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Breastfeeding Injuries - tell me I'm not alone!

(29 Posts)
PoppyField Sun 21-Sep-08 21:44:30


Long post follows...

I'm 16 weeks pregnant with Number 2. When I had my DD nearly a year ago, it was agonisingly slow to get the breastfeeding going (No-one told me that C-sections and morphine inhibit milk flow) and it was incredibly fraught and stressful, especially with DH hovering with bottles of formula in the expectation that DD was going to starve to death. That made me feel total failure.

In the end I did manage to do it for 6 months but at great physical cost! Did anyone else have this - stuff like tendonitis, frozen shoulder or tennis elbow type injuries from b-feeding?

I am sure the problem was because I was sooooo tense, that when I finally got her latched on and feeding I stayed in the same 'latch on' position for hours for fear of it going wrong. My shoulders were hunched up, my body twisted into god knows what contortions and my hand holding the breast in question with thumb cocked awkwardly. My boobs are quite big and I could never get the hang of swapping arms around so that the baby nestled in the crook of the arm on the feeding side. I always felt she would slip off or get smothered because of the weight of the breast or something. Both hands suffered and both thumbs cocked outwards for hours - one behind her neck and the other holding boob. It got to the point where it was painful lifting her and putting her down, or basically doing anything that meant manipulation - doing poppers up, fishing things out of the bottom of the buggy etc etc. Couldn't write longhand either - so shopping lists were pretty illegible.

I was wearing wrist supports and in real pain. The Health Visitors had no suggestions and really blanked it, as if they had never encountered these kind of problems.

It took me ten weeks - and going to my sports injury physio - before it occurred to me to think about whether I should be comfortable or even to have a proper chair for night feeds. Looking back I can't believe I was so neglectful of my health, but I'm still not sure how I can figure out a way of doing it better next time.

I'm sure I have got hang-ups about my big boobs. I think I had her far too high up, I was slightly allegic to the idea that she (and de facto my breasts) would be down by my waist to feed. Who knows.

Thing is, I am worried about next time. The condition got a lot better when I finished bf-ing, but it is still bad on my right hand and still having physio.

So tell me - has anyone else suffered this and do you have any ideas how I can prepare NOT to do this to myself next time? Shall I get a proper nursing chair, fancy pillow etc?I got a MyBrestFriend pillow at about 5 months but by that time the damage was done and I was still holding breast with my hand so my shoulder was up on one side, elbow and thumb cocked v awkwardly.

Sorry about long post, but I can't believe I am the only one who crippled myself breastfeeding. Tell me I'm not alone!


fishie Sun 21-Sep-08 21:47:29

poppy i have read about this elsewhere, it has got a name and is a recognised condition. buggered if i can remember where or what though.

is your physio likely to be any use? or try contacting one of the helplines?

madmouse Sun 21-Sep-08 21:59:18

I recognise a lot of what you write.

My baby was in scbu and after being sedated for a week had to learn to bf. Did take him all of a day grin but as you can imagine i was quite tense also because it is said that brain damaged babies who bf within a week have better outcomes. Was more occupied with feeding than with my own position.

I alsohave large boobs and still hold my breast for ds (almost 8 months) as they are not firm enough to hold on. It gave me a very sore thumb/wrist for a while.

I fed with ds on a pillow for too long, it made him lazy and sleepy and was bad for feeding. Now he lies on my lap and can reach my breasts. I wish they were smaller and look jealously at small breasted ladies who can hold baby in front of boob in the crook of their arm like you mentioned.

I have a frozen shoulder atm, as ds moved to nursery and I bf him on cushions on the floor there at night as he is too comfy in my bed.

It does not help that my ears need syringing and the deafest one is on the side of my bad shoulder, so I have to lie on the bad side to hear ds with good one. complicated and painful,

so in short, after a long moan grin blush you are not alone.

still the knowledge of having fed ds exclusively for 5.5 and seen him through starting solids so that his over sensitive colick prone system now produces beautiful hmm brown solid stools every day is worth it.

Am about to start weaning him off though and ready for it.

moondog Sun 21-Sep-08 22:03:19

Ah, you too eh?
I went through hell with a frozenshoulder like think that meant i was in constant pain. I went to see a private physion (GP and practice nurse were no good) and did all suggested exercises religiously (and still do 4 years on as it is still there,only under control if I do so). I also go her to expalin the physiology of it so i felt more in contro.

Also found/find that exercise helps, so do a fair bit if gym/runnig/walking/swimming/aerobics/cycling.

llareggub Sun 21-Sep-08 22:05:27

I have big boobs, had a c-section etc and your post brings back so many memories.

I used the rugby ball hold a lot, which I read about here on mumnset. I used to prop myself up with lots of pillows, foot-stools etc. I did have a "proper" nursing chair but found it very uncomfortable. Thinking about it, I did have a bad back for quite a while, maybe it was linked to breastfeeding. Hmm.

Now that DS is older we often feed in bed so I lie down and he helps himself. I'll definitely do that earlier with the next one!

Ironically I found things far more comfortable when out and and about, I must think about why.

I'll watch this thread with interest as I am currently pregnant with number 2.

wastingmyeducation Mon 22-Sep-08 09:32:36

I feed DS on my lap, bf has gone so much better since ditching the cushion.
I have rotten knees from bf at the moment, I would never sit with both feet on the floor normally, but sitting on the sofa feeding, combined with his weight on my lap when cross-legged in bed at night is really making my knees hurt.
I've got one bad wrist at the moment, but presumed that was from hauling my fat ass out of bed five times a night to get DS, which still counts I suppose.
The only advice I have is that you probably don't need anything fancy, no expensive chair, no cushion, I fed better when I lost my hang-ups about doing it 'right' and found what worked best for us. A chair without arms is better for bf in the lap I've found, but always try one out before you buy.
Good luck!


Eirlys Mon 22-Sep-08 11:05:03

Poppyfield, that sounds agonising!

I started to get aches and pains but when DS was 1 week old I ran out and bought an expensive fancy Nursing Chair - I hardly use it now but it was worth it for getting me through the first few months. Although as wastingmyeducation says, a chair without arms would have been much better, for when DC grew too long! A footstool is also a godsend - it really can help you to stop hunching over. Sears' "The Baby Book" has some great tips for setting up your "breastfeeding station".

Did you get any help last time from breastfeeding counsellors/expert midwives? They are often good at helping to position you - it's not just the latch that they look at!
It might be worth giving one of the helplines a call in advance, to share all of your worries, plus have you discussed with dh how you felt last time? He might not have realised how his hovering with formula bottles made you feel.

Good luck

baltimore97 Mon 22-Sep-08 13:49:11

Large boobs and flat nipples meant much the same experience for me. I always had to the hold the boob and the baby with DD1 and DD2, and both times ended up with a bad back, sore shoulders, tendonitis etc. I tried to feed many times with a simple cradle hold, but the baby just slipped right off the boob!

I fed DD1 for a year, but only last until 11 weeks with DD2 as she failed to gain weight despite many trips to breastfeeding councillors and v. helpful HVs. I have to say that switching to bottles was a great relief in some ways, as I am not in constant physical discomfort anymore and can feed her anywhere, not just at home with a stack of pillows etc.

PoppyField Mon 22-Sep-08 14:12:16

Boy oh boy. So good not to be alone. Thanks guys. All this is really useful stuff. Especially about chairs/cushions etc.

Eirlys: will consider nursing chair, even for just a few months - no price too high to avoid wrist tendon pain-fest. And best to prepare in advance, you are so right. Thanks.

Moondog: thanks...sorry you're still suffering. I love getting physio - he calls it 'yummy pain' which I am a sucker for. I am reasonably sporty - so was running and cycling until I got preg again (am nervous in the first few months) and am now just swimming and gymming. Walking bit of a pain coz of pelvic probs. So am alternating osteo and physio - total crock really! Is this coz I'm 43? That's another thread.

llaregub: thanks for reminding me about the rugby ball technique. I did get shown that by a breastfeeding advisor, but kept forgetting to do it in all the fog.

wastingmyed: you could research best sitting positions on physio info sites. I always thought sitting with feet planted squarely on the ground was supposed to be the best. I was crap at lying down bfing as well. I think ditching the 'doing it right' obssession may be my positive starting point next time.

Thanks all,


charitas Mon 22-Sep-08 17:01:45

with large boobs and flat nipples I to am still holding boobwith other hand at six months. I have found lying down with piglet and boob on a pillow useful, can feed piglet with topmost boob in this manner as well which saves turning over, but probably means i shall need howard hughes type genius to engineer me a bra in the future ala Jane Mansfield. Charitas wishes any part of her resembles jane mansfield

charitas Mon 22-Sep-08 17:01:46

with large boobs and flat nipples I to am still holding boobwith other hand at six months. I have found lying down with piglet and boob on a pillow useful, can feed piglet with topmost boob in this manner as well which saves turning over, but probably means i shall need howard hughes type genius to engineer me a bra in the future ala Jane Mansfield. Charitas wishes any part of her resembles jane mansfield

charitas Mon 22-Sep-08 17:01:49

with large boobs and flat nipples I to am still holding boobwith other hand at six months. I have found lying down with piglet and boob on a pillow useful, can feed piglet with topmost boob in this manner as well which saves turning over, but probably means i shall need howard hughes type genius to engineer me a bra in the future ala Jane Mansfield. Charitas wishes any part of her resembles jane mansfield

charitas Mon 22-Sep-08 17:02:26

whoops pressed button too mant times

suey2 Mon 22-Sep-08 17:12:59

big boobed physio here still bf dd at 9 months.
Learn several different ways of doing it, then you will be less likely to get stuck in the same old positions.
Top tip: really try and persevere with bf lying down. It is the only position that is totally hazard free. I used a plain old pillow to start with and a rolled up hand towel under the boob to lift it up a little

PoppyField Mon 22-Sep-08 19:47:10


Suey2 I wish you could draw me a picture. The whole lying down thing was a mystery. I didn't know where to put my arms and got rampant pins and needles after short time.

I am glad of any advice. And I forgot, there must be some big boobed breastfeeding physios - hurrah I found one. Good to know that lying down is THE hazard free approach.

I will try not to be defeated... so the plain old pillow - where does that go? And are you lifting the top boob or the bottom one with the hand towel?

If I google for images of this, will I get arrested? grin

Tryharder Mon 22-Sep-08 22:56:14

Can relate to a lot of what has been said on here. I have large floppy breasts and suffered in agony at first trying to prop up baby and breasts with a lot of assorted cushions. I then met a bf counsellor who was also a bit fat with floppy tits like me grin and she showed me how to bf as wastingmyeducation says, with DS on my lap without a cushion.

Seriously, someone should invent a nursing bra which welds floppy boobs into place with big holes for the nipples and aureoles so baby can latch on without the breast constantly falling out of its mouth. No, I mean, seriously....

NotAnOtter Mon 22-Sep-08 23:07:55

i am in AGONY with frozen shoulder atm

bf ing a 10 week old - only recently thinking bf and pain are linked - but not big boobed.....

its hell what can i do

suey2 Tue 23-Sep-08 09:02:29

LOL poppy- i thinks there is a diagram in the clare byam cook book- she was my BFC.
To begin with, i would be lying on my side with dd on a pillow. The pillow's side would be between my 2 breasts. The rolled up towel went under the top boob. I had another pillow under my head. Then i would latch her on and let go- the towel held the boob in position. HTH

fishie Tue 23-Sep-08 09:09:53

de Quervain?s Tendonitis that is the thing i read about.

PoppyField Tue 23-Sep-08 09:56:51

Great fishie - that looks exactly right, I might show it to my physio - hope he doesn't hate print-outs from the web! Funnily enough my mum said she suffered tendonitis after having me and her GP just gave her a cortisone injection which worked.Obviously maybe not a good idea when bfing or when pregnant.

Hi NotanOtter - I am sure your condition must relate to breastfeeding, since you are spending half your life doing this activity, and certainly if your frozen shoulder has happened since the birth. Have you been diagnosed with frozen shoulder by your doctor? Has she/he got you treatment, maybe a physio. I wish I had insisted on more advice from a bfc - although our local one here is notorious for issuing wild weird advice (asking DPs to suckle if milk's slow? Arghghh!). Sorry, going off on tangent. What you must do, NotanOtter is reassess your feeding position and get someone to look at you again. I wish I had done that and looked after myself more. I didn't even sit in a decent chair, god knows what I was thinking. And I'm sure it's not just big-boobed people, it's more about the fact that you've got yourself stuck into a funny contortion which is causing your ligaments and muscles to seize up. Demand proper help, if it takes half a year to get a physio appt through your GP, try and get one privately if you can afford it. Worth it. Any decent physio will know all about frozen shoulder.

Thanks for all the ideas - and the extra info Suey2.

All the best, Poppy

Pannacotta Tue 23-Sep-08 10:05:57

Poor you.
Also recommend feeding lying down, much easier to relax like that I find.
Also woudl try and swim reglulary and have massages, both good for aches and pains.
There is a newish b-feeding chair which I have seen, will see if I can find a link in a mo, this might help?

Pannacotta Tue 23-Sep-08 10:06:44
Ams ure you could get it cheaperm maybe look on ebay?

wastingmyeducation Tue 23-Sep-08 13:02:35

That chair does look good!


suey2 Tue 23-Sep-08 13:07:51

don't know about that chair- she is still holding the full weight of her baby and has her shoulder and neck in an awkward position. (IMO obviously)
I do think that we get sold a lot of things that don't work and we can spend a lot of money. There isn't much you can't do with what you already have. EG i used to feed dd with her lying on a pillow on the kitchen table: I was supported by the dining chair and her full weight was supported by the table.

wastingmyeducation Tue 23-Sep-08 14:26:31

Ah but for me DS lays on my lap, so I'm never holding his full weight when feeding. No one chair will suit everyone, I guess.


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