Laid-back Breastfeeding – A Lifesaver!

As I posted previously in Eli’s birth story, Eli and I were having problems with breastfeeding.  It wasn’t working out very well and I was in excruciating pain with cracked and bleeding nipples.  Ouch!  There were many times that I felt like giving up.  I didn’t think I could handle the pain I was going through.  The turning point came one night when I was breastfeeding Eli and the pain became more than I could handle.  By the time he was finished eating, I was crying out in pain and continued to cry for over 45 minutes.  My wonderful husband couldn’t bear to watch me go through so much pain He told me that he would like it if we could feed Eli bottles for the rest of the night until we could get to our lactation consultant meeting, which was the next night.  I reluctantly agreed to feed Eli formula, since I didn’t have a breast pump.  I felt like such a failure.  I had successfully breastfed two other babies, but it was just not working out this time.

The next day was our lactation consultation.  It was so nice to have someone to talk to who could help.   She suggested pumping exclusively for at least 5 days, until I was healed enough that I wasn’t screaming in pain.  By the end of the 5 days, I was to start trying to nurse for a little while, then pump and do that until I was back to exclusively breast feeding.   With her help and suggestions, along with using a nipple shield, I was able to breast feed again.  The only problem was that it still hurt every time I nursed, but at least I wasn’t bleeding any longer.  I so wanted to be able to nurse and have it be an enjoyable experience.
It wasn’t until I visited a La Leche League meeting that I finally had a break through.  The wonderful leaders sympathized with me and presented a technique I hadn’t thought of.  They called it laid-back breastfeeding.  In laid-back breastfeeding, the baby finds the nipple on his own and latches on.  Mom lies back in a relaxed position, either in bed or in a chair.  The baby is laid on the mom’s chest, but not straight to the nipple.  Babies have an instinct that allows them to find the nipple, and then latch on.  You can read more about laid-back breastfeeding, or Biological Nurturing, here.
Long story short, that day was the beginning of a new nursing experience for both Eli and me.  It changed everything.  It didn’t automatically quit hurting, but since Eli was finding the latch that worked for us, it started hurting less and less.  Within a week, I was no longer in pain and was much more confident with breastfeeding and mothering this new little baby, in general.  I wish that more women knew about this technique.  I’m sure it would make a difference for so many that are having troubles with breastfeeding.
Today, Eli and I share a wonderful breastfeeding experience.  We are comfortable with each other and enjoy nursing anywhere he’s hungry.  Before going to the La Leche League meeting, I was ready to give up and feed him formula.  It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but having a relaxed and happy mommy is more important than whether I nurse him or feed him formula.  He would be healthier and happier if I wasn’t stressed and in pain every time he needed fed.  If you know of anyone that is having troubles with pain while breastfeeding, let them know about laid-back breastfeeding and refer them to the La Leche League.  It made a world of difference for me and I know it can make a difference for a lot of women.


  1. says

    This is really excellent advice. I was about to give up on how to breasfeed with my first baby and I really think the thing that saved us was my willingness to rather “give up” – I had him in my arms, I was reclined in a chair, and I told him, it’s there if you want it, if not I’ll go fix a bottle. Well, 6 breastfed babies later I’m here to say that it works!

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