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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.

mrsnoodle55 Sun 23-Jun-13 10:51:37

crafty -I know this thread is a few days old and you might not see this, but if you do I wanted to say I think you've done absolutely the right thing. I have 2 kids-8 yrs ago I went to hell and back trying to breast feed. I am convinced it lead to (undiagnosed) PND, then ultimately divorce and life as a single mum. This time round (DD is now 16mths) I was determined not to go down the same path.

However! Once again I found it so hard, yet just couldn't admit defeat. The cycle began again. Tongue tie snips, endless appointments with bf counsellors, I drove 100 miles to see a lactation consultant, medications, pumps, supplementary devices...and still a fussy baby, not gaining weight, and a stressed out and exhausted me.

The turning point for me was at about 2 months-at 3am i was trying to tape a supplementary feeding tube to my knackered nipples whilst baby screamed her head off, starving. 8 yr old son woke up through the racket and banged his head on bunk bead, baby then ripped tube off in her panic. I saw the light. I ripped the rest of the stuff off and threw it at the window, went downstairs and made a bottle.

I admit-I was upset for a few days. But we rediscovered a life, and I enjoyed her. I look back now, and i don't recognise myself. Both bottlefed 8yr old son and bottlefed 16th month old daughter are fine. Neither had allergies/tummy upsets/son is a stick insect!

Enjoy your baby xx

LAF77 Tue 18-Jun-13 21:21:10

I also just saw this pop up crafty about BF support at Chapelfield in case this works for you.

LAF77 Tue 18-Jun-13 20:38:10

crafty I would suggest that you go to see Jan at West Pottergate tomorrow if you can. Your DC may have a tongue tie that has been missed by the MWs as most do not have specialist knowledge to know what they are looking for. If you choose not to bf anymore, it would be in your DCs long term interests to have it dealt with now.

BF can be painful at first as your body is getting used to the letdown of milk and your nipples can get sore. However, bleeding suggests that there is something is wrong beyond the normal adjustment process.

Be gentle with yourself. I also remember trying to do everything, cook, clean, when my DS was just as tiny. I was so frustrated that I couldn't just do it all and have everything ready for DH when he came home.

PM me if you want to chat and some moral support in Norwich. I'm in NR1.

philbee Tue 18-Jun-13 13:00:10

Glad to hear things are better, crafty. Your health (mental and physical) is the most important thing so you can keep on looking after your baby. Hope things continue to improve. smile

SlinkyB Tue 18-Jun-13 09:58:36

Just scan read the thread OP and just wanted to say how happy I am for you that you've found a way that works for you and your baby! smile

I could have written your exact posts when DS was that age; he's now a healthy, happy 2.5yr old.

The respite that the bottles of formula gave my nipples was such a relief, and I actually enjoyed being able to mix-feed for a couple of weeks too (bf first/last thing, formula all other times, my milk supply was still ok and my poor nipples had healed).

Please don't feel guilty; other people will do a grand job of that for you sometimes!! wink

Layl77 Tue 18-Jun-13 09:05:46

Sounds like baby might have a tongue tie? I'd speak to a lactation consultant ask midwife to check babes mouth.

THERhubarb Tue 18-Jun-13 08:57:22

Good for you crafty! We have to make tough decisions as mothers sometimes and we don't need the guilt trip to make it worse. You did what was right for you and I agree with you. Some people would argue that the baby's health is more important than yours; that is crap. Your health is vital if you are to bond and care for your baby.

I'm very pleased that you have found a solution smile

craftycottontail Tue 18-Jun-13 08:51:19

Thanks Rhubarb, great post and I'm so glad to know I'm not alone. After pushing through another few days of cluster feeding (which was okay to start with but soon turned into hell again) I've decided to switch to formula. We're using HIPP organic and DS is lapping it up. He doesn't get spots on his face or vomit afterwards like he did with Cow and Gate. He seems very content.

After initial feelings of guilt I feel SO much better in myself, more energetic and feeling able to just enjoy my little boy without any more feelings of resentment towards him or dreading the next feed. For all of us formula is the right choice. I'm sure it's debateable what good he was getting from my milk anyway when I felt so run down, a sobbing mess and unable to prepare proper meals myself while DH at work because I was pinned to nursing chair for such long stretches.

THERhubarb Mon 17-Jun-13 08:49:36

caro as crafty has said, if people were honest about breastfeeding then perhaps more mothers wouldn't give up quite so soon feeling like failures.

Yes there can be problems with latching on, with thrush, etc. But are you told about ANY of these problems beforehand? No.

You are told, by midwives and breastfeeding counsellors that if you are doing it right, it should not hurt. This puts the emphasis onto you, the mother, which implies that if it does hurt, it's not thrush or anything else but the way you are feeding which is wrong. It makes you feel like a failure as a new mum.

I wrote an article about my experience for the NCT as I was so angry by the attitudes I had come across. I realise that most counsellors meant well but they all seemed to imply that the pain was largely my fault. Their attitude was that if the positioning and latch were fine, then there should be no pain. You wouldn't believe how many responses that article got from women who all had the same experiences and many of them, like me, had given up breastfeeing after feeling like utter failures.

If we knew the truth about breastfeeding then we wouldn't have put so much pressure on ourselves to get it right. If I knew about breast thrush and mastitis I would have got these checked out. I only found out about them by googling problems with breastfeeding.

I did get mastitis once but I did not get breast thrush thankfully.

With both of mine, the pain was there from the very start of the feed although it got more bearable towards the end and now I do feel that it was to do with the letdown of my milk. Once we had both settled into a routine, from around 6 weeks onwards, the let down became less severe and the pain would subside until, with ds, I was able to feed with ease after 3 months.

Knowing all the problems associated with breastfeeding would not have put me off trying and it may even have resulted in me feeding dd for longer instead of finally giving up after 3 months. I was angry that no-one had told me of all these issues so that I could have investigated them. I was angry that they implied the pain was all my fault and that I was not feeding my babies correctly, or that I was being soft and imagining it. The responses from my article showed me that I was not alone. There were many angry mothers out there who also experienced pain and who were also made to feel like failures.

I found many more on Mumsnet. In fact I had such an argument on here once (years ago) with a bf counsellor who didn't believe me that sometimes, it just bloody hurts, that I started a thread and she had to concede defeat when many posters came on to say the same thing, that their positioning was fine, the latch was fine, but it still JUST HURT. They too, were angry at how they had been treated.

So yes, do investigate breast thrush, do watch out for mastitis and do make sure you get cracked nipples treated (I also advocate rubbing breast milk on them, but AFTER your baby has fed so that your nipple is covered in the creamy breastmilk which makes more of a difference I think) but if you have investigated all these possible causes and are still in pain then it's just one of those things which is more common than you'd expect. I doubt it will be investigated as midwives and bf counsellors seem to have this huge problem in even admitting that painful breastfeeding exists. But it DOES subside and you CAN get through it. You need a lot of moral support and more importantly, you need to be believed.

Best of luck OP.

philbee Sun 16-Jun-13 19:26:41

longdistance I don't get problems while feeding, but tingling, itching, soreness afterwards and sometimes the stabbing pains. We both have cream and DD has oral gel and we've been using that since Wednesday, so if it's no better by Tues when I'm going to the bf group I'll see whether the counsellor there thinks I need the tablets (is that fluconazole?)

LAF77 Sun 16-Jun-13 10:13:31

Please get to the West Pottergate session. If you called the BFN, perhaps they could put you in touch with Jan who runs it in advance of Wednesday.

Hopefully, Norwich won't be a BF blackhole in a few months!

Good luck and take care.

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!!

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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?


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?

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!

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.

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