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Thread: dense breast tissue and gas issues

  1. #1
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    Default dense breast tissue and gas issues

    I have been having issues with my daughter not being able to latch on well, being fussy, gassy, pulling off the breast, and generally being unhappy when we nurse. I hired a lactation consultant to help me get her to latch on better because I was getting sore and tired of "fighting" with her to eat. The LC noticed that my breast tissue was very dense and that the baby was having a hard time pulling the nipple far enough into her mouth. She frequently loses her grip and fusses. I can get her latched on well sometimes but it is a huge chore and frustrating for both of us. The LC thought that as she gets bigger she will be able to hold on better. Does anyone know if there is anything I can do in the meantime to help the situation? Also my baby suffers from gas daily. It looks like she is writhing in pain. It is interfering with her eating. I will be calling the doctor in the morning but is there anything I can do to help her in the meantime. Burping just isn't dong it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    I'm not sure what the LC meant by "dense breast tissue." The baby having a hard time pulling the nipple far enough into her mouth sounds to me like a problem with "flat" nipples -- is that part of the picture?

    If the nipples can be helped to protrude a little further before you start trying to latch, do you think that would help? When I was struggling with flat nipples, the hospital LCs gave me a device called an "Evert-it." I think a minute or two with a breast pump would accomplish the same thing.

    I'm sorry if this isn't useful advice -- do say some more if you can about the dense breast tissue and what that looks/feels like.

    For the gas -- have you tried mylicon drops? Also, tummy massage in a kind of upside-down-U pattern can help move those gas bubbles through her digestive tract. Use a little oil for smooth gentle strokes.

    --Rebecca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    I had similar issues with my son. He would latch on and seem uncomfortable or gassy after eating. I later found that I had an over-active let down and he was struggling to keep up while ingesting air at the same time. My LC suggested leaning back in the chair with the baby sort of leaning on top of you (use 2 pillows under the baby so he's high enough) so that the milk isn't flowing directly to the back of the throat where the baby can't control the speed.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    I guess what I mean by dense breast tissue is that the breast right behind the nipple is hard and thick so that even a breast pump does not pull the nipple out very far. Everything is very tight. I also have flat nipples at least half of the time. I thought if I relieved some of the pressure in my breasts by pumping, my baby would have an easier time pulling the nipple far back into her mouth but she still has trouble.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    Are your breasts normally like that, or do you think you might have some swelling or engorgement going on?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    This explanation of a technique called "reverse pressure softening" may help the areola become "stretchier."

    http://www.lalecheleague.org/llleade...rMay03p38.html

    I've only read about this, not seen or used it myself -- perhaps a Leader here can add her own explanation. Could you call your lactation consultant and ask her in a phone call if she is familiar with this technique and thinks it might help? Don't be afraid to seek out a different IBCLC-certified lactation consultant if you need different help. You should also call a local LLL Leader for advice and encouragement; many Leaders will make home visits, free of charge, and can often spend more time and have more regular contact with a mom than a lactation consultant can do.

    I had already struggled through (and conquered!) early latch problems due to my flat nipples before I gained a clear understanding of what was going on with my breasts. With flat or semi-flat nipples, the nipples exist just like in any breast, but much of the nipple tissue is held under the skin by tight adhesions. The nipples are there, but they don't protrude as far as they normally would. Coupled with engorgement, this can leave the baby with little to latch onto -- imagine yourself trying to suck on a bowling ball, and you can get a sense of how hard it is to form and maintain suction without a nice long stretchy nipple.

    The really wonderful news in this unfortunate picture is that as the baby DOES suck, those adhesions loosen up. By the time my son was 2 or 3 months old, my nipples were definitely not flat! (For the first time in my life, you could sometimes see the outline of my nipples through my clothing -- LOL) So probably you just need to persevere for a relatively short time with these extra techniques or steps at the start of each feeding.

    I know that the frustration and pain of this problem can make every feeding a battle, as you note. But try to resist the temptation to give up and offer a bottle, even occasionally. If you and your baby are going to have a successful breastfeeding relationship, then she is going to have to learn to work with your breasts. Every artificial nipple I've ever seen is much longer than my own nipples (even now after nursing for 4 years), and as such I think a bottle will put her at high risk for nipple preference problems.

    --Rebecca

  7. #7
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    Great idea Rebecca. The basic idea with RPS is to put a little pressure on the areola to help move excess fluid back out of the nipple/areola. Think how stiff things get when you have swelling (e.g, a fat lip or swollen ankle; feel free to think of other anatomical areas that get stiff when filled with fluid ;-). The tissues are very non-pliable and non-compressible. If you can get some of that swelling moved backwards, it can soften up the areola enough to make it easier for baby to stretch it back far enough to maintain suction. Think of a beach ball, fully inflated. Hard to form into a teat and suck on. Now think of taking some of the air out to make the ball a little deflated and smooshy; it would be much easier to grab a big mouthful and suck away.

    Fosseyhager, does any of this sound helpful? Do your breasts feel extremely full a lot of the time? How old is your baby?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    Thank you guys so much for the support. I have definately had my moments where I thought I can't bf anymore, I can't take it. I have even started open the bottles and stopped. I try to get some sleep and readdress the issue the next day.

    My dd is 2 weeks old today. After the last 2 days I have come to realize that a lot of the "fighting" during feeding is coming from colic. We spent 2.5 hours last night screaming from colic and she spends most of the day uncomfortable. So we have that to deal with also.

    The bf issue is the flat nipples and not being able to latch on well. When my breasts are full, the nipple sticks out better but she can't pull it in her mouth very far so it slips out frequently. Although she is getting milk, latching her on repeatedly is difficult and she gets tired faster and falls asleep. Then there is no hope of getting her to eat more. When my breast are less full, the nipple is flat and my dd has a difficult time getting it out at all. Usually at this point I change to the fuller breast because it is easier for her.

    Thanks everyone for listening to me and trying to help. It seems everyday I breastfeed, I get a better understanding what the issues we are having are, I just am not sure how to resolve them.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    Quote Originally Posted by fosseyhager
    ... I have definately had my moments where I thought I can't bf anymore, I can't take it. I have even started open the bottles and stopped. I try to get some sleep and readdress the issue the next day.
    Hon, this is an absolutely marvelous coping strategy. One day at a time. Even one feeding at a time. Nobody can imagine breastfeeding indefinitely when it is going badly. But if you can imagine doing it just for this one feeding, that attitude alone will carry you through most problems!


    .... It seems everyday I breastfeed, I get a better understanding what the issues we are having are, I just am not sure how to resolve them.
    This comment also suggests to me that you are going to breastfeed successfully in the end. This initial period is HARD. But by taking the attitude that you are learning a little more every day, you are allowing yourself and your baby time to work through the problems and figure things out gradually. Take heart, persevere, and come back here when you have questions or need encouragement.

    --Rebecca

  10. #10
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    Default Re: dense breast tissue and gas issues

    Does she ever get a really good grip on the breast and suck rhythmically (suck-swallow-suck-swallow-suck-swallow) for a good 10-20 minutes? Some mothers with flat nipples can use nipple shields to help their baby latch better as they are learning, but this should be supervised by a very experienced LLL Leader or IBCLC lactation consultant. It can do more harm than good when used incorrectly.

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