Cracks, Craters and Ice Blocks

This post is sponsored by Medela.

“That’s not a crack, that’s a crater,” I stared at the lactation consultant in shock.  I was 6 weeks into my breastfeeding journey and at every feed I was in toe-curling agony.

This was my second visit to lactation consultants in 6 weeks, I’d been to the doctor numerous times, and I was baffling everyone. No one could tell me what was causing the pain that was radiating across my chest between my breasts.  Some were saying thrush on my nipples and others were saying mastitis.


Everything started well, after little E was cut out and placed straight on my chest; he was immediately searching for food.  It was textbook and I knew he’d be a great feeder. During our 4 day stay in the hospital, all the midwives commented on what a great tongue he had (apparently this is important) and what great attachment he had.

Those first few days are a haze.  We left the hospital against medical advice, they wanted to keep us in because E wasn’t putting on enough weight, all I wanted was to be at home with J.  We were having daily midwife appointments, and he lost more weight, we were talking only 5gm.  Then the next day he put on 100gm. Most nights, I was crying out in pain during feeds, and calling my mum for advice at 6am (she was a Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor for 10 years).

I was getting mixed advice from mid-wives, feed 3 hourly, feed 4 hourly, set an alarm to wake in the night to feed, just feed when he’s hungry.  It’s tough, as a first time mum, getting told so many conflicting things.

At my 6 week check-up I visited a doctor who I hoped would become E and my regular doctor.  She was amazing and diagnosed me having nipple thrush.  The cure for this is a single pill that should, over a week or so, fix the problem.  Today I am going to take my 3rd pill.  And at $18 for each dose, I’m hoping it’s the last one and I don’t have to take a twice a day/14 day course.

I’m 9 weeks in now and the pain is easing, and the little that is there is definitely worth it.  The time that I spend with E while feeding is beautiful, and to be honest, breastfeeding really does make life much more convenient (it made camping easy).

What I loved most about starting to breastfeed was that all of a sudden everyone shared their painful experiences. One piece of advice I was given was to rub a face washer over my nipple during every shower while pregnant, but I chose to ignore this painful piece of advice.  Something I did hold on to, was that it gets easier, it really does. But while it’s not easy, hot face washers on your breast at the start of a feed to help with let-down, icy face washers to numb the nipples and even blocks of ice on hand to rub over them just before a feed, were all things that helped me.

Medela provides real solutions for breastfeeding mothers to get over any hurdles in the early days and to support their long term breastfeeding goals. Through its extensive range of breast pump products and other breastfeeding products, Medela is committed to promoting the benefits of breast milk and encouraging long term breastfeeding. For more information


17 thoughts on “Cracks, Craters and Ice Blocks

  1. Clare, isn’t it crazy that breastfeeding can be a bitch. Its great time with our bubs however I too am in agony when I feed Isla on the nipple. These days I am cheating on occasion with a nipple shield to give me some respite from her ferocious suck. I am six weeks along now and I am hoping it gets easier from here on in.

    1. Breastfeeding can be SUCH a bitch! I hope your feeding is getting sorted out! Mine is requiring yet another doctors visit!

  2. I remember toe curling with my first bub – the perfect description. It does get easier and it was and is completely pain free with bub number two. I love the ease and convenience, formula is far too much work for me!

    1. I think formula is too much effort too! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it all is pain free soon.

  3. Oh Clare I hear you. I used to start crying before I even started feeding cause I was so terrified of the pain. I’ve had to introduce some formula in the last couple of weeks and although I said I never wanted to formula feed I’m so much better for it.
    I wish someone had told me it could be difficult so I could at least have not felt like a failure! I had a lactation consultant too. Oh the fun. Mum kept telling me the same thing… it gets easier. It did get easier but unfortunately for me just never easy enough! So glad it’s working a bit better.
    One tip for you… Rite Aid gel nipple pads. They saved me. Really soothing and stop anything from rubbing sore nipples. You can pop them in the fridge too.

    1. I’ve been at that point of crying before the feed too. I’m just powering through and hoping that it all gets better soon. Another visit to the doctor this week, and fingers crossed that’s the last one.

  4. I remember the pain of breastfeeding very well. My toes would curl up every time a newborn tried to attach. I had cracked and grazed nipples with my two boys and thrush with Archie that was so horribly itchy and sore. And then Archie cut his first teeth at three months and so he’d bite me and I tried to get him to stop but he was too young to understand. It was very difficult but I persevered with him until he was 8 months, then with my daughter, 7 months and then with the little guy, 6 months – he cut his teeth early too and was also a biter. Good luck xx

    1. Good on you for persisting! Who knows how long I’ll last but hopefully a little longer yet.

  5. I’m another one that winces at the memory of those early days. The pain from the cracks stabbed through to my backbone. I had never known pain could be like that. Eventually my nipples toughened up and it went well after that. Clare, good luck and I hope it all heals beautifully soon.

  6. I can sympathise, I fed my first for 2 years, second terrible feeder for 18 months and the third didn’t get off until after 5 years! I’m pretty proud of his effort though and have no issues with extended feeding. Although lots of people like to tell me their views, lol. To give you some reassurance I only had nipple thrush with the first and also had vasospasm they seem to go hand in hand and it did return 2 more times – I did take that expensive tablet – way cheaper than a months supply of formula and it did go away BUT I must add cut down as much as you can on sugar as Candida thrives on it, try air the nipples after feeding and change pads so moisture is limited and if there’s a chance vasospasm is also an issue use a warm heat bag prior to feeding on the breast it will also help with flow and let down. 🙂

    1. I figured that it was cheaper than formula in the long run, so I went with it. Things seem to be fixed now, I’m so glad!

  7. This honesty you write with is so wonderful – I love how sharing stories encourages more people to share stories. It is an amazing new time for you and I hope that feeding has become easier.

    1. Thanks Carly. It was tough, but things seemed to have settled now and I can now do other things while feeding.

  8. Wow im happy for you ladies who were able to breastfeed for a long time. My babys 2 months old today. Breastfeeding did get alot easier after thw first month but it seems everytime i was able to solve one problem, a new one appears. Now that i understood how to get him to have a good latch i started having blocked ducts. Now a realised i have a big crater in the middle of my nipples.. Baby never seems to have enough milk. As much as i wanna feed him as much as i can i realise i spend all my day on a couch with barely any food in my stomach. It gets really tiring.. Hope it gets better and hope for u ladies it gets easier too!!

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