Breastfeeding Woes

I am having a really hard time breastfeeding (and think that by pumping those few times in the beginning sabotaged myself), and have thought about giving it up completely over the last week. It is causing me serious amounts of pain and tears, and making me upset at Elliott (when I clearly know it isn’t his fault).

My problem is that I have an over-active let down. The milk flows out too fast for the baby to handle, and he has taken to clamping down on my nipples (often times not letting go even with my finger totally inserted into his mouth), fighting me when feeding, and has a serious amount of gas. The large amount of foremilk that he is forced to ingest has a lot of lactose, that his system has difficulty digesting effectively. He is spitting up often and fussing due to the substantial amount of gas and intestinal discomfort caused by the over abundance of lactose.

I feel horrible for him, and want to comfort him. But, it seems the very thing that would give him comfort (the breast) is the thing that is causing him (and me) the most grief. This hurts my heart to no end, and the guilt associated with not being able to give him what he needs is eating away at my innards.

I went to a breastfeeding support group last week. I called La Leche League twice and didn’t get a call back (and their schedule is posted on-line but with no address or email address), I called UCSD to speak with someone and didn’t get a return call. I am thinking about contacting a lactation consultant. But, at $60/hour…it seems a little pricey. But, I am desperate. I don’t want to sabotage our breastfeeding relationship.

The best website and info I found so far was below and on the WIC site. I bought some contraption to help heal my nipples. I am going to try nursing on one side for several feedings and try the modified feeding position as well. If all else fails, I am going to contact a lactation consultant. I promise not to give up at least for another couple of weeks.

Summary of Strategies to Reduce Rate of Milk Production and Force of Milk Ejection:
Nurse on one side for a each feeding, continuing to offer that same side for at least two hours until the next full feeding
Gradually increase the length of time feeding from one breast if necessary
If this strategy is not effective, try the method of thoroughly pumping breasts and then feeding on one breast until unbearably full (described in detail above)
If the other breast feels unbearably full before you are ready to nurse on it, pump or hand express for a few moments to relieve some of the pressure
Use cold raw green cabbage leaves or a bag of frozen peas to reduce discomfort and swelling
Feed baby before he becomes overly hungry to minimize aggressive sucking
Try alternate nursing positions
Mother leaning far back
Side-lying (letting milk dribble out)
Use scissors hold or the side of your hand to compress ducts to reduce the force of the milk ejection
If baby chokes or sputters, unlatch him and let the excess milk spray into a towel or cloth
Allow baby to come on and off the breast at will
Burp frequently if baby is gassy
Certain herbs and drugs, used judiciously, may be helpful in reducing milk production


3 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Woes

  1. I really feel for you… I just posted a blog of my own breast feeding stories. Though mine isn’t one of those push through it till it works stories. I couldn’t deal with the sleep deprivation. I ended up pumping almost exclusively for 6 months with my daughter. But on a more encouraging note. I know so many people who plugged through the difficulties until it worked. One friend of mine had the same problem with the overactive letdown. Fortunately, babies grow so fast. Before you know it, he’ll be able to drink like a champ!

  2. I had difficulty breastfeeding every single one of my children. The 4th is the hardest. You think it would get easier! The biggest help for me was the support of other moms who had been there. I had several wonderful lactation consultants help me. I tried everything they suggested but still was frustrated. What helped most was the encouragement to stick with it. It does get easier!For me, 10-12 weeks seemed to be the turning point. We still have issues (currently mastitis – ugh) but my son is finally getting the hang of it. I know it feels like an eternity right now but it really is a blink in time. Hang in there!Go easy on yourself – you haven’t sabotaged yourself by pumping. Many, many women have to pump in the early months either for their own reasons (work, etc) or for reasons related to the baby (prematurity, etc). Are you sure you aren’t seeing the early signs of colic? All the symptoms you describe sound exactly like my daughter at your son’s age. She’d get so tense and tight that it felt like I was having a wrestling match with her. She’d writhe and squirm and scream. In turn, it would put pressure on my c-section site and pull my nipples like some obscene silly putty demonstration. I feel for you, I really do.I won’t offer unsolicited advice but feel free to email me. I don’t have any magic solutions but I can lend a friendly ear.

  3. I was going to recommend that you express your milk before you put Elliot to the breast, but it seems that the list of ideas you found already covers that. In fact the list seems absolutely on target for helping with your situation. A lactation consultant is totally worth the money and talking to other mother’s may make you feel more normal. I in no way am an expert on breastfeeding, but I am positive that you pumping so much in the beginning is not the cause of this difficult time in your breastfeeding journey. Hang in there sweetie, I am sure your determination will pull you through and you’ll be a breastfeeding champion in no time.

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