Breastfeeding

Ready to quit and really unhappy about it. LONG.

My baby was born on May 17th via emergency c-section (after over 30 hours of labor, most of that natural). My milk didn't come in because my body was so wrecked and needing time to heal so we finger fed him donor breast milk, formula, and pumped milk for the first week or so of his life while my supply became more established via fenugreek. 

Once my supply issues were worked out, which they now are, then came the pain. He had his tongue clipped in the hospital and seems to have a perfect latch. We've spoken with and seen so many lactation consultants so many times, and yet.

The pain now is most intense when he first latches on (30-60 seconds usually), but it's awful. Like screaming, swearing, crying awful. Sometimes it goes away and doesn't return, other times there are radiating pains throughout the breast and nipple during the feeding. And since early on, I've also dealt with vasospasms and sharp pains in the breast in between feedings. One of my nipples is visibly cracked.

As a "process of elimination," an LC started us on diflucan, gentian violet, and APNO a week ago for thrush "just to see." Neither baby nor I were showing any outward signs, but I was so hopeful that would be the fix. Tomorrow will be a week of treatment and I haven't seen any improvement other than some of the pain I was feeling in my armpit and back when he latched on has faded and is now just localized in my breast. 

We even saw a cranio-sacral therapist at the recommendation of a lactation consultant to see if he could correct any invisible problem with baby's latch and I don't think it did any good at all.  

I think baby has been growing through a growth spurt this week because since Monday, if he's awake, he's either fussing or wanting to be attached to the breast. Which is torturous for me. He also has started fussing at the breast after nursing for a while, which one LC suggested might just mean he gets impatient when the flow slows down so I should switch him to the other side, and back and forth as many times as necessary during a feeding, which is also awful for me since the worst pain is during that initial latch, so let's multiply the number of times that happens!

Anyway, sorry this is so long, but it's just been a really, really trying month. I'm exhausted (as is every new mom) and so frustrated with the pain. I didn't get to have the birth experience I wanted and now I'm feeling unfairly cheated out of being able to breastfeed, which is so important to me. Are there any other possibilities you ladies can think of that I should pursue before quitting? I can't live with this pain for much longer without knowing that I'm actively doing something that will help alleviate it (even if it takes time to work). I want to breastfeed and feel like I'm failing, so if I could succeed, I'd try just about anything. Thanks for reading all this and letting me vent. 

P.S. I've also pumped some, but, long-term, exclusively pumping isn't for me.

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Re: Ready to quit and really unhappy about it. LONG.

  • Have you tried using a nipple shield, just while your nipples heal? I'm sure with all the LC help you have gotten they probably went over this with you, but if not it would be worth a try.
  • There's a medication you can take for the vasospasms. Go to kellymom.com and search for vasospasms and Raynaud's syndrome or phenomenon. Have you seen an IBCLC or just an LC? An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant might be more knowledgeable about the medication. I don't know if they can prescribe it or if you'd need to request it from your OB or PCP. I'm sorry you've had such a rough time!
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  • Is the pain in both your breast? or just one, I had a similar type thing in only one breast that I never figured out what it was but after about a week it went away on its own. It sounds similar to the pain you are describing i would literally be gripping a pillow with tears in my eyes and my knuckels white and the pain feeling like it ran down my arm to my pinky and ring finger)while he nursed from that breast....since my pain was only on one side i put him on that side as long as i could stand it ( sometimes only a minute) then took him off and put him on the other side, and just pumped the painful side and topped him off with expressed milk from a bottle.

    sine my LO was eating expressed milk from a bottle I could also give my boob a break and lanolin up my nipples and not wear a shirt to heal the cracks.

    I also had similar start off to bfing....c-section after having planned natural birth, little one have latching problems had to suplement and bring in my supply with a pump b/c he could not latch for the first 2 weeks, worked with 3 LC's and had to use a nipple shield to get anywhere but now he is almost 2 month bfing like a champ it was really hard to start with....but it gets better!! i would say if you can keep trying it will get better!!

  • So you've been breastfeeding for 3 weeks now? Intense pain while you latch on for the first few weeks is normal. Are you using anything on your nipples to help them heal? I was shocked at how much of a difference nipple creams made, along with light and air. The pain radiating up the breast is not something I'm familiar with though.

    I also second the idea of using a nipple shield, or pumping temporarily while your nipples heal. If you're really unhappy about quitting, then I would say to just push through. I know it's hard. I know that you're tired. I remember that sooooo well! This WILL get better. Since you pumped for the first week the two of you have only been nursing for a short period of time. You're still learning. If you can, try to get out and take a break in between nursing sessions. A quick walk around the block without baby seemed to help me to refresh a little and get back in a better frame of mind. Sorry you're dealing with this. Hang in there! 

  • Oh wow. I could have written this post about the pain. It is SO frustrating to hear from the head LC, "Well, I went over everything with the other LC, and you're basically an unknown...". Great, I've even mystified the LCs. The APNO didn't work for me the first week, but I've kept using it and I might feel a little better? I don't know. Just better enough that I feel like I can go on another day. The LC told me not to use the APNO for a prolonged time, but I think I will use it until I run out. When I posted on here about my never-ending, toe-curling nipple pain, a lot of ladies said that they were in pain for the first 2 MONTHS before it got better, not the couple weeks that everyone tells you. Gosh, I hope that's what it is. For both of us. Sigh. I wish I could help, but know you are not alone.
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  • I could have almost written this exact post weeks back. The LC I was seeing was pretty positive that I was having vasospasms so she put me on a supplement regimen of evening primrose, magnesium and (I think) calcium. It gave me awful diarrhea after one day. Luckily, that same day, thrush showed up in DS. I say luckily because I finally knew that it was thrush causing the pain (I had the pain radiating through to my back as well). I immediately got a prescription for both me and DS. I used Nystatin topically on my nipples and felt relief within a day or two.

    If you can't get an Rx for topical Nystatin, you could always try an over-the counter antifungal such as Lotrimin AF.

    I should note that even though most of my pain was likely from thrush, I'm pretty sure I do still have vasospasms but they only really affect me when I'm cold (e.g. getting out of the shower). It's possible that I was dealing with both vasospasms and thrush but I'm pretty sure it was thrush that was causing the excruciating pain. 

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  • I know EXACTLY how you are feeling since we are going through the same thing (LO born May 13).  At week two, the "initial" pain seemed to go away but came back by week 3.  I was to the point that I couldn't stand it anymore so, I saw a LC at the local hospital...actually two.  We spent an hour and a half trying to get him to latch correctly (I had a bleeding nipple the first week and cracks) and even tried using a shield (two diff. sizes too).  He only moved 1.5oz in that time.

    SO, their suggestion was get treated for thrush (my nipples were visibly raw and bruised) and try the shield every other feed/pump every other feed alternating.  I did that for a few days and went back to LC (diff. consultant this time) on Friday.  No luck.  The LC apologized to me that I was going through what I did and it made me feel less guilty about quitting.

    After that appoint. and already having seen a chiro and cranial sacral therapy, I decided to take him to an ENT to get eval'd for a possible posterior tongue tie.  We waited 1.5 hours on Monday for them to tell me he looks fine. F*@k.  I want to BF more than anything.  

    My first LO was born 10 weeks early and I was unable to BF him and I had a really hard time dealing with that and was really looking forward to that bond this time.  My heart is heavy but I know how much I regretted quitting pumping for LO #1 (we had a really hard finding a formula he would tolerate after we switched, took 10 months before we finally found one he wouldn't projectile vomit on) and I swore I would never go through that again.

    So, here I am, pumping every 2 hours and hating every minute I have to pump but I know I would never forgive myself.  I am hoping that one day we just have "that" moment and he latches perfectly.  Until then, I am pumping while taking care of a 2 year old. It's hard but I know in the end it's worth it.

    Don't beat yourself up if you decide to quit.  You have done an amazing job.  I just try to take one day at a time. That's all you can do. 

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  • Thanks for all the support, ladies. 

    I have seen an IBCLC and regular LCs, too. Also, I've been using the APNO nipple cream religiously. I can't really air dry/sun my nipples because exposing them to the cold (I'm in Oregon. It's still cold.) exacerbates the vasospasms. And I have read all about them on KellyMom and there isn't actually a medication for vasospasms, just for Raynaud's phenomenon, which I don't have. One LC put me on ginger supplements to increase circulation to try and help with the spasms, but I haven't noticed any difference and I've been taking it for a week. 

    Oddly, I didn't get an Rx for any topical thrush treatment other than the APNO. I'll ask about that when I call the "expert" LC on Friday. It would be great if it were thrush and therefore treatable, you know? I just think the gentian violet and diflucan should have made a difference by now if that's what really is going on.

    And I'm so sorry others of you have gone through this, too! It's the worst, isn't it? It's so hard to dread every single feeding. It makes it hard to bond with baby sometimes. And two months of pain does sound like a lot, especially considering we're only halfway there now! Surely things have to improve at least a little for people to stick with it for that long, right? 

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  • image crazyanimals:

    So, here I am, pumping every 2 hours and hating every minute I have to pump but I know I would never forgive myself.  I am hoping that one day we just have "that" moment and he latches perfectly.  Until then, I am pumping while taking care of a 2 year old. It's hard but I know in the end it's worth it.

    Oh my gosh, you are a champion. I feel your pain though. We also tried the nipple shield, but I am the worst at using it and feel like it confuses him more than anything else (though he'll take soothies pacifiers with no problem when he is so inclined). I really hope that both of us have a magical breakthrough moment, and soon. I just can't keep doing what I'm doing with no hope of it ever getting better. 

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  • I'm sorry, this sucks.  I've been breastfeeding since the beginning and my LO was born May 28th, so I've got a little bit of time ahead of you, and all I can say is it does get better.  One of my nipples is still cracked and a little bit scabby, but it's healing.  I can tell you it will get better even though it will take time and be painful.

    Everything I read said BFing shouldn't hurt, but those who have actually done it tell me especially if it's your first, enough time still hasn't passed for it to become pain free.  Make sure you don't let yourself get engorged and have clogged ducts - I made this mistake unintentionally and it caused a lot of additional pain when nursing.  Assuming all of that is okay, here is the best advice I can give.

    Your nipples need to heal - it's going to take time (mine are still not fully healed) but the pain definitely does subside.

    - Pump a few bottles so you can give your boobs a break sometimes.  When LO is cluster feeding this is especially good - it's exhausting and painful and will just re-open any cuts you have, and make you feel even more sore. Just be sure to pump so you don't hurt your supply and don't get engorged.

    -Get a good cream.  My nipples got so raw that even putting on Lanisoh hurt.  I use Earth Mama Angel Baby (?) and it's silky and goes on smooth without pulling. Let your nipples air dry, always, then put on your cream.

    - Use warm and cold compresses and/or gel pads.  Put the gel pads in the freezer for after you nurse; this helps a LOT with the pain after nursing.

     I wouldn't give up yet, not after how far you've come already!  I was so upset and crying to my DH because of all of the pain I was in from BFing, very ready to quit, and now even though it still hurts, its improved and I'm so glad I didn't stop.  That being said, if you do decide to switch to formula, don't feel bad or guilty - there's no "wrong" decision here as long as LO is loved and fed!
     GL!

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  • AmyG*AmyG*
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    try the med for reynaulds-- it may help. Nifedipine

    http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52:vasospasm-and-raynauds-phenomenon&catid=5:information&Itemid=17

    but also try warming a rice sock in the microwave and putting it on the nipple at the end of the feedings.

     

    you may want to try the magnesium, calcium combo pills and the B6 supplement.  it can't hurt.

    you could have severe ductal yeast, which takes longer to treat--sometimes a month or more. double dose of diflucan (double dose or double time on same dose) low sugar diet,

    if you want to ensure the nips are dry, use a pre-warmed blow dryer on warm to dry your nips, no cold air!

    sterilizing everything that touches breastmilk or nipples or baby's mouth. vinegar rinse of bras and shirts, hot dryer if possible.

     Grapefruit seed extract diluted in water, to drink and to rinse boobs.

    maybe switch to kerry's herbals miracle salve plus.  it's not lanolin based, and some women are allergic to lanolin and will have some nipple trauma from it.  if you are very itchy wearing wool or lamb tastes funny to you, consider going lanolin free.

     long term use of APNO may thin the skin from the steroid creme

    wander around Dr. Newmans site.

    check and double check latch yourself.  try asymetrical latch, with the squish of the boob, the tilting of baby's head backwards and bottom lip touches bottom of breast first.  also try laid back nursing, where baby is basically on top of the boob so that gravity pulls baby deeper onto the breast, although you may have to hold the boob a bit so it doesn't flatten out so you can get a deeper latch.

    if latching is still very difficult and painful. 

    does baby have a high bubble palate? that is if you are sure there is no tongue tie, not even side or posterior tongue tie?  with a bubble palate, the roof o the mouth goes up like there is a bubble up there-- so nipple has to bend into a deep curve in baby's mouth in order for baby to get good suction and to manipulate the milk ducts in the areola. 

     a super duper deep, really deep latch is imperative. if the nipple does not go back far enough and does not stretch out far enough, it gets stuck in the middle of the curve of a high bubble palate, and the very tip of the nipple may rub on the roof of baby's mouth and will make horrible owie sores and pain.

     

    you may find that slightly pressing on the areola in a certain spot can help force the nipple to point in a different position and not rub on the roof of baby's mouth, but you have to experiment with this, and it should only be used as a last resort.  the treatment for a high bubble palate is limiting pacifier and bottle use cause they can help make the bubble higher, and time.  as baby's mouth grows and as you get "used to it" you can often deal with a high bubble palate latch over time. 

    and have you used a nipple shield to try to get a non-painful latch?

    and have you used nipple shells to help keep things from rubbing on the nips in between feedings.  also the wet dressings used for like road rash or burns can help speed healing.  with warm water or warm saline solution soaks of the nipple.  as well as up to 800mg of motrin 3 times a day for inflammation and pain.

     

    AmyG*

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  • AmyG*AmyG*
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    also, put baby on one side and keep him there as long as you can. use breast compressions and massage, stop and burp and relatch him on that side if possible. one sided feeding can allow the other boob/nipple to have time off from feeding and work on healing. and at every feeding, use a different position, which puts the pressure of baby's mouth on a different side of the nipple so to speak. this can help esp if you are dealing with a crack. if you can nurse on one side per feeding, use your apno, or try just plain neosporin and a non-stick bandaid or a wet bandage like for burns on the tip of the nipple, and then don't worry about it when it's time to feed on that side again. I had a horrible crack at one time and the only way to survive thru it was to do one sided nursing, and for a while always start on the other side til baby's worst strongest sucking calmed down a bit, and then put baby on the sorer side in a certain position which kept the crack from opening up so much. but the warm saline solution soaks of nips really helped to speed healing.

    AmyG*

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  • klmbbbklmbbb
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    If you do have thrush (burning pain in nipples in between feedings) have you tried wearing breast shells to help get air to them?  Medela makes shells called Therashells, which I purchased at BRU.  

    I used the APNO, GV and was about to fill a scrip for Difulcan then tried the breast shells and stuck with the APNO (be sure to apply to entire area where baby's mouth comes in contact) and finally started to get some relief.  It was about 2 months after the birth that I started to get decent relief.  

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