Nip Discomfort in the Bud
Never 'work through' pain: It wasn't until I nursed my second daughter that I realized it doesn't have to be uncomfortable. Any time it was, I'd have my lactation consultant come out to the house. She'd tweak this (usually me) and that (sometimes my daughter's head), and the pain would vanish.
Push it real good: If your nipples hurt during letdown, gently push on your breast just outside the areola--you'll find that the pain is immediately diminished. —Lynn Picker, San Diego; mother of Jason, 6; Julia, 4; and Adeline, 1
Diapers do double duty: Got engorged breasts? Heat damp disposable diapers (unused, of course) in the microwave, then place one on each breast. Huge relief!
—Kathy Shea, Pelham, N.Y.; mother of Tommy, 9; and Riley, 7
Ready to wean?: Visit the produce department Raw cabbage leaves are a lifesaver! I put them right in my bra--they're the perfect size, they don't smell, and they stop the pain of engorgement. My doctor suggested this--and even she doesn't know why it works! (Many moms swear by the therapeutic effects of cabbage leaves even if you're not weaning.)
—Marijane Funess, Pelham,N.Y.; mother of Gregory, 19; and Nick and Veronica, 9
Pump up the volume: If you have problems pumping an adequate amount of milk, let your baby nurse from one breast while pumping the other. The baby's suckling helps trigger letdown and allows the available milk to be pumped from the other side. (This often works best after the first feeding of the day, when your milk volume is highest.)
Prime the pump: When my milk first came in, my breasts became so engorged there was no way my babies could latch on. I tried pumping a little bit of milk before I started breastfeeding, and it made all the difference.
—Carol Melnick, Pelham, N.Y.;mother of Justin and Alexa, 7
Don't Quit Out of Frustration
Think of the benefits: I had mastitis, blocked ducts, cracked and bleeding nipples, and babies who didn't latch on.The only thing that kept me going through those first few weeks was the thought of the incredible health benefits: a decreased risk of diabetes, allergies and asthma for them; a lower risk of breast cancer and weight loss for me.
—Laurie Powers, Fayetteville, N.C.; mother of Alec, 11; and Avery, 7
Buy yourself some free time: It's OK to give your baby an occasional bottle of formula. It allows your spouse to participate in feedings, it combats the "Oh my god, I'm almost out of frozen milk" panic and it can be used as a midnight feeding--which might let you get a few hours of sleep. And it gives your nipples a freaking break!