Re: Really struggling with lots of pain (sorry long)
Oh Mama... 5 years ago I could have written your post, nearly word for word. I had the creased, lipstick-shaped nipples, the gigantic cracks, and the toe-curling pain. And probably PPD as well, though that's a retrospective diagnosis.
Will you need to endure this awful pain for weeks and weeks? Perhaps. I want to tell you that "everything gets better at 6 weeks" as so many people told me, but that isn't true for everyone. For me it took 4.5 months for my baby to grow big enough to latch on well, and for my nipples to heal up. Here is what helped me during those difficult months:
- See a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC. Nothing beats hands-on help, and maybe the IBCLC can help you troubleshoot the latch.
- Rent a professional scale and do some weigh-feed-weigh tests on the baby to determine milk intake. When a baby has a marginal latch, milk transfer can be reduced, resulting in lowered supply. This can be a particular problem when using a shield, since shields can also reduce or slow milk transfer.
- experiment with different nursing positions. Many moms have success with the football hold. I personally had the most luck with the side-lying position, since that allowed me to use both hands to assist the baby with her latch, since I didn't have to hold the breast.
- keep the humidity in your house high. My cracks didn't heal until a steamy July with no air conditioning.
- Use a combination of 1% hydrocortisone cream and Bacitracin antibiotic ointment on your cracks to combat inflammation and infection. Mix and apply using a clean finger, and use a pea-sized amount.
- Hydrate the cracks before nursing by immersing your nipple in a shot glass full of warm water, or by soaking them with a sopping wet washcloth. Moist scabs tear open less painfully than dry ones.
- google the "nipple sandwich" technique and try it out. It can really help you cram the maximum amount of breast into a tiny mouth.
- give it time. I know that what you're dealing with is agonizing, but eventually it will end. I thought I'd be nursing on cracks for a whole year, but eventually they healed leaving no scars. I nursed my first LO for 3 years, and I know that things can get better even if you start at the absolute lowest low point.
Let us know what we can do to help! My heart totally goes out to you and your baby.
Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"