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Don’t want to give up but don’t know what to do.

(23 Posts)
mybreastsarentbest Sat 04-Nov-17 02:34:20

Hi, I’m more of a lurker here but I’m getting increasingly desperate regarding breastfeeding and am hoping for some support or advice.

In short, I have an 8 week old who, after a lot of effort on both of our parts, can finally can latch well. But, I have incredible pain with breastfeeding. I have seen a zillion lactation consultants, board certified etc., both in the public sector and privately in my home, as well as a GP who is a breastfeeding expert. His latch is now fine. He doesn’t have tongue tie.

I only manage to put him on once or twice a day, if that, because I can’t cope with the pain. Otherwise I pump and he takes some formula too, but mostly it’s breastmilk.

I have a super high pain tolerance and this is beyond me. It’s is for absolutely not “normal” breastfeeding pain. The pain starts during feeding but it is particularly bad after and lasts for hours.

I’ve been treated for both mastitis and thrush. I use APNO. Now I’m being treated for Raynaud’s of the nipple. I started nifedipine last week and yesterday I started on vitamin B6. I think I might actually have it but I’m not even completely sure. My pain is actually much worse this week than it has been in a week or so. I fed him during the night once this week and the pain was extraordinary and it hasn’t subsided much. Night feeds seem to be way more painful but the day is bad too.

I’m in Canada, winter is coming. The temperature just dropped so maybe that’s why the pain is worse, if it is Raynaud’s. But I don’t know. Does Raynaud’s “flare”? I feel like I get some pain and then it lasts for days. I don’t know how to keep it tamped down at all times in this weather. And I would think the drugs and supplements should make some difference but so far they aren’t. Maybe I just need more time?

I’m at the end of my tether. I don’t want to give up on breastfeeding but I seriously don’t know what to do next. Pumping is stealing my sleep. The pain that I’m in is atrocious. I’m growing to hate my postpartum breasts. I guess I need warmer clothes but nothing I own fits me and I hate how I look in everything that I try on. I’m at higher risk for PND and I’m worried about the effect this is having on me. (I am well cared for and followed on that front but I’m worried about how I’m feeling right now).

I know formula is okay if I decide to go to it. I made my peace with that weeks ago. But I am not ready to stop trying with breastfeeding. I feel like it’s still a possibility so I have to pump etc to keep the door open. But I also feel completely defeated and I don’t know what to do.


Flowershower Sat 04-Nov-17 03:30:10

Didn't want to read and run...not sure I can help much though except to say that I've found BF really difficult this time too, with my boobs and nipples constantly being painful. I was eating through ibuprofen and paracetamol. Her latch was ok, but it just still hurt. I was ready to give up at 8 weeks and if this had been my first think I would have but I knew that if I could manage to keep going it would improve. 12 weeks now and things are finally settling down, boobs are comfy, nipples aren't sore and finally starting to feel more human so if you do want to continue, then maybe that will give you some hope?
Know what you mean about post partum shape, I'm not used to having a big chest and it does feel weird. BF really helps with losing the baby weight though although each time I've found nothing comes off till after 3 months. I find pumping painful, could it be making things worse? good luck whatever you decide to do

Joskar Sat 04-Nov-17 03:54:51

Are you on Facebook? If you search for a breastfeeding support group they will offer good support. UKBAPS is a good one but I'm sure there are Canadian ones too.

I would say that if it's causing you pain then the latch isn't right. I know you're saying it is but it can look great but not be iyswim. I'm currently feeding my 5 week old and his latch looks perfect but it isn't. If it feels wrong it is wrong.

My wee boy has a posterior tongue tie and that's what is causing us difficulty. It was misdiagnosed by three midwives until I found a sensible health visitor (ikr?!) who used to be a lactation consultant. Have they actually put a finger in the baby's mouth? Tt can't be diagnosed by looking.

My best advice would be to try biological nurturing and see if it helps. There are a few videos online of it and it's a life saver. The other good latch technique is the flipple. Again, loads of videos online.

Other things you could try are silver cups but I've never used them.

Good luck, op. I hope it works out well for you.

Pregosaurus Sat 04-Nov-17 04:31:10

No advice, but just wanted to say you’re doing an amazing job. Best of luck - incredibly hard situation x

TheLegendOfBeans Sat 04-Nov-17 04:43:40

You sound like me with DD - I made myself physically and mentally ill such was my absolute determination to bf and the “professionals” insisting I persevere and it would improve.

It didn’t and I switched to formula. I look back and compare the bfing I’m doing at the moment with DS and it’s a different world. Now I know how it should be I can’t believe I was so shit miserable for the first six weeks of DDs life and why? Because I thought formula was the enemy?

In no other avenue of personal or child care are women repeatedly encouraged to persevere with something that for some that just does not work. Yes we all know breast is best but not if it’s making the mother quite frankly ill.

You may have to reconcile your commendable commitment to breastfeeding with the reality that perseverance is making you ill. Happy Mum = happy baby and all that.

Ps; it took SIX goes for my DDs tongue tie the be diagnosed, I suspect your little one has it but it’s posterior.

MollyHuaCha Sat 04-Nov-17 04:45:59

I agree with pp, you ARE doing an amazing job.

With my DC1 it certainly was not easy, natural or ‘free’ (I had 6 daytime bras, 6 night bras and a ton of breast pads).

Each mother has a different experience, and suddenly it all clicked for me, baby and breasts at around eight/nine weeks. Then I was able to exclusively feed for several months.

I would say continue with br feeding just as long as you wish. Then formula milk can take over. A happy healthy mum and a full tummy are what your baby would like the most. Take care cakeflowersbear

rhubarbcrumble66 Sat 04-Nov-17 05:41:32

Is the pain in one breast or both? I had something similar in one breast only. I saw numerous lactation experts and sadly never got to the bottom of the problem so I stopped feeding on the affected breast for a couple of weeks and when I restarted the pain was gone. I was 8 months into breastfeeding at the time so was able just to cut out feeding on the one breast without the breast getting too engorged. Have you tried pumping? I found pumping far less painful so if you really want to keep giving breast milk could you try expressing and bottle feeding until the situation is resolved? There have been a few threads from women who have had this problem so I'll see if I can link them. You have my sympathies, the pain I experienced was awful and regularly had me in tears and unable to care properly for my child due to it lasting for hours after feeding. I really hope this passes for you soon.

rhubarbcrumble66 Sat 04-Nov-17 05:43:05

Sorry just saw you are already pumping

mybreastsarentbest Sat 04-Nov-17 09:30:18

Thank you for your replies, it really helps me feel less alone.

I agree that it sounds like his latch or tongue tie, but I’ve had both assessed thoroughly, most recently at a clinic where you see a doctor and a lactation consultant and their entire clinic is dedicated to breastfeeding support - not the Newman Clinic but a similar idea. They stuck their finger in his mouth and said that he has a very very mild posterior tie that they would usually never clip and that they don’t think it is causing the pain, and that they think it’s the Raynaud’s. They could be wrong but they’re truly experts at this and if I doubt them I’m not sure where to turn... I just saw them this week so if I see no improvement following their advice for Raynaud’s I will go back. I’m not sure if I’d elect to clip a very minor tongue tie that they believe is not affecting his latch, though.

I have done biological nurturing and the flipple technique, both were instrumental in getting him latched at all.

I agree that there is incredible pressure on mothers. The people at the clinic that I mentioned above were the first who actually seemed to even care that I was in pain, everyone else has been solely focussed on increasing his breastmilk intake, seemingly without any regard to my experience. I had no idea what the breastfeeding culture was like, I’m totally dismayed.

In light of that, I have asked myself why do I persist. I no longer believe that formula is a bad option and I definitely think my own mental health matters. But I’m not ready to give up. I guess in part because we have seen progress and I’m hopeful that this can improve too. He didn’t even latch on me until about six weeks. He is an enthusiastic and rather determined little breastfeeder and when it works, I love how it feels. I accept that I may not figure out this pain and make the choice to stop, but I’m just not there yet. It seems like twelve weeks might be a good point to try to get to.

I guess a big problem I’m having is that I have an autoimmune disease and I’m so used to my body just not cooperating and pregnancy was the opposite, I had a great pregnancy. Postpartum, things are much harder. At first, it felt like more of a latch problem and that seemed “normal.” Now, it feels like it’s more about my body not being normal and that’s really laying me low. And I’m having a hard time with how I look postpartum, which is also getting to me. I just feel like a failure, basically, even though I can rationally understand that I’m not sad I’m honestly not sure that quitting breastfeeding would help with any of those feelings, especially when I feel it’s within reach.

I’m not aiming to exclusively BF at this point, I just want it to be an option to do it some of the time. I am pumping, I do think it’s getting to me and is a drag and not that nice to my breasts. But is there another way to maintain my supply during times that the pain of feeding him directly is too much? I think pumping is keeping the door open. But I’d love to stop pumping.

mybreastsarentbest Sat 04-Nov-17 09:34:44

Also, I’m sorry to hear that any of you have struggled too flowers I had no idea how hard it could be and I’m glad people can share on here.

gandalfspants Sat 04-Nov-17 09:49:34

I had Reynauds of the nipple and once I got cold it would flare and the pain would last hours. I’m in the UK so once I knew what it was (like you I was treated for thrush, which made it worse as putting the stuff on was adding to getting cold), I could make the effort to stay warm more easily. I can’t imagine having to do it in Canada flowers

Once I managed to stay warm, admittedly difficult while feeding and pumping, it got a lot better, I didn’t need nifedipine.

I found the pain was bad as my breast (one was worse than the other) was refilling as well.

I powered through with paracetamol and gritted teeth, I used to cry while latching her, after about a week of making sure I never let my chest get cold it eased considerably.

Looking back I actually think she also has upper lip tie, which I’m guessing doesn’t help. I’m still feeding now but at nearly 15 months she’s a pro and it’s only in the evenings so I don’t have to worry about it so much this winter.

I hope you get to the bottom of it OP, but if you get to the point where you want to stop don’t beat yourself up. It’s bloody hard.

mybreastsarentbest Sat 04-Nov-17 14:59:36

Thanks for sharing your experience with Raynaud's, gandalfspants.

It's interesting that you had to never let your chest get cold for a while for it to ease. I think I have to keep trying that, challenging in the colder weather. Were there any tricks you found particularly useful for keeping warm? I'm looking at merino wool base layers online and thinking those might help. Luckily my flat is warm most of the time but nowhere else really is.

Interesting that you say you had pain with refilling. I think I do too and I have a very painful letdown. I wonder if that's related to the vasoconstriction or not.

rhubarbcrumble66 Sat 04-Nov-17 16:26:58

Lansinoh do heated gel pads you can put in your bra before feeding. I found these really helped, also ice packs on the breast whilst it was painful after feeding.

littledinaco Sat 04-Nov-17 16:43:43

I had Reynaurds while pregnant (was also breastfeeding older DC). The pain was not related to feeding though. It would just come randomly and I can honestly say it was as bad as labour so I feel so bad for you.

Is the pain only when feeding?

I found that not getting cold did help - thermal vests, those heat pad/hand warmer things/hot water bottle nearby, wool jumpers are good for regulating heat too, maybe wool pads in your bra?

Mine did go once I had my baby so not much help really, I just wanted to sympathise as I don't think many people understand the pain.

gandalfspants Sat 04-Nov-17 18:39:24

I mostly wore lots of layers and when I fed in the house I put a big fluffy dressing gown around both of us.

I tried to find particularly warm cafes, etc. to feed in when out and about, and I found having specific feeding tops and jumpers helped expose the least amount of me when out (though it makes latching a pain).

Constantly worrying about the temperature of my chest was just another thing on the list of things to worry about to be honest. It becomes something you’re always aware of.

I’d never had classic Reynauds symptoms before that (though I’ve always suffered generally from cold extremities). I did get blanching and numbness in a couple of fingers towards the end of last winter.

gandalfspants Sat 04-Nov-17 18:41:32

Also, really hot baths! I’m not sure if it’s officially advised, but if I got cold I’d have a really deep hot bath until I was properly warm again.

wowbutter Sat 04-Nov-17 18:46:33

I can't understand why you don't use stop? I've read all your posts, and I get you have worked so hard to get it to work, but it's not working, is it?
Breast is best, but not the only option.
Stop. Heal yourself, get some sleep.

mybreastsarentbest Sat 04-Nov-17 19:54:43

littledinaco Thank you for your sympathy, the pain really is shocking and hard to describe. I don’t get it only with feeding, but feeding triggers it (air on a wet nipple!). Thank you for the keeping warm ideas.

gandalfs thanks for the ideas for keeping warm as well.

I’ve made myself a little shopping list and I’m just going to take the plunge and buy some more things. At this rate I’ll have to feed him until he’s a teenager to recoup the costs of establishing breastfeeding.

wowbutter it’s a really good question. I’m not ready to stop, I guess. A lot of people say the Raynaud’s improves with treatment and so I’d at least like to see it through a bit longer. I haven’t been treating it long enough to say it isn’t helping. I feel like I’m so close and to give up now wouldn’t make me feel good. But, I am aware that I may have to call it and I am checking in with myself regularly.

I feel more optimistic today than yesterday, I wrote this in the middle of the night. It is so kind of everyone to reply, it makes such a difference to feel less alone.

littledinaco Sat 04-Nov-17 21:04:15

Are you on any of the breastfeeding groups on Facebook? You may get some good ideas on there for treatment or stories of how long it took to go.

If you get the pain randomly then it definately sounds like raynaurds, especially if you've had latch, etc checked. It sounds like you've done an amazing job of seeing the best people in the best places.

I used to get really warm before I fed, dressing gown in bed, etc and made sure I exposed as least boob as possible. I was feeding my toddler though so didn't have to worry about latch/positioning the same way you do with a newborn.

I did lots of deep breathing/relaxation too to get me through the pain. I actually found feeding helped a bit as I managed to relax and have a warm child on me! I think the feel good hormones that were released also helped with the pain. I realise it's completely different for you feeding a newborn though.

I understand why you want to carry on and that's fine too.

Have you heard of paced bottle feeding? That may help make the breastfeeding easier in long term if you do sort the Raynaurds. It's also nice for baby too if you do bottle feed.

JudgeRulesNutterButter Sat 04-Nov-17 21:13:45

Now, it feels like it’s more about my body not being normal and that’s really laying me low. And I’m having a hard time with how I look postpartum, which is also getting to me. I just feel like a failure, basically, even though I can rationally understand that I’m not sad I’m honestly not sure that quitting breastfeeding would help with any of those feelings, especially when I feel it’s within reach.

flowers for you OP.

The above quote lists a lot that you have going on. What can you do to address some of this? You sound like you've put a lot of thought into your decision to persevere and like you feel pretty solid about that. So would you be able to put the whole breastfeeding thing to one side and think about unrelated ways that you can nurture yourself and try to improve your mood?

Feeling unhappy with your postpartum body, struggling with an autoimmune illness, plus all the standard sleep deprived newborn shit are all things which can massively drag you down. Can you focus on your sleep (ha ha, you have a baby, but as much as pos), good eating, v gentle exercise, seeing people you love who support you, getting fresh air, getting time to do what you enjoy, etc?

mybreastsarentbest Sat 04-Nov-17 23:04:14

Thanks for the ideas, littledinaco. I’m so glad for you that yours resolved after pregnancy. DH and I both do paced feeding and I think that has helped with breastfeeding. Luckily DS seems to really like breastfeeding so I don’t feel like I’m in competition with the bottle! I don’t really use Facebook but this may be worth dusting my account off for. There’s also a local in-person group that I may check out.

Thank you so much, judgerules, your post was really helpful and I think you’ve hit it on the nose in terms of what I need to think about going forward given that I’ve decided to keep trying with breastfeeding for now. I’m lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps well (so far/knock wood) and loads of support, so taking a bit more care of myself does seem possible.

I’m going to go shopping for warmer clothes tomorrow, that should make it easier to leave the house more. We do get out a lot but it definitely exacerbates the pain, I think I can address that with some clothes. And I need some warm clothes for the winter regardless, so I’ll focus on that if I feel guilty for spending money towards breastfeeding given that it’s still tenuous.

Thank you so much to everyone who has replied, I really appreciate the support and advice and your questions have helped me really think this through a bit. I’m going to go until twelve weeks and see what happens, unless it becomes truly unbearable. I am being followed by a mental health professional and I’ll bring this up when I see her next as well so I can have that support and perspective too. In an effort to not obsess about this, I’m going to step away from this thread for a bit, but I’ll come back to update in a bit.

Thank you flowers

Seahawk80 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:11:38

@littledinaco I had the same as you - reynards just when pregnant and agree about the pain being as bad as labour! It puts me off having a second child.

OP the fact that the pain stays makes me think it is Reynards. My nipples would hurt for ages after I got cold. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Sounds like you’re doing a great job and have a lovely bond with your DS smile

mybreastsarentbest Wed 15-Nov-17 21:49:36

Thank you, Seahawk

A small update from me - we’re still persevering but it’s still unclear where things will go.

Fastidiously keeping my breasts warm has definitely helped. I bought a wool nursing camisole that I wear every day under everything else and it helps a lot with keeping my chest warm without overheating the rest of me.

I’m still only managing to nurse him on me about twice a day. But, I’m in less pain when I do it. I’m aiming right now for stringing a bunch of days of two sessions together instead of increasing them a lot on one day and then needing to take a break for two days.

On days when I feed him on me more, I find I’m utterly exhausted. I am pumping at nearly every bottle feed most days but could feeding directly be more taxing in terms of milk production etc.?

Pumping still sucks (groan) but I still don’t know how to stop without ruining my supply. My pumping output has suddenly plummeted. I know that’s not supposed to be an indication of supply but it’s a bit disconcerting.

DS has recently started nursing quite...vigorously. He tugs and grunts and also pops off a lot. It’s really adding to the pain. He’s also having a bit of a growth spurt/fussier time so could that be related? Is it normal for them to be like that sometimes or is that a sign that something is off with the latch or my supply or let down or...?

So that’s the current state of affairs. I have good days and bad days. I’m still going to keep going until 12 weeks before I make a decision.

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