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Breastfeeding excruitating, formula horrid

(61 Posts)
craftycottontail Thu 13-Jun-13 23:45:35

Having a rubbish time and feel caught between two unhappy alternatives sad

Breastfeeding is really painful, noth nipples now cracked, sore and scabbing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Midwives have siad my positioning is all good, latch looks okay and they discharged us last week as little one was back to birth weight. National Breastfeeding helpline were useless, basically just Googling for local help and giving me telephone numbers. NCT counsellor said some really useful things but none of her tips get past the fact that it really hurts!

Formula smells! And doesn't seem to satisfy my little man as he roots all over me straight after a bottle. Plus he's been sick since I've given him formula, and was never sick with breast milk. If I make the leap to formula will my baby get used to it?

I just don't know what to do - feel like it's a choice between me being in agony and unhappy, or my baby being unhappy on formula. I've not managed to get into the swing of pumping as there never seems enough time to sit pumping for hours in the day.

carovioletfizz Fri 14-Jun-13 14:22:47

Sorry to hear you are having a bad time. Well done on persevering. I know how sore it can be.

Firstly if you PM me where you are I might be able to help locate a local group for you?

The Breastfeeding Network Supporterline is definitely worth a call - 0300 100 0210. Open 9.30 to 9.30.

I know this has been said before but once you get the latch right, it really doesn't hurt. I say this as someone who had excruciating pain, black scabs, crying through every feed - then the MW showed me the rugby ball hold and it all just fell into place.

Take a look at this video make sure you are going through all the steps for latching on. Remember, baby's mouth must be really wide open - think eating an apple rather than sucking spaghetti!

Good luck and do pm me with your location, I am a breastfeeding helper and might be able to give you details of a local group or supporter that can help.

THERhubarb Fri 14-Jun-13 14:30:29

I remember the pain all too well.

I had patronising midwives and even breastfeeding counsellors telling me that if I was doing it right, it shouldn't hurt. They seemed to look at me as if I was a right soft arse. It wasn't until I came across Mumsnet that I realised I was not the only one who suffered.

It was also painful with my second and I'm hardly sensitive to pain - I gave birth to him at home without pain relief!

My breasts are quite small so I don't know if that had anything to do with it?

One bit of advice I was given was to squeeze the end of my breasts, almost like a sandwich, before offering it to the baby so I could ensure that she got a good mouthful. That seemed to help.

Yes it was toe-curling agony every time I fed her and after 3 months I gave up because I just couldn't bear it any longer. I wish I had stuck it out though. I lasted longer with ds, a whole six months and by that time I was become very adept at feeding.

The tips I would give is the breast sandwich tip above; also do some breathing exercises just before you latch the baby on, like when you were in labour, so that you are completely relaxed; tilt yourself back a little whilst feeding - don't hunch over.

Those tips helped me get through the worst of it.

You have my every sympathy. All I can say is that the pain will eventually subside. Right now it's at its worst, it will not get much worse than this, so with that thought keep at it if you can. You will soon start to feel an improvement.

THERhubarb Fri 14-Jun-13 14:35:31

caro that is completely and utterly wrong, I'm sorry.

I WAS doing it right. The latch, the positioning and everything was spot on. I know it's hard for some people to accept this but accept it you must if you are going to help new mothers - for some people breastfeeing just hurts.

It was the same with my ds, born 3 years later. Again, everything was right. The pain just subsided over time.

I also had a huge letdown reflux. My milk would come spurting out absolutely everywhere and would be really painful. I couldn't feed in public because the baby would pull away (the milk was drowning her!) and the milk could cover a huge distance. I was forever wiping milk from my walls and furniture.

This again, passed in time.

You can be doing everything right and you can be an experienced feeder and it can still just hurt. From speaking to so many other mums, I know this is the case. By telling mothers that they must be doing something wrong you are only making them feel like failures. I almost gave up because of that attitude. Only when I had accepted that it just hurt and I was convinced that everything I was doing was ok, could I just get on with it.

tobiasfunke Fri 14-Jun-13 14:56:10

Rubbing breast milk on your nipples and letting it dry between feeds helps heal the nipples. It was absolutely magic for me.
As regards formula- if he is being sick perhaps he is drinking it too quickly because he is used to having to suck harder for bm. That is what happened DS when we introduced a bottle after 6 months. He literally sucked it down in one gulp and then regurgitated it.
Try a slow flow teat.

carovioletfizz Fri 14-Jun-13 15:38:50

Therhubarb, sorry to hear you had a painful experience BFing. It's not wrong,however, to say that if the latch is correct, ongoing scabbing and extreme pain to the extent the op is suffering should not be an issue. I don't think it would be helpful to suggest to crafty or any other mum to suggest that 'breastfeeding just hurts' when that need not be the case with a few adjustments to positioning and latch.

OP, you are absolutely not a failure, and I do hope that's not what you read from my post - breastfeeding is a skill and can be really hard, and it sounds like you are doing brilliantly to persevere. Latch is something that is tricky to perfect and I hope the links and helpline numbers I have posted above may help you. Take care.

craftycottontail Fri 14-Jun-13 16:09:00

Thanks so much everyone. I'm currently feeding rugby hold and it's fine (but generally is in the afternoons). I think because there are times it doesn't hurt it reinforces that midwives etc are right when they say my positioning and his latch are fine. There's something very different about the times when it's painful.

I've been using lansinoh from the beginning as had read on MN it was good.

I'm in Norwich which seems to be a black hole with breastfeeding help. There's one breastfeeding cafe near me on Monday mornings but little man slept through it last week and refused to be woken. Will go again though.

Googled but can't seem to find any local lactation counsellors - if anyone has any recommendations for Norwich that would be great. Don't really know who to pester for help as midwives have discharged us, health visitors (who run the cafe) don't seem to have much epertise and the heLplines just tell me all the same things. LLL don't have any local groups according to their website.

Actually just remembered there's an LLL logo on my hospital website, will check that out!

Was using Cow and Gate, hopefully other brands will smell less and agree with him more!

I too am v v annoyed that nothing was said in antenatal classes and all the things I read beforehand about the pain. Feel I wouldn't have been so stressed about it if I'd known. He had problems sucking from the start and ended up feeding colostrom via syringe which the hospital said was v normal.

Interested in baby led latching as would make sense with how strong his instinct is to root around my chest, will investigate that too.

One of the helplines said him feeding for long stretches (30-60 mins) is indication that something might not be right but can't find any info on this??

Thanks again everyone smile

craftycottontail Fri 14-Jun-13 17:50:23

Oh dear I didn't notice the 2nd page sorry!

Caro thanks for your kind offer, can't figure out how to PM from my phone but I'm in Norich NR4 area.

Breastfeeding pain seems to be a complicated issue - either the multiple midwives I've seen at hospital and afterwards are undertrained in advising on positioning and latch or breastfeeding really can hurt.

I've taken to bed since 3pm with baby trying skin to skin for cluster feed session and switching breasts when they start to hurt. Don't know if this is advised but it's being mainly ok... Determined to push through this! He's still going hmm

Yep I think DS is being sick by drinking formula too fast.

carovioletfizz Fri 14-Jun-13 18:11:52

Hi crafty,
Maybe it might be worth recording the time of day and position when it hurts as you say it only hurts sometimes - you might see a pattern? You are doing brilliantly! Skin to skin sounds like a wonderful idea.

I found this for you
which may have some useful Norwich links.

It looks like there is a breastfeeding support centre in West Pottergate on Thursdays from 10-12, at the West Pottergate Health Centre, though I know that's a few days away. Tel is 01603 620263.

The NCT also have a branch in Norwich and they will hopefully have some breastfeeding supporters in your area who can help.

Give the Breastfeeding Network Supporterline a go if you feel you want to talk to someone who's breastfed and can talk your issues over 0300 100 0210. Open 9.30 to 9.30.

It does seem complicated at first - but I promise once you get the hang of it it will feel easy. It's a bit like learning to drive. Soon it will be second nature. Just take it one feed at a time, take your time latching him on and it should all fall into place. Hope you have a good night with him tonight and things start to get a little easier.x

FaddyPeony Fri 14-Jun-13 18:20:42

Breastfeeding really hurt for me too, although every expert going was super impressed by how well dd latched on and how comfortable I looked feeding her. A lactation consultant diagnosed posterior tongue tie and we got it clipped at 14 weeks. That said I do think that breastfeeding just hurts for some people! How would it not when your nips have never been sucked on constantly like that before?

OP - remember that you can put on lansinoh before a feed as well as after. It helps a bit. If you stick with it, in 2 weeks' time it should already feel a lot easier and you will be vv glad you persevered.

fuckwittery Fri 14-Jun-13 18:20:48

Has he been checked for tongue tie? As latch might be perfect but tongue tie could cause the pain x

FaddyPeony Fri 14-Jun-13 18:22:34

oh delighted to hear that the skin to skin might be helping a little OP - I used to lie down on my side with dd in bed when it felt very sore and that definitely helped a lot. keep doing that!

TreeLuLa Fri 14-Jun-13 18:24:43

I BF DTs and it was agony for about 6-8 weeks. Real teeth clenching, crying agony.
Turned out I had thrush on my breasts. When that was fixed, was fine. If they are red, a bit flaky and sore, it might be that.

Hope things get better soon.

craftycottontail Fri 14-Jun-13 19:26:51

He's still going 3 hours later and now it's starting to hurt again. Beginning to wonder if it's just repeated abuse that makes it hurt!

I've tried all those helplines, they all say the same things.

He has been checked for tongue tie and doesn't appear to have it, midwife who checked him said even if he did have it they wouldn't always treat it (though National Breastfeeding helpline says that's false - how they know local hospital policy I don't know).

This is frystrating sad I'm holding on to this pain resulting in something that's good for my baby. It's better than the emotional wrench of seeing him vomit formula and struggle to fill his nappy. He also sounds congested after formula and doesn't after breastmilk. Will keep reminding myself of these things!

carovioletfizz Fri 14-Jun-13 21:11:01

Hope you get a bit of a break soon crafty. Might be worth asking your HV about thrush if that is a possibility?

glossyflower Fri 14-Jun-13 21:17:29

How old is your baby? And what is your milk supply like?

Would you consider temporarily using nipple shields? Or expressing your milk and feeding from bottle/cup?


Longdistance Fri 14-Jun-13 23:46:00

Sounds like he's cluster feeding.

Definitely get some nipple shields to protect your nips. And get checked for thrush.

craftycottontail Fri 14-Jun-13 23:46:22

He's 18 days old. My milk supply seems fine - flows pretty easily, he makes a gulping sound sometimes so not sure if it's a bit fast for him at times?

24 hrs later I'm in exactly the same position, can't bear to feed him any longer. DH has just come home from work (he's on afternoon-evening shifts) and is giving him some formula. DS fed constantly from about 3pm to 9pm today, we both slept a bit then he woke at 11pm looking for more.

I DO feel like a failure as just don't have the energy and pain threshold to give him what he wants.

Kellymom website says this cluster feeding might be a 3wk growth spurt (he's 3wks on Sunday).

I think I'll have to get my head round pumping in order to preserve my sanity.

craftycottontail Fri 14-Jun-13 23:51:15

I tried nipple shields but he took the top of the shield to the back of his mouth and bit down on my nipple instead of sucking it through to the top. Even more painful. Health visitor who runs the breastfeeding cafe said I was fitting them correctly but that they don't work for all babies.

I'll ask her about thrush on Monday but don't seem to have any of the redness/flakiness described - does it always look like this?

carovioletfizz Sat 15-Jun-13 07:39:24

You mustn't feel a failure, you are doing a great job and really persevering although it's hurting.Please, don't be so hard on yourself - as many have said on here, breastfeeding can be difficult at first, and you are trying so hard.

I hope you're feeling better today. The gulping sounds good, a sign that he's getting your milk.x

Longdistance Sat 15-Jun-13 13:15:22

No, my thrush was sore. Slightly pink, probably brought on by the cracks I had on my nips. I'd suggest seeing a doc for thrush, as they can prescribe the drugs there and then. I remember the toe curling pain of it.
Chin up op, you're doing really well.

philbee Sat 15-Jun-13 15:03:58

My thrush (ah, my very own) is like longdistance's, not red or flaky, but nips are definitely a much brighter pink than usual, more noticeable in the mirror than by looking down at them. And I get needley pains after and in between feeds, plus just general soreness. I think the red flaky thing isn't the case for everyone. GP can give you cream, and gel for baby's mouth. You both need treating or you'll keep reinfecting each other. Joy.

katiecubs Sat 15-Jun-13 15:09:56

I am bf ds2 and its going fine now - gave up with ds1 for similar issues (so painful!) honestly it really does get better, I found at 3-4 weeks it eased up a lot,

It's like breaking in a new pair of shoes, see how you are doing next week!

craftycottontail Sat 15-Jun-13 15:36:53

Really appreciate all the encouragement, thank you!

So after the marathon cluster feed yesterday he's done the same today - feeding since 8am! DH just took him so I could have a quick shower and we're back in the nursing chair (best £40 I ever spent!)

It's already getting better I think - perhaps just being in a different frame of mind is helping. Still hurts at times but it's getting easier to push through and I feel so much better for persevering! Helps having DH around as it's the weekend, he woke up with me during last night's feeds and read Peter Rabbit to us smile

Oh yay and he's just brought me tea and a snack, what an amgel! Moral support makes a HUGE amount of difference.

FridaKarlov Sat 15-Jun-13 20:26:16


I just wanted to post and let you know my experience: my daughter is now 4 months breastfed, but the first four weeks were awful and I felt the antenatal classes I attended did nothing to prepare me for how hard and painful it was.

My baby had a tongue-tie that was corrected at 10 days, but by that point my nipples were wrecked- huge cracks, and with toe-curling letdown. My baby was also feeding constantly, it felt like having my nipples pierced every couple of hours and I was screaming every time she latched on.

The way I got through it was to express milk using a pump for a week and bottle feeding her it, supplementing with 1 bottle of Aptamil in the evening, and using lansinoh and a bit of breastmilk on the cracks to heal the nipples. Once they'd healed I put her back on the breast and haven't had any probs since. Co-sleeping and feeding her while lying down also helped massively.

I'm very glad I stuck with it as now I love breastfeeding and am going to try and carry on until she's a year old- which seems amazing to me as I was so close to jacking it in!

Longdistance Sun 16-Jun-13 07:09:23

philbee if you get a tingling sensation, and it feels like you're feeding baby broken glass, you may have ductal thrush which will need treating by a gp with Fluconazole, a loading dose, and then a spread out dose.
Information can be found on the Breast feeding Network site.
Good luck

The thrush queen!!

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