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Thread: Don't know what else to do...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    81

    Default Don't know what else to do...

    Ok I'm going to give my story from the start, and if anyone has any insight I would really appreciate it! It's been a long 4 weeks and I am stressed, frustrated, and at the end of my rope.

    My son was born on 7/28, and I started trying to breastfeed from the beginning. He had trouble latching and had low blood sugar levels, so the pediatrician insisted I allow a few formula supplements at the hospital. My milk took a little bit longer coming in (day 6), so we supplemented with formula then too. We have had successful latches on and off- the first two weeks were painful, but seemed to be getting progressively better and we were rarely supplementing. Week 3 things started to go downhill again as latching hurt again, and sometimes the entire feeding session hurt. We started supplementing again (2-4oz a day) as he didn't seem satisfied after a feeding and I was in so much pain. (Please no judgement on the formula) I thought maybe I had thrush, so my PCP gave me Nystatin for it. I went to see a lactation consultant that ran a support group, and she observed a feeding, helped me with positioning, and things felt better. She said Nystatin doesn't really work for thrush but I don't think thats it, since the pains I was having don't happen if we get a good latch. I try my best to duplicate that feeding, but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I also went to another support group run by a breastfeeding counselor, who suggested I take my baby to a chiropractor, as his birth was long and difficult (pushed for 4 hrs and a vaccuum was used) and sometimes that can cause alignment issues that affect latching. Did that today, and no major problems found. I got a prescription for APNO two days ago, and yesterday had little to no pain. Now I have intense pain again today. To top it all off, the past few days my baby has been definitely more upset than normal. He's been much fussier in general, and has been spitting up/vomiting frequently. He does it after every feeding, (formula or not) and for up to a couple hours after. He seems very uncomfortable and I'm wondering if he's having painful reflux which may be affecting his desire to feed efficiently. I'm seeing his pedi tomorrow for his one month appt, but I am so spent by this. I feel like I've tried everything and I don't know what else to do! I don't want to stop breastfeeding, and I love how satisfying it is when it's working! (The few times it has) But I feel like I'm missing out on enjoying my son and my stress is making us both miserable. HELP!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    You are giving your son the best start in life, it's great you are breastfeeding despite the issues you have encountered. The first few weeks can be very hard and overwhelming until you and the baby settle into it. Bottles can sometimes interfere with a good latch due to nipple confusion. There are other ways to supplement a baby (cup-feeding, spoon-feeding, an eyedropper or feeding syringe, or a nursing supplementer). If the baby is not satisfied at the breast and is clearly still hungry, it's also possible to offer expressed breastmilk using one of the above feeding methods instead of the bottle. As the baby gets better at the breast, supplementing will likely become unnecessary.
    I also had latch issues with my firstborn and was back and forth to the breastfeeding clinic and LLL counselor. I was determined to breastfeed and I just kept at it... By the time she was 8 weeks old, things got SO MUCH easier. I nursed her for 28 months and so happy I didn't give up in the begining (although sometimes I felt like I couldn't do it anymore). It will get better, the first few weeks are the hardest!!! Hang in there!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,955

    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    Welcome and congratulations both on the baby and to making it to a month. I know exactly how hard it is when your beautiful breastfeeding dream turns into a breastfeeding nightmare. I also remember thinking "I am supposed to be enjoying my baby, not struggling in pain!" when my first daughter's awful latch had me in a similar position. I swore multiple times that I was going to nurse let time and then switch to formula, but I didn't do it and in the end I was very glad I had kept on, because things did get better. As time went on, I was able to ditch the formula, and as my daughter grew her mouth grew, and that enabled her to get a better latch. I went on to nurse her until she was 3, and even though I have to say that the first few months of her life were some of the hardest of my life, they were worth it.

    Okay, so that was the pep talk. Did it help? Now, on to the mechanics. Some questions for you:
    - when baby nurses, when do you experience the most pain? At the beginning of a feeding, during the feeding, at the end, or after the feeding is over?
    - how would you describe the pain- as a stabbing, pinching sensation, or as more of an itching or burning?
    - when baby unlatches, what shape are your nipples? Are they symmetrical, like pencil erasers, or asymmetrical, like new lipsticks?
    - do you notice any skin changes in your breasts? Increased redness, pinkness, shininess, patches of dry , peeling or flaking skin?
    - how about cracks- do you see any of those?
    - was the baby ever checked or treated for thrush? (it is important to treat both members of the nursing pair.)
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    81

    Post Re: Don't know what else to do...

    Thanks for the pep talk! It did help. Last night was rough but I'm back to being determined (I have those moments when I want to give up but deep down breastfeeding is SO what I want to do). We went to the doctor today for his 1 month checkup and the doctor thinks he may have baby reflux. She wants to try baby Zantac to see if that helps. Normally I would be hesitant to put him on a presription so young, but if it makes him feel better I'll try it.

    To answer your questions:
    I experience pain usually at the beginning of the feeding, when he first latches, except when my breasts are really full (which seems odd since many people say baby has a harder time latching when they're full). When my breasts are softer and almost empty I feel more pain too, and its the pinching sensation of him being more on my nipple than he should be. The only time it hurts after the feeding is if it hurts during, and then its a general sore sensation.
    Sometimes when he unlatches my nipples are mishaped. I get the lipstick look on occassion so I know the latch needs work. I don't see any cracks, but when I apply the APNO I can feel rough, almost scabby skin on the end of my nipples. I don't know if that's damage or the nipples "toughening up". Also don't notice any skin changes in my breasts in general. Finally, he was not treated for thrush, but the pedi checked his mouth today and saw no evidence of it. Honestly, I don't think its thrush, since we do have pain-free feedings often which leads me back to the darn latch.
    I've been told that it should get easier as his mouth grows as well, and my pedi recommended a nipple shield to use for those really difficult feedings. She nursed triplets and used one for awhile, and said she had no trouble getting rid of it once the pain subsided. Would you recommend using one? I don't think I have to worry about nipple confusion, as he goes back and forth from bottle to breast with no trouble. I use Tommee Tippee bottles (claim they are closest to the breast and make switching back and forth easier) if that matters.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    try this exercise for a good latch, practice even when you are not nursing for a fun game!

    take your nipple (or finger) and start at your babys nose. brush down lightly to his upper lip, bottom lip, and chin. this should encourage him to open wide! (congratulate or tell him good job every time, so he gets the happiness of your voice as this is something he should do.)

    doing this a few times a day, and right before you latch him will help him learn to open wide for a good clean latch!
    SAHM of Baby Dominic, we

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    Thanks for giving us the full description! Based on what you posted, I think that it is very likely that you have a latch issue- the lipstick nipples, the pain at the beginning of a feeding... It sounds "latchy" to me. I know most moms say that latching is more difficult when their breasts feel really full, but everyone is different and every baby is different, and I think that there's an excellent possibility that the change in breast shape from "empty" to "full" allows your unique little one to latch on better.

    In your shoes, I would definitely want to seek some hands-on help from a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC. That can make all the difference when you are struggling with a difficult latch. Also, a nipple shield is best used with guidance from a LC. Shields can be really helpful, but they can also hurt. Sometimes a shield will reduce a baby's ability to get milk from the breast- and yes, this can be true even of the new, thin, silicone shields!- and that can make feedings last longer and also reduce supply. So if you can get by without a shield, that's probably a safer course of action. If you can't, so be it. They really can help! Just stay alert to decreases in diaper output- if you see a downturn in diaper output, that could indicate a supply issue.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    216

    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    Sounds like great advice from above!! And like you, I get better latches when I am full...the softer, the harder the latch is. I do want to add just one thing. This may totally not be an issue for you, but it was for me. Has your son been checked for a tightened frenulum by any chance? My daughter was not latching correctly, and I knew this due to the pain and lipstick shaped nipple. I talked to a LC about it, and she looked at her. She immediately felt like that was the issue and had a doctor come see my daughter as soon as possible. After further examination, he determined the LC was correct, clipped the trouble spot, and like magic, the latch issues were gone, and I mean immediately. No pain and GREAT latches after that. This doesn't mean this is the case for you, but it certainly couldn't hurt to check it out. My daughter's was extremely tight and the attachment was nearly at the end of her tongue! Turns out it's hereditary, and we knew my husband had it, but didn't know he could pass it down. At least it's an easy fix if this turns out to be the case for you. Good luck and hang in there!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    81

    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I've still got a lot of pain going on (all through the feeding most of the time now, ugh) so I think it's time for a lactation consultant. One more thing I'm worried about though- since I've supplemented with formula, I'm afraid I've hurt my supply. What can I do to boost it back up? I know put baby to breast often and pump (even though I hate it and rarely get more than an ounce from both breasts combined). I need to get out of the vicious cycle of nurse til I can't take it anymore, still have a hungry, crying baby, and offering a couple ounces of formula to satisfy him and save my sanity. I want to be able to satisfy his appetite on my own!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    Don't worry- even if formula did hurt your supply, you can still boost your supply back up at any time. This link explains how to wean from formula supplements: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/decrease-formula.html. The absolute best thing you can do to get out of the cycle you are in is to fix your baby's latch- once you do that, feedings will probably take a lot less time (better latch = faster milk trasnfer), and even if your baby does continue to feed for hours, it won't be as unpleasant.

    Let us know how things go with the LC!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    81

    Default Re: Don't know what else to do...

    [ Has your son been checked for a tightened frenulum by any chance? My daughter was not latching correctly, and I knew this due to the pain and lipstick shaped nipple. I talked to a LC about it, and she looked at her. She immediately felt like that was the issue and had a doctor come see my daughter as soon as possible. After further examination, he determined the LC was correct, clipped the trouble spot, and like magic, the latch issues were gone, and I mean immediately. No pain and GREAT latches after that. This doesn't mean this is the case for you, but it certainly couldn't hurt to check it out. My daughter's was extremely tight and the attachment was nearly at the end of her tongue! Turns out it's hereditary, and we knew my husband had it, but didn't know he could pass it down. At least it's an easy fix if this turns out to be the case for you. Good luck and hang in there![/QUOTE]

    So, I met with a lactation consultant today. Turns out, my son IS tongue tied! I'm going to keep meeting with her to deal with some low supply issues amongst other things, but I'm really happy we figured this out so that we can get it taken care of, and hopefully, our latch issue along with it.

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