Courtesy of Phaea Crede

No, You're Not “Doing It Wrong" — Breastfeeding Just Hurts

Ad failed to load

Let me just start off by saying, I am really into breastfeeding. I’m a breastsleeper, an extended breastfeeder, and a public breastfeeder – breastfeeding cover not required. I still pump at work two times a day so my 17 month old can have all the breast milk she wants, anytime she wants it. Breastfeeding works for me and it works/worked for both of my kids. I am a huge fan of breastfeeding. But guess what? Breastfeeding was super painful for me for the first few weeks. My nipples hurt, but what hurt even more was being told over and over that if I was in pain while breastfeeding, I was doing it wrong.

The first time I learned that I was a breastfeeding failure was from the mean night nurse (one is always mean) two days after my son Harvey was born. She pointed an accusing finger at my nipple and reprimanded me: “He’s already left a bite mark! He’s not latching right!” I was a little taken aback. I thought we’d been doing pretty good considering neither he nor I had ever breastfed before, but apparently the writing was on the nipple. My midwives and doula gently agreed. So, did friends, strangers, and web searches. I was not doing it right; Harvey’s latch was too shallow; I needed to squeeze my boob in a c shape, shove it in his mouth like a hamburger, study videos on how to breastfeed over and over again. But try as I might, my nipples grew increasingly sore. Not only was I in pain — the pain was proof positive that I was failing at breastfeeding, and the more it hurt, the more upset I felt because it hurt, so the more hurt I felt — and on and on.

Courtesy of Phaea Crede
Ad failed to load

For the next few weeks, things did not improve. Shirts and I did not come into contact for days at a time. Lansinoh sales probably tripled from the amount I smeared on my poor nips. I have the distinct memory of leaning over a table to soak my boobs in warm, salty water just feet away from my poor parents. When I called lactation consultants or reached out to friends with kids, the response was always the same: his latch is too shallow. It should never, ever hurt. I drove myself to tears trying and failing to correct Harvey’s shallow latch, but despite all my efforts my nipples were soon cracked and bleeding. I wasn’t sure if I could go on. That hurt more than the actual nipple pain.

The next two weeks I was in searing pain again, covered in Lansinoh, and furious I was once again failing. Hadn’t I just breastfed a kid for 2-and-half years? Shouldn’t I know how to do this? What was my damn problem?

And then… magically, breastfeeding just got better. I swear his latch never improved so either my nipples toughened up or some goddess of breastfeeding intervened. I’m not sure. All I know is that after four weeks I was no longer in pain. Suddenly we could breastfeed anywhere, anytime, and in any position. Harvey was stoked. My confidence returned, as did my shirts. I breastfed Harvey happily for the next two-and-half years until I got pregnant with his sister.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Phaea Crede

When Mabel was born, I figured there was no way I’d have the same problems. She was an amateur breastfeeder, sure, but I was a pro. I still remember the magical moment I got my minutes-old daughter to latch on for the first time and take a few tentative sucks. Her eyes opened wide in shock and amazement as I assured her, “it’s all smooth sailing for us, little one.”

One day later, the mean lactation consultant (like I said, one is always mean) was pointing at my nipple. “It’s pulled out like a lipstick tube!” She lactation-splained me. “You’re doing it wrong!” She suggested a nipple shield. I suggested she step out of the room before I started cursing. The next two weeks I was in searing pain again, covered in Lansinoh, and furious I was once again failing. Hadn’t I just breastfed a kid for 2-and-half years? Shouldn’t I know how to do this? What was my damn problem? I even hysterically diagnosed Mabel with a tongue tie and fled to our family doctor for confirmation, convinced only an operation could fix our situation. “No,” Dr. E assured me with just the smallest eye roll, “She’s normal. Breastfeeding can just hurt at first.”

Ad failed to load
Finally, someone had said it: Breastfeeding can hurt! Mabel and I weren’t “doing it wrong,” we were “learning to do it right.”
Courtesy of Phaea Crede

Finally, someone had said it: Breastfeeding can hurt! Mabel and I weren’t “doing it wrong,” we were “learning to do it right.” Simply hearing someone else say it (the fact that she was a doctor didn’t hurt either!) completely set me free from the self-flagellation and let me get back to the task of getting to know my new baby. After a little more practice (or nipple toughening?), Mabel and I became a well-oiled team fueled by breast milk and cuddles.

Ad failed to load

These days, breastfeeding is one of my favorite parts of motherhood. Like Harvey before her, Mabel is still going strong at 17 months. The only pain I feel these days is when she tries to flip upside down with my nipple in her mouth or physically walk away from me while still latched onto my boob. Those things may hurt, but I know I’m not doing anything wrong. In fact, her confident little attitude makes me suspect I’m doing something very, very right.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s Bullsh*t

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar