Warning: Sore nipples and breast feeding discussed!
Suburban Turmoil had an excellent post regarding how effing much breast feeding hurts in the beginning. Especially for the first ten days or so. (You can read her post here.)
For me, it felt like someone was sticking needles in my nipples. Fortunately, the pain, while intense, does go away after about a minute into the nursing session. At least it did for me, though it seemed like an awfully long and excruciating minute that went on forever. But every two to three hours or so, when it was time for the next feeding, the intense pain began anew.
It was terrible, and no one warned me about it. In fact, I'd been told (and read) that if it hurt, I must be doing something wrong. What a crock. It hurts everyone, and everyone would be better served if we just admitted it out loud. As Suburban Turmoil points out, many women give up within the first two weeks, thinking that it won't get any better. In fact, it does get better. A lot better. And, if you can stick it out for six weeks, any other problem will have probably ironed itself out as well (at least that was one thing I read that was absolutely true).
DD is 31 months old, and our nursing relationship is still going strong. Granted, we do not nurse in public. She doesn't ask, and I don't volunteer. It just isn't socially acceptable, sad as that is. On the one hand, I believe that if we want toddler nursing to be more acceptable, we should do more toddler nursing in public so that people will see it. On the other hand, I'm just kind of a chicken. Since DD doesn't put me on the spot to do it in public, it's been easy.
But for all the good things that breast feeding has brought us, here's another truth. If you keep on breast feeding, bad things will happen to your nipples from time to time.
Anyway. I have been in agony over the last week or so. On my right side, DD moved her head quickly when popping off, and I got a small cut on my nipple as a result. With continued nursing, it has widened and lengthened. On the left side, with way too frequent and lengthy night nursing one night when I was too drowsy to break it off, she wore the skin away in one spot. That's gotten a little worse too with continued nursing. (Sorry if that's TMI.)
As a consequence, I am back to feeling that intense pain at the start of each nursing session. It feels exactly as I remember it did in the beginning. Kind of like needles, or a searing hot poker, but only for a minute. And then it's gone until the next nursing session. Fortunately, those nursing sessions aren't every two to three hours anymore. I haven't started healing yet, so I imagine that it's going to take a bit longer to go away this time.
This has happened from time to time. When DD was teething, she would sometimes bite me as she was drifting off to sleep. Sometimes, her new little teeth were so sharp, they cut my skin as they rubbed against it. (Now, that was really painful.) Other times, if she turned her head suddenly, it would also cause an injury.
Until now, if I had a problem, it was on one side or the other. Having pain on both sides is unusual, and it makes me dread nursing again. And, even though I don't get engorged like I used to, I still need to have nursing sessions to be able to maintain my supply.
We have stopped our night time nursing, even though DD still sleeps with us. I've told her that my nipples hurt, and she has accepted that. For the first few nights, she didn't even ask. Last night, she tugged at my top a few times, but she stopped when I reminded her why we couldn't nurse. She's really been pretty accepting about all of this.
It also seems as though DD has learned a little bit of empathy. When she wants to nurse, she pats my breast with a chubby, open hand, looks in my eyes, and says, "I will be bery, bery nice mommy." It just melts my heart. Now, granted, I can't tell the difference when she's being "nice" or at any other time -- the suction seems to be the same. But she thinks that she's being nice, I guess.
And it's the thought that counts, right?