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Breastfeeding just won't work

(36 Posts)
SisterA Sat 29-Dec-18 13:50:00

I'm so sorry this is an essay but just wondered if anyone had any similar experiences.

My baby will be 4 weeks old on Monday. I have been trying, relentlessly, to breastfeed. It's something I have always wanted to do and we just can't get it to work. My baby is doing very well. She is gaining weight exceptionally well. Despite being 9.5% down when we left hospital on day 3, she was well past her birth weight by the time she was 2 weeks old. So from that aspect things are good and it's encouraging. But I have struggled from the outset.

I've reached out for help from every avenue possible and at 3 days she had a tongue tie snipped. We have been to breastfeeding groups (though only once before they all closed for the holidays). We've seen a chiropractor who thought that she had some alignment issues after a forceps delivery and I've not been afraid to call for breastfeeding support from health visitors/midwives and make sure that I don't get to a point of despair. I don't yet dread breastfeeding but I've had some pretty low points. The tongue tie was horrible, then I had severely cracked nipples which are almost healing but physically feeding is still so painful I can't tell if the latch is good or if the pain is due to the crack? Some health visitors thought I maybe had thrush but the doctor wasn't convinced so I'm currently trying to feed through the pain.

Along with the above I feel like she latches better on one side that she does the other and won't stay on longer than maybe 5-10 minutes before fighting at my boob and taking herself off. By this point she's too sleepy to go back on/for me to put her in the other side. But not sleepy enough to settle to go to sleep. I feel like my supply is excellent - I can always hand express after a feed or pumping session no matter how long we go for but I'm still plagued by blocked ducts which I think are worse than the pain of feeding.

I just feel like I'm at a loss and I was so determined to make use of every resource yet it still just isn't the joyous experience I was hoping for. 4 weeks and my nipple still hasn't fully healed and I still feel like my baby isn't really satisfied after a feed and I live in fear for the next weigh in because maybe things have stopped working.

Does anyone have any words wisdom? Any tips? I watched endless videos and can't see where we go wrong and neither can all these health professionals. Sometimes I think a feed is going well and it's not overly painful but my nipple comes out so misshapen and I desperately don't want to damage them so much again that I can't feed as we already dropped to one side for an entire week.


OP’s posts: |
Creatureofthenight Sat 29-Dec-18 14:00:37

I also struggled at the beginning, and had plenty of feeds where I had to grit my teeth for the first minute or so. It definitely gets better the bigger baby gets. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever found it joyous but after about 8 weeks it became comfortable enough. I don’t think we’ve ever perfected her latch but it works well enough that we’re still going at 18 months.
Are the HVs/midwives you’ve seen actually trained lactation consultants? If not ask your HV about access to one, they might work out of a different part of the service.

SisterA Sat 29-Dec-18 14:08:04

Thank you. I'm not actually sure but I know there is an infant feeding specialist health visitor coming to me on Monday. So I'm thinking I just need to get to Monday. I currently live one appointment to the next and it's all that gets me through!

I find the feed gets more painful the longer it goes on. And I often think if I can get through the next few weeks with it never getting worse I can keep going but it's just the not knowing that makes me feel anxious. But I am relieved to hear growth will help. If I just keep feeding lots hopefully that will speed things up!

OP’s posts: |
Creatureofthenight Sat 29-Dec-18 14:11:55

That sounds like the ideal person!
Tbh when it was really painful I just kept shoving Minstrels in my gob!

CottonSock Sat 29-Dec-18 14:15:05

You have probably done the hardest bit now. It's bloody tough!
If still painful, have you checked for thrush?

ButterflyWitch Sat 29-Dec-18 14:16:35

I'ts natural for feeding to be easier on one side than the other - but only feeding for 5-10mins before tiring sounds to me like baby might still have some kind of tie?
Pain-wise - try lansinoh for your nips - but pain should be easing now that feeding is established. You could well have ductal thrush which is incredibly painful - i had this and had to fight for treatment as it's difficult to diagnose. try the breastfeeding network site for advice, print out their advice and take to GP?
good luck! BF is hard work and you've done well to make it this far. it does get easier over time - but don't get hung up on a romanticised notion of joyous feeding - I don't think that exists for most mums

KimchiLaLa Sat 29-Dec-18 14:17:59

Can you express and bottle feed? Yes she's not at the boob but she is getting your milk.

FiresideTreats Sat 29-Dec-18 14:21:47

Agree with Butterfly - I've heard of tongue ties reattaching themselves, is there a chance you could have this checked again?

You sound like you're doing amazingly and I hope the visit on Monday can shed some light and hopefully some relief.

I found that once my baby was big enough to latch well on his own, and on both sides, and once my supply had settled down everything became a hell of a lot easier.

Butterflysprinkles Sat 29-Dec-18 14:22:30

Aww no i remember them days. It was the worsed having cracked nipples. And not oerfecting the latch was unbearable.

The breast feeding people show mea position laying down on the bed and it was the best position ever there was no pain and it finally clicked. Then once the nipples healed there was no pain and it was amazing!

Has anyone shown you a laying down poaition. Also i found the rugby hold position a really good one for getting th latch right.

Then once you have that figured out you can do all the positions and it will ne easier.

If it hurta you should change position. Obviously the cracks will atill be painful but hopefully you will get there

ButterflyWitch Sat 29-Dec-18 14:23:59

Just re-read your OP - if your nips are mis-shapen after feeding (like a lipstick?) then it's a poor latch.
But I think there's a lot to be re-assured about too - you clearly have lots of milk and baby is putting on weight! I think sometimes bf mums can worry more as we can't tell how much milk baby is drinking at each feed - but it sounds like baby is getting plenty milk.
I think you need a 5 point plan: 1. heal your nips - lansinoh (or perhaps nipple shields?) or even smear your milk on 2. try to improve latch 3. get treated for thrush 4. check for any other ties (eg posterior tie, lip tie) with someone who really knows their stuff 5. take baby to bed with a large bar of chocolate and a film and enjoy some xmas cuddles :-)

BinaryStar Sat 29-Dec-18 14:27:14

If the nipple is coming out misshapen then there is a latching problem. Have you tried the rugby ball hold ie baby’s body goes under your arm rather than across the front? Have you seen a video on the “flipple”? This is helpful for ensuring the latch is deep enough.

Also you could try nipple shields if you haven’t already. It has been a while since I used them but I found Medela the best and they come in a few sizes. The NHS is generally anti nipple shields but they can be a god save in the right circumstances.

BinaryStar Sat 29-Dec-18 14:28:15

Medela nipple shields

FlyingwithBaby Sat 29-Dec-18 14:29:38

Oh you poor thing, it is painful to start with and your are doing a wonderful job!
Something that helped me so much were “Breast Angel” silverette nipple cups... they have healed my very painful nipples so many times! Just wear them in between feeds.
La Leche League have a helpline which you can call for advice and they are wonderful... open during the hols. Get yourself along to your nearest La Leche League meeting in the new year too as they will provide you with excellent suppprt and help, even after you overcome these early problems.
Good luck and keep going because it is so very worth it 😊

BinaryStar Sat 29-Dec-18 14:29:55


(Sorry for the long links!)

BertieBotts Sat 29-Dec-18 14:31:32

Bless you, you have had a really tough time.

It's good you have a specialist coming out. If she can't help, there are other avenues you can explore. It sounds to me like the latch is still not right if you're having the pain increase during the feed. Would it be worth trying nipple shields? These can sometimes make a good latch bad but if you're already getting pain and misshapen nipples, they are probably a good interim step. They might help as your LO grows as well, and you can wean off them later if they are annoying. I would also recommend you hand express/pump after feeding to prevent blocked ducts. You could also cup or bottle feed some of this milk if you are concerned about LO being too sleepy to feed effectively. BF can be exhausting for them at first if there is anything slightly out of whack with the situation as a whole.

You want somebody to check whether the tongue tie has not reattached, also whether there is any other attachment e.g. posterior tie, lip tie.

Maybe keep a keen eye for any thrush signs as this could be making things worse, but with the misshapen nipple I think something isn't quite right here.

Have you tried the move where you squash the boob into a sort of oval shape which makes it easier to latch? Are you bringing the baby to you rather than the boob to the baby? Use a feeding pillow, or stack of bed pillows, if you need help with holding them up.

It sounds like something which will get better rather than worse, but I don't think this is an issue which will resolve on its own so you might need to keep pushing for more help.

If your IFS HV is no good, try the BF support groups again once they re-open, that would be a good next step.

Good luck! And keep us updated with how it's going.

BertieBotts Sat 29-Dec-18 14:32:58

Oh yes re positioning, Biological Nurturing can help with this (though it didn't with my DS2 who just never ever got it and used to get really frustrated when I tried!)

scrivette Sat 29-Dec-18 14:45:43

Some good advice above, also, you said that feeding was becoming more painful longer into the feed, it may be that the latch is slipping as the baby gets tired. Could you try to unlatch (using your little finger) and relatch?

SisterA Sat 29-Dec-18 14:53:01

Thanks everyone for your advice. I absolutely will try anything and everything. I've tried every position but I still try them all again when things aren't going right. We've tried lying down, biological nurturing, rugby ball... I've tried nipple shields but really couldn't get on with them - baby just felt as if she was on the base of my nipple which felt worse, though the infant feeding person may be able to help my with that. I've tried flipple and I've squashed my breast down. I've given it breaks and expressed.

But. I'm going to keep trying with all these suggestions and have them reassess the tongue tie. I'll go back to the GP and ask them to swab me to test for infection. I know it's possible. My body was designed to do this and my baby needs to be fed so I'm sure we will get there in the end it's just so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you feel like you've truly explored every option. I was so sure of myself before starting that I'd reach out wherever I could and it's so hard that I've stayed true to that and we still can't get it right.

OP’s posts: |
ButterflyWitch Sat 29-Dec-18 15:10:49

but OP bf is really hard! and I think we've lost a lot of knowledge as less and less bf. Also, some have very easy experiences and others have lots of issues.
It's very hard to swab and get a result for thrush (and can take about a week, by which point any underlying thrush would have gotten worse) - I'd go on the assumption that it's highly likely and ask for treatment. Do you have an out of hours service you could visit tonight to start treatment? Worst case scenario it's not thrush but then you can rule it out in a few days if you see no improvement.
Bf can be painful - especially to begin with - but your level of pain at 4 weeks in indicates something underlying that needs to be treated.

SisterA Sat 29-Dec-18 17:15:26

Yeah, and I wasn't expecting it to be easy by any means but I didn't think it would be THIS hard. However I've surprised myself as when we started I really didn't think we'd make it to 4 weeks feeling like this.

I called out a midwife today and she came to provide some more advice and luckily the Lactation consultant coming on Monday could not come with any more praise so I'm hoping she'll be able to provide some good advice. I do think we are close to getting there and I'm being wary not to let any more damage happen so we spend a lot of time unlatching. Midwife also didn't think there was any sign of thrush or any problem with tongue tie. She is pretty confident the issue is positioning and attachment. Especially since things are significantly better on one side.

Committed to this and learning so so so much. We make progress I feel everyday and I'm just trying to remain positive!

OP’s posts: |
Babyangelfairy Sat 29-Dec-18 19:47:59

Hi there,
I haven’t read everyone’s replies so I could be repeating someone.
My LO also has a tongue tie and it was only snipped at almost seven weeks due to constant feeding.
I too suffered with painful nipples at the beginning, I saw a BF counsellor who advised a poor latch and recommended the koala hold. However, I’ve found that side feeding bubs has a deeper latch and feeds longer. He too feeds for minutes at a time before tiring, it’s because a tongue tie baby can’t get the deep latch as a regular baby due to the lack of flexibility of the tongue so often use their lips to feed and suck the nipple instead of getting some areola in there too.
This could be why you’re sore and mishapen. I agree lanolin is awesome.
Where as I’m past the pain aspect now, we still have latch issues so I side lay at home to feed as much as possible. We still have reflux to contend with- LO fights at my breast.
Ironically I’ve just posted looking for any help as he still feeds every 30mins and won’t take a bottle, HV isn’t concerned as he’s gained lots of weight (over a pound a week!) and BF counsellor is on leave until the new year.
I’m looking into cranial osteopathy now as I read a tongue tie baby can sometimes have muscle tension in their jaw, worth a shot right???
Hang in there you’re doing awesom xx

CottonSock Sat 29-Dec-18 21:31:06

I'll just add that both my dds were fussy first had reflux..second I think just a breast preference. I used to offer her the other one first. It took quite a while for her to even out, probably months.

BinaryStar Sat 29-Dec-18 22:42:47

Bravo for all the effort you’re putting in OP. I know it I tough but hopefully all your perseverance will pay off very soon

SisterA Mon 31-Dec-18 18:13:31

Hi everyone. I don't want to jinx anything but I think we might have it down on the good side. At least I have hope.

My problem is still with the other side it's just soooo painful still but it's maybe just going to continue being painful until it's fully healed? My worry is supply in that side. I can never let her stay on until she takes herself off and have to unlatch beforehand. But one side is better than none right?! Do you think these short bursts will be enough to keep up supply? Should I be pumping in between feeds when I have to unlatch early? I know she has a preference for the left - probably because I'm a bit more adept and more relaxed but can get a reasonable latch much easier on that side.

I don't have the fear to start feeding on my right but I am beginning to look a bit lopsided & after all this work don't want supply to become an issue. Anyone got any tips? Will it be possible to build supply back up?

OP’s posts: |
FiresideTreats Tue 01-Jan-19 11:00:45

It sounds like you're doing amazingly. How long will she feed on the bad side before you have to unlatch? Would it be painful for you to pump?

I wasn't in the exact same situation you are, but my DS couldn't/wouldn't latch on my right side for weeks and weeks. It became such a battle during the night that eventually I just did night feeds on the good side until he mastered the bad side as well. While feeding I used a haakaa to catch the letdown on the bad side and then pumped with a manual pump for 5 ish mins til the bad side felt soft. I never had a supply issue that I know of but like you I feared I would, hence the pumping. I know nighttime feeds are crucial for your supply in the early weeks. I perhaps actually pumped too much as I did have oversupply for a short time but that settled down after about 3-5 days once he was reliably feeding from both sides.

You are 4+ weeks in so your supply is hopefully getting in good shape to be established - I hope someone with a bit more technical BF knowledge can come along with some more definite info.

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