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Breastfeeding hell

(22 Posts)
zinher Tue 04-Mar-14 01:37:20

My 3 week old baby is EBF. She is gaining weight well, but I am in hell. She is on the breast constantly at night and feeds every 2 hours in the day. I am having problem with over supply especially from the left breast. I leak constantly usually as a very fast jet and also get enforced very quickly. My nipples have become really sore and even if clothes brushes against them it's agony as a result I am mostly topless at home. Now I am also having electric shock like pains in the left Breast which is very very painful. I have had a lot of help with the latch from midwives but the soreness continues.

I am wondering if it's gna get better and if i should just give up. My house is a mess, I feel chained at home and I am exhausted.

Stubbed Tue 04-Mar-14 01:41:51

Healthcare professionals will struggle to advise you to give up bf as they are expected to support it. But IMO if it is not easy for you, then switch to formula. Bf is hard and if you are in pain it will soon take over your life and ruin these early days for you. I bf both of mine with no problems but I don't think it is worth making yourself miserable for.

Onepactupac Tue 04-Mar-14 01:58:58

I agree with stubbed.

If you're really keen to bf, keep going as long as you feel comfortable with. Otherwise, just ff.

Two things: it took me around 6 weeks to settle down with bf, but I had no qualms introducing ff during those first few weeks. She always had more bf than ff, but that's just because that was how it worked out. It would have been totally fine if it had been the other way round.

Secondly, bf proponents place far too much emphasis on purported health benefits to baby/mum at the expense of (1) the happiness of all other family members (2) an appreciation that most women these days are simply not as selfless as devoted bf often requires them to be. Women don't have personality transplants when they give birth.

Bf/ff is only as big a deal as you make it. Don't kill yourself over this, you have many, many, more difficult battles ahead. Save yourself the energy.

Congratulations on your DD!

zinher Tue 04-Mar-14 02:22:12

I was very keen to breast feed and DD who was very poorly in the first week is doing beautifully on it.
But now I am just knackered. And just when I think we have got the hang of it something else happens. Now these pains in my breast are one more thing to contend. I am trying to survive till the 6 week mark but don't know if I will last that long.
Thanks for the non judgemental comments.

Chells Tue 04-Mar-14 02:51:54

I'm in much the same position with a 3 week old ... It is gruelling and I also feel hugely guilty for wanting to take the perceived ' easy route'!
Bf is tricky, painful and hugely time consuming. As very logical DH pointed out to me, you need to decide what suits you and your family!! A tired, stressed mummy isn't going to be a fab parent....personally I've decided I'd rather enjoy time with my baby than see it as a 'chore'. Have you tried expressing to relieve the sore side?may give you a stockpile so that baby gets mummy milk, but you get a break. You will be an amazing parent regardless of what you decide!

Jenijena Tue 04-Mar-14 03:13:46

Congratulations on your little one. I think three weeks old is a really hard age, you've used up any pre birth supplies of energy you might have had (!), there's a growth spurt, and it's tough.

I was in a very similar position, OP. For me, and I do not judge at all those who chose differently - the decision was to carry on bfeeding and it did - eventually - get easier. But I felt better once I accepted my worth as a mother isn't linked to my ability to resemble a dairy cow and I gave myself permission to stop when I felt that the pain of feeding was not worth 'it' any more. I hope some of the following helps...

I presume you have googled oversupply and your issues, there are different positions to try, techniques for sore nipples (nipple shields can help) I highly recommend the kellymom site or ask specific things here. Also, i didn't believe that after six weeks things would calm down (when I had a shower, it turned the taps on I could drip 50-100ml, I regularly drenched myself in public, etc., so I do empathise with what you say). Honestly, it does, though for me was closer to seven-eight weeks.

Keep an eye on the breast pain and talk to as many bfing 'experts' as you can about it. Do you know of a drop in, bfing cafe, etc.? Turned out my pain wasn't normal, but I would not have found that out if I'd relied on my GP.

and if you don't feel it's for you, it's not the end if the world. However, given that you have an oversupply, if you stop suddenly you risk more complications (mastitis is so not fun) so the advice is to gradually introduce bottles.

Onepactupac Tue 04-Mar-14 03:18:11

Well if you are keen to bf and it is causing you distress, really the only option is to try to look at the positives. And there are plenty:

- this really is the hardest part. If you make it through this chances are very good that you will be fine until you/DD decide to stop

- all the things you describe are more or less normal. Put it this way: if you experienced these pains and this distress in another part of your body, NOT three weeks after giving birth and NOT after nine months of pregnancy, you probably would manage these issues differently. It really is a lot to take on board, the pg, the birth, bf for the first time...it's a lot of firsts in one go. Be kind to yourself.

- none of it matters, truly, ultimately. Yes you may feel you live in a tip, yes you may feel crap walking around half naked all day. Yes you are utterly exhausted and in pain... But it will pass. DD will settle down and so will you, the house will get back to normal, you will start wearing clothes (and nice ones at that!) again. It will all happen. It feels like a long way away but when you look back on this time it won't feel so long after all.

Finally, nobody EVER talks about just how hard this can all be, not truthfully. It sucks. If it weren't for the fact that you love your child more than life itself, nobody would do it. It is unthanked, grubby, painful, exhausting, unending. If you are keen to bf despite all this, perhaps it might help you to focus on how good it will feel when you are through the other side, knowing what you went through. Just put up with it all for a couple more weeks and reasses at that point. Chances are good you will be feeling on the upward curve.

Good luck!

stepmooster Tue 04-Mar-14 03:18:59

Zinher, please see a gp about your left breast. I am exclusively bf dc2 and I had what I call the toughening up period to deal with too. I remember riding the pain for a few seconds befire baby had sucked my nipple in properly. If it still hurts well into the feed there might be latch problems. If you can stick it out and use copious amounts of nipple cream I can assure you it doesn't last forever. Forget the state of your house, if you have a dp that should be their responsibility whether you ff or bf you only gave birth 3 weeks ago. If you do stick it out with bf you'll find your boobs will feel engorged and baby feeding constantly around the 6 week, 3 month and 4 month growth spurts as well. I just ate loads, and watched TV, dh and I realise its normal so he did most of the chores at that time. Its easy to think you are failing when actually its all normal.

I found all the sterilising, bottle washing, making up bottles of ff for dc1 even more of a PITA in the end. I had to give up bf due to cows milk intolerance. If you are watching the pennies like me I found bf a lot cheaper.

Your dd is going through a growth spurt, if you can ride it out it will get better I promise. As with all the sleep deprivation that comes with a nb, best to take each day as it comes, one day at a time.

Have you tried feeding laying on your side with baby next to you? that can help.

Whatever you decide to do, best of luck.

OhPuddleducks Tue 04-Mar-14 05:10:59

If you decide that formula is best for you and your family, go for it and don't look back. Only you can make that call.... But you really are in the worst bit now and have done a lot of the hard work to start establishing breastfeeding. If you decide to continue, do a few things:

- see a doctor about the pain in your boob
- have a read of this - really helpful checklist that helped me with my second baby.
- take each feed at a time. With my first I initially planned to get through each day bfing, then to 3 weeks, then 4 and so on. By 6 weeks I'd stopped counting.
- if you need a break, sling the baby in the pushchair and get some air but by and large ....
- (and this is the hardest one) give yourself over to the feeding. Don't expect to get anything done. Make a little nest on the sofa in the day and bedroom at night with snacks, water, a book, tv remote, a box set or whatever and use it as an excuse to sit down. Oven pizza is your friend at this stage, takeaway even more so.

The nipple sensitivity, over supply, cracked nipples - been there, got the t-shirt - it feels like the pits and you need to be kind to yourself and remember that no matter how you go from here, you've done brilliantly.

geekaMaxima Tue 04-Mar-14 10:45:19

Zinher, the electric shock pain in your left breast - does this happen only during feeding, or does it happen between feeds as well?

I ask because, coupled with the hypersensitive nipples that can't bear to be touched, it might be thrush. I had those exact symptoms for the first 6 weeks before it was diagnosed and fluconazole cleared it up in 10 days... What a difference!

Some HVs, midwives, GPs, etc. miss spotting thrush because symptoms vary quite a bit. For example, my ds had only a thin white film in his mouth, not a thick layer or spots. So if you think you might have it, try to get to a bf cafe or LLL meeting where you're likely to find someone who knows their stuff.

byanothername Tue 04-Mar-14 13:45:11

wow, amazing posts here - they're giving me a real boost as I try not to go insane while b-feeding 4-wk-old after battling tongue-tie (latch still poor) and now thrush, while still struggling to recover from the birth... op, good luck with it all, I feel just how you do despite the fact this is my second bf baby! I'd say do check whether there's a thrush problem, I'm guessing midwives have ruled out tongue-tie etc ...and yes, this is the hardest bit, when you're over that initial hill it does gradually become easy and effortless..that's what I'm clinging to anyway!

Chaby Tue 04-Mar-14 14:03:10

Well done for wanting to continue with bf. I found the first 6 weeks incredibly hard as my baby wanted to feedhourly and i was in pain / exhausted. Kept promising myself i would do just one more day. After 6 weeks it just seemed to get easier, feeds started spacing out and he started sleeping longer. Now i love bf and am glad i didnt stop. See if there is a bf drop in in your area as can be a great support.

ElleCloughie Tue 04-Mar-14 18:02:39

Around three weeks in was the time I spent a whole night sat in bed crying my eyes out, with a crying baby, with DH looking on helplessly. It was the toughest point. I set myself a goal of six weeks - if at six weeks it was still horrific then I would stop, knowing I'd given it my best. Never give up on a bad day. I didn't notice six weeks passing. It hasn't been easy, and we've had a lot of problems (non-latching baby, tongue tie, mastitis, breast abscess, baby feeding every hour and a half day AND night for weeks on end, the six week growth spurt!) but still going at five months and it is worth it. I was determind to persevere, and things became easier when just I accepted that my job was to feed the baby, and that was it. When I stopped fretting about everything I wasn't doing, it became easier. I just made sure I always had my laptop and a drink to hand, and pretty much lived on the sofa.

Have you heard of vasospasms? That might be an explanation the nipple pain. I remember the agony of anything touching them, it made everything feel worse as there wasn't even the respite period between feeds! I followed some of the steps suggested on KellyMom, and it is now much less of a problem. kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/nipple-blanching/

Janek Tue 04-Mar-14 18:26:41

Nothing more to add really, except i think you should get checked for thrush too, glad i'm not the only one who suggested it.

Good luck!

cpic Tue 04-Mar-14 18:47:52

my ds is 24 weeks. three weeks was the point at which he went on a 20h binge and to save my sanity he got a ff at ten thirty pm. This bought me three to four hours sleep which meant I survived the rest of the day. I am still bf plus ff in the evening now. Do what gets you through it; no one prepares you for how intense and exhausting this bit is; but it will pay off massively. big hugs to all with newborns; you're doing geat! xx

zinher Tue 04-Mar-14 21:55:30

Thank you all for the amazing posts. I have looked at thrush and i seem to be having all the symptoms but is it possible to have it in just one breast? From what I am reading it seems to occur in both breasts.

Am seeing the GP tmrw to see what he can suggest. For the oversupply I have been block feeding. I am hoping it will improve things. I feel really up and down, but the nights are definitely much worse than days. I will try to preservers for as long as I can.

Other than block feeding and trying to catch the fast flow in muslin cloths is there snything else I can do for the over supply?
Thank you once again for the encouragement.

Jenijena Tue 04-Mar-14 22:04:32

If you can, you can feed lying down, babe on top, the theory is gravity will help. But I never mastered that so good luck. I used to have towels everywhere for the overspill. Even though my supply was always good hell, it's been nine months since DS's last feed and I can still get milk out the dripping/leaking/spurting (half way across a pub in one instant) got better.

My GP wasn't exactly understanding on the thrush issue. I'll save that story for when you're through this Annoyingly he was half right, it wasn't thrush, but the bit he wasn't right about was that the pain wasn't normal, and when they tested my breast milk (sent it away to a lab to disprove the thrush) it tested positive for strep b infection. This was without any 'traditional' signs of mastitis. It might be worth exploring.

Jenijena Tue 04-Mar-14 22:05:25

Oh and I forgot to say, stuff the housework. //offers cake and biscuits//. Hope tonight is easier.

ChocolateHelps Tue 04-Mar-14 22:15:41

You could try calling LLL breastfeeding helpline tonight. They can help with practical ideas and will also listen to you about how you are feeling right now.

I've found this from LLL website and an article on oversupply

"When a mother has an overactive let-down, milk is ejected forcefully from the breast and in great quantity. If this happens early in the feeding, baby may swallow air and consume too much foremilk in proportion to hindmilk. When baby fills up on the watery foremilk, he may get a stomachache from the combination of filling the tummy too fast, swallowing air to keep up with the let-down and the laxative effect of a large quantity of lactose (milk sugar). Some babies are so upset by the forceful spray of milk that they refuse the breast and go on a nursing strike.

Several solutions may help remedy an overactive let-down. When the baby is very young (a few weeks or less), a mother can try different positions so baby can be "uphill" from her breast. For example, mother can lie on her back with baby on top so he can control his head and back off if the milk ejects too forcefully. Another suggestion might be to take baby off the breast when the let-down starts, catching the overflow in a clean cloth, and placing the baby back on when the flow lessens.

I'd 2nd vasospasm as causing pain. Thrush is usually very quickly spread to both breasts as it's so contagious. Vasospasm happens when baby hangs on the end of the nipple, either slips off towards end of feed or fast let down means they can be poorly attached but still get milk, and compresses the nipple. The pain is the blood rushing back into the nipple

Poor latch can mean poor transfer of milk or baby getting too much lower fat milk and so feeling the need to feed quite soon. Can lead to fast weight gain and explosive poo

Pls do get help on the phone and also find out when your next breastfeeding drop in is.

Good luck and no matter how you feed your baby, it's a flippin tough job and it does get better!!

zinher Wed 05-Mar-14 11:34:00

Thank you for all the advice and support. Baby was much better last night so I hope that was the growth spurt.
I am sure I will be back asking for help again, I finding this page a lifeline so thank you once again.

geekaMaxima Wed 05-Mar-14 13:09:26

Thrush can produce pain on just one side, though it probably is in both breasts if it's in one - old LLL guide here. The strep b idea sounds plausible too, though.

Basically, get it checked out by someone who knows what to look for. Glad things are going better, though smile

Onepactupac Wed 05-Mar-14 13:56:30

Glad to hear that you had a better night last night, hopefully this is the beginning of an upward trend smile

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