A week after the birth of her daughter, Meghan McCain is experiencing one of the many joys of new motherhood: pain from breastfeeding so severe, she wondered if her nipples would fall off. She wondered this aloud on Twitter Monday afternoon, and received boatloads of advice and sympathy from other moms — along with a few unnecessary comments from men!
“I know there is a LOT going on in the world that is much more important but I’m in the throes of newborn land,” McCain tweeted after nursing daughter Liberty Sage. “But I just wanted to know if your nipples can actually fall off from breast feeding?”
Many replied to say that it sure felt like their babies would tear off their nipples, and it is in fact common for newborns to cause their mothers pain during breastfeeding. The most common cause is a poor latch. When those little mouths pinch just the tip of the nipple instead of the whole areola, they can cause the nipples to crack and bleed. (My own son had a tongue tie, so I went through this for two weeks until we took him to an ENT and had that little bit of flesh snipped. HUGE difference for both of us.) There are also complications such as thrush and mastitis that can cause pain in the nipples and the entire breast.
“Mine were super sore until all of a sudden they weren’t,” wrote Nina_I_Kelly. “Lanolin is your friend. Also nipple guards – to keep the fabric of your clothing from rubbing against your raw nips.”
It can hurt, like A LOT.
Lactation consultants are the best.
People love to say “if you’re doing it right, it won’t hurt”. Well – newborn babies and sleep deprived moms usually aren’t doing it “right” at first.
I PROMISE it will get better.
— Peep Peep (@peeppeeparoo) October 6, 2020
In addition to lanolin, there were recommendations of new and old-school breastfeeding solutions: cabbage leaves, nipple shields, bag balm (but wash that off before breastfeeding!), cocoa butter (same!), and drinking beer. Several advised McCain to see a lactation consultant to make sure Liberty’s latch is right.
Most of these replies were very reassuring, with two exceptions.
“Girl, I don’t mean to scare you but one of mine literally did,” Erin wrote. “I’ll spare you the details, but it started out as a cracked nipple when my son wouldn’t latch properly. I kept thinking the pain was normal until the tip was literally hanging there.”
“Actually, yes. One of mine did,” Liddy Hunstman replied.
Actually, yes. One of mine did.
— Liddy Huntsman (@LiddyHuntsman) October 5, 2020
Who else is currently clutching their boobs? That’s a helpful warning not to ignore your breastfeeding pain.
Then there were the handful of men who really thought that their contributions to this conversation would be valuable. Seriously.
“When you emerge and look around the political landscape, please ask if there’s a cancer infecting the old party of your dad,” Jose Torres wrote to the mother of a newborn asking for breastfeeding advice.
“Get the stuff they use on cow udders,” Chuck Penn wrote. “I know that sounds obscene, but seriously I watch enough daytime TV to have heard nursing moms recommend it – Bag Balm? Let me check.” Sure, OK, Chuck. But then he doubles down, because we needed to hear this: “Having never nurses or experienced issues with my nipples, I can’t vouch for Bag Balm, though it is good for other raw areas… If it’s good enough for Elsie, it’s good enough for me, right?”
There was also Joe Pagliarulo who felt he had to write, “Mine didn’t.”
— Piper Ryan (@PiperLauren) October 6, 2020
And someone named Michael provided this nonsense: “Make sure there are plenty of nutrients in the baby’s milk. Eat a balanced diet. I don’t know a lot about it but I know I can eat to strengthen my immune system. And the baby’s milk has colostrum. Find out if you can add more nutrients.” Wait. Is he talking about milk that comes from a baby?
What kind of nutrients can we add to strengthen men’s filters?
All you new moms, find strength to keep going by looking at these public breastfeeding protest photos.