When Breastfeeding Hurts


When I found out I was pregnant (now almost a year ago to the day!) I had already made the decision to breastfeed exclusively. And it was funny how often that question came up, “are you going to breastfeed?” almost as often as “do you know what you’re having?” And I would reply, yes, I hope. Because I knew it was hard and I knew a lot of people that didn’t. The only thing I didn’t know was really how hard it would be at first.

I read a lot before the baby came about how to breastfeed, how to get the best latch. Remember, the books said, the baby is learning to latch and you’re learning to breastfeed but its a lot of instinct – she knows what she needs to do.

Sometimes Breastfeeding Hurts, Especially in the Beginning

Well, she didn’t. I didn’t. it took us a good three-four agonizing days to figure out what we needed to do. In that time she didn’t have the x number of wet diapers a baby is supposed to have (or so they tell you), so of course, I freaked. and cried. and called the midwife. I gave her some pedilyte with a syringe so she wouldn’t be dehydrated. And then, we figured it out and we could breastfeed! The pediatrician said, “she’s totally fine. theres nothing wrong with her. not having a wet diaper is not the end of the world.” So why do all the books tell you that? Better safe than sorry I guess.

There were illustrations and descriptions in my baby books of perfect baby lips around your nipple. So I spent a lot of time and stress trying to maneuver myself into a position so I could see, for sure, that she was in that correct latch position. I could never tell. and every time I tried, I ended up pulling her off of my boob. I finally gave up and figured, if it felt like sucking, she was probably on there ok whatever her lips may be doing.

All the books I read said, I you’re doing it right, it won’t hurt.The day I had the baby, my sister-in-law came over and said, “If it makes your toes curl, it’s not right.” Well, it hurt. It made my toes curl. I would dig my nails into my hands and cry it hurt so much.

And I thought, I cannot do this for another week, let alone 11 months! I would slather on the Lanisoh, but that would make my poor sore nipple stick to my breast pads. I finally found the Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter that worked so well. But it still hurt and I worried that we weren’t doing it right.

And then one day, about 4 wks after she was born, it didn’t hurt anymore. It just didn’t. I don’t think she or I did anything differently, we just both got used to it. I met with my midwife at 6 wks and I complained to her, you never told me it would hurt! And she said, "it does, I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid it would scare you away from breastfeeding." Scare me away?! I was willing to have an at-home unmedicated birth. Not much could scare me about this whole baby thing.So I told her I would have felt a lot better knowing, beforehand, that it did hurt and it was supposed to. And that it was going to be okay. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. It just hurts. At first. But it does get better!

I wonder if my midwife tells people now? I do.

Some NaturallyBorn Picks for Breastfeeding comfort:

Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy
Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother"s Milk Tea
Lansinoh HPA Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers, 40 Grams

Chime in! How did you overcome the discomfort of the early days of breastfeeding?
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i had a natural home water birth with my daughter. i breastfeed, co-sleep, and baby wear. i also work full-time, vaccinate and feed her non-organic ketchup and cookies.


  • Kristy Morrissey May 03

    Loved this article. As I'm currently nursing my 3rd who is a month old now and still dealing with pain, mostly just on one side. I'm holding onto hope that my day will come when it doesn't hurt anymore! I'm doing everything I should be to be getting myself relief. Please tell me I will have that day. I didn't have pain with my 2nd. I want my happy nursing relationship. And I'm starting to feel defeated right now. :(

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