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Breastfeeding Reduces Pain

J. Gallagher
Downers Grove IL USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 5, September-October 2006, p.215

Every mother has the right to protect her children as she sees fit. I think that breastfeeding helps reduce infant pain and stress. When breastfeeding is not immediately feasible, I have some ideas for infant pain reduction.

When my little ones got their immunizations, I warned them that they were going to get an "owie," but that it would stop hurting in a few minutes. I reminded them that I would be with them the entire time, which also helped them feel better.

Instead of breastfeeding at the moment of immunization, I always stood toward the back of my child's head, placed my index finger (soft side up) gently on the roof of the mouth where the palate drops down, and let my child suck. At the same time I whispered calm, soothing words in my child's ear such as, "I love you," "You'll feel better soon," and "Hang in there." (The index finger is similar in body temperature to a nipple and, from what I understand, similar to the shape of a nipple during nursing.)

As soon as the immunization was over, I would quickly nurse my child in the same room. I never asked permission to do so -- it was my right and responsibility to meet my baby's needs. The doctors and nurses benefited, too, because they didn't have to listen to a screaming baby. Thankfully, I was never challenged about breastfeeding at my doctor's office.

The finger method has also been helpful for my husband. If one of my babies started crying while I was in the shower, my husband let our child suck on the tip of his pinky finger (clean, of course). It was only a short-term solution, but it saved my baby (and husband!) from the stress of crying.

I hope that all breastfeeding mothers can feel confident in their lifestyle and parenting choices. There will always be people who test us, but La Leche League support and being prepared can help carry us through many situations!

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