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why dooes everyone insist that if it hurts we are doing it wrong?

(18 Posts)
nicewarmslippers Wed 01-Oct-08 13:38:13

I am a passionate beliver in breast feeding. I fed my first for 14 months and fully expect to feed my second (due any day)for a similar time.

I get so sad though hearing time and time again from women who give up breast feeding because it hurt and they had been told 'if it hurts your doing it wrong'/'baby isn't latched properly etc etc'. They get disheartened and belive there is something wrong with them so give up. The sad and honest truth which just need acknowledgeing is that for many women there is some pain involved in breast feeding in the early days and telling them that if it hurths they are doing it wrong isn't helpful.

I have spent many years working in rural Kenya where women have alot of children and everyone breastfeeds. There women spend 6 weeks after birth just in bed with the baby being cared for so they can establish feeding. People recognise how hard it is. When I tell women there that here we are told that if it hurts you are doing it wrong they laugh and say 'at first it hurts so much you cry'.

Yes women in pain should look for all help and support available but it is dishonest to tell them that all pain can be avoided. Even if its true that much pain is due to inproper latch we need to acknowledge that inproper latch will happen sometimes in the early weeks and resuly in pain.

Sorry for the rant but it saddens me that this attitude that tellignt he truth will put people off does more harm than good!

LadyOfWaffle Wed 01-Oct-08 13:43:13

Yes, I know how you feel. I was asked when BFing at a friends ' doesn't it hurt?' and I said yes. She gave up because of the pain which she saw it not going right. If i'm honest it was agony for a min at first for about 2 weeks, toe curling pain in the first few days but it wasn't latch, it was just engorgement/nipples abit hard @ 1st etc. Now at 6 weeks it's totally fine, still can be a little sore if DS feeds for ages (just sensitive soreness).

fluffyanimal Wed 01-Oct-08 13:44:44

I'm with you there, slippers. What annoyed me about that message was that my ds, who was exclusively breastfed for 6 months, gained weight hand over fist and was never more contented than when on the breast. OK, so there might have been a better latch position to alleviate some of my excruciating pain and split, bleeding nipples, but as far as my ds was concerned he was doing it right - he was happy and growing, how much more right can you get? I didn't want to risk disrupting what was so obviously working for him, so I gritted my teeth and endured, until it got better. I'm not saying that makes me any kind of saint, but I just wanted to punch the MWs and HVs who said I must be doing it wrong, all the while praising my chubby, contented baby.

theyoungvisiter Wed 01-Oct-08 13:50:47

I agree - I think it would be more useful to say that if it hurts you should seek advice as the pain may be avoidable.

Some kinds of pain are nothing to do with positioning - I used to get very bad let-down pains (toe-curling at first). This was nothing to do with the feeding as such - I would get them any time I let down, whether or not I was feeding at the time, in fact it was often worse when I wasn't feeding.

I think the point of the message is useful in that if there is pain it's often (but not always) an indication of problems with latch etc, but so often you hear it trotted out as gospel with the subtext "oh it's all your fault and will never get any better", which is hardly helpful.

Miyazaki Wed 01-Oct-08 13:53:30

Yes, I had to do my labour breathing at first, both times! With dd1 assumed had bad latch, got it checked.... NO! It's just painful to start with.

Thomcat Wed 01-Oct-08 13:58:17

I had many people tell me they gave up after a week or 2 becasue it hurt. Sad becasue yes it can hurt but only when you are establishing it, not once it's establised.

aurorec Wed 01-Oct-08 13:58:29

Fluffy my DD was the same- she was 90 percentile in height and weight for 8 months, and she was obviously thriving at the breast.

The issue I had was careless latch at the beginning which caused cracked and bleeding nipples- once the damage was done the pain stayed regardless of the improved latch.
I also had a fast letdown, and DD would clamp down on the nipple to slow down the milk flow, which didn't help with the pain.

The good news is that with DS born 3 weeks ago I was a lot more vigilant about latch issues at the beginning, particularly as he cluster fed from birth- I didn't hesitate to re-latch him as many times as needed. Despite an initially sore right side (which freaked me out) with Lansinoh and re-latching the pain disappeared and BFing this time round is a doddle. I can happily keep him at the breast for hours if he wants to (something that I avoided like the plague with DD) and he is thriving too.

I definitely agree that it's essential to admit that pain can be part of BF- and that women can get over it. It took my nipples 3 months with DD to heal, but they did and I ended up nursing her for 14 months, until she gave up.

myjeansaretootight Wed 01-Oct-08 14:07:28

I am so glad I am not the only one where it hurt like hell. I was in tears when feeding time drew near. With DD it turned out she had a tongue tie but it took a visit to a bf clinic for it to be looked at. By the time we got a referal to a surgeon about 6wks later about having it clipped it had got better. With DS as soon as he was delivered as for a tongue tie check, he didn't have one but still hurt for first 6 wks thank goodness for the NCT BF helpline they were so supportive. Now I say to all friends trying to BF wait for 6-8 wks before giving up which is interesting as it ties with the Kenyan womens resting time.

singersgirl Wed 01-Oct-08 14:13:51

Yes, it took 6 weeks of feeding DS1 before I was pain-free on both sides. I agree that it's annoying to be constantly told that the it must be the latch. Every health visitor who saw me said the latch must be wrong, but then watched and said it was perfect. It just hurt; toe-curling is exactly right, and I remember DH begging me to give up as I sobbed through some feeds. But I kept going for 8 months until I went back to work and found expressing too hard, and fed DS2 until he was 2.

nicewarmslippers Wed 01-Oct-08 14:48:00

this is amazing! so many people agree! I just wish we could influence the breast feeding advisors/mws etc who persist in telling everyone it shouldn't hurt.

I talked to my (very wonderful) mw about this the other day and she said that women need to know to look for help and not suffer terrible pain. thats true but they can go too far the other way implying that if its going well there is no pain (even pleasure!). I loved breast feeding but had terrible let down pains for at least 8 weeks. Never suffered cracked nipples so was lucky.

I was given a dvd by the local health board about breast feeding. it started with shots of african women feeding and saying that we don't learn how from watching others as children so for us its a learnt experience. True but that implies its somehow inate for africans. as I said in my original post they too of course have to learn and practice and suffer pain when the baby comes and they are establishign feeding. Its downright wrong to imply that they magically don't suffer (implying we shouldn't). It was teling that the happy african ladies feeding in the videos were feeding 5 or 6 month olds. Most people are happy by then.

breast feeding is hard work at first for most women. Libby purvis has it right when she describes it as being mauled like a very determined lion.

hellish Wed 01-Oct-08 14:52:25

I agree - that's rubbish, when bf both my dds it hurt like crazy (sore bleeding nipples) for 5 weeks both times.

First time I was convinced I was doing it wrong as she didn't put on weight and was full of wind.

Second time she piled on 10lb in the first 10 days and never stopped growing. (oh those chubby little legs) smile

Talia1 Wed 01-Oct-08 14:54:35

Maybe it's because medical staff tend to classify pain differently? Anything that doesn't require major painkillers seems to be classed as 'discomfort' by doctors, probably because they have patients experiencing much worse pain than just having needles through the nipples. Doesn't help in the middle of the night with a crying baby of course.

I also heard that mothers would supposedly be put off BF if they knew it hurt - they've just gone through labour FFS, show a bit more respect.

OMaLittle Wed 01-Oct-08 14:58:46

10lb in 10 days? that's SOME weight gain wink

I totally agree. It does hurt. About a month for me, both times, no less painful second time. Have had no difficulty since then with either, though.

Lying in bed for six weeks sounds grand.

reikizen Wed 01-Oct-08 15:01:39

Interesting thread. I'm on my postnatal placement at the moment and I've started now telling women to expect some discomfort, if not pain initially because it doesn't make sense that it wouldn't hurt at first! I want to be as honest with the women as possible and stop treating them like children, then they can decide if they want to continue or not.

InTheDollshouse Wed 01-Oct-08 15:12:11

I agree with theyoungvisitor - women need to know that pain may indicate a problem so that they can get help if needed. A friend of mine had a lot of pain at the start, and it turned out her son had tongue tie. Once that was fixed she was fine. But had she thought that pain was inevitable she might have carried on and got nipple damage.

tiktok Wed 01-Oct-08 15:25:23

reikizen, I can really understand and applaud your desire to treat women like grown ups - but please check out the literature about this before you start deciding what 'makes sense' and what doesn't.

Discomfort and/or pain are not inevitable parts of breastfeeding. Nipples and breasts are made for breastfeeding, and babies' mouths are too. It no more 'makes sense' to expect discomfort with breastfeeding than to expect a baby's feet will hurt when he starts walking, or to expect that penetrative sex is always painful until you 'get used to it'.

Discomfort and pain are common and sometimes transient (bit like sex....) but they should never be dismissed as something normal and unavoidable. I have seen too many women with nipples in shreds because they were told pain is normal, and it could have been made better if someone had taken the time to check things out. What starts as discomfort in the first days can progress to dreadful damage and pain if not dealt with.

Discomfort is not 'women doing something wrong' and it's not a sign of failure or incompetence - it may be a sign the baby has a TT, or the positioning needs amending, and dismissing it as something all or even most women should just expect is really unhelpful.

hellish Thu 02-Oct-08 02:45:15

Lol didn't mean 10 pounds I meant 2, she would have doubled in size smile

mabanana Thu 02-Oct-08 02:55:02

I agree with Tiktok, with my second child in particular, it was very painful at first, nipples cracked, adn I was sure I must be doing everything right as dd was gaining weight and after all, I'd fed my first child for a year with no pain. BUT feeding a one year old is not like feeding a newborn, and I was letting her latch on in slightly wrong way, and when I saw a proper hospital breastfeeding counsellor (not an HV or midwife!) she was able to show me a really tiny adjustment that made a difference like night and day. The pain just disappeared. Later on, I had pain again, HV says all OK, but I had mastitis, which was agony, but a short course of antibiotics saw it off really fast. So two episodes of pain, but both fixable. It would not have been helpful to me to say 'oh well, it just hurts' as that would have made me more likely to give up. Thinking it was fixable, as it was, made me see out help and made breastfeeding lovely and relaxing, not painful. I certainly never felt for one second that I was 'failing' just that it was a technique that needed a tweak from an expert.

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