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DS is 6 weeks and the pain isn't stopping

(41 Posts)
FlatFacedArmy Thu 15-Nov-12 09:46:18


I've been hanging on grimly waiting for the pain to ease and bf to feel comfortable or at least not painful for the last while, but it just doesn't show any signs of letting up!

The first cluster feeding stage was agony but I thought once I'd got through that, the rest would be manageable. Now I'm six weeks in and although I seem to have lots of milk, I'm regularly topping up with one or two formula feeds in the evening because my boobs are too sore to feed from and I can't express fast enough to fill him (I probably could express more but I'd also like to shower/sleep/feed myself, and I don't usually know yet if he's going to sleep for a few hours or demand to be fed in one hour).

Please help! I'd like to keep going and eventually drop the formula altogether. The problems: Although there's brief pain while latching on, it's not usually uncomfortable while feeding, unless he starts messing about - changing his grip mid-feed and letting go of the breast and clamping down on my nipple. But he does tend to clamp on the nipple and twist his head away at the end of a feed, which bloody hurts. I've tried pulling his face into my breast to make him release the nipple to breathe, but I think he's still too young to understand the connection between nose and mouth and breathing!

It doesn't help that he feeds like a madman, very enthusiastically. After feeding, my nipples go white within a few minutes, and then sting. And I get sharp pains shooting through my breasts after he has fed, through the next three hours or so til he wants to feed again. If I express on one side but feed on the other, only the fed side will hurt. I've tried expressing only on days when there's been too much nipple trauma, but although I can pump almost 20 ozs, I'm just not fast enough to keep up with demand! My skin is very pale and sensitive, and I'm finding it very tough going.

I want to continue, I do love looking down at him and seeing how contented he is, but I'm so fed up of constant soreness. I'd heard that by six weeks it should have significantly changed for the better, but it hasn't and I don't want to resent the time spent on painful feeds when I could be enjoying him. I don't want to groan and dread it every time he's hungry sooner than expected, or beg DH to take him and occupy him so I can express while he cries because I can't bear to inflict him on my nipples again, though the guilt kills me and DH looks reproachfully at me.

applecrumple Thu 15-Nov-12 10:32:34

Hi sweetie, no advice I'm afraid but you're doing fantastically well to have bf so far. Just wanted to send a hug. DH looking reproachfully at you? He has no idea how hard bf is (I'm 8 weeks in & still sore) - hang in there & I hope someone with more experience will be along shortly

amazingmumof6 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:43:51

first of all you should get him checked for tounge-tie! a simple op to release the tounge can improve BF massively!

Also the pain you have in between/before feeds can be due to let down reflex, and you are sensitive to it.
some people can feel pain in their armpits as well as breast as the milk comes - some never feel a thing....

also you may have a thrush in your breast, which needs treatment.
or it could be mastitis.

you can try using the Avent nipple shields or painkillers, but they are only temporary solutions.

You could see a breast feeding expert or call the BF helplines.

Also you could try cranial ostheopathy (he's old enough) to check he's soft palate - my DD had both tounge-tie and and an unusually highly arched soft palate so even though she was near-constant feeding she was loosing weight

is DH happy to support your decision either way despite his worrying about you or do you argue about it? he needs to understand that adding to the existing stress is useless!
if he's annoying you please ask him to leave while you are feeding baby, both baby and you need a calm environment and less distractions!

it feels like you want to give up, but I think there is a good chance you can improve this situation!

I hereby forbid you to have any more guilt smile, you are doing absolutely everything you can! keep going and get that tongue looked at!

flakjacket Thu 15-Nov-12 10:44:04

YOu've probably got another few weeks or so before the pain eases - it was about 3 months for me first time around from memory sad. On the bright side, you don't really notice it getting better, you just suddenly remember that it used to hurt and now it doesn't.

You are doing fabulously, fantastically well to have persevered for six weeks - lots of people would have given up by now.

I seem to remember sliding a finger in his mouth to release his suck if he started pulling away or mucking about. Also sticking a muslin over his eyes so he couldn't get distracted by things!!

flakjacket Thu 15-Nov-12 10:45:29

x post - yes do get him checked for a physical problem!

amazingmumof6 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:52:11

* flak* you should not have pain after the first few weeks, but a lot of women sadly do for months, because they don't realize that baby has tongue - tie and can't latch on properly!

yes, you may have an initial pressure sensitivity as they latch on , but after the first few sucks it should go!
it is abnormal to be in pain for 6 weeks or 3 months, but incorrect latch is so common, people think it's just the way it is!

DS2 didn't have tongue- tie and it was a dream to feed him, I had no pain after 10 days!

FlatFacedArmy Thu 15-Nov-12 11:52:13

Well, that's the thing: there was definitely a change after 10 days. It went from "agonising" to merely "painful". I do have days where I will bf the whole way through, it will start off comfortably enough but by the following afternoon I'm just too sore and need a break. So I worry that maybe I just have a lower pain threshold (common redhead problem!) or more sensitive breasts than other people. And that is without setbacks like last week when he bit/twisted me quite hard and my nipple was the wrong shape and colour for days! I don't have pain during the feed but afterward it is very sensitive/sore.

I don't think it's mastitis from what I've been reading, it could be thrush but I don't have any other symptoms apart from the pain while "refilling"...

And DH is very supportive, to be fair he's the reason I've got this far. I have looked up while feeding to catch him gazing at us with a soppy look on his face, he really loves to see us nursing peacefully all madonna-and-child like. There are times i know I've only stayed with it not to disappoint him! But when DS cries, it's not easy for him to listen to it either... Comfort-boob solves most ills, even if DS has just had a large bottle of expressed milk and DH wants me to whip it out there and then. Which I usually do, but it doesn't give my breasts the chance to recover that I hoped for. The reproachful look comes if I really cant stand it and i beg him to take DS and fob him off for a while til I can express some more milk... (I tried to introduce a soother but DS doesn't like it much and I'm secretly relieved, and only produce it as a last resort.)

I'm going to the bf cafe on Friday. I've been before when he was two weeks old but was told my problems were due to his jaundice and it would get better as the jaundice went. It hasn't. I'll get him checked for a tongue tie by the LC there and at the GP on Monday again if no luck. And if not I'll ask the GP about a cranial osteopath.

To be honest I don't really know if I do want to give up, or do want to stick at it. I found the first week so hard and so painful and I still resent it for spoiling what should have been a special time with my first baby. But now I've made it this far, it seems a stupid time to quit - it's far less difficult than it was in the beginning, but it's just not comfortable, easy or pain-free! And I've got lots of milk and a fast flow, so i don't want to waste those gifts when I hate the smell of formula and how gassy it makes him... "But I hate doing it and it hurts" isn't a convincing enough reason to give up bf altogether, even to myself! I sound selfish!

FlatFacedArmy Thu 15-Nov-12 11:54:01

Forgot to say the most important bit: thank you all for your posts. It's really reassuring and encouraging.

Woodlands Thu 15-Nov-12 11:59:45

Hi FlatFacedArmy, sorry to hear things are so tough. One quick thing to consider which was the key for me - are you using lots of Lansinoh? Everyone kept telling me to slather this on after every feed as I was finding it so painful, so I did. At about 8 weeks it occurred to me to try stopping it - and after a couple of days my nipples healed up and the pain stopped. I am sensitive to lanolin, so should have thought, but the makers of Lansinoh claim it is totally hypoallergenic so I thought it would be OK.

lizzytee Thu 15-Nov-12 12:53:19

OP, many congratulations on the birth of your son. Some helpful suggestions above but really.....I would suggest that you get some local, skilled hands-on help, because normal breastfeeding should not be painful in the way you describe, whether your skin is pale and sensitive or tough as an elephant's hide not. We can suggest why this might be so - as others have above - but none of us can say very much about what the underlying issue(s) is/are without meeting you and your baby.

Are there any groups near you run by La Leche, NCT or BfN counsellors who can help you? If you're not sure where to start, please feel free to pm me.

You might also find the following information useful:

Breastfeeding Network info on thrush

amazingmumof6 Thu 15-Nov-12 12:53:27

sorry if I sounded rude about DH, I seriously don't know what "reproachfully" means, I'm not English and had to look it up in the dictionary! sorry! thanks

I'd say after you got everything checked you might get some results and less pain so hang on for now.
if there's really nothing "wrong" at all, but it still hurts so much, you have absolutely every right to stop!
enough with the guilt woman, or I have to track you down and tell you off personally! grin
if I was a baby, I'd rather be bottle fed by my happy mummy, then breastfed by an emotional and stressed out mum who is in pain all the time or is worried about it!
you are not selfish, you are doing the very best you can and no -one ever should judge or criticize you about your bf choices! if they do they are nasty and should not listen to them!

take some photos or a video of your breastfeeding, and if you decide to stop, then stop!
your baby will have lots of cuddles and kisses and 2 loving parents doing wonderful things with him/her, breast feeding is only one of them, so please, please don't think you are selfish if you want to stop!

I had an ELSC with DS4 and I decided to only breastfeed him as long as there was some in the house 24/7 (DH, then my mum) as we had 3 other kids under 5.5 years old, school runs, nursery runs the lot.
I couldn't even drive for weeks and we were in the middle of a loft conversion so for my sanity and every ones health & happiness I stopped BF after 10 weeks.
I had to mix with formula from day 5 as he was jaundiced, but the next few months were just awful in general, I had mastitis twice, my kids and my mum got a sick bug, and chickenpox, then mum & hubby got a virus, plus DS4 was baptized at 9 weeks so that had to be organized, I had a lot of pain in my left arm and had weekly treatments (both osteopath and deep tissue massage) these are just the things I remember.....

I would have loved to BF him longer, but I had to stop and I don't regret my decision for a minute.

McBaby Thu 15-Nov-12 14:05:18

Get you little one checked for tongue tie by a certified la rayon consultant or ENT doctor it can easily be missed by untrained people ie midwives, HV and GPs.

Also you mention you have lots of milk you may have a strong let down this could be causing the struggling and clamping to try and stem your flow. This is similar to what I am going through now the Tongue Tie is resolved.

nickelrocketgoBooooooom Thu 15-Nov-12 14:12:31

if your DH doesn't want to take the baby from you to give your nipples a break, i suggest getting crocodile clips, putting them on his nipples then twisting them.
then getting a pair of pliers, clamping his nipples and pulling.
then getting the hoover and attaching it to his nipples and turning it on.

then he might get the idea of what you're just coming out of the end of.

nickelrocketgoBooooooom Thu 15-Nov-12 14:14:15

DD causes the most pain on me when she's "slipping" - if i'm not holding her closely enough and she pulls because she's hanging off. try to get something under you to hold him closer.
also - getting him off at the end, put your little finger in the corner of his mouth and pull it open to release the grip. smile

LaCiccolina Thu 15-Nov-12 14:14:37

Definately make a GP app. Get tongue tie ruled out. Ur hv and/or midwife can help with new positions (rugby ball etc). I found rugby ball worked before holding across me. Very counter initiative so do try.

U could also see if ur local children's centre do breast feeding cafes. It will b on ur local council website. These are staffed by a midwife/counsellor and mums so good places to ask real life questions.

Good luck and well done for continuing this far. When u say dh is reproachful do u mean he wZnts u to continue? Or stop? Not clear. He may just b unsure how to help. My dh felt a bit left out for about 3mths til we all settled in.

LaCiccolina Thu 15-Nov-12 14:15:27

Try Kellymom website and NCT helplines. Both good.

FlatFacedArmy Thu 15-Nov-12 17:01:41

Thanks all, very much!

Sorry, was not clear re DH- I mean he looks at me reproachfully when he wants me to make the baby stop crying! We both know breast + baby = calmer baby nine times out of ten, it just gets to the point where he brings me the crying baby and I give him a look that says "but I'm sooooooore!" And he gives me a look that says "but he's sooooo hungry NOW!"

Lansinoh - used loads in first 2-3 weeks, use it very rarely now, breastmilk is better and more readily available cos I can never find the damn tube when I want it anyway
Kellymom - agree, brilliant resource
NCT helpline - no idea how good it is as the "trained volunteer in her own home" never answers the bloody phone. Have tried it many many times
Slipping - agree, painful. Boppy pillow goes a long way to helping with this, probably my best bf investment, but I am guilty of MNing on my phone during long feeds and maybe not paying too much attention to positioning.... One to watch out for!
Hands on help is probably my best bet, but wanted to ask on here for more information/ideas/tips. Forewarned is forearmed and all that!

Amazingmumof6, you have not been rude at all and you have been incredibly helpful. thanks

In fact, thanks to you all, I do feel much more confident about getting to the bottom of this now and sorting it out!

Seriouslysleepdeprived Thu 15-Nov-12 18:13:29

Sounds like thrush to me or poor latch from TT. A combo of the two caused the pain after feed for me.

Hope you get it sorted tomorrow, sounds like your dpi g brilliantly smile

bringonthetrumpets Thu 15-Nov-12 18:17:51

I would second (third, fourth) the tongue-tie. The fact that he's slipping down and needing to readjust frequently is telling that he is not able to get a good grip on the areola and nipple with his tongue. There are 4 different types of tongue ties so it may take a couple of different GPs or lactation consultants to see a short frenulum that doesn't necessarily fit in exactly with the "heart-shaped" tongue. Check to see if he can stick his tongue out all the way. Also when he cries, can his tongue reach the roof of his mouth? Does the frenulum under his tongue look thick or really short?

junemami Thu 15-Nov-12 19:29:39

Do consider thrush, the symptoms are so vague that its difficult to diagnose. It can be associated with nipple trauma due to tongue tie, poor latch, (clamping down!) etc. I found I was having a different pain to the initial latch on pain of the early days, worse at the start of feeds and between feeds. Seriously sensitive nipples to the point I couldn't bear to be outside on a slightly breezy day even with layers on or put a towel round me. Settled with 2 wks treatment for me & dd, regularly changing breast pads, being v careful with sterilising equipment (my friend found Milton better than steam when her dd had recurrent thrush). Obv get any underlying cause sorted too.

He may be too young but I found taking her off silently and putting down safely with no eye contact for a few moments really helped when she started biting. Only needed to do it a few times.

Hope things get better for you, they did for me so there is hope! [Grin]

junemami Thu 15-Nov-12 19:30:34

Grr grin

McBaby Thu 15-Nov-12 20:48:36

I agree with the thrush! Currently both being treated for it but it is improving! Lots pain between feeds on top intense pain during feeding from compression! It's starting to ease up now after four days joint treatment.

FlatFacedArmy Fri 16-Nov-12 00:52:37

Thanks - that might be it, I do also have super-sensitive nipples. I have only just got to the point where taking a shower doesn't hurt, as long as the water doesn't hit them directly! Can't wrap a towel around them, I yelp if I accidentally brush my arm against them while feeding... and even thinking about cold hurts!

GP gave me some canestan 3 days in, I might dig it out again and give it a try. Can't hurt anyway!

MrsHoarder Fri 16-Nov-12 01:10:22

Do you try different positions? When I'm getting a bit sore I go and lie down in bed and feed that way so my nipples are getting a change. And I used to have to hold ds close to discourage nipple-pulling (never found a cure think he gee out of out at 4 months)

bringonthetrumpets Fri 16-Nov-12 01:20:43

Have you ever heard of Raynaud's Syndrome before? I've had a few patients who had this condition affect their nipples and made them so sensitive that they could not breastfeed at all. There is medication that can help. Maybe bring that to your GP or midwife?

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