Help! Breastfeeding is kicking my butt!

Erika - posted on 12/18/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )

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Hi, Im a first time mom. My little girl is 3 weeks old and 3days. I am breastfeeding her but I am wanting to quit. I thought I could do it for a year or so I thought it would be easy. But I am tired of having my boobs hurt, my nips so sore and her wanting to eat all the time. I have already had mastitis and hoping not to get that again, I pump a few times a day so that her daddy can feed her and give me a little break but that doesnt seem to be helping. I really want to keep breastfeeding her beacuse i know how good is for her the longer i do it, but I dont think i can do this much longer.





Please does anyone have advice or a few words to keep me wanting to do this longer....





HELP!





thanx,

First Timer Erika

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Carol - posted on 12/18/2009

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The first 6-8 weeks are the hardest - regardless of how baby is fed. IT really does get easier. The first 6 weeks are an almost constant growth spurt so constant eating is to be expected.



That said if you are having pain that tells me there is a problem. BF should NOT hurt. Have you seen a lactation consultant or LLL leader to have baby's latch evaluated?



Latch issues are best evaluated in person but this can help:



The first thing you need to know about a good latch is that a good latch should be comfortable. Pain is not a normal part of bf unless the latch is off, there is infection, or more rarely a problem with the baby's suck, or tongue.



One of the most important factors in getting the baby to open wide is to WAIT until the baby opens like a yawn before you let the baby latch. You really need to be consistant about waiting until the baby opens wide. That is the best way to get the baby to open wider.



The following is a description how to latch using the 'sandwich' technique (a technique I almost always use with most moms):



The sandwich technique includes a method of compressing your breast firmly in the direction of the baby’s lips as you latch so you are making the breast smaller for the baby to get more of his/her mouth around it (like you would squish a thick sandwich to get it into your mouth) Also you are making the nipple and surrounding areola more firm so the baby notices it in his mouth.



When you hold your baby to approach the breast support the baby's head with your thumb and index finger behind the baby's ears, support the lower head and upper back with the palm of your hand. The rest of your arm supports the baby's back and your elbow cuddles the baby's tush closely to your body. You should feel that you have very good control of the baby's body this way. (you can practice holding and getting comfortable carrying the baby this way other times so it becomes a very comfy way for both you and the baby).



Line the baby up nose to nipple, either in the football hold, which means you are putting the baby under your arm on the side you will nurse from or in the cross cradle hold which means you are placing the baby across your chest and nursing from the breast opposite the arm you are holding the baby in. In the cross cradle hold also be sure to place the baby's tummy toward your tummy so she doesn't have to turn her head to reach the breast. When a baby is positioned well it's always important to keep the baby's ears, shoulder, and hip in a straight line and the spine should also be in a straight line so the baby can swallow and is comfortable.



Support your breast with the free hand with thumb on one side and four fingers on the other side. Make sure your fingers are not covering or on the areola at all. If you are using the football hold, compress the breast horizontally (in the direction of the baby's lips) with your thumb and index finger pressing firmly at about 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock. If you are using the cradle hold compress vertically with thumb and index finger at about 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. (think of squishing a big thick sandwich on a roll to fit in the baby's mouth, you squish it in the direction of the lips).



Stroke the baby's lips with your nipple, one time, nose to chin, then pull the baby a bit away from your nipple to see if the baby is opening wide like a yawn. You may need to stroke numerous times, so the process is like this, stroke, pull away, look, stroke again, pull away, look, and keep repeating until the baby opens wide like a yawn. Do the stroking, pulling away or pausing, and looking slowly, if you repeat the process too quickly you aren't giving the baby time to respond. You can count to about 2-4 for the stroking part and the same for the pausing and looking part.



When the baby opens like a big yawn it usually occurs on the down stroke or just after. You can then quickly lay your breast onto the baby's lower lip with the breast (usually closer to the chest wall than the edge of the areola) lining up with lip and then bring the rest of the baby's head/lip around the top of the breast to latch. So in other words the lower lip touches the lower part of the breast first then the upper lip touches the upper part of the breast last.



Maintain the compression/sandwich (this is really important for a baby who has used bottles or with a mom with flat or retracting nipples) on the breast firmly until the baby begins to suck well through one burst of sustained rhythmic suck and then you can slowly release the compression and just support the breast with your hand slightly back from it's original position. Compressing the breast in this way usually helps the baby feel the breast in the mouth and encourages the baby to suckle.



Look at the angle of the corner of the mouth when latched. If it looks like an "L" the baby is not on the breast deeply enough and you need to take the baby off and try again. OR if the latch hurts or feels 'pinchy' you need to remove the baby and try again. When removing the baby insert your finger between the baby's gums quickly to remove him. The angle of the lips should be about 140 to 160 degrees. An "L" is 90 degree angle 180 degrees is a straight line so imagine 140 to 160 as being pretty close to the straight line.



When a baby is latched well they generally have what we call an asymetrical latch. Meaning the baby isn't perfectly centered on the nipple. Imagine your baby has lipstick on, if the baby is latched well the lipstick will leave an imprint that is somewhat oval and has the nipple a bit off center closer to the top lip imprint. The baby should take in more breast tissue with the lower lip than the upper lip.



How much are you pumping? Until you have a good latch I would limit pumping and bottle feeding to once a day at the most. Baby bottle feeds MUCH differently from breastfeeding and with such a young baby that can interfere with getting a good latch in the early days and even cause nipple confusion.



Hang in there mama!

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9 Comments

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Claire - posted on 12/18/2009

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carol is right it shouldn't hurt, the sandwich thing worked really!! great for me. The cream lansinoh is very good.Also having goals I said a month, then 6 weeks ,and now I've been nursing 5 months and its great. I really empathize with you I used to feel sick every time he'd want a feed but I promise it gets better X

Angela - posted on 12/18/2009

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The lanolin was a LIFESAVER for me!!! After Ava would finish nursing, I'd let my nipple air dry, then immediately put the lanolin on. I used to call it my tube of gold. :) Ava is 7 weeks old now, and I have no pain anymore. I never thought I'd be able to say that! The beginning was REALLY hard for me also. Hang in there, Erika!! We're all here for you! :))

Hannah - posted on 12/18/2009

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first off, the mastitis will get better the MORE you nurse her, and that is the source of most of the pain. Try warm compresses to alleviate the pain. The engorgement. leaking, etc will get better in the next 3-6 weeks. Also in that time she will not need to be fed as often. For sore nipples, use Lanolin. The best kind is Lansinoh brand, but any 100% purified lanolin will work. You can get it at any drugstore, WalMart, even Amazon.com. Also, be sure you are wearing supportive bras that do NOT have a seam crossing the nipple.

I had a terrible time in my first 3 months, but now (at 6 months) I am so glad I kept at it! Good luck!

Erika - posted on 12/18/2009

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Thank you guys so much! I am gonna try to stick with this. I have the cream and I try to remember to use it. I also cant meet with a LLL until Jan 20th..with the holidays thats the soon I can get a meeting. I gonna do my best and make it until then. Thank you again so much for the support.

Brenda - posted on 12/18/2009

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Feed on demand, and I know how hard it is. My little guy would latch on and I would tear up for the first three weeks. It was about week four before it stopped being sore. Check with a lactation consultant and make sure your latch is good, but it could be you got lucky like I did and have a vigourous nurser. I wanted to give up for a while there.

The nursing all the time will stop, though it feels like it won't. I felt like I couldn't go for an hour without nursing. But it stops about six weeks. Remember, the first six weeks is one huge growth spurt. They nurse for food, comfort and pain relief (breastmilk contains a hormone that reduces infant pain so the more they nurse the more they ache and hurt from growing). I would stop pumping and nurse, that's what can cause your mastisis because at this early stage, a pump cannot get the milk all the way out like a baby can. Skipping feeds right now will cause you clogged ducts and reduced milk supply. I know its hard, but put away the pump and bottles and nurse through it.

For sore nipples, try icing them before a feed, it numbs them a little bit and the initial latch won't be so painful. Air the nipples between feeds, and apply expressed milk and lansinoh to them after each feed. It will pass! And it is SOOOO much easier than bottle feeding. I couldn't nurse my first, and I can tell you from experience, nursing is much less taxing on me. No bottles, no formula powder, just me and the baby. We're on seven months, and we're doing good, though we have bumps along the road. That's NORMAL!!! YOU can do this! You are doing wonderful so far, and it is SOOO normal to feel exasperated right now.

Check out http://www.kellymom.com for some great tips and advice, so much more on this website than I can even put on here. Sore nipple solutions, help with what is normal right now, and all sorts of help and advice. This is the best advice website I've seen and it helped me get through the first six weeks.

Just remember, you can do it. You are doing it. And it is okay to feel like this.

Hannah - posted on 12/18/2009

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Hi Erika, I think anyone who has breastfeed has been where you are right now!



Tell yourself you have got through the frist 3 weeks,which are undoubtedly the toughest, and things will only get easier from now on so keep going if you can.



Like Sinead, I cannot recommend Lansinoh enough, it helped me out so much, it's brilliant. Doesn't completely take the pain away but stops your nipples drying out and makes it much more comfortable.



I found it helped me to set myself goals - first I aimed for 5 weeks, then anothe 2 weeks, and before I knew it everything suddenly clicked into place and I'm sure it will for you too.



You will be so pleased you stuck with it, I have both bottle and breast fed my babies and I can say breastfeeding is SO much easier once you get over the first few horrible weeks!



PS I also had mastitis but once my breasts had settled down and weren't getting engorged anymore it never recurred.



Hope this has helped! I never believed that I would be able to have pain free breatfeeding, but here I am at 5 months.I think if I can do it, anyone can! Once they are feeding less and your nipples also toughen up it suddenly improves, and after agonising over if I was positioning my baby correctly or not, all of a sudden she just started attaching herself in the right position and it was fine, magic!

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Oh, and the discomfort didn't last more than a couple of weeks once I got that cream. It is only a stage. Breastfeeding will become comfortable, even pleasureable once you get past this horrible bit!

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With my second baby (who is now 15 months and still breastfeeding) my nipples were cracked, sore, bleeding, covered in scabs etc. at around the same stage as you're at now. My midwife gave me some wonderful stuff called Lansinoh which is a sort of cream you rub on the sore nipples and it soothes them like you wouldn't believe. You can even feed baby immediately after applying it and it won't harm baby. I don't know if the same stuff is available where you are but even if it isn't there must be something similar - just ask at the pharmacy or baby clinic. Good luck x

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