Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but it does get better

Many of us know that breastfeeding isn’t always easy to begin with. It can take time, solid determination and definitely a sense of humour to get to a place where breastfeeding is established and comfortable for both mother and baby.  It is important that breastfeeding mothers feel they are not the first ones to face the sorts of issues that arise. In this blog post Nicola and Lisa talk about their challenging starts with their newborns. It is great that they were committed once they had made the decision to breastfeed and we hope that other women find inspiration in their journey also – a journey which after all the hardship, found some wellbeing for these mothers and their babies.

Nicola’s story

“Everyone said “Breastfeeding isn’t painful. If it is, try latching on again”.

After Amelia was born, it hurt. I was telling everyone I could. Every suck was a strong, pulling, stinging feeling. Countless women observed and said, “that looks like a good latch, how does that feel?” “Sore!” I’d say. Then “There isn’t anything more I can help you with”. Great.

At times my nipples were just a giant scab. I developed Mastitis. My husband had to buy me a breast pump, nipple shields and breast shells – poor thing!

After one feed finished, I dreaded the next. I would be crying non-stop while feeding and all my husband could do was hold me and tell me I was doing a great job.

And then one day it didn’t hurt anymore. I was feeding Amelia, and suddenly I realised that there was no pain. I’m so glad I stuck with it.”

Lisa’s story

“With my first born he had trouble latching on. I had a caesarian and he didnt try until we were back in the ward. The nurses, midwife and lactation consultant all tried different things and we even went to the ear nose and throat doctor as we thought the problem was that he was tongue tied. The specialist said that wouldnt have been the reason. So I just perservered and expressed for the first 4-6wks until he got the hang of breastfeeding. I know a lot of women would have given up but I am glad I didnt. He got used to a bottle then once I got breastfeeding underway and went to use a bottle again, for some reason he wasnt sure how to feed! I fed him for 17 months.”

Information regarding latching issues, Mastitis, expressing and other breastfeeding related advice can be found via the Q&A section of the Ministry of Health’s breastfeeding.org.nz website.

We’d love to hear your breastfeeding experiences. Click here for details of how to send us your story!

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3 thoughts on “Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but it does get better

  1. It may not be easy at the start, but there are lots of people around offering help and support if you decide to persevere. If, as I am currently discovering, you suddenly have issues after bubs is a year it is much harder to get it sorted.

    It all started about 6-7 weeks ago with a blocked duct. The suction of my daughter on my boob removed the blockage, and part of my nipple resulting in a large crack. I ended up feeding her blood and milk for a couple of weeks, mastitis (masked by the antibiotics I was taking for a tooth extraction), and thrush. After 3 more sets of antibiotics for me, four different creams, and a thrush treatment for my daughter they are all finally sorted.

    However, the “trauma” to my breast (she weaned herself off the right hand side at 8-9 months) has resulted in Raynauds Syndrome in the breast (http://www.drjacknewman.com/help/Vasospasm%20and%20Raynaud%E2%80%99s%20Phenomenon.asp) for which I am currently taking medication for.

    If anyone else has had/currently has this condition I would love to hear from you.

    In passing, I would love to recommend the midwife at the Community Breastfeeding Service out in Porirua – she is amazing, and is the one who finally worked out what was happening.

    • Kia ora Sally. I had never even heard of Raynauds Syndrome until reading some of our ‘real mums’ stories. So keep an eye out for Catherine’s story coming out soon in our blog post. Here is what the Ministry of Health have only this month posted on their website: “Vasospasm of the nipple is a term used to describe a condition where the nipple is usually undamaged but there is a very painful stinging pain which persists after the feed has finished. Mothers sometimes notice that their nipple has turned white. It is estimated that about 20% of women aged 21 yrs to 50 yrs have a condition called Raynaud’s, which means that they tend to get pain in their hands and feet when exposed to cold temperatures. The restricted blood flow causes numbness, tingling and then pain. Nipple vasospasm is a Raynaud’s like phenomenon. It’s best to avoid cold temperatures – keep the breasts warm – and also avoid caffeine and nicotine. Talk to the LMC midwife or contact a Lactation Consultant for further advice.”
      Also I found this from the La Leche League website:
      “There are several recommended strategies for managing vasospasm pain. Some worked. Most did not. I tried always staying warm when I nursed: keeping a heating pad on one breast while nursing on the other. I tried the homeopathic suggestions, using calcium and magnesium and herbal supplements. I avoided stress and caffeine and exercised regularly. What really worked in the end was the more interventionist strategy, the prescription drug Nifidipine. This drug is often prescribed for people with angina, but has been studied and found to control Raynaud’s. I tried a very low dose and saw a marked improvement within three days. Within a week, the pain had lessened dramatically. After a month I experienced no pain at all. After six weeks I was able to stop taking the drug and the pain did not return. I now have no discomfort with nursing, and I can walk down the frozen food aisle for ice cream with no problem at all! I now feel the joy of nursing, of snuggling up together at night in the rocker or taking an afternoon break to nurse, chat, and relax. I anticipated these moments for months and now relish each one every day. My son is six months old and thriving beautifully.”
      Thanks to you and other women who have alerted this situation for us all! Marama.

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