling on the right side had gotten so bad that it hurt to reach over my head, pick anything up with my right hand, or even write in a notebook. With some massaging and getting the baby to nurse, she was able to soften the area.

2. thrush. I go and get my prescription today. Henry's pediatrician is supposed to give him some mouth drops so that he'll be treated for it too. I'm hoping he does that without requiring an office visit; I'm waiting for his office to call me back now.

3. a milk blister. I had to go to my obstetrician for this (and for my thrush prescription) so that he could lance it with a sterile needle.

Hang in there

It will get better. Really and truly. I remember the awful awful days of nursing. (Which, to be fair, did not involve problems as severe as yours.)

It helped to pump--the pump was less hard on the nipple than the baby--and to supplement with a bottle (if the milk wasn't dark pink with blood) to give my boobs a break. Also, AIR ON THE NIPPLES. Mr. B. actually constructed little wire cages, about the size of the trap on the Mousetrap game, which he attached to straps to make a sort of bra-type thing that held these cages over each nipple, so that fabric wouldn't touch them, and I wore this contraption under a light bathrobe for a few days. Also, Lansinoh, once the thrush and mastitis are gone--put a little on one fingertip, melt it with a couple seconds of hot air from a hair dryer (which makes it much easier to put on the nipples without having to smudge it). And I'm glad you saw a consultant doctor.

And remember that it feels like agony, of course, when you're in the middle of it and the darn baby has to nurse every hour or so, but really and truly it will get better sooner than you think.

Bitch. Ph.D.

Good luck.

It sounds like you're on the right track. Garrett did have thrush; I think I forgot about it. I hope it gets better soon. I know it will!

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