Your newborn has arrived and you’re wading through colic hell, or have one of those easy babies who sleeps through the night. But now that you’re waking up for those late night feedings that come to punctuate the hours of two or four, you’re encountering a new arena of challenges. Perhaps you decided straight out of the birth canal that formula was going to be your route. But if you’re struggling with breastfeeding, know that you and your cracked nipples are not alone.
If your baby won’t latch on
You’re on the phone making FRANTIC lactation consultant appointments and cycling through the tips from the breastfeeding lady at the hospital/birth center on a half hour of sleep. You’ve admittedly fallen down the Google rabbit hole of tips regarding stroking your infant’s lips, alternative positions, and even fancy breastfeeding cushions. You’ve put up a desperate S.O.S on your parenting forum of choice only to receive a chorus of “don’t give up!” “stick it out!” You’re not there yet.
If you’re not producing enough milk
You’ve broken down and cried in front of your partner and whatever expert you can afford a few times over this. You’ve tried, according to you, everything to increase your supply: beer, diet changes, and stopped yourself just short of taking possibly unsafe medications. Your pediatrician is just kind of shrugging and suggesting supplementing with formula for now, but you went to WAY too many La Leche League meetings back when you were pregnant to go down that easy. You will continue to torture yourself with for a few months and even drop an obscene amount of money on a pump that makes your nipples bleed.
If you produce way too much milk and even your baby is like WTF, mom
Your fellow mommy friends/relatives make cracks about hey, how about you feed my baby too, but it’s no joke. You’re “hand expressing,” or as you like to say, MILKING YOURSELF before feedings to get things under control. It’s only when you’re back at the doctor rehashing this ordeal that he or she suggests to nurse even more to keep the supply in check. All you have to say is thank goodness you have a season of “Scandal” to catch up on.
If you have mastitis
People told you that parenting was gross but you often thought that applied to, well, your baby and their various excretions. Not you. Not only do you feel like your breast has transformed into one huge pimple, but your doctor is all, “oh this is so common right after birth. Don’t worry about it. Here’s some antibiotics. Get hot compresses. Oh and keeping nursing.” Whaaaa? You’ve taken to your bed like a Victorian heroine and feel like grabbing the cheery “breast is best” lady who was making the hospital rounds after birth and showing how best your breast is now.
If your nipples are cracking
People are suggesting a light painkiller 30 minutes or so before nursing, meaning that you have another added component to your breastfeeding timetable. Not only are you counting back the hours since baby last ate but now you’re trying to time it with ibuprofen which frankly doesn’t do much. That and you also find yourself skeptical that a little blood won’t hurt your baby. Really? You’re up to your eyeballs in various creams that fellow mothers swear by but, more importantly, you can’t believe that you’ve now reached the point in your life where you have to add “nipple cream” to your grocery lists. That happened fast.
If your baby has thrush
Who would have thought that your horizon of yeast infections could one day be expanded! Your baby had it, then you had it, then baby had it, then you had it and back and forth you go in the absolute worst ping pong game ever. You’ve been itching so much and finding random rashes in fun new places. You dared make a pretty vague reference to your pain during your breastfeeding support group and they all looked at you like you had just withdrew a bottle of formula. No? And here they told you those deep, shooting pains during feedings were normal. You’ve been on medication for this crap once or twice already — which haven’t really agreed with you — and now your doctor is talking antifungal cream. CHARMING.