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Mastitis and BF hell

(39 Posts)
JessieAndLeo Wed 07-Dec-16 19:45:31

Leo is now 5 weeks old and has been exclusively breastfed since birth, in which time I have had mastitis twice (bad both times). The first time was in the left breast and the milk was never quite the same again so I started relying on the right breast a lot. Well now I have it in both breasts and am on my second course of antibiotics. I'm worried the milk with be rubbish from both breasts now.

Leo has gone from feeding every 3-4 hours to every 1-2. He's hungry as soon as he finishes feeding. I'm so tired and frustrated not to mention the guilt....

Everyone including the doctor are telling me I need to think about switching to formula but it's killing me to even think about it. What is it with breastfeeding that gets so far into your head?!

I bought some formula today, I cried as I paid for it.

I was thinking of giving him one bottle at night time and pushing through with the BF for the remainder of the feeds. Does anyone have any experience of this and advice?

Thanks in advance

OP’s posts: |
Heratnumber7 Wed 07-Dec-16 19:53:10

A) there is NOTHING wrong with formula. Thousands and thousands of babies rely on it and grow into perfectly healthy human beings (my own two imcluded). I am so cross with midwives and health visitors who villufy formula and make women feel like crap mothers when they are likely to be exhausted from lack of sleep and feeling inadequate anyway.
B) I tried to work through mastitis for the above reasons and ended up in hospital for an emergency op to have an abscess in my breast drained before it burst. I'd had two courses of ABs by that point, but the pain was so bad I couldn't move my arm, and anything that brushed my breast felt like someone had such a red hot needle in it.

If your GP is advising you to switch to formula, switch to formula. You'll enjoy your baby much more.

Kel1234 Wed 07-Dec-16 20:23:43

As the other poster said, there is nothing wrong with formula feeding. I knew I didn't want to breastfeed, so i exclusively formula fed my lo from birth. I now have a happy, healthy 15 month old who is doing really well.
Also my mum exclusively formula fed myself and my 2 siblings. And I know plenty of other mums who formula fed/ feed.
I obviously have no personal experience of how you are feeling, but can imagine it must be difficult for you. But if you are being advised to switch to formula by professionals then I really would. They are saying it to advise you and help you in the best way they can. Maybe talk to them about how you are feeling about switching, they will probably be better able to advise you. Good luck

AlfieTheRailwayCat Wed 07-Dec-16 21:06:22

I'm going to go against the previous two and say if you really want to keep breastfeeding then seek out some specific breastfeeding help - call a helpline la levee league or NCT have them. Sometimes GPs dont have the most up to date information.

What do you mean by the milk wasn't the same?
Babies go through a growth spurt at 6 weeks and it's normal for them to want to feed more often.

All of that said - if you want to ff then do so, it's available to help in these situations. But if you want to bf then get some help.

Kstar8 Wed 07-Dec-16 21:43:00

I second Alfie's comments.
15 weeks in and Ive been through BF hell too (shredded nipples, mastitis, recurrent plugged ducts probably due to babies tongue tie-snipped twice).

I too also has a doctor say "oh for goodness sake just give her formula" which on the one hand made me feel better that someone had given me "permission" to use it but later on made me angry as it was actually the TT that was the source of our problems, not my boobs.

I did use formula a few times and whilst I would never be dismissive of anyone fully FF, it wasn't what I wanted for us at that time. Now things have settled down a bit, I like that I can consider switching to formula if I want to and do give DD some so she doesn't forget how to use a bottle. I needed to give her those few bottles of formula to continue BF. She cluster fed every evening from 6-10pm for the first 12 weeks or so. And it's seems like they are constantly going through growth spurts which is why the constant feeding can happen.

I have found my local BF drop in clinics (run by local health service/council in children's centres) brilliant. GPs don't really know anything about BF in my experience but the BF counsellors/infant feeding teams are often excellent and specialised.

If you want to fully FF do it. If you want to BF and supplement do that but get specialist BF advice to help you continue comfortably. Come to a decision that you are happy with, even if it's just for this week or only today. I was literally managing feed by feed when it was really bad. Then I could go from week to week. Now I want to get to four months then evaluate my options.

Misspilly88 Wed 07-Dec-16 21:48:19

I was so so so pro formula and pushed myself FAR too far. Risking your mental health iservices far more dangerous than giving him a perfectly acceptable alternative food source. I found I bonded so much more after we introducEd formula too

Misspilly88 Wed 07-Dec-16 21:48:47

*Pro breastfeeding obviously

Heratnumber7 Wed 07-Dec-16 22:03:55

Alfie Kstar that's exactly the type of subversive pressure the OP doesn't need, and which almost made me hate my first baby.

ElphabaTheGreen Wed 07-Dec-16 22:04:59

I had mastitis seven times - eight if you count the time I had it both times - and was on antibiotics every time. I never ended up with an abscess and I never stopped breastfeeding. It was fucking agonising toe curling excruciating hell, but it only added to my sense of utter triumph when I got through it.

OP - mastitis does not affect your milk. I can't emphasise that strongly enough. Breastfed baby behaviours change constantly, feeding frequency changes constantly. This is not a reflection of your milk supply or quality - just indicative that you have a perfectly normal baby who adjusts their feeding behaviours to their biological needs. If you choose to continue breastfeeding, feed as equally as you can off both sides, which will help to prevent recurrence. Babies always prefer one side over the other - again, this is not a reflection on the quality of your milk but, because, babies! There's tricks to get them to take the non-preferred side, but let's get through this first.

I was advised formula by a midwife as well, and I'm angry about that to this day. I was angry that she perceived me as 'failing' and angry on behalf of other mothers she was suggesting formula to. Totally irrational, but I still feel that way. Everyone reacts differently in those early hormonal weeks to whatever HCPs have to say - they can't do anything right for anybody, it seems.

As PPs have said, seek RL help. A breastfeeding group, an IBCLC - private if necessary, the La Leche League helpline, the Breastfeeding Network Helpline, anyone. If you want to stop, then that is absolutely fine, but you clearly don't if buying formula is making you cry. I'd have been the same, and stopping would have devastated me. It was good RL support that got me through it.

Good luck, whatever you choose to do flowers

ElphabaTheGreen Wed 07-Dec-16 22:09:03

Oh, FFS Heratanumber how is that 'subversive pressure'. confused angry Advising real life support, against 'formula is fine' advice, to an OP who has clearly indicated she doesn't want to stop breastfeeding is not subversive pressure. Get a fucking grip.

Crumbs1 Wed 07-Dec-16 22:09:34

Nothing wrong with bottle but if you want to continue breastfeeding then-
Using bottle will reduce flow
You are nearly into the easy stage
Best prevention is feeding at first signs of blocked ducts
Cabbage leaves in bra (seriously)
Local NCT often have breastfeeding supporters who are brilliant
Your milk won't ever be rubbish but it will reduce if you introduce other foods.

Sweets101 Wed 07-Dec-16 22:13:01

Agree with above nothing wrong with FF.
I persevered through mastitis as I am quite lazy and get anxiety re germs with new borns so bottle feeding was the more daunting option.
I took the AB's and laid in bed with DS feeding whilst screaming profanities... in my head.
Do what you feel most comfortable with for yourself baby will be fine with whatever. If you do choose to bfind through it you need to feed lots through it to clear all the milk and it hurts like shit on top of feeling immensely poorly anyway.
Depends what you want to do and what support you have, but you need to choose whichever suits you baby will be fine, better in fact if you are happy.

Sweets101 Wed 07-Dec-16 22:13:39

Oh and love the name Leo smile

8DaysAWeek Wed 07-Dec-16 22:14:53

I get where you're coming from. DS is 4 months and so far ebf though it's been tough. Mastitis is horrendous. Up until I had him I always told people I'd 'try' BFing and if it wasn't for us I'd use formula, so I couldn't understand why I found it so difficult to switch during those awful times. Thankfully though we made it through and it's no longer painful and for the most part convenient. There are still pitfalls but I'm glad we continued.

I just want to say giving a bottle of formula at night might not be the best idea. Your supply is highest during the night, and if LO sleeps for a long period due to the formula sitting longer in his stomach your boobs are just gonna keep filling and you risk blocked ducts or further mastitis (I got my mastitis when DS naturally started sleeping longer). So you may need to consider expressing during the night to combat this which may be counterproductive to what you want to achieve from giving a bottle.

As other posters have said if you really want to continue BFing then look for support groups. There are some great ones on Facebook. As I mentioned before I found it very tough, and it didn't get 'easy' for me until DS was about 12 weeks which I know probably seems like a lifetime away right now!! But it does and it will get easier (I remember people telling me this constantly and I just could not believe them!).

Whether you choose to switch or continue, as long as you've thought it through (which you are clearly doing) and it feels right for you and your family then it'll be the right decision flowers

Doublemint Wed 07-Dec-16 22:21:59

Just here to add mastitis does not effect the quality of your milk.
Get some advice from an NCT or la leche league breastfeeding support worker and please please go to a breastfeeding support group regularly. It makes such a difference to how you feel about bf.
Check out it's a great website with loads of articles and practical advice for pretty much all breastfeeding issues.

Keep working on the latch and the six week growth spurt is a killer- but you will get through it and make enough milk or your supply will settle if you're making too much.

8DaysAWeek Wed 07-Dec-16 22:22:37

Oh and if you still have mastitis then hold off on formula feeding and get your boy on your boobs!! Then once it's cleared up have a think about it again.

munkibutton Wed 07-Dec-16 22:25:51

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Cakescakescakes Wed 07-Dec-16 22:28:33

For a 5 week old brestfed baby I would say feeding everyone 2 hours would be totally normal and I'd be surprised that they could go 3-4 hours between feeds. So maybe that's not related to the mastitis? My boys both fed every 1.5-2 hours for first few months. They were just hungry babies.

Good luck - I had mastitis just once and it was the sickest I've ever felt.

Doublemint Wed 07-Dec-16 22:31:06

Yep every two hours is normal! Just breastfeed on demand, don't compare your baby's units to artificially fed babies X

Doublemint Wed 07-Dec-16 22:31:54

* babys habits not units

And I meant babies fed with artificial breastmilk too smile

8DaysAWeek Wed 07-Dec-16 22:42:01

Yep every 1-2 hours at 5 weeks is very normal. At 4 months DS still has days where he feeds every 2 hours and never goes more than 3. Cluster feeding is extremely common at this stage too so expect long periods on the couch feeding, most likely in the evenings. If he looks like he's fussy it's NOT because you don't have enough milk to satisfy him. He's just increasing your supply.

HairyLittlePoet Wed 07-Dec-16 22:42:08

Right mate, let's see if we can help sort that mastitis first. Disclaimer - this worked for me and many after me but I offer neither guarantees nor medical advice. Just the experience of a multiple plugged duct veteran.

How good is your eyesight? You need a bright light and a warm damp flannel for this and you need to really have a very good peer at the tiny little openings in your nipple. And i mean a reaaly close inspection. There's a chance you might have a teeny plug of hardened milk, size of a grain of sand blocking an opening. If nothing is immediately apparent then gently squeeze/roll your nipple and see if any of the ducts in particular seem blocked. Sometimes you can see milk from a few openings but ithers are dry. That gives you a clue. Still no visible plug? Try a gentle attempt at hand expressing. Using the heat compress for a minute on the hard, backed up parts of your breast, and then begin to massage. Alternate with the gentle micro inspection of the nipple and hand expressing. Pay attention to your pain levels, I am not instructing you to hurt yourself!

If you are lucky, you might eventually see the little white bugger blocking your nipple up. You may also feel it as it gets close to the opening, like a sharp grain of sand inside your nipple. And - letting your own comfort level guide you and being careful not to damage yourself, persevere with trying to express that blockage out.

If you do manage to pop it out; first, have your baby close at hand. The jet of milk that will follow the plug as it shoots out like a bullet from a gun will be well utilised by your baby. Second, you will remember this sensation for the rest of your life. Like a dam bursting and the relief is indescribable.

This takes time. Once I had successfully popped a plug for the first time I admit I was ruthless with myself subsequent times and not especially gentle because the end result was so worth it compared to ages of hard red aching awfulness. But I am not advising that for you!

If you decide to give it a go I wish you the best of luck.

ElphabaTheGreen Wed 07-Dec-16 22:49:36

What HairyLittlePoet said. Unblocking a duct is like squeezing a deep pimple. The satisfaction and relief from the gush is so worth the pain of extracting the bugger! grin

My weapon of choice was a hand pump in a hot bath, plus a wide-toothed comb. Preceded a half-hour beforehand by both paracetamol and ibuprofen to pre-empt the pain:
- submerge boobs in hot water for several minutes
- comb from arm pit to nipple over the painful and red area/s
- apply pump and just do one long continuous squeeze until the milk stops and repeat - it's like you're vacuuming your boob.

The first time I unblocked a duct like this, the stream of milk hit the opposite end of the bath without me doing anything to help and kept going for several minutes. It was truly astonishing, and the RELIEF, oh my God...

HairyLittlePoet Wed 07-Dec-16 22:53:59

I suspect we've met on this board some time ago under different names Elphaba ;-)

But yes, the relief. OMG.

AprilShowers16 Wed 07-Dec-16 22:59:48

I struggled with bfing for many many weeks, never had mastitis but a poor latch and thrush made it agony on and off for the first 3 months. Eventually I got to the point where I knew I was going to give up if something didn't change so I introduced two formula bottles a day - one at night time (which had the added advantage that DH could do bedtime) and then one at a random point during the day depending on when I needed it or couldn't face feeding again due to the pain. That second bottle was a life saver and gave me the relief and mental break I needed. I continued to breastfeed and can finally say that breastfeed is much easier now (DS is 4 months). I often don't need that second bottle now but find it really helpful to be able to have that option. I too felt guilt about formula but I know that is ridiculous - however it doesn't have to be either or, mixed feeding has meant I've been able to continue to breast feed much longer. Do what is right for you and your baby, the relief of being able to offer a bottle was amazing and I believe much better for both of us rather than struggling through for the sake of being able to say he was ebf!

To echo what other posters have said I joined a breast feeding support group which was really helpful, they supported me in mixed feeding and using shields when needed and didn't make me feel judged at all but offered practical tips and emotional support when j needed it. Hopefully yours is the same

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