If your nipples are really sore, you need to get help from an IBCLC ASAP. 

In the meantime, you have choices! You don’t need to suffer through awful painful latching if you just can’t handle it anymore!

If you need a break from latching until you can get to a professional and figure out what’s wrong, here’s what you can do.

1. Pump in place of breastfeeding:

This means that for every breastfeeding you would have been doing, you need to pump in place of it. This will most likely be every two to four hours. You may opt to skip every other breastfeeding or just a few breastfeeding sessions or you may pump for 12 to 24 hours.

  • Center your nipples in the flange and turn the pump on to the lowest vacuum. 
  • Very, very slowly, turn up the vacuum until it gets uncomfortable, then turn it down!
  • Pump both breasts for about ten to 15 minutes each.
  • Pumping shouldn’t hurt more than breastfeeding. Hopefully it is a little more comfortable. If it hurts, turn it down! More vacuum doesn’t mean more milk, it means more pain and more stress, which often leads to less milk.
  • You may want to try using a hand pump.  A hand pump gives you much more control over the vacuum and the speed, allowing for a more gentle experience. (I like the Medela Harmony the best.)

Here’s something cool you should know.  You don’t have to pump at the same exact time the baby is eating. This means that you could pump and lie down to sleep while your partner stays up and waits for the baby to be ready to eat again. He can feed the baby the bottle (which you pumped a little while earlier), then wake you up the next time baby needs to eat so you can pump again. Get that?! That may earn you up to four to five hours of sleep!!

In 24 hours:
Total infant feedings (breast or bottle) must equal total breast stimulations (breastfeeding or pumping). 

2. Feed the baby:

Feed the baby about two to three ounces of whatever milk you pump (half an ounce if baby is two days old or younger, one ounce if baby is three or four days old). Go ahead and feed the baby the milk in a bottle. Don’t obsess about nipple confusion or skipping a few direct breastfeeding sessions and pumping. This is about survival. Feed the baby the milk from a bottle and move on with your life.  And don’t worry about which bottle you are using, just make sure you are bottle feeding the baby properly.

No, it doesn’t matter who feeds the baby. It can be mom or dad or grandma (I vote that it shouldn’t be mom because she should be doing something else like sleeping or eating or peeing or showering).

Didn’t pump out enough milk? Well, you still need to feed the baby. So, if you need to, feed the baby a little formula.

Hold steady. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The goal here is to not quit in the interim between horrible nipple pain and getting help. You can do this. Don’t quit now.