Sorely tempted to abandon breastfeeding?

I’ve had two people – including the health visitor – say that most people in my position would have given up breastfeeding by now.

I’ve had cracked & bloody nipples, a baby with tongue tie and then resulting nipple tissue bacterial infection, for which I’m on my third course of antibiotics. I’d upload a photo of my nipples but it would make you feel pretty uncomfortable, at their worst they looked truly awful – pusy yellow & red angry-looking tissue surrounding each nipple. And of course the pain! To start with it was pain from a poor latch, then an agonising letdown pain, toe-curling, teeth-gritting, for the first 3-4 weeks, and then the pain from the nipple infection, of baby’s pneumatic suck on raw tissue.

The truth is not that I’m brave, or determined, particularly – it’s that I’ve been too lazy & too proud to give up. Too lazy to buy all the equipment needed to pump/for formula, and to sterilise it all each time, and too proud to admit to the women closest to me – all of whom had breastfeeding problems of their own, but battled through it – that I couldn’t do it. Well I suppose that took determination of a kind, just not for the best reasons!

I have discovered that I can put up with much more pain than I ever imagined. When I was trying to get the latch right and I’d get nipple pain from a bad latch-on technique, I’d rather put up with the pain than try detach baby & start again. I quickly learnt that aside from my partner understandably getting frustrated with me, putting up with pain this time round because I’m too lazy or scared of the stress of trying to get a good latch, means more pain next time, from sore, damaged nipples. And it increases exponentially.

At nearly 6 weeks however it is getting much better. The nips are nearly healed, okay so one has decided to go back to being flat but we can deal with that. The antibiotics have made me constipated, which gave me a bleeding bum, and apparently the specific type, flucloxacillin, is notorious for causing thrush, so I’m being careful. Baby has got much better at latching on too. I am still dealing with profuse milk production so I need to wear breast pads all the time & cover my clothes & baby with muslin when feeding, but that isn’t too bad. I can’t wait for the day when breastfeeding is totally pain-free & effortless – hopefully very soon!

Have you been tempted to give up? Or perhaps you did? Do you regret it, or was it a relief? Let me know in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Sorely tempted to abandon breastfeeding?

  1. Firstly, well done for giving your little girl the best start – six weeks is a fantastic achievement and certainly not to be sniffed at. Many people don’t make it that far. I’m currently breastfeeding my second son, and with my first I found it incredibly hard as he got bigger and I really struggled for weeks and weeks in pain with making the decision to cut down to two feeds a day (using formula for the rest of the time) but do you know what? My baby really couldn’t have cared less, in fact I think if you asked the baby in these situations they’d say they would prefer a happy mummy than a stressed one. I’m using that as my motto this time – as soon as I feel like it’s too difficult, I shall stop and not feel bad about it. In the meantime, make Lansinoh your best friend (it really does work miracles!) Big hug!!

    • Thank you for your lovely words! You’re right of course – it’s easy to become really focused on breastfeeding as an issue. I was bottle fed and I turned out fine! I think you totally have the right attitude.

      I got the doc to prescribe more Lansinoh today, he didn’t know what it was but wrote the script for 2 tubes – saved me £22, win!

  2. Thanks for your post. How are you getting on. Thought I’d leave my story here about tongue-tie, feeding and related issues.
    My daughter was born as a planned water birth at home. During the first hours and first feed before they left, my 2 tired but patient and happy midwives told me that my baby’s suck was good, and tried to help the latch with a rolled facecloth under my breast.
    Painful latching and re-latching
    Straight away, I took to feeding my baby whilst holding her on a pillow- I was trying to keep her position exactly, trying to avoid the pain of relatching. My partner would bring up a banana and a drink but just out of reach, and wondered why I just couldn’t get it for myself-I did not want to take the risk!
    I was fortunately able to feed lying down, when my backache allowed, as long as I moved, to feed on the other side.
    Long feeds
    Feeding pattern in the early days was 1 – 1 1/2 hours on, 1 1/2 hours off, unless she was asleep, in case 2-3 hours max off. I remember feeding for a min of 45 mins (I timed everything during those long solitary nights). A ‘good’ feed was 1 1/4 hours or more! But she had probably long fallen asleep and stopped sucking, except for some token attempts after 10 mins. Other mums seemed to just feed 5-10 mins each side and that was it for 3-4 hours. I didn’t want to shorten the feeds, as I was trying to follow my baby’s pattern. I also remember I was always the last to leave anywhere as the feeds lasted so long!
    My baby lost more weight than expected in the first 2 weeks despite a relatively smooth entrance (at term, average weight), then was initially slow to gain weight. She went 8 days without a poo (sometime around week 3) but wet her nappies just enough. Midwives advice at 2-3 weeks was for me to increase feeding to (at least every 3 hours or 8 times a day), whereas I had been feeding 6-7 times a day, but for long long periods each time. I don’t think I did what they advised as I would have had to wake her up (and she really needed her sleep!)
    I had cracked nipples but only a little blood, no true mastitis, only blocked ducts, rock hard breast on occasion, milk blebs. I eventually saw my GP to try antifungals for breast thrush. I used ibruprofen/paracetamol to manage the pain of feeding intermittently, and sometimes had to leave company as I needed to be on my own to manage the pain.
    I bought a hand pump and a popular Mendela electric pump, but generally could pump only 10-15ml in total (I ONCE pumped 100mls total in 1 hour as a record, and the same with hand expressing.)
    I had bad back pain (starting in pregnancy), particularly thoracic (very stiff and poor flexion) for which I saw an osteopath and a chiropractor. I found the physical approaches rather crude and despite much back cracking over a few sesisons, did not provide lasting benefit (and even gave me a new sciatic type pain once!)
    When my daughter started eating solids (trying something daily from 6 months with various tastes as requested from 4 months- I mean,she bit into a peanut butter sandwich I was eating at 4 months,) she grew from 50th to 91st centile for weight and 98th for length and has continued from then on.
    From about 5-6 months when I was prescribed a course of fluconazole (oral antifungal for breast thrush- which gave me nausea, and baby vomiting, managed 2 1/2 days of course), I could feed without pain and the pain never returned. Exclusively feeding some days (without any solids) at 8-9months, and at around 1 year through a bout of hand foot and mouth (painful ulcer on tongue) virus.
    At about 6 1/2 months, I for the first time, noticed the underside of her tongue was tethered. I had wondered why she could not yet put her tongue out and there was a slight ‘m’ or heart appearance at the tip of her tongue.
    I realised that she had tongue tie, and later heard that her daddy did too, (his mother had stopped breastfeeding due to mastitis and abscesses and was told not to try to feed her next 2 babies). His was clipped at about 9 months when they returned to Italy, on their doctor’s advice.
    I never thought I wanted to give up during those 6 months (I did not need nipple shields and my baby remained in good health). But I did wonder why it was so painful for me.
    Even though I saw quite a few midwives and health visitors over the firsts weeks and months (attended breast feeding group too), tongue tie was never mentioned or looked for.
    I have to add that I’m a doctor and I forgot to check myself, even when I had so much pain!
    She is now 2 weeks away from 3 years old, and slowly preparing her to stop feeding (she is resisting this somewhat but I have decided that we need to change our routine so that we sleep better).
    I think that tongue-tie accounted for the majority of our difficulties. Also contributing could be tension from back pain affecting latch and milk supply, then breast pain and so on, and other psychological mediators .

    • Thank you so much for your story! I’m so pleased for you that you’re both happy & healthy now, but what a saga. I really count myself lucky we were diagnosed early.

      I was taking so many painkillers in those early weeks, and seeing the looks on my mum & partner’s faces watching me struggle through the resulting pain from damaged nipples was tough in itself. I was on antibiotics for 3 weeks in the end. I think you’re incredible for toughing it out – well done. We’re at 5 months now & breastfeeding is easy & painless, we just have sleep issues instead 😉 xx

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