Breastfeeding with Inverted Nipples

  • Post category:Challenges
  • Reading time:8 mins read

Ten years ago it would not have seemed likely that I would have been
involved with La Leche League today. I was bottle feeding my firstborn
Madeline (albeit with expressed breast milk EBM) and slowly convincing
myself that I was one of those poor women who could not breastfeed.
I did write about my failed breastfeeding experience for the then New
Beginnings (the forerunner of Aroha).  The conclusion I reached at the end of
the article was that when you have a baby and wish to breastfeed, you must
make breastfeeding top priority once your baby is born and until you and your
baby have it ‘sussed’.  My problem was small flat nipples that became very
cracked with my feeding attempts. I gave up and settled for pumping breast
milk for my baby for six months. As a new mum I thought that would be long
I had attended my first LLL meeting when I was eight months pregnant and
had really enjoyed it. I always loved La Leche League meetings: watching the
babies and toddlers breastfeeding, learning about attachment parenting and
enjoying the company of the other mothers. Madeline slept in our bed until
she was three which probably wouldn’t have happened if I had left LLL.
As time went on I became more and more annoyed with my situation; that is,
having a toddler I couldn’t put to the breast whenever she became fractious or
tired. I continued with LLL meetings as I had no other mothers’ group and the
Leaders had cleverly made me Librarian.
I went through a stage of thinking I would not have any more children as I
definitely did not want another bottle fed baby. Sometimes I thought it would
have been better if I had not stayed in La Leche League and instead mixed
with other bottle feeders.
I can’t remember why I did decide to have another child ­ maybe it was my
husband ­ but I know I considered my chances of breastfeeding this time
would probably be about 50/50. One factor I had in my favour this time
(besides having attended LLL meetings for well over two years) was that
Christchurch Women’s Hospital, where I would be birthing, had employed a
lactation consultant. Dawn Hunter was to be available, in theory to anyone
who birthed there for up to six weeks after the birth. When I was having
problems with Madeline I didn’t engage a lactation consultant for long, for fear
of the price. Of course I spent a lot more on breast pump hire and formula in
the first year than I ever would have done on a lactation consultant.
Dawn met with me when I was about five months pregnant. The main things
to come out of that meeting were: 1) she said she would be there for the
baby’s first feed, 2) I should avoid pethidine in the labour, and 3) she was
confident I could breastfeed this time.
Being there for Lydia’s first feed meant Dawn had to turn her car round en
route to a Saturday night out to get back to the hospital. A quick and easy
birth meant I was a lot more energetic straight after it than I had been the first
time. Dawn did not hurry to put Lydia on the breast but let her crawl up my
belly. She didn’t latch then but soon afterwards.
The interesting thing about being a failed breastfeeder is that you are far less
confident than a first time mum. I think of it as being behind the starting line.
How that manifested itself in me was that I did not put Lydia to the breast
myself for about 48 hours. Dawn wrote a breastfeeding plan that the staff took
very seriously. It basically said that every latch had to be perfect. For every
feed I would trot down to the nursery as it was the only place with decent
chairs and footstools. A nurse would help get her on and once she was
feeding I did not move!
Day three was very much a make or break day. The midwives suggested I
have the physiotherapist give my abraded (grazed) nipples ‘light’ treatment.
She took me into the room and when I took my top off she said my nipples
were so abraded that she wouldn’t do any treatment. I went back to the ward
and told myself,  “Who am I trying to kid. The fact is my nipples will never
allow me to breastfeed.” It was obvious to those around me that my mental
state had taken a definite dip and Dawn was called in. I’ll never forget her
looking me in the eye and saying, “Anne I’ve just been on another ward and
told a lady she won’t be able to feed her baby and I’m telling you that you
can.” It certainly helped hearing that and I think from then on things improved
slowly.  I stayed in hospital for seven days so that I felt confident at
latching Lydia on myself.  Lydia was a small baby (and is a small seven year
old now) so I could easily hold her in the ‘cross cradle’ position. I fully
supported her weight with my arm until she was over three months old . That
demonstrates the high level of panic I had with varying a position that worked.
A funny thing happened to me after I had Lydia and had been breastfeeding
her for a couple of months. I got on an incredible high. Because I could
breastfeed my baby, as far as I was concerned, my baby was no trouble at all.
I can remember telling my mother that I hoped I had twins next time to make it
a bit more interesting.  One day I was at a very cosy LLL enrichment meeting when it suddenly
dawned on me. I wanted another baby as soon as possible. My husband, Tim,  was agreeable and my resolve (and high) never wavered. My period came
back at ten months and I got pregnant straight away. I have often questioned
the logic of that action as at the time I knew enough to know that Lydia’s time
at the breast would probably be reduced if I became pregnant then.
My nipples were tender in the first trimester, my milk supply was low in the
second and in the third I began to get nervous about establishing another
breastfeeding relationship. I didn’t want a toddler feeding if my nipples were
going to be badly abraded again. Tim got up to Lydia in the night for about
three weeks before Finn was born which seemed to wean her. As it happened
she had one final feed about a week after Finn was born and I can still
remember the surprised look on her face.
Finn was born by Caesarean and Dawn was on hand again. We didn’t do the
crawling up the belly routine but she made sure his first feed was a good one.
I can’t remember too much about establishing feeding with him except that
once again I got abraded nipples (even though I basically had still  been
feeding Lydia.) By day five I felt confident though so he was by far my easiest
Because of my six months on a breast pump with Madeline I have avoided
them like the plague with the other two children. They were advised by nurses
at the hospital a few times but to me they always represented intervention; an
intervention that had led to not breastfeeding Madeline. If  breast pumps or
more importantly formula was not so readily available,  would Madeline have
been breastfed?  I suspect she would have been and probably for a long time,
she still liked a bottle at three.  Over the years I have spoken to many women who did not manage to
breastfed their first baby and most did not feed their next babies. It seems you
either become more determined or you become a bit anti it. And often the anti
ones will fire bullets at breastfeeding.  If it hadn’t been for La Leche League I
think none of my children would have received much breast milk.  Attending
meetings when Madeline was a baby kept me pumping and all the
subsequent meetings ensured I’d give it the best go possible when I had other
As a postscript I learnt to feed lying down with Finn at three months (I never
had to get up to a baby again after that) and he weaned four years later. I
became a La Leche League Leader when he was 14 months old and I am still
even though all three children are happily at school now.

Anne O’Connell, Christchurch
AROHA September ­ October 2003 Volume 5 Issue 5

Continue ReadingBreastfeeding with Inverted Nipples

Mothering Through Breastfeeding

  • Post category:Mothering
  • Reading time:6 mins read

When I had my first baby, I had already decided to give breastfeeding a go. But the main
focus for me during pregnancy was coping with sickness, and the approaching labour.
The antenatal classes had dealt with labour pain and management and the stages of
labour but my birth plan went out the window, when at 37 weeks, I had a haemorrhage at
1.30am (whilst in bed trying to pretend to be asleep). I ended up having a very scary time
trying to make the midwife believe my story over the phone. She said, “Is it just a show
dear?” I really had to convince her that it was more of a flood than a show!
So my husband and I raced to the maternity ward and met the midwife shortly after. She
spent the next half an hour reassuring us, “Baby is OK”. Shortly after, my Lead Maternity
Carer (a General Practitioner) arrived looking very brassed off at being woken up at this
hour. He heard my story and decided to break my waters. It was incredibly painful. I was
in constant agony and I couldn’t feel the contractions through the pain. The waters
contained blood among other things, so the he rang the specialist on call who then
suggested they prepare me for a Caesarean. A general anaesthetic was required because
of the speed needed and blood pressure problems.
Suddenly everything moved very quickly. Going into the lift I remember saying to the
anaesthetist, “Am I going to die?” and him replying, “I don’t think so”. At 4am, Kieran was
born rating just two on the Apgar scale. An hour after he was delivered, I returned to my
room – no baby there yet. He had been put into the special care ward. He had also been
given formula as his blood sugars were low.
I was lying down feeling so drugged I could hardly stay awake. I was wheeled down to
special care to be handed my son and give him his first feed five hours after he was born.
I will never forget that feeling for as long as I live – holding and feeding for the first time
ever. All I can say is thank goodness for breastfeeding.
Kieran was a baby who liked to be up all night, and sleep for long spells during the day for
the first few months. I fed him on demand and felt this was one major way to regain the
loss I felt from not witnessing his birth. I found breastfeeding very challenging. I suffered
frequently from mastitis. I became quick in recognising the symptoms and promptly sought
help after a couple of bouts. I found homeopathic remedies worked sometimes
(Echinacea, Erysidoron, and Phytallaca). But most times, I needed antibiotics. My doctor
provided me with a backup
prescription just in case. He was an excellent support person.
I also had nipple trouble initially and I used Lansinoh cream which was fantastic with
healing them. I found the ionozone treatment at Hutt Hospital a great help too.
When I was desperate with doubts I had a great mentor in La Leche League Leader, Fran
Crossland, who gave me fantastic advice and support, and a Plunket nurse who took time
to more clearly explain how babies feed. Luckily my husband was also in favour of me
providing the best food for his child.
However I had my lowest point when Kieran was 10 weeks old. I phoned the Plunket line
desperate for help. The nurse advised me (after hearing my story of recurring mastitis) to
give up. I put the phone down and burst into tears. My husband (also my rock) turned and
said, “You do what you want to do!”
I felt breastfeeding this unsettled baby was the only choice, and so I continued. I made the
right choice. He was rarely ill and it made us into a unit. At 15 months he weaned himself
when I became pregnant with son number two.
The next story is very different. Callum was born after an easier pregnancy, and a
reasonably easy labour. I fed him immediately after he was born. What a different
experience. To actually see my baby born plus feed him straightaway was a double
I had a much more relaxed and confident attitude with Callum. I decided to breastfeed
again, although I had mastitis when he was two weeks old, caused I think by a blocked
duct. I have had few blocked ducts since and have been able to clear them myself. I also
always feed two sides every feed as this keeps me balanced. This balance helps the milk
flow more regularly on each side. I wasn’t always able to do this with Kieran because he
always preferred the right side (the left was often the one playing up) so some feeds were
one side only and when he was very young he would go to sleep after this single side.
Another two things happened: Firstly, I had campylobacter food poisoning when Callum
was eight weeks old. This was horrific for me. I couldn’t eat, and basically lived in the toilet
for a week. However the human body is amazing. I just kept producing breast milk for my
baby. In hindsight I am wonderfully impressed. The second thing was that I slipped a disc
in my back so I had to deal with that one as well. Looking back I am pleased that I
continued to breastfeed Callum. I have a very healthy boy who is now nearly two years
Things I have learned
· Have a relaxed attitude. (If your child needs feeding then feed him – generally it is only 20-30
minutes – don’t worry about waiting 10 minutes for him to scream)
· Feed babies when they want to be fed.
· Don’t necessarily give solids first – give the child what they want first (breast milk is fine)
· Be proud to be a breastfeeding Mum
· Listen to your own instincts not other people’s
· Watch the baby not the clock
· Relax and go with the flow
· Experience gives you heaps of confidence
· Ask questions about breastfeeding but don’t always believe the answers
· Don’t worry if you (like me) can’t express milk
· Breastfeeding is a total package
· Breastfeeding is for such a short time in your life – it is over so quickly – enjoy it while it lasts
· Be aware of medication and make sure that it is safe to take
· Wean together

By Deb Williams, Lower Hutt
Originally printed in Aroha, March/April 2004

Continue ReadingMothering Through Breastfeeding