My little guy is 4 weeks old, and we have struggled mightily with breastfeeding from day one. Long birth, lots of pushing (which bruised the top of his poor head terribly), and despite immediate skin-to-skin he was slow to establish nursing. My milk took a while to come in, and while in the hospital my nipples cracked and scabbed horribly. Tried a nipple shield, but that actually made it worse. His latch is very tight and clampy. His lips don't always flange out nicely and his tongue does not consistently reach over his lower gums. I have never once pulled my nipple out of his mouth without it looking lipstick-shaped with a white compression stripe down the middle.
At 1 week old, we took him for a lip and tongue tie revision. I was not one of those lucky moms who experienced an immediate change. I took him to an infant chiropractor / craniosacral therapist twice out of desperation, but it did not help anything and (with all due respect to anyone who feels differently) it felt like a bunch of quackery.
His latch remains very tight and pinching and often excruciating. It has improved gradually over time, in the sense that we can usually achieve something on the left side that is tolerable at worst and painless at best... the right side is a different story. Sometimes I think I see a glimmer of improvement on the right, but much more often than not, it is toe-curlingly painful and requires me to bust out my Lamaze breathing. In order to cope with the ongoing pain and nipple soreness, I pump and bottle feed instead of nursing for at least a couple feedings a day, but it feels like a bitter failure and I want to painlessly breastfeed my baby more than I've ever wanted anything in my life. It's almost impossible to think about without crying. Just typing all this out has been very emotional.
Here is what I do to help his latch:
-Suck training before each feeding and between switching breasts
-Alternate cross-cradle and football hold to prevent the same spots from getting too worn down
-C-hold on breast (or U-hold when appropriate), tickling his upper lip, making a "sandwich" (I have large breasts so this is easier said than done), pointing the nipple upward a bit, asymmetric latch... you name it. I have watched ALL of the videos.
-Working with an IBCLC. Have had several house calls. Of course the baby always behaves well when she's here! But in between visits I feel like we always spiral back into sore nipples, more pumping, and heartbroken mama.
I am also using a combination of APNO and lanolin to help heal/protect my nipples, but it has gotten bad enough that they just feel achy between feedings as well. Ugh.
I guess I am looking for support more than anything else because I feel like I've already tried everything, but if you have any ideas, please help me! I try so hard to stay encouraged by the fact that every once in a while we have a painless feeding, which is progress even if it feels pretty pathetic. But I take it very day-to-day, feeding-to-feeding and it's exhausting and draining and upsetting. I'm going to try a local LLL meeting on Monday, but that feels like it might as well be a year away.