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Heartbroken over having to stop breastfeeding

(16 Posts)
Startlingbaby Sat 09-May-15 20:15:05

Since my second baby was born 3 months ago I've had 4/5 attacks of mastitis, always on the same side. It's had a massive effect on my life and has really blighted the time I've had so far with my baby.

I've followed all the advice about avoiding mastitis, seen breastfeeding counsellors multiple times, had four different GPs have a look and have just started my twelfth week of antibiotics.

I finally saw the registrar and the consultant yesterday who became the latest people to have a good look at my breast and was told that the only way to stop the mastitis coming back was to stop breastfeeding.

I am devastated. I know that they are right, I've explored every avenue, tried every remedy going but I know as soon as I finish a course of antibiotics it just comes back. That means 5 days minimum of pain, fever and being unable to care for my baby and toddler properly and my DH having to suspend work to pick up the slack.

I am so so sad and I feel so guilty that I can't give my baby the milk they have been thriving on up til now. I Know formula will be fine for him and I know the silver linings of switching but I couldn't give a shit about any of that at the moment, I just want to feed my baby myself and feed him for at least 18 months like I did his sibling.

I was told by the consultant to stop cold turkey which I was surprised by but then I thought fuck it, at least it gets it over and done with more quickly. I know about the risks of stopping abruptly but I'd just get mastitis again anyway, plus I'm still on antibiotics. The pain isn't nice but I'm used to it sad

So yes, had anyone else been through similar? Did you stop crying eventually and make your peace with it? did it affect how you bonded with your baby? I'm finding it hard to look at him at the moment.

Alanna1 Sat 09-May-15 20:18:30

You have done SO well to get to 3 months with recurrent mastitis. Do not beat yourself up at all. The most important time anyway is the first 6 weeks. I cried and cried and cried when I stop breastfeeding - I think its the hormones. And with my second (and last) baby I was in tears for even longer. It is in part hormones. It passes. Big hugs xxx

MadgeMak Sat 09-May-15 20:29:04

Have you looked into the possibility of continuing and just feeding from the side that you don't get mastitis in? I'm no expert, but I fed my son from one side up until he was a year old without any issues (not the same situation as you, he just preferred the left breast for some reason and would go ballistic if I offered the right so I just stopped feeding from that side). I also know of a woman who had a half mastectomy and fed both her children from one breast upto 3 years old with an overlap of some tandem feeding too. Might be worth exploring if it's possible.

BakingBunty Sat 09-May-15 21:00:54

Oh wow, you have been through it. Incredible to have kept going through that, amazing work. Please don't beat yourself up for stopping now, it sounds like the sensible thing for your family... Though I know that doesn't stop it feeling like shit.
I've just stopped feeding DD, 9 months sooner than I stopped feeding DS. I won't lie... It's been emotional! But as alanna1 says, it's partly the hormones. Be gentle with yourself and I hope it goes smoothly.

nothoughts Sun 10-May-15 12:42:00

I have been lurking for a while trying to put together a post to ask for advice as it sounds like your experience was very similar to mine with my first. I am now pregnant again and worried it will happen again. I gave up at 10 weeks after 5 bouts of mastitis (+2 whilst pregnant). I was (and actually still am) very sad about it. However I knew it was the right for us at the time. I can't compare bonding experiences but I can tell you that giving up meant that I finally started really enjoying and bonding with my baby.
Mine wasn't on the same side. It alternated. So I think the feeding on one side suggestion of others could be a good one. Unless there are other factors.
Whatever you do be kind to yourself. I don't know how you have managed to keep going this long with another DC

Startlingbaby Sun 10-May-15 14:01:33

Thank you for all the responses.

Madgemak thank you so much for putting that idea into my head. I did actually start to try to wean off the 'bad' side in early April but stopped because the lymph nodes came up in my armpit even though I was on antibiotics at that point.

However this time I've got nothing else to lose so I expressed 8oz from the 'good' side last night (no wonder it hurt) and have since fed my baby three times from that side with formula top ups. The supply seems down unsurprisingly but there seems to be enough for the time being.

Hopefully I'll be able to continue to mix feed and it'll all work out, and if not then at least I'm exhausting every possibility whilst still trying to maintain my health.

And needless to say I've stopped crying and don't feel so horribly distressed like I did on Friday and Saturday.

Nothoughts recurrent mastitis is awful and it does seem that if you get it twice then you are going to keep on getting it. Mine is/was definitely infective mastitis but because milk is such a good culture medium it seems like I could've taken all the antibiotics in the world and not eradicated those effing bacteria. If yours was caused by blocked ducts then hopefully you won't have it again with your new baby. If you do it may be worth printing off the NICE guidelines on mastitis as they include investigations that the GP can do which mine rubbished when I suggested them before I had the evidence to back them up , such as milk culture, baby nose and mouth swabs and nipple swabs, as well as referral to breast clinics. Good luck and hopefully all will go well second time round.

Alanna and Bunty thank you for your kind words smile

nothoughts Sun 10-May-15 14:08:31

Sorry just re-read that. It came out more negatively than I intended. What I actually mean is that I did make peace with the decision although was very sad and emotional at the time. When I say I am still sad I mean I am sad I got into the position where I had to make that decision. Does that make sense? It was the right decision for us in those circumstances.

I think one thing that helped me make peace is that DS was happier afterwards. He suffered from the side effect's of my antibiotics. Stomach pain and he had a constantly dribbly bottom. A whole week free of antibiotics made him a much happier baby.

VashtaNerada Sun 10-May-15 14:14:22

Oh this thread makes me feel so sad but I'm glad you're starting to feel better. Sometimes it's easier once the decision is made and you're not agonising any more. I had to stop BFing DS due to tongue-tie problems and although I felt disappointed, I also enjoyed giving him a bottle so much - it was just lovely to see him feeding properly without getting frustrated or causing me pain. You will get over it, and your relationship will of course be fine. Children grow and change so much, there are millions of different ways we bond with them.

nothoughts Sun 10-May-15 14:16:39

Sorry just seen you post. I hope mix feeding works out. Thank you for the pointer on NICE guidlines. I will research that for this time. Was far too exhausted last time. Drs didn't have any interest in investigating last time just sending me off with another prescription. This time intend to go in armed.

stargirl1701 Mon 11-May-15 15:59:40

Have you tried soya lecithin supplements? They made all the difference for me with recurrent blocked ducts on my left side.

CPtart Mon 11-May-15 17:05:54

I'm no bf expert, I fed both my DC for 3 months each but stopped for entirely different reasons to you. Bonds completely unaffected.
What leapt out at me was that you are currently on your 12th lot of antibiotics in 3 months, so to some extent, so is your DS. I would be concerned as to the long term effect of this on his health if it were to continue. The dentist once asked me if DS2 (then aged about 8) had needed a lot of antibiotics when he was young, something to do with a problem with his teeth (of which excessive antibiotic use at a young age is often the cause). Just something to think about
I hope things work out for you.

MindfulBear Mon 11-May-15 22:14:46

Oh you poor thing. Well done for getting so far.
Have you spoken to your local Lll leader? They know some amazing stuff and have access to far more resources than most doctors.
Am stunned at you being told to go cold turkey. That is horrid - not just for mastitis but also hormonal ly it can be a huge hit to you. Let alone about the impact on baby and their digestive system. Hence why slow weaning is usually recommended. Ie drop 1 feed every few days.
Hope the mixed feeding goes well. I too have heard loads of good stories about women only feeding their child from one side. So it is perfectly possible.
Take good care of you

Startlingbaby Thu 21-May-15 21:14:52

I thought I'd update the thread.

After nearly two weeks the breast I've stopped feeding from is nearly back to normal, I can still feel a slight let down but I don't think it's producing much milk now.

The good side is back up to full production and despite some dodgy moments I seem to be lucky to have a baby who is happy to switch between breast and bottle. I'm getting used to the whole formula feeding thing although I massively resent the time it takes...but if that's what it takes not to be ill again then so be it.

I've been able to sleep on my front (!!!) and carry my baby in a sling without pain. I've been off the antibiotics for nearly 5 days and so far there is no sign of recurrence.

Stargirl, I did take lecithin but my mastitis wasn't caused by blocked ducts so it had no effect.

CPTart thanks for pointing that out, I'll keep an eye out for any problems.

Mindfulbear I had spoken to four GPs and three different breastfeeding counsellors who had over 40years worth of experience between them. Unfortunately my mastitis was caused by a stubborn bacterium which was never totally killed by the antibiotic because it had all the lovely milk to live in. I tried EVERYTHING believe me! I agree that the advice to go cold turkey was bonkers but i figured that I'd get mastitis as soon as I came off the antibiotics anyway so I had nothing to lose. In the event it didn't hurt as much as mastitis did but was decidedly unpleasant.

Anyway, thank you for all your comments, good luck nothoughts and thanks again Madgemak for giving me the idea that has allowed me to keep breastfeeding my baby.

Startlingbaby Sun 22-May-16 19:44:18

I thought I'd reawaken this thread with an update a year (and a bit) later.

I get a lot of help by searching the archives on Mumsnet so hopefully this will help someone in the future!

I'm happy to say that I'm still feeding DS from one side and he shows no sign of getting bored with it all at 15 months old. It's been a hard road to get to this point though. Once he realised that the bottle was easier (even though I kept him on slow flow teats) he hated breastfeeding from about 4 months through to 9 months but I kept latching him on even though he'd only tolerate it for a couple of minutes.

At 9 months, a little while after he'd started crawling I decided to sit on the floor with my top off and he crawled over and fed sitting up next to me. He'd crawl off lots in between but kept coming back for seconds and thirds and as a result my supply went up and breast feeding seemed much more worth his while.

I've even had two short breaks without him, first was two nights and the second was four nights (once he was over a year - wouldn't have been my choice to leave him but we had the opportunity to go on an all expenses paid trip so couldn't say no!). I expressed while away and both times he's started feeding again like I'd never been away. Him being mix fed certainly came in useful then!

I have to say that the whole mastitis period and then the aftermath of formula feeding when it wasn't my choice, was a bloody horrible time and it made me really quite depressed - they were very dark days and I'd cry over the whole thing regularly.

Once he started liking breastfeeding again and then when I could switch him over to cow's milk things became easier. I remain grateful for all the advice esp from Madgemak and also to formula - without it I would have just kept getting ill so it's fantastic that there is an alternative. Oh, and for those that want to know there's only a small difference size wise between my breasts and I reckon it'll even out when I give up!

getyourselfchecked Sun 22-May-16 19:59:18

Aw! That is a LOVELY update. Thanks!

Coconut0il Sun 22-May-16 20:32:35

Aww a lovely update OPsmile

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