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Thread: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

  1. #1

    Default Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    My baby is 5 weeks old now. I was absolutely determined to breastfeed, and am a great advocate of attachment parenting so had intended to carry on as long as possible, maybe even up to 2 years. I did loads of prep when I was pregnant and have to say that I (perhaps rather arrogantly) thought it would be easy - though you are led to believe it will be by all the literature. Anyway, so far we've had nothing but a nightmare and now i'm not sure if I'm left with many options but to quit which has had me in flods of tears all morning. Ludo never nursed very well from the beginning. He would latch no problem (doesn't seem the little man is very fussy - he doesn't care where the milk comes from and will take bottle, breast or cup with no complaints) but he had me in agony. By day 2 I was bleeding, scabbed and swollen. So we saw everyone we could - two different IBCLC, various breastfeeding clinics at the hospital and locally, midwives, LLL groups, to try and work it out. He had a posterior tongue tie which was corrected but made only a little difference, even with very dedicated suck training afterwards. It has be diagnosed that his hard palate is very flat and wide, and he has a very small mouth. I have very large areola but not very protruding nipples, so the conclusion seems to be that he may never really feed all that well, or certainly not until his mouth grows bigger, because no matter what position we use, or which tricks we use to try and get more in his mouth, he never really opens wide enough to stuff enough nipple in. Anyway, things marginally improved, in that he was now sometimes feeding with less pain and I could bear it, occasionally feeding very well, but other times, still just as bad as before. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to why some feeds were better than others, and have had his latch checked endlessly only to be told it seems to be ok. He is a sleepy baby it seems, and has a strange suck pattern, which I've also had looked at by a chiro and a cranial osteopath, but they have both said his head is pretty well aligned now after some adjustments. He doesn't fall asleep, but only swallows about every 10 times he sucks, even with compressions and tickling his ear and feet. A feed can take anywhere from an hour to two hours, and then he's hungry again afterwards. If he exclusively breast feeds he gets green poos, which only leaves the option to pump first so he gets the hindmilk, but when you have a crying baby wanting to be fed, who has 10 minutes to pump? I dont have any problems with low supply as I have been pumping and first finger, now bottle feeding him since the beginning and I have plenty of milk. He it growing very well and thriving on my milk. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I got really bad mastitis. I did everything I could to fix it without drugs - garlic, echinacea, vitamin c, grapefruit seed extract, massage, hot compresses... (I'm quite militant and even had a vaginal breech birth drug free as I didn't want him drugged from the beginning) but it got worse and worse and I got really ill so had to take antibiotics. The antibiotics made the little man so unwell that he was in awful stomach pain and throwing up the whole of every feed and losing weight, so was left with no option but to either stop them or give him formula. Under doctors supervision, as the fever had broken, I stopped the antibiotics after 10 days, even though the lump was still there. Then I got thrush which is still something of a problem. Then I got mastitis again and several bouts of blocked ducts in my other breast even though I was being diligent with either feeding or pumping, but managed to control it with natural remedies. And now I've got mastitis AGAIN, and I'm really sick this time, so have had to have more antibiotics. I live 250 miles away from my parents, my husband is an orphan, all my friends work full time, and my husband has a demanding job, which he can't really afford to mess with in the current economy, so I'm completely alone in looking after the baby during the week. And I feel absolutely horrible. I can hardly touch the baby I hurt so much. My body aches, I can't get out of bed, and it looks like I might have an abscess in my breast this time. I don't want to give him breast milk with antibiotics after last time, so we are formula feeding most of the day, except first thing in the morning when based on the half life of the antibiotics, they should be reasonably clear from my milk.
    I am starting to feel that no matter how good for him breast milk is, this is not in any way good for my relationship with my son. I have to pump so much I can't cuddle him for hours of the day, and I'm either sick or in pain the rest of the time. I'm getting scared of feeding because of this, and I can't afford to keep getting ill like this - when he is more mobile and less sleepy, its clearly bad for his development if I can't play with him. So I suppose I'm looking for some moral support, maybe for someone to notice something i'm doing wrong, or even to be told that its ok to give up now. I have got myself into a mind set where I feel like I'm giving him poison by giving him formula, but I can't see any other options (except maybe to continue to pump for a couple of feeds a day alongside formula so that he continues to get breast milk and my milk doesnt' completely dry up). What should I do?? I feel so sad today.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby! I have to know- where on God's green earth did you obtain a vaginal breech birth? That's like the unicorn of modern obstetrics!

    Before my first baby was born, I also assumed that since breastfeeding was natural it was also going to be easy, and was horrified and depressed when I ran into awful problems. So don't feel like you are alone in that.

    It sounds to me like you have some good things going for you. First of all, it sounds like your son will latch even though he's been getting a lot of bottles, and second, it sounds like you have plenty of milk (maybe even too much?). Here's what I suggest doing: first, treat the mastitis. Get it gone. Take the antibiotics, and if nursing is not an option right now, get in there every 2 hours with the pump and empty the breast as much as possible. Do you have a good pump? Right now I'd want to use a hospital-grade rental with correctly-sized shields for maximum milk removal. In general, it is best for moms of newborns to avoid the pump because they can stimulate problematic oversupply which can exacerbate problems with plugged ducts and tendencies towards mastitis. But in this situation, you want to treat the mastitis first and then worry about getting your supply to the "right" level.

    The second thing I would do is ask for help. It is very hard to be distant from friends and family during a time like this, and if you can and they can, get someone to come in and help you around the house. You need to take care of your health so that you can take care of your baby. When I had issues similar to yours, my mom came for 2 weeks. Having someone to hold the baby while I pumped made all the difference.

    The third thing I suggest doing is to keep your options open by keeping baby on the breast for 1-2 feedings per day. As long ad he remembers how to latch, you can potentially transition back to exclusive Breastfeeding.

    This sucks (pun not intended) but it's not going to last forever. We'll help you in any way we can!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    middle of IA

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    also - no matter what anyone says the latch LOOKS like, if it's leaving you with bloody nipples, it's not a good latch.

    hang in there, get yourself better, and do whatever you can to get some help right now. maybe a family member can fly in, maybe you can hire a babysitter to come for the day for a while - not so much to babysit as to help you, hold the baby when necessary but first of all make sure you're getting the support you need. even paying someone for two weeks will probably not cost a year's worth of formula.

    and - if the antibiotics didn't work last time (which it arguably didn't - you got a recurring case - and the baby didn't do well on it) then i suggest talking to your doctor about another option. you can have your milk cultured so you make sure you get the right antibiotics right away, so you only have to do that once more.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    Well, I pump FT, and I know what you are talking about. I have four kids, no help during the day at all, and I survived EPing. Because you say, I HAVE to make this work, I have no other options.

    And PP said everything else I would have said.
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    New York

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    dear new mother, I know how crappy mastitis made me feel. you are to be commended for your perseverance. I could not make any decisions while battling mastitis. I barricaded myself at home, took my meds and nursed around the clock. In the end, i had success. A baby who gained weight and eventually nipples that healed.
    Started my family in 1986
    Finally done in 2001

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    COUGARTOWN Baby! From here on in!

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    Don't give up. Give formula if you must while your recover and pump. But as Mommal said try to get the baby to latch even now twice a day. And pump. Breastfeeding doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing. And it doesn't sound like you are going to feel good about quitting. So don't. Formula has it's place. If you need it now use it. But don't think it can't be fed in combination with your breastmilk OR that you can't get the baby back to the breast AFTER you are done with this bout of maSTITUS. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

    Way too lazy for formula

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    I am so sorry you are having such a hard time. These are the kind of situations that really get me-where mom is determined, has access to good help, but everything seems to be blocking her way. So frustrating.

    I agree with the pp, when you are totally laid up with mastitis is probably not the best time to make permanent decisions. Later, only you know the answer of whether to stop trying or not. Motherhood is fraught with the hard, painful decisions, this is the one you are faced with now. If you feel in your heart that you have done everything you can, you can stop trying to nurse with few regrets. Sadness, yes. But not regret. It makes a difference. Just be care ful how you stop, you will need to wean yourself slowly so you don't make pluggs/mastitis worse. You must know you can practice any of the many other aspects of AP you choose while bottle feeding. Formula is not poison. Do not do that to yourself. It is the best option for a baby who cannot get breastmilk.

    If you want to keep trying, I have a few suggestions.

    1) It looks like maybe you stopped the anti-biotic too soon, while still having symptoms, and that has led to more mastitis and possibly the recurring plugged ducts. Something to think about this time-

    2) As long as you are pumping, even if you cannot nurse at the breast right now, your milk supply lives and the possibility of being able to nurse again when baby is bigger and you are healed lives with it. There are many ways to pump that may work for you better than what you are doing now. If you are pumping on a scedule, consider "cluster pumping' and vice versa.

    3) When battling plugs and mastitis it is vital to keep the milk flowing. If you cannot nurse comfortably enough due to pain etc, pump frequently with the best pump you can afford-hospital grade rental if possible. If you are pumping frequently and not able to clear the plugs, trouble shoot the pump. Also try hand expression, or just massage milk out in shower. Basically do what works.

    4) What have you tried for the plugs? vibration to break up the plugs? Bag of marbles massage technique? Ultrasound? Even if you want to stop trying, you risk even more mastitis and plugs if you do not wean yourself from nursing/pumping slowly in order to slowly reduce your milk supply.

    5) Are you taking probiotics? What else are you doing for thrush?

    6) When/if you can try nursing again, try different positioning. What have you tried? Have you tried laid back, or side lying? Painful latch is often linked to position, many of the classic positions actually cause latch issues.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Northern Cal.

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    You've gotten lots of good advice here. I had terrible clogged ducts, mastitis, and thrush in my first month of breastfeeding, and it was a TRIAL. I was so sick, and in so much pain, so much of the time. I did wonder if I was depriving my baby of something, in my misery.

    But looking back, one good thing about having oversupply and mastitis and clogs is that you can't just quit breastfeeding, no matter how much you think you'd like to! You have to keep emptying your breast, or you won't heal. In a sad way, this is what got me through the first months. I couldn't stop. I didn't know HOW to stop. In retrospect, thank goodness, because I would have really grieved the loss of breastfeeding, and felt it as a personal failure. Instead I persevered, and it is something I am really proud of.

    So I managed to get through all of that, and my baby's mouth DID get bigger (it happens, pretty quickly!! you're still in the very early days here!), and breastfeeding became easy and pleasant. Really!

    I agree with Mommal. First thing's first, address the mastitis. Finish your antibiotics this time and if they dont' work, go back immediately to try a different antibiotic (ideally, get your nipple cultured to figure out what's causing the issues). Second thing, really work on that thrush. At this point, thrush may be causing more pain than your baby's latch. If you could get past the pain with nursing, it would be a lot easier to prevent a recurrence of mastitis. It becomes this vicious cycle - you need to break it as soon as possible so that you can get nursing back on track.

    While you're treating the mastitis, spend a lot of time in bed, nursing or pumping, and in a hot bath, massaging. Those should make up 90% of your day's activities, seriously. If you nurse/pump around the clock while massaging your breasts, and just take breaks for hot baths and showers, where you massage your breasts rigorously (if it hurts, you're doing it right - sorry), then you will get through the mastitis faster. And since you know you're prone to mastitis, you need to be incorporating this kind of massage into your everyday routine. Seriously, being proactive is the way that I managed to avoid mastitis for many months, despite getting occasional clogs. I also took big doses of vitamin C and lecithin, because why not? Can't hurt.

    For the thrush, once you're off antibiotics, I'd probably ask your doctor for diflucan and then combine that with probiotics and other home remedies (many moms on here swear by grapefruit seed extract) and an OTC antifungal cream. Treat your baby with probiotics too.

    I think you'll get through this and look back and be proud of yourself. In the short term, you can't quit now without risking making your mastitis far worse, so focus on getting better and then you can make the big decisions. Regardless, you will feel better about any decision you make if you know you gave it your all and tried everything you could. You can do this!!

    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    Hi everyone. Thanks so much for all the great (and non-judgemental) advice. Just what I needed to hear to keep me going. To be honest, I'm so lonely and feel so lost at the moment. I really don't have anyone to call to help. My family is small, and we aren't close. Nobody is available to help - my parents work, and as they are so far away, can't come and see me easily. My sister has her own kids to look after and with school run commitments, can't get here at all during the week. I live in a big anonymous city, so can't call on neighbours and as I say, all my friends work. We can't afford paid help other than the cleaner we already have every two weeks. London is a super expensive place, and hiring someone would probably mean a nanny or nursery nurse which is way out of our price bracket. Its funny that I'm complaining about it now as before the baby, I was very much a career woman, and loved my big loud anonymous city life. I'm missing being independent right now and never realised I was someone who would need help and support like this! Anyway, i'm just having to ignore the chores and look after the baby as best I can until I'm better. Its not ideal but what choice do I have?

    Mommal, I'm in the UK, so we have quite a different system of childbirth to the US I think (I'm presuming you're in the US, you may not be!) - its very midwife led, and though I am a little unusual having a vaginal breech, it wasn't unheard of. I was also lucky to be in London in one of the top hospitals in the country, St Thomas', so maybe the doctors there were a little more progressive thinking. Anyway, I'm really glad to be given the opportunity to have a natural birth (even though I probably wouldn't have said so at the time - The Pain!)

    I do have a decent pump I think. An Ameda Lactaline. Perhaps not hospital grade, but the IBCLC said it was a decent one. I hope its doing the job.

    Unfortunately it is definitely the antibiotics making baby ill. There was such a clear correlation between the period I was taking them and him being really unwell. He's generally a great baby, really calm, good sleeper. But during that period he was in so much pain with colic, wouldn't sleep and projectile vomiting. Never got this with feeding any other time. And within 2 days of stopping the antibiotics he was back to normal. So I think maybe one feed a day in the morning before i take the first dose, and then formula for the rest of the day might be the only option. Thankfully, so far he seems ok with formula. He's not as settled as on bm, but hasn't had any really adverse effects other than some very stinky wind and a bit of spitting up. I was worried as I am allergic to milk protein, but so far he seems ok and is much better than he was on bm with antibiotics in it. I have some frozen bm too so will endeavour to give him 2-3 feeds a day of bm to keep his immunity levels up.

    I have a different antibiotic this time to last time, so hopefully it will work where the other one didn't. I don't think they routinely do cultures in the UK so I'm not sure this would be an option. Doctor has suggested if its not improving in a couple of days I will have to see the specialist though as there is a possibility of it being an abscess.

    I think Mommal you're totally right about oversupply. I seem to have endless milk. This is where I'm a bit confused by it all. All the advice I'm being given is to empty the breast, but if I try (with the pump) I'm getting easily 4+ oz from each breast per pumping and could probably keep going. How do I know when it's empty? And I'm wondering whether I should be emptying, even with the mastitis, or just trying to relieve the pressure? Isn't this making the oversupply worse?

    Also re pumping, I don't have a schedule at all. Having a newborn on my own, I generally get to pump whenever i can - whenever he will let me put him down. I try to pump whenever my breasts feel too full. Should i be more diligent about a schedule? Pumping every two hours in the night is really tough as I'm so tired and getting so little sleep already so I'm going a little longer if I can - about every 4 hours at night time.

    I'm not sure what to do about the bad latching. There is a limit to how many people you can consult - none of this is cheap afterall, and if several qualified people have said the latch is ok, what else can I do? I spend literally every spare hour I have online looking for answers. I've tried everything I can find but nothing makes much difference. Maybe it is just his mouth being too small or the flat hard pallette thing?

    Anyway, thanks for listening. I think I needed to vent as much as anything, but if I am going to continue nursing, I really do need to work out why I'm getting ill so much so I can prevent it in the future. I certainly can't carry on the way I am!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Its breaking my heart but might have to stop nursing

    Also, any ideas about why he won't feed a bit more efficiently? An hour and a half and still hungry doesn't seem right?

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