Recently, I called to check on a friend of mine who had her first grandchild! I thought I would see how things were going, and on the other end of the phone was a frantic Grandma, asking, “Hey! You know these things, right? You know how to breastfeed. Didn’t you nurse your babies?” Yes, why yes I did. And I remember that urgent feeling of needing assistance because something with nursing wasn’t working – and my baby needed to eat!
I asked my friend if I could talk to her daughter…she passed the phone to her daughter Lindsay. I’ve known Lindsay since she was a baby, so this was a very cool moment for me! Lindsay is like a niece, and I know from experience that she rarely, if ever, asks for help. In fact, Lindsay is normally the one going to help everyone else. As I spoke to Lindsay and asked what was going on, she told me that her 4-day-old baby boy wasn’t getting enough milk and it hurts really badly every time she nurses.
I asked Lindsay if it was important to her to continue nursing. With newborn care, there are so many new things to learn about, sometimes new mommies change their minds when they are exhausted and overwhelmed – and that’s okay! But, Lindsay said it was still very important to be able to nurse her new little baby boy.
Having had five babies myself, and having helped my daughters learn how to nurse their babies, I knew a trick or two, so I offered to go to Lindsay ’s that night and see if there was some way I could assist. Shortly after I arrived, the little guy seemed hungry so Lindsay was ready to try to nurse him. As she placed him to the breast to latch on, I could see that his lower jaw was not opening. Aha! Just as I suspected. I assisted Lindsay and held the baby’s jaw open while she moved him close enough to latch on. To do this, I placed a finger gently on his chin and “forced” his mouth to remain open widely as his mommy moved him closer to her breast. This allowed him to get a proper latch. (Note: this usually only needs to be done for about a week; soon the baby will learn to do this on his own. Until then, Mom may need assistance from someone, as both of her hands are occupied holding the baby. Dad, Grandma, Auntie, and friends are all good choices. This is not a time to worry about modesty; there is nothing more natural in the world!)
Open baby’s mouth by placing finger on his chin to encourage correct latch while nursing
As soon as the little fellow latched on, Lindsay’s eyes got so wide! She said it only hurt a tiny bit! And that he was eating! She was so happy!
The next thing I did with Lindsay , was I grabbed her body pillow and formed it into a big U-shape around the front of her body, under both of her arms, and under her happily nursing baby. I explained to her that it was very important to relax so the milk could let-down. Also, if her entire body was not supported, especially in the initial weeks of newborn care, her muscles would get very sore and they will often spasm.
After a few minutes of nursing her little one, I looked at her and tears were streaming down her face. After four days of enduring intense pain in the name of feeding her infant son, she was able to nurse him without pain! She assured us that the tears were tears of joy and relief. And we were all filled with joy – it was a treasured moment to share, woman-to-woman; mother-to-mother. And I *might* have had a few tears myself.
Have you ever been in pain while nursing? What did you do to relieve the pain?