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Deciding whether to give up BF because of pain...opinions?

(17 Posts)
cambodia Wed 15-Dec-10 01:54:01

I've got an 8 day newborn. BF has been a total, shocking horror; He's feeding really, really well but he is very small (5lb 7oz) with tiny mouth and barracuda suck. I've cried during bf. Two days ago, after thinking I was making progress, one breast was too mangled to use. Midwife told me to stop for 48 hours, express, feed from other breast, bottle and top with formula.

Last night was the first night of doing this and it was bliss. No pain for me (other breast yesterday was fine, today quite sore), and the pleasure of feeding without tension. He slept really, really well. Maybe because I wasn't tense...

So now what? I can't decide whether to return to the hell of BF and perservere, or think about expressing or even switching to formula.

I don't want to dread BF, I want to go out in public (and can't with the pain of it sometimes), and I want to enjoy my son. But every time I try to decide, it gets loaded in my head.

DH very supportive of whatever I decide, although body language suggests he'd probably prefer me to keep at BF.

Any advice?

OnEdge Wed 15-Dec-10 02:04:09

try nipple shields

cambodia Wed 15-Dec-10 02:20:20

They don't work for me

Dreemagurl Wed 15-Dec-10 04:18:15

You poor thing, sounds like you're having a terrible time. Well done for sticking with it so far. How desperate are you to continue breadtfeeding? If it's something you really want to continue with, I'd suggest keep doing what you're doing with expressing and topping up until your boobs are healed, and then trying again. Lots of lansinoh cream should help your nipples! The first 2 weeks of bf are incredibly difficult - I remember being in tears every feed from the pain and begging DH to go out for formula in the middle of the night. DD is now 7 weeks and thriving, and it doesn't hurt anymore. However my nipples weren't as bad as yours sound, and you're quite right in thinking your LO will pick up on your tension. Happy mum, happy baby! If it's the right thing for you to give up bf and go with formula, then no one will judge you and your baby won't suffer. You've already given the best start, he's had your colostrum with all its benefits.

Good luck with whatever you decide. Yes it does get easier but it's a long slog and the pain and sleep deprivation don't help!

Hugs to you x

cinnamongreyhound Wed 15-Dec-10 08:19:36

I agree, it depends on how important breastfeeding is to you. I had a lot of pain with ds1, large cracks which took a long time to heal as I then got Thrush. I didn't feed him in public until he was 8 weeks old and my nipples finally healed at 10 weeks. I cried at every feed and was a nightmare to live with but the thought of swapping to formula upset me more so I stuck with it. After those 10 weeks it was so easy and I actually enjoyed it. The first time he looked up at me and smiled while feeding was wonderful. I fed him until 15 months after that and have had none of the same problems with ds2 who is now 13 weeks. Good luck whatever you decide.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 15-Dec-10 08:27:10

Woah. Ok, if your nipples are getting damaged, it means your baby's latch isn't quite right (no matter what the MWs say).

What part of the country are you in? I can have a rummage for groups there. Alternatively, call one of the BF hotlines and get talked through some techniques to improve your baby's latch. (Basically, cross cradle technique is the best one for most babies this small.)

Nipple shields are not the right option - fixing the latch is the right option.

Bad latch means the baby isn't getting as much milk as he would with a good latch - so it needs fixing for you both.

And then see if it still hurts - obviously you can always stop BF, but it's probably worth getting things fixed first.

Shugaplum Wed 15-Dec-10 09:19:28

Definitely go see a BFing expert who can help you with the latch. Can make all the difference. ALso - do you know if he has a tongue tie? That could be causing a bad latch/difficulty sucking properly.

CamperFan Wed 15-Dec-10 09:23:14

I would stick with it for now, but only because I have stuck with it twice through lots of pain so I can officially say it gets better! First time round I expressed loads due to thrush and then finally got back to bfing after several weeks. This time has been very painful for about 4 weeks but I didn't bother expressing, just stuck with it and at 7 weeks it is going well. We've had suspected thrush, tongue tie, blocked duct, latch issues....

What helped:
- Jelonet gauze (from chemist) healed my nipples really quickly when they became bloody
- MW checking for tongue tie and then snipping it straight away
- being religious about the latch and trying the exaggerated attachment method (might work if your LO is small?)
- taking Breast Feeding Network thrush PDF to my Dr for the correct treatment
- expressing a little before a feed if difficult for DS to latch

I absolutely sympathise with you and I know the feelings of wanting to enjoy your son. I found it worse first time, with the thrush, I cried continuously, but I thought I might be more unhappy if I stopped (felt this both times), and set myself small goals of "until the end of the day", etc. I dreaded the nights most, but now I mainly just lie down and doze while he feeds! You've done really well to even still be doing it now, loads of people stop. Take painkillers. I don't know why MW said top up with formula if you expressed from the one breast and fed from the other - why would he need formula too? No wonder he slept well, but he surely doesn't need the formula! As for going out in public - it's overated. It's really cold and Xmas is coming, stay in and enjoy the warmth. I don't really like feeding in public yet, and I'm not in pain now. That can wait for when you are confident.

Well done. Remember 8 days in is REALLY early days. Is there a bfing group near you?

cambodia Wed 15-Dec-10 09:33:00

Thank you all so much for your posts. Really helpful. A few more details:

- No thrush, and no tongue tie, no mastitis. All been checked.

He has a tiny mouth, I have large breasts. That, plus bad latch to start off with didn't help. Then latch got a bit better and then, as milk came in and breasts got engorged - and I mean engorged, it was like I had a huge, freak tit - i think the latch got distorted again. So it got mauled and bloody etc.

Sorry, tmi -

I think the midwife told me to top up because she didn't want me to over express and upset milk production balance? To be honest I don't know but she's back today so I intend to ask. I'd prefer to express more (she told me to spend 20 mins on it which I knew wouldn't generate enough) and use less formula, until a time when I've made that decision to switch or not.

DS is a great feeder, and before this hiatus, even with all my pain, I felt like he was getting enough milk from me. Last night, I felt like he wasn't and he was hungry. And that's a new upset for me. He was restless in night and woke earlier for next feeds than he has been.

Anyway, that's just an update. I'll check out the jelonet guaze, thanks for that.

SnowIsFallingOnLee Wed 15-Dec-10 09:47:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

littlemama Wed 15-Dec-10 09:54:04

Hi, I had the same problem with my first baby, absolute agony to feed. Felt like red hot lava coming out of my nipple!

Definitely would recommend Lansinoh, it is totally different from other nipple creams and helps to prevent and heal the damage to your nipples. I don't know if you are already using it, but if you aren't, get some quick! I used it for my next baby and had no problem.

I got a breast feeding expert in, as the midwife admitted she didn't know what I should do, she could see how painful my nipples were but just said they shouldn't be!! The latch was fine, but like your baby he had a strong suck, even painful sucking my little finger! I got no good advice at the time, just lots of tutting and 'ooh, it shouldn't hurt'. Wish someone had mentioned Lansinoh then...

I got through it (barely) and a few weeks later the pain was better, my nipples healed and I bf happily for over a year, pain free.
Good luck with whatever you decide is best for you both.

heidipi Wed 15-Dec-10 09:59:59

I just wanted to echo those who have said that it does get better - your post could have been me a few days ago, but things are now improving and the pain is already so much better.

For me it has taken 2 weeks of bfing (my baby is 4 wks old but I didn't start feeding properly until 2 wks because of supply probs, but my nipples also got mangled in the first few days) but as the baby and I have both got the hang of it and my nipples have got used to it, it has become much more bearable - bordering on enjoyable! I don't dread feeds now and haven't cried about it since Saturday now that we have started turning the corner. I've been obsessively reading bf threads on here to reassure myself it's not just me.

I would say that while it's definitely worth getting your latch checked (getting a bf counsellor to sit with me really helped), it's not necessarily true for everyone that it won 't hurt if the latch is good. Some nips/breasts are more sensitive than others and it stands to reason that having a small determined mouth sucking away for hours will have an impact - my boobs had never had anything like that kind of attention before!

Also take things slowly - I'm not expecting to bf in public for a while yet, til the baby can support her head better it's still quite a 2 handed, not very modest process for me!

Good luck and congrats on your baby! As others have said, you've already given a great start, however you feed from here on.

GetTheXmasPartyStarted Wed 15-Dec-10 10:13:33

I hated breastfeeding for the first month, the only reason I kept going is because of my family history of asthma/excema/milk allergy. The latch was good, my boob was just very big and he was (comparatively) small and very very sucky. It was excruciating. I promised myself I would give up at six weeks if it hadn't got better.

And it did! DS got a bit quicker, his mouth got bigger and the pain got less and less. At six weeks it still nipped a bit but I could stand it. At 3 months it didn't hurt at all and I quite liked the cuddles. At 6 months he was a speed feeder and I loved that he sat still for 2 minutes. And now at 10 months it is so easy and chilled out and I am so glad that I managed to get through the first horrible weeks.

I think that what I am trying to say is that at 8 days it is really really hard, you are tired, he is so new and everything is just awful and if you choose not to continue you have already given him a great start. But if you need some encouragement because you really want to continue, it WILL get easier.

Second the people saying to speak to a bf councellor for some RL help and support if you do want to carry on, but don't feel guilty if you don't, no-one will know in 10 years how he was fed and it won't seem important.

And congratulations on your lovely new DS!

cambodia Wed 15-Dec-10 10:33:03

Thanks GettheXmasPartyStarted - that sounds very smiliar to my DS bf experience. He is v v sucky, small and a good feeder. Was the pain throughout the first month as bad as it was in the beginning or did you see any week by week progress?

I do want to do it but yes, I'm tired of the intense pain while making this massive adjustment and he'll be my only child and I'm worried I'll miss out enjoying this stage as much as I can because of my own tensions around feeding

The midwife's send me maternity support/breast feeding people. Are these specialist enough? The NCT counsellor I met wasn't that helpful. Where else can I try for a specialist

wolfhound Wed 15-Dec-10 10:46:32

Hi Cambodia, poor you, I know exactly how you feel. I found BF extraordinarily painful for the first 6-8 weeks with DS1. People kept telling me it must be a latch problem, but I'm not convinced. I think it was a combination of a very painful letdown reflex (like being stabbed - your 'barracuda mouth' sounds similar) and sore, bright pink nipples. Taking him off the latch to reposition made it worse, because I had the letdown reflex pain all over again then.

I felt all the things you're feeling - it's spoiling my enjoyment, this is not a bonding experience etc. etc. But I stuck with it (mainly because a close friend of mine had been through the same thing and assured me it would get better). At 6 weeks it felt like it was getting worse (the growth spurt and near-constant feeding).

And then - magically - it suddenly improved. By 8 weeks it was pain-free, and easy. I wasn't doing anything different. I carried on BF until he was 12 mths, and it was the happy, easy, bonding experience that everyone said it should be.

Similar experience with DS2 - except that the painful stage was much shorter: 2-4 weeks instead of 6-8. So, I disagree that pain is simply the result of a bad latch. I think (from my own experience and talking to others) that it is simply more painful for some people than others. I think it helps as the baby gets bigger (and their mouth gets bigger, and they get better at the whole feeding thing. When they're a bit bigger, you don't have to even think about latches and positioning - just point them in the general direction and they sort it out themselves.

So - your decision, but just wanted to reassure you that it really does improve. I got through those painful weeks by
- slathering on Lansinoh in vast quantities
- popping paracetamol like an addict
- telling myself each feed that I'd just get through this 'one feed' and if I wanted to switch to formula after that I could (but never actually buying any formula, so it wasn't on hand).
- talking a lot to other people who'd had a similar experience (and not to the ones who thought it should be easy and I must be doing something wrong)

I tried getting help from the NCT and from La Leche League, but didn't find either very helpful. They all wanted me to go to other locations for breastfeeding help, and when you're in the early stages and in pain, going out feels impossible. The best thing would be to have someone come and help you at your house (and stick around to help you repeatedly). A post-natal doula perhaps? I had a birth doula who was brilliant for getting me started on BF, a post-natal one visiting regularly might have helped too. You can find the Doula UK organisation on the internet and they'll have a list of local ones.

Good luck. Sorry about the long post, but I really sympathise. Best wishes with whatever you decide to do. x

SnowIsFallingOnLee Wed 15-Dec-10 11:07:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

monkeyflippers Wed 15-Dec-10 11:16:51

I just wanted to say that I found the whole experience of breastfeeding incredibly painful. My boobs hurt ALL the time, I was engorged ALL the time, my babies couldn't latch on to me (small nipples and not very pointy), the babies were distressed, I was distressed!

There was no reason for it either. No problem with how I was getting babies to latch on, no mastitis or thrush. For me it is just a very painful and unsuccessful experience as the babies can't get the milk as they can't latch. When they did latch (which happened a few times and was confirmed as correct by the midwives) the milk being sucked from my breasts was incredibly painful!

I phoned many breastfeeding helplines and spoke to many midwives and got lots of good and lots of completely pointless advice. Tried all of it though and non of it worked.

Sorry to sound negative, I'm not, it's just that antenatal classes make out that EVERYONE can breast feed but they can't, I'm proof of that and I have met plenty of others. All the attitude that "everyone can do it" does is make you feel like a faliure if you can't do it because they insist that everyone can. Yes everyone has breasts so it seems so simple, I assumed I would have no trouble and was looking forward to it but it just doesn't work for me which makes me very sad.

In the end I expressed for as long as I could which is fine for the first baby but no so much for the second when you just don't have the time to do it cos you have an older on to look after as well.

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