If I told you that I was expecting bumps in my breastfeeding journey, I would be lying to you. Before becoming a mom, I had a rosy, picturesque idea in my head about what breastfeeding would be like — second nature, effortless, natural were all adjectives that described my naive assumptions about it. And although, in a sense, breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it didn't come that way the first time around. There were latch issues, positioning problems, and the realization that nursing can really hurt. My endless hunt for gadgets to make breastfeeding less painful was finally put to an end when I discovered what worked for me and my little boob-destroyer (yes, that's how I so lovingly refer to children).
Although most of these tools don't usually fix the heart of whatever issue you're experiencing (poor latch, wrong positions, etc.), they will provide relief from the pain in the moment, which is a glorious thing. However, it's important that you don't exclusively use them before fixing the issue that caused the pain in the first place. But used together with corrected technique, there's nothing wrong with bringing in a little bit of back up to give your poor, exhausted breasts, arms, back, or whatever else is hurting, some relief.
1A Nipple Shield For Sore Nipples
Nipple shields ($7), like these ones from Target, can be great when you're dealing with a very difficult latch or inverted or flat nipples, but they should be a last resort. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), nipple shields can be helpful for easing pain, but usually aren't helpful for addressing the actual issue causing your pain.
2A Nursing Pillow For A Sore Back
Nursing pillows, like the Ergobaby Natural Curve ($70), are great for giving you some extra support. A seven pound baby can feel like 70 pounds after nursing for a while, and a nursing pillow can work wonders for taking the edge off your back and arms.
3Nipple Cream And Breast Milk For Cracked Nipples
Nipple cream can be great for soothing sore, cracked nipples. The Earth Mama nipple butter ($13) is lanolin-free and made with organic ingredients, so you don't have to worry about you or baby getting anything they shouldn't. Similarly, LLLI recommended putting freshly expressed breast milk on them as the anti-bacterial properties prevent infection and will sooth your nipples as well.
4Gel Pads (Or A Breast Pump) For Engorged Boobs
Using hot and cold compresses or breast pads can be a great way to relieve soreness from engorgement, according to What to Expect. These Soothies gel pads ($7) are a popular choice. Or you can use a warm washcloth and ice packs.
5A Lactation Consultant For All Problems
If nothing else works and you're still in discomfort, schedule an appointment with your local lactation consultant right away. Most hospitals have a resident consultant or you should be able to locate some online. They'll teach both you and baby how to latch properly, which positions work well, and what to do when you experience pain.