While the feeding of a newborn baby is a deeply personal choice and can happen in a variety of different ways, many parents choose to breastfeed or chestfeed their children despite the challenges that can arise. When I gave birth to my first child in 2020, I was one of those parents. I enjoyed the privilege of paid maternity leave from my job and the round-the-clock support of a partner and a network of family members, so I had the space and resources to embark on this process with my infant daughter.
While there’s no shortage of pop-culture anecdotes and first-hand accounts detailing the pain and uncertainty of childbirth, I found myself utterly blindsided by the emotional and physical discomfort that breastfeeding brought on. Not all babies — my daughter included — can nurse efficiently from the jump, and the anxiety of not knowing whether or not she was getting enough to eat was almost eclipsed by the searing nipple pain that accompanied every nursing session. When I wasn’t Googling “how to breastfeed” or “fixing painful latch,” I was slathering my boobs with every cream and ointment I could get my hands on and watching “Seinfeld” reruns as my daughter nursed to distract myself from the agony.
Now, over two years later and currently nursing a second baby, I can testify that it does get better — and in my experience, time was the only thing that eventually eased my pain. (Some parents may also choose to stop breastfeeding — I know many that did.) Ahead, I’ve rounded up a few things that brought me a little comfort during the most difficult moments, along with a few things that I really wish I’d known about back then.
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