Wondering if breastfeeding will ever get easier? Read on to find out when breastfeeding will get easier for you and your babe.
Your precious baby is here and you’re determined to breastfeed.
Fast-forward a couple days and you’re struggling to remember why you ever thought breastfeeding was a good idea, but don’t worry, mama, you’re not alone! Breastfeeding is a big learning curve for both you and your baby, but it WILL get easier.
Before having your baby every mom would tell you just how wonderful breastfeeding is and how much you would love it, but here you are, wildly searching the web for answers to the question, “when does breastfeeding get easier?” or maybe you’ve lost all hope and are wondering “does breastfeeding ever get easier?”
You may even be starting to think that breastfeeding isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Could it REALLY be that good for your baby if it hurts.so.bad.?
As much as people tell you that breastfeeding IS worth it, all you can focus on right now is the fact that your nipples are bleeding, blistered, and constantly throbbing – even when you’re not feeding your dear baby.
I am happy to tell you that YES – breastfeeding does get easier. It just takes a bit of time.
Before having my son I was determined to learn everything I could about caring for a newborn, postpartum care, how to have a natural labor, and most importantly, newborn sleep tips (and how to get your newborn to sleep on their own). But the one (very important) thing I forgot to learn about was breastfeeding. DON’T make the same mistake that I did. Educate yourself on breastfeeding so you can know everything there is to know to make your life easier.
Keep reading and we’ll dive in to everything you need to know about breastfeeding, including when you can expect it to get easier, when does breastfeeding stop hurting, what to do when you need a break from breastfeeding but don’t want to supplement, and what you can do in the meantime to make your breasts hurt less while you’re waiting for breastfeeding to get easier.
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Will breastfeeding ever get easier?
It wasn’t more than 24 hours after our son was born that my nipples were already bleeding and blistered. I was in incredible amounts of pain anytime I would feed him, and I didn’t know how moms could love breastfeeding so much when I had to clutch the hospital bed and hold my breath whenever he was feeding.
But, 8 weeks and a whole lot of nipple cream later and I’m starting to understand what other moms were talking about when they said how much they loved to breastfeed their babies.
In the beginning, breastfeeding was by no means easy, but it has turned out to be so worth it and I want to share everything I’ve learned along the way with other new moms who are struggling to breastfeed or wondering if the pain is worth the benefits.
Let’s get right to it –
When does breastfeeding become easier?
While each mom is going to have a different experience from the next, there is a general timeline that you can go off of to see at what point breastfeeding should be getting easier for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding typically gets easier for new moms around 2 – 6 weeks postpartum.
While at 2 weeks postpartum I definitely wasn’t finding breastfeeding easy or enjoyable, by 6 weeks my son and I had found our groove and were able to start enjoying breastfeeding.
With time both you and your body will adjust to the idea of breastfeeding, and it will start to come naturally to both of you.
But I know how horrible waiting for it to get easier can be, so I’ve gone ahead and laid out my list of top breastfeeding tips to help you make breastfeeding easier in the meantime, while you wait for your body and baby to establish a rhythm, but before we get to the tips, lets look at a couple other common questions breastfeeding moms have:
When does breastfeeding get faster?
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for with breastfeeding (well, there were a LOT more than just one thing, but here’s one of the top things) was how much of a time commitment it would be.
During my first few weeks postpartum I felt like I did nothing other than change diapers and feed my baby.
Not only was he wanting to eat every 2 hours, but he was also taking 30 – 50 minutes to nurse each time.
Talk about not being able to do anything.
I was starting to feel hopeless and wondering whether I should keep breastfeeding or if I’d be just as good to give it up now.
I was spending 6 – 10 hours out of ever 24 hour day sitting and nursing my son. And the other 14 – 18 hours of the day were spent changing diapers, trying to soothe a colicky baby, and sleeping for what felt like no more than 10 minutes.
All that combined with raging postpartum hormones left me feeling hopeless and useless.
But eventually, both my son and I started to get the hang of things. He started to eat faster at eating and get easier to entertain, and I started to learn how to multitask and do small tasks while I fed him.
During this rough time, I had to constantly remind myself that things could only get easier from here on out. That tomorrow was a new day and we would try for a better day. That my son was just a little baby and was trying to adjust to life outside the womb, and that eventually, we would both get the hang of breastfeeding.
And you know what? We did. At only 6 weeks postpartum I was already starting to feel like we were getting into a groove.
And now only 2 weeks after that? It feels completely natural. It’s not something I have to think about anymore. It doesn’t hurt. It isn’t an inconvenience, and it has become something I really enjoy doing.
What you can do when you need a break from breastfeeding but don’t want to supplement with formula
Breastfeeding is a big commitment and there will come times when you just want a break, and it’s important that you give your body that break so you can continue to produce sufficient milk for your growing baby. (Your body needs lots of rest to be able to continue producing milk, which can seem nearly impossible with a newborn.)
But, getting a break can feel impossible when your new baby is eating every 2 – 3 hours around the clock.
So, how can new moms get a break from breastfeeding?
Investing in a good breast pump is something you will want to do if you’re breastfeeding. A breast pump will allow you to start a freezer stash of milk for the future, and will also help you keep your milk supply up.
I started using my breast pump (this is the one I have) and pumping 1 – 2 times a day and then putting the pumped milk into milk storage bags (I love this brand, but watch out because this brand wasn’t my favorite) and freezing it.
This way on weekends my husband could get up with our son for at least one of the night feedings so I could sleep just a little bit longer.
Having some extra breastmilk stored in the freezer also comes in handy for the future when people come to watch your baby, if you don’t want to use formula. This way you can leave for longer than 2 hours and whoever is watching your baby can feed them from a bottle.
(Our son particularly loved this type of bottle – it has a very close feel to a nipple so he had no problems transitioning back and forth from bottle to boob.)
So go ahead and get yourself a breast pump. Don’t cheap out here, either. You want your breast pump to last you for as long as you’re breastfeeding – and for any future kids you may have.
I am borrowing the breast pump I use from my sister-in-law, who bought it off of another person – so it has seen MANY years of use, and is still going strong. This is the one I have.
If you would prefer a hand pump, this is a fantastic brand.
How to make breastfeeding hurt less
In the meantime while you’re waiting for the moment when breastfeeding stops hurting and becomes easier, here are a couple of things you can do to make breastfeeding less painful and easier while you wait.
1. Hand express milk and rub it on your nipples
A nurse in the hospital gave me this tip when I had blistered and cracked nipples with my son. She told me to go out and buy some Lanolin cream on my way home, but until then to hand express a small amount of breastmilk from my breast and rub it on my nipple.
The breastmilk helps to moisturize, soothe, and heal sore nipples – so I did this for the rest of our hospital stay and any other time my nipples started to get sore.
2. Apply cream before and after nursing
Applying a nipple cream (most doctors recommend this Lanolin nipple cream) before and after each nursing session can help soothe your nipples as well.
Take time to apply a generous amount of cream twice at each nursing session – once before, and once after. (Many moms worry about their baby nursing with the cream on their nipples, but this cream is safe for babies to ingest.)
3. Ensure your baby has a good latch
A bad latch can be one of the biggest reasons your nipples may become sore from breastfeeding. My son was tongue tied when he was born and because of his tongue tie, he wasn’t able to get a good latch.
You help your baby get a good latch by making sure their lips are flanged out and look like fish lips. You want your baby’s mouth to be open wide with their mouth covering your areola.
You also want to remember to bring your baby to you – don’t bring your body to your baby (meaning, don’t lean down to bring your breast to your baby’s mouth or if will only be a matter of feedings before you’re crippled over with back pain – I made this mistake. Bring your baby’s head up to your breast and ensure you’re sitting comfortably without straining your back.)
4. Change your breast pads regularly
Whether you’ve chosen to go with disposable breast pads or reusable breast pads, you’ll want to make sure you’re changing them out regularly. If you don’t change your breast pads out enough fungus can start to grow on them which will not help in the healing process of your nipples.
5. Pump and let your partner have a turn
I mentioned earlier about pumping so that you can get a break from feeding every once in a while. But. pumping isn’t only a good way for you to get a break, it’s also a great opportunity for your husband to bond with the baby.
For weeks my husband and I got into the routine that as soon as he would get home from work he would bottle feed our son and I would have a chance to get supper ready. It was a nice break for me and a good chance for him to hang out with his child after a long day away.
6. Use nipple shields
If you’re really struggling with the pain of breastfeeding, nipple shields will help ease the discomfort. Experts don’t recommend you use nipple shields for an extended amount of time, but they can be good to help offer some comfort while your nipples are sore.
These nipple shields feel natural to your baby so they shouldn’t be opposed to feeding with them.
7. Hand express to relieve pressure
If you’re experiencing discomfort from engorgement, or your baby isn’t latching properly because your breast is too full of milk, leaning over a bathroom sink or bathtub and hand expressing some milk out will ease the pain and empty your breast just enough so your little one can latch without an issue.
8. Use Soothie’s gel pads
These Soothie’s gel pads are cooling pads that provide fast relief for sore nipples. After your nursing session is done you can take the pads and place them on your nipples for a few minutes to ease the pain.
9. Use nipple shells to air dry
Nipple shells will help protect your sore nipples from chafing against your clothing. There’s not much worse than having raw nipples and having them rub against your bra all day long! These nipple shells allow your breasts to air out, while still being covered up. (Airing your nipples out is important for helping them heal so they aren’t always rubbing against clothing or a moist breast pad.)
10. Stick with it
I know it’s painful now, but if you give it time and stick with it, it will become MUCH better. It’s only a matter of weeks (or less) until you and your baby start to get the hang of breastfeeding, and if you quit now you’ll never get to experience the wonderful bonding that breastfeeding brings to a mother and her baby.
You’re not alone in this struggle – millions of other new moms are struggling with the exact same thing as you are right now, and using the tips you learned here will help you find some comfort until you can finally establish your breastfeeding.
Give yourself some slack – just because you’re struggling with breastfeeding doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It’s hard – and that’s just the way it is for the first while.
Don’t compare yourself to other moms or their breastfeeding journey, either. Sure, breastfeeding may come easier to some people than others, but if you stick with it, it will start to come easier and easier for you and your precious bundle of joy in no time.
Before you know it you’ll have forgotten all about this first few weeks and the breastfeeding struggles they proposed.
My hopes are that the tips you read above will help you ease the pain of breastfeeding discomfort and see that you will make it through to the other side. It’s hard right now, but I can promise you that it won’t always be this hard.