Audio recording avalible here: https://anchor.fm/sophie-burrowsIBCLC/episodes/What-should-breastfeeding-feel-like-eb0ev3

A popular question by many people.  Especially new parents.  Breastfeeding is a whole new thing to experience.  After the enormity of birth itself and all the preparation many families go through for that event, breastfeeding feels like it should just be something that “happens” with little thought.  There are instances where it does just fit in to place, I rarely see those, my job probably prevents that in a way.  Becoming a new parent is a big change in itself. 

One big thing to bear in mind however is breastfeeding shouldn’t be hurting you.  If your toes are curling up then you need to seek skilled support (many partners are perplexed at me looking at the breastfeeding mothers’ feet while latching the baby on, you can see quite how much pain some one is in with this visual information!).  This skilled support can be an IBCLC like myself or you can search for local breastfeeding support groups.  There are many reasons for toe curling pain and they truly don’t all include the mother doing something wrong (in fact they rarely do).  I really dislike the theme that mothers have no idea what they are doing (even if we ourselves as mothers feel it at times) pretty much all the families I meet have already got an inkling what’s going on and are trying to make changes to help.  Often my skilled eye can look at the bigger picture and begin to bring it all together and work with the family to improve things.  That’s where skill comes in.  Skill you wont necessarily get from a midwife or GP (depending on their training and life experience, some of them an EXCELLENT). This is also a process that can take quite some time to work out, an IBCLC should watch you feed your baby, they should take a full history and make a full assessment of the whole situation.  Sometimes it takes that higher level of information to work out a useful way forwards. 

So, the question; What should breastfeeding feel like?  It does have a feeling, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable to the point you are really not wanting to put your baby back on the breast again.  It can be a little niggly at the beginning but mostly it should be a sensation of suckling and swallowing by your baby, not much unlike if you sucked your thumb.  You may get a tingling or burning sensation as your milk begins to really flow through (after your milk “comes in”, this can take between 30 and 40hrs after the placenta is delivered click here for more information) some have no feeling as their milk starts to flow when their baby is feeding, don’t panic! The thing to watch for is your baby swallowing and in a rhymical way.   

Pain, damage or a “feeling” that something isn’t quite right are all reasons to seek out support.  There are peer supporters, breastfeeding councillors, and IBCLC’s for this kind of support.  If you don’t feel you’ve got to the bottom of the issue then search out some more support, there will be an answer, sometimes it can take a little bit of searching to find the person with the skill level to have the answer you need. 

Breastfeeding is most defiantly a skill that is learnt and no skill is learnt without some difficulty along the way.  Finding where to get skilled support to help you master breastfeeding is really valuable and would be great if pregnant people searched this out before the big arrival but often, we don’t quite realise how important it might be to do so. 

Don’t suffer in silence if breastfeeding isn’t going how you thought it might, seek out support from the right places your local IBCLC is a clinical specialist in the management of breastfeeding and should be well placed to get you on a road to a breastfeeding experience you imagined. 

Blog disclaimer

I use the word mother (and other types of word like this) within my work.  This truly doesn’t mean I exclusively see those who birth as mothers/ female only.  I am accepting and welcome the use of all other terminology and try to give a neutral tone throughout my work.  I acknowledge I have much to learn in this area but I am accepting of any identity of human including those who wish to give human milk to their human baby.  Chest feeding is a term I fully accept a respect.  My mission in life and therefore my work is to help others feed their babies human milk hopefully, from their birth parent and sometimes from another human milk donor, to allow that parent meet their goals.  Nourishing a human infant can take many forms, I will support all of those forms to the best of my ability my blogs and work are written with this in mind but I accept I use mother etc often and I am sorry if this in any way causes dysphoria. 

I have dyslexia and writing in itself is quite an exceptional effort for me punctuation is even harder.  It can take me twice as long than others without my disability, to write a working sentence especially if I cannot spell a word and have to change a sentence entirely for it to “work”. This means deviating from wording and at times it can be mindboggling for me.  I welcome your discussion with me and thank you for your understanding.

What should breastfeeding feel like?