During the initial weeks of breastfeeding, you may develop sore, damaged nipples. Fortunately, this is not a long-term problem, but even so it’s hard to stick with nursing when each feeding can be excruciating. Don’t give up! See a Lactation Consultant to check your baby’s latch and consider using Nipple Shields (available at EuphoriaMaternity.com) to help you get through this difficult time.
Nipple shields are ultra-thin, flexible silicone covers that you place over your nipples when you feed baby. Each shield has little holes at the tip to allow milk flow. Nipple shields prevent further damage and decrease the amount of pain you’re experiencing while nursing. Since the nipple shield is longer than your nipple, it will be easier for baby to latch on properly when you use the shield. I found that using shields taught my baby to open her mouth wider and latch on better!
Once you’ve made it through this difficult time, you can transition back to the bare breast with the advantage of healed nipples and a baby who really knows what she’s doing. Some lactation consultants worry that baby won’t want to go back to the bare breast. My child had no problems, but by then she was also taking a bottle, so she was used to different mediums. I say better still breastfeeding and using nipple shields indefinitely, than giving up on breastfeeding alltogether because of the pain! If you have trouble weaning your baby off nipple shields on your first try, consider trying again in another week. Also, try to limit your use of nipple shields to 2 weeks or less. Using them longer than necessary will only make the switch back to bare breast more difficult.
Ultimately the convenience, emotional bonding, and health benefits derived from breastfeeding far, far outway the pain you may experience intitially. No matter how difficult you find it (and for some women it’s easy and pain-free), you have to keep reminding yourself that it WILL become second-nature and COMPLETELY PAINFREE in time!!!