"Grab it like a hamburger and shove it in as far as it will go."
"You have to toughen your nipples, otherwise it'll hurt like no other!"
"It's not as easy as it looks."
"Make sure you have a lactation consultant on speed dial!"
These are snippets of things that I've heard from family and friends about breastfeeding. Before doing my research, I didn't really understand what the fuss was about. I thought breastfeeding was easy – put your nipple in your baby's mouth and they do the rest. Little did I know!
I learned about different holds, how to address challenges I may face, and all about the Golden Rule: Always Get a Good Latch. My cousin gave me a book on breastfeeding at my baby shower and I was confused – how much information do you need to put mouth A on nipple B? Consider me schooled and I've since read that book cover to cover - twice.
My own mom told me that I should rub a rough washcloth on my nipples daily to toughen the skin. Because my mom said so, I did it. Once. It hurt so badly that there was no way I was going to keep that up! Thankfully, I read that was nonsense, that I would not need to mangle my poor nipples. As if pregnancy wasn't challenging enough, we're expected to inflict pain on ourselves? Daily? I overheard a lady in my doctor's office saying that she was pulling and twisting her nipples in preparation for breastfeeding!
Provided you have a good latch, breastfeeding shouldn't hurt. It's definitely a new sensation that takes some getting used to, but it's not supposed to be torture. I wonder how many women have given up because of pain that could have been avoided, or because they received bad advice.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding is not something you can practice – just like childbirth. You just have to wait for the big dance because you can't do it without a partner. So women of the world, leave your poor nipples alone!