Nipples that go throb in the night. And the morning. And also the afternoon.

My nipples are on fire. 

It honestly feels like someone is grating them like cheese before sprinkling them with shards of glass only to top it off with a few spritzes of lemon juice. It fucking kills and has since I started nursing Fable eleven weeks ago. Maybe it's because of the breast reductions. Maybe it's just me. All I know is that nursing my baby is agonizing. And yet... I love it. WTF? Perhaps the pain is what is making it so rewarding for me. 

Kind of like getting a tattoo and how the pain is almost.... pleasurable? Like I endured in order to leave the parlor with a beautiful scar. I don't know if I would be as into tattoos as I am if they didn't hurt. It's the pain I crave more than anything, honestly. The feeling of the needle. The buzz. Watching something become permanent. With me always. A sign that I'm a masochist? Perhaps. But that's like, fifty-seven blog posts worth of TMI. 

So let's get back to nursing...

ouuuuuuuuuuuuchhhhhh!!!

My post about how to breastfeed after a breast-reduction is up on Work-It Mom, today, but I wanted to follow up by sharing  a bit more with those of you hoping to breastfeed  post-op: It hurts. Bad. Probably because there isn't enough milk being produced (all those broken ducts) so the baby sucks that much harder to try to maximize consumption. Or maybe it's just that I've had two reductions so my boobs are that much more effed to the up. It also could be that I'm nursing Fable around the clock and my nips are permanently in her mouth (Trying to feed her the least amount of formula as possible) so the poor dears are sucked to the bone. Then again, maybe I'm just a puss. 

I guess, I just don't want to mislead anyone by making it seem easy because it isn't. It's hard and painful and will likely leave permanent scarring (not that breast-reductions don't scar like crazy but you know, FYI.) 

I will say this: one day I'm pretty sure I'll miss the pain. And that in itself is reason to grin and bear it. At least it is for me. For now.  

.............................................................

I do want to support everyone's cause if they/you should decide to breastfeed post-op and let you know that I'm here if you have questions, concerns. I was unable to breastfeed Archer past the six-week mark and even then, I pretty much solely pumped, and mainly supplemented with formula so I've been on both sides of the bottle, so to speak. 

Fore more information you can read my "how to breastfeed after a reduction" post, here. Word to you, mothers. 

GGC

48 comments:

mom | 4:35 PM

have you tried Lansinoh (http://www.shopinprivate.com/lanoinforbre.html) ointment? It is amazing! I swear by it for sore nipples. You can find it at the CVS here, and i am in the sticks so you shouldn't have a hard time finding it!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 4:36 PM

Yup! Swear by it, too. But they still burn like fiiiire! In fact, I've already gone through two large tubes of Lansinoh already! Ay yay yay.

chantalart | 4:55 PM

I didn't have a breast reduction but I had agonizing, burning, terrible pain anyway...particularly on the left side. For the first month or two I was only able to comfortably nurse on the right. I only pumped on the left at first- and because of a miserably painful nipple I ended up with the most amazing back up supply of frozen breast milk ever. In that way, things can work out to one's advantage. But just want to let you know, the pain can happen without the breast reduction surgery. After a certain point, it just went away. Something that did help: I think they were called Soothies? They were these gel things that you could keep in the fridge and put on your nipples, in your bra- overnight, whenever. They felt GREAT. Buy lots of them.

EdenSky | 5:05 PM

Have you tried nipple shields? Worked great for me, although I never had the reduction problems.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 5:08 PM

Yeah... used those with Archer but Fable refuses them. Poop.

cassieb | 5:15 PM

I had some problems with Aiden and used nipple sheilds! they were kind of a pain buuut made it much more comfortable! Good luck

Baby in Broad | 5:29 PM

No breast reductions here, but I had the flaming cheesegrater nipples also. I honestly don't remember how long it lasted, but it did eventually become less and less painful until it finally stopped. Or maybe I just toughened up.

missbanshee | 5:37 PM

I've never nursed/been a mama, but man, I hear you on the pleasure/pain of tattooing. God, I'm jonesing for more ink, for REALS.

Kristie | 6:00 PM

Also, no breast reduction, but lots of pain in the beginning, scabs, etc. I had burning, flaming, ice picks stabbing through my nipples into my chest wall w/ the last baby, it turned out to be thrush. I had i.v. antibiotics because they didn't have my group b strep status and the lactation consultant says that was probably what did me in, so to speak.
As a mother who nursed 3, had horrible time in the beginning all 3 times, I still loved it and would do it again.
Good luck, love your blog...

Lalapoo | 6:01 PM

You are officially my HERO, any woman who can bear the pain (MASO or not) that comes with breatfeeding is my hero. I had my second daughter 2 months ago and 6 weeks after her birth I could not bear breastfeeding anymore.I do have a lot of guilt that I could not bear it because this time around I wanted to do this (the breastfeeding thing)
Keep going Girl!

Anonymous | 6:50 PM

yeah, thrush. look into it, because knives in the nipples is a dead giveaway. i'm proud of you for doing so well.

Chalsey | 7:04 PM

I have a Mastitis infection just on my nipple, it hasn't affected my ducts at all. My nipple hurts so much, it's the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Like someone is slowly peeling away the skin from my nipple while pouring acid on it. Yeah it hurts, but thankfully I am on antibiotics and the pain is lessening.

I feel the same way about the pain/pleasure of nursing and tattoos.

Anonymous | 7:27 PM

Hey, read you post-I am an LC, and it totally sounds like yeast to me, especially your description!
Get some over the counter vaginal yeast cream and smear some on. The baby may have a diaper rash or white patches on her tongue or mouth.
If it hurts only after nursing, and your nipple turns bright white, then bright red, it might be Reynauds.

Susan

hoppytoddle | 8:00 PM

Bec, I trekked 35 min each way to the LC twice a week the first 2 months of MiniMe's life. I don't know if it was because of the c/s, the drugs from after the c/s, or just Catholic guilt for trying to be a good mom, but I made myself do it. I think I had trouble because MiniMe was so teeny. I was glad I did it. She was in group care from 9 weeks on & at 3 yo has only been on antibiotics twice. Her ped swears it cuz I bf.

But about you... Yes, it does sound like it could be yeast. It sounds gross, but smear some plain yogurt on your nipples if you can. It will help until you can get an official opinion.

I am SO happy you got the chance to bf. I think everyone has the right to choose what they want, but when you want to nurse & you can't, that sucks.

Hoping you get some pain-free nips for Christmas / Hanukkah!

Desiree Fawn | 9:17 PM

I had a really intense dream about breastfeeding last night. My first baby is due in about 5 weeks!

Jen | 9:18 PM

I had the EXACT same symptoms! No breast reductions, but YEAST. I agree with the LC that posted. I am a NICU RN and had knives in my nipp's with my second baby while nursing. Turned out to be yeast that had gotten into the milk ducts. Treated it with oral antibiotics, Nystatin to the nipps and my son's mouth.
The treatment worked and knives went away. BF him to 12 months...

angela | 9:22 PM

Delurking here (BTW, I love your blog) i really think it could be thrush... for peace of mind, find out if it's actually thrush. I nursed my son for 7 months with similar pain as yours and other posters.. the pain just had begun to go away after taking heavy meds and breastfeeding felt better for a few week until my son weaned. I was on IV for strep so yeah... AND! I also ended up with thrush with my daughter and was on IV also but I got it resolved after 2 weeks and I was able to nurse her until 9 months - pain free except for one mastitis episode. Please have it checked out for thrush - it is worth it if you could get the pain to go away and you'd enjoy nursing a lot better. I really do not want to see other mothers go through what I did with my son. I clenched my teeth and braced every time he latched on and nursed. At times, I was near tears and hypervalianting (sp). It hurt, OMG, it hurt. I still remember the pain. Please, have it checked out for thrush.

Prasti | 10:29 PM

bless your heart!

though i've never had a breast reduction i do remember having pain while breastfeeding my daughter. pain that made my toes curl every time she started sucking. i still vividly remember that pain...but how is it that i've forgotten the experience of labor pains?

anyway, i'm really sorry about the pain.

Ali | 11:45 PM

having had trouble breast feeding my second and third babies, i know how you feel, (but for some weird reason the first one was easy as)
Anyways, I'm thinking if its like stingy burny the whole way through, there's a high chance you actually have an infection, possibly thrush (i know, sounds gross, but it happens) I'd recommend seeing a doctor and getting checked for infection, and if it IS thrush, you absolutely have to make sure you AND the baby get treated, or it's just not gonna go away.

hope this helps!

Ali | 11:50 PM

also, i'm dumb for not having read all the comments first. haha.

MamaVee | 11:51 PM

I have had five, count them - five yeast infections on my nipples thanks to breastfeeding. And it feels exactly like you described your pain. But I too persevered. And felt like a hero. Then I discovered it was yeast and my pain could have been fixed a long time ago. What you need,if you do indeed have yeast, on top of the plain yogurt (which can work great but a cultured acidopholis drink called "Bio K" available at most healthfood stores works even better)What you really need is an all purpose, triple action nipple cream. No joke. The stuff works miracles, practically in minutes. Yeast is not your friend.

http://www.drjacknewman.com/help/Candida-Protocol.asp

This stuff clears it up super quick, and any time I get even a hint of ouch, I put it on, as I seem to be very prone to yeast, and this stuff just kicks its butt.

kittenpie | 12:54 AM

Girl you so so much more hardcore than me. I'm a puss, but I couldn't take the pain, so I started feeding part by pumping into bottles and part by breast to save myself from the ouchies. I found I could take about two feeds a side each day okay, and the pump never hurts me, so it works out.

(Though lately I keep having to fight him to feed, and have been giving up and giving him the bottled milk because it's bad enough without him grabbing my nipple and pushing it around with his tongue first! What up with that? I do figure either way, he is getting the good stuff, which is what counts.)

But wow. That's a kind of heroic I just can't make myself do if I can go for a different version of giving him the goods. Mad props to you, lady Bec.

hayley | 5:41 AM

Just wanted to ditto the thrush comments. Stabby knives is a very apt description--although, I don't know what nursing after a reduction feels like, so stabby knives could well be an apt description of that, too!

Heather | 5:56 AM

poor mama, I remember the nipple pain driving me insane, I also remember the clogged milk duct leaving me with a golf ball under my arm pit, oh the joys of nursing I still did it for 15 months with each of my 3 kids and my boobs ache for another baby... I hope it gets better for you, nipple pain is maddening for sure

kateypie35 | 6:16 AM

Oooo....ouchie ouchie!!! I cringe in solidarity!
When I had that pain, it was a nasty resistant strain of thrush... and it went on for weeks. Its worth checking into....getting some Diflucan....rinsing the nips with vinegar...probiotics. Cause it might be fixable. OUCH.

Anonymous | 6:45 AM

I have to agree with so many of the above comments, if you haven't already, talk to a doctor/nurse/other LC about the possibility of a yeast infection! After six weeks of crying every time my boy latched on, every time I took a shower, every time I changed my bra... my doctor finally gave me diflucan (the creams did NOT work for me), and within 48 hours the pain was GONE. He nursed until 16 months, with no more pain, ever.

Allyssa W-R | 6:53 AM

Been BFing for 15 months now, and I remember having a lot of pain the first 8 weeks, but it got better. Never had a reduction though, so I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I hope it goes away for you soon. The BFing smugness (ever see the Southpark episode about driving a hybrid car?) counteracts the pain though, right? Like you just know you are doing something so healthy for your kiddo that it makes it worthwhile...and I love 30 Rock. My DH hates Oprah and always makes fun of how she introduces her guests. I made him watch that episode b/c I thought he was the only one bothered by it...I guess others think its weird too. Why does she yell like that when calling her guest to the stage? Way to go on the BFing by the way--you're almost to 3 months--WOOHOO!

Anonymous | 7:37 AM

Delurking to comment too - I had horrible pain for about 12 weeks & I remember it being AGONIZING! Scabby, bleeding, pulpy nipples. It didn't help that my baby was a pirranah about feeding either. I had to get an rx for something called "Tripple Nipple" - an ointment from my midwife that made things a little better. I also used chilled cabbage leaves (take the whole big leaf off, wash it & stick it right on the boob!) as recommended by a La Leche person & it helped soothe between feedings. I also used Lansinoh and the gel pads in between that & the ointment and when I wasn't feeding or putting something on my boobs to soothe them, I had breast shields on because everything hurt like hell up against my chest. It's a good thing I had three mos. maternity leave & it was summer. I mostly went shirt less for the first three months I think, I was so frickin' uncomfortable. I think part of it is just breastfeeding & part of it's your reduction. As others have suggested, have the nipples looked at for infection though for sure. I remember things getting SIGNIFICANTLY easier after the 11 or 12th week though. Suddenly, it just didn't hurt anymore, though I'm not sure why. There's a GREAT description of breastfeeding in the book Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott - a personal narrative about a recovering addict's first year of life with her son, who turned her life around after deciding not to abort & get off the junk. An AMAZING book - you'll feel like mother of the year (hell, the century!) after reading it!

Good luck w/ the nips!

Rachel in VT

kgirl | 8:08 AM

I'm on month 13 of bf'ing my second, and it can still hurt. Nips still get cracked, and at the moment, I am also nursing a blocked milk duct. Ouch. But it doesn't matter, because, like you said, I will miss it when it's gone, and obviously, my babe's best start possible (and I do consider 13 months still very much the start) is worth it. Completely.

Miss M | 8:12 AM

Thanks for being so honest! After my 1st, I though I was a total wiener for crying (quite literally) through the pain. Everyone made it sound so easy. My baby couldn't latch on because my boobs were too huge, no joke, they were too huge. I started out a 34 F and it was all downhill from there. I only lasted a few months due to other complications that required medication unsafe for breastfeeding mothers... I'm pregnant again, and I have a feeling I will be re-reading this post to remind me that other mothers have it toatlly worse that me, and that I will live through it. THANKS!

Wicked Step Mom | 8:32 AM

Yikes! That is enough to give me sympathy pains.. I hope that you are able to hang tough!

Pearl Berries | 8:45 AM

Lady, I salute you! I had the chance to bf my first and then got really sick with #2, so had to stop after about 3 weeks. Sure, "breast is best" but what if your options are starving or formula??

I digress.

You are a mommy hero! Just promise to remember to love yourself, too.

bmcsnippiesacheasireadandremember | 8:52 AM

2 breast reduxes and two babies later and all i can do is echo your pain.

more importantly, let's talk about your boobies some more. or better yet, touch them.

you're hot, babytalk.

The Mommy | 9:06 AM

Congrats to you for sticking with it! I, too, had horrible pain breastfeeding with both babes and I didn't have any surgery aftermath to deal with. With my first the pain magically disappeared one day a little after the 2 month mark. There is hope! And, for the record, I'm not a wimp (2 babies no epidural) and I still think it KILLED.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:51 AM

I know it isn't thrush but yeast is a possibility although the doc says i look fine -- I'll look into your suggestions, though! Thanks! You ladies rule!

Angel | 3:10 PM

Hmm are you sure you don't have thrush or a yeast infection?

I'm an EPer and had undiagnosed thrush yeast for nearly seven weeks and your description of the pain is exactly how mine felt.

Anonymous | 8:53 PM

Try Earth Mama Angle Baby nipple butter. It's all organic and I found it to work much better than Lansino. Their poltice (sp?) is also great. I got the BF kit.

chochomom

mommymae | 9:08 PM

sorry your boobs hurt. when i had the boy, my nips hurt a lot. he must have had a stronger suck than my girls, i guess. i hope you feel better soon.

Heather | 6:35 AM

From your description of the pain I'm wondering if you have Thursh - a yeast infection of the breast tissue thatt is very, very common in nursing moms. I had it with my kids and my lactation consultant/doula was able to fix it with a great treatment regimen from Dr. Jack Newman (a breastfeeding guru in Canada). Check out www.drjacknewman.com for his thrush protocol. It's very resistant to treatment and can be spread to the baby too. Maybe you already know all this, but just thought I'd mention it in case ysou don't. Good luck!

Anonymous | 1:07 PM

I am a first time mom of a 16 month old who I still nurse 2x's per day(mostly for comfort) I also work in public health and have a lot of contacts and support with breastfeeding.

I read about your suffrage and wanted to echo what Mama Vee said about yeast. I had a breast yeast infection that lasted 3 months and required 6 weeks of Diflucan(fluconazole) treatment 100 mg 2'x per day. It was horrible.

FYI- Yeast and Thrush are basically the same thing. You can have yeast and the baby has NO symptoms or the other way around. Also you can have it internally in the breast with no nipple pain just burning stabbing pain inside. There are may variations. You need a good internationally board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) who also is a doc(or works with one) and can prescribe meds.

Jack Newman is the best. I bought his book, used his info sheets AND emailed him. He always replied also. His yeast protocol is awesome!

2nd idea of cause of pain is incorrect latch. Jack also has some great pictures of proper latch.

Good luck!

Anonymous | 1:47 PM

I just wanted to tell you that I love the site. I'm not a long time reader (found your site thru momversation) however I love that you have the balls to say what all of us are really thinking but don't have the balls to say. It's really refreshing and now I come here everyday :)
And ordered your book, too!

courtney | 2:03 PM

I had a reduction and am nursing right now, too. I didn't think I'd make it through the first six weeks because ohmygod the pain. OHMYGOD the pain. I told myself that if after the six week point it was still as painful, then it was okay to give it up and go to strictly the bottle. (I still have to supplement because for all the nursing in the world, I don't produce enough.) Now we're almost four months into this and still going and, truth be told, I love nursing. There's still pain when she latches on, but that's it now. It's just all comfort for her and me both.

Jerri P | 3:20 PM

I totally know what you mean about raising a family where you used to play. About 12 yrs. ago, I moved back to the town I grew up in. I wanted to raise my son in a small town, and be near family. Well, I used to be a bartender here, and I was quite wild. Losing cars, one-night stands, doing drugs, etc...
The only difference between you & I is that this is such a small town, no one forgets anything or anybody. I run into old lovers at least once a week. I really don't regret anything I did back then, but I also don't want my husband or 15 yr. old son finding out.

Lori | 1:29 PM

I found your blog through the Momversation video, and I just read about your nursing. I, too, had a BR 3 years ago. And I'm nursing my 9 month old exclusively. Have you heard of bfar.org? That site has helped me a lot. The creator of the site also wrote a book about breastfeeding after reduction, and it was great!

alperen | 7:42 PM

thnks

Anonymous | 7:33 PM

If you haven't already, have a lactation consultant look at her latch. That could be what's causing the pain - if so, it'll greatly improve as soon as you teach her to latch properly.

Perhaps you could find some useful information here as well: http://www.bfar.org/reduction.shtml

Jane | 7:23 AM

I got the same trouble as well. I wonder if it's the nipple cream or nipple covers I'm using. My baby can hardly get some milk from me, and it's just sad. :(

Casual Friday Everyday | 8:29 PM

For me the fire nipples was due to Thrush. And Thrush that never left. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep up the nursing through the terrible pain but KUDOS to you for keeping it up since it makes you happy.

Nell