Breast feeding - anyone expressing and breast feeding?... - NCT


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Breast feeding - anyone expressing and breast feeding? When is the best time to introduce an expressed bottle feed? Need help to keep going!


Hi all, well it's week two of feeding my first baby son. He has always been a challenge to latch on one side, even the hospital struggled with him. Now he is getting stronger he throws his head about latches really painfully and pulls back while feeding, which causes me to be in agony and I end up crying each time I need to feed him on that side, which I'm sure he will be picking up on too.

As a result he's fed more from the other side (as sometimes even after half an hour of pretend sucking and throwing his head around he still won't latch), but this has meant I'm really sore on the 'good' side too now, and am starting to dread feeding from that as well.

I want to breastfeed so badly, but if this continues I really dont know that I can. I wondered if anyone expressed a feed, and at what stage they introduced this?

I have tried lanolin cream, hand expressing a little and rubbing it in etc. but the severe pain is still there....please help!?

28 Replies

Ouch! sounds painful. Have you spoken to your midwife/healthcare person?

I tried breastfeeding my son and after a week was not succesful (due to him being tongue tied) so gave him a bottle and he took to it straight away but I think that was due to him being so hungry.

Sometimes after being breast fed some babies wont take to a teat and gag when they are given it so sooner rather than later I would give him the expressed milk through a teat if it is making you sore, he must have a right good suck reflexs on him, little monkey.

Clairew7 in reply to Megzey

Thank you Megzey, it is excruciatingly painful. Spoke to my midwife today and she has suggested nipple shields - so we're going to give them a go to give me chance to recover on that side, and if not will express and try to do a combination of bottle and breast. He is definitely a little monkey! xx



This is a really difficult decision to make on your own. I also experienced something simular to this when i gave birth to my 1st son in Oct' 2008.

What makes this more difficult is that you want to breast him but its becoming a bit painful. Have you tried discussing this with your health vistor or community midwife ?

there are certain teats you can purchase these days from local pharmacy stores such as "Boots" which can help your baby to continue getting your breast milk "expressed" into a feeding bottle through the breast pump

Its ultimately your choice but i can only imagine how you are feeling (having experienced it myself)

Good luck! xx

Clairew7 in reply to Hidden

Thank you Abenaa, it is reasuring to know that I'm not alone in experiencing this. I will definitely investigate the teats available. My midwife has suggested nipple shields - so we're going to give them a go to give me chance to recover on that side, and if not will express and try to do a combination of bottle and breast. Thanks again for the message, it is appreciated. xx

Congrats new mummy. It sounds the same as my son 6 years ago boy did it hurt I started to express what I could and give bottles my breast was not sore after I stopped latching and expressed yet I still managed to give breast milk for 6 weeks. That was good enough for me at the time I gave him the best start I could :-). Don't worry try to express see how it goes express in advance of the next two feeds much easier. There's always a breast feeding support group in most villages and towns that you could try where other mums are in the same boat. Xx good luck and let us know how you get on. We.l done for two weeks breast feeding x

Clairew7 in reply to Allyemo1985

Thanks Allyemo1985, It is so reassuring to hear that you have experienced it too, and to hear that there are other options, thank you for taking the time to reply and for your supportive words.

My midwife has details of some support groups which she's bringing on her next visit so fingers crossed we'll get there. She said his latch looks fine and that I'm doing everything right so don't know why it hurts so much, may just be one of those things.

Thanks again Cxx

Hi! Well done for trying and persevering - I know it can be testing at times!

The 'official' advice is to start introducing expresses bottles from 4 weeks, however this is for when breastfeeding is going smoothly so if you think it would help you to express from the boob that baba doesn't like then go for it - also you can freeze breast milk so if you wanted to express and freeze it until you want to give him a bottle that would be fine too.

Have you looked in to nipple shields for the boob that he does like? I had quite a straightforward time feeding so didn't have need for them but a good friend swears by them as her daughter can't latch properly - they make feeding a bit more fiddly but might be worth investigating.

I think you should deffo phone your health visitor or the nct breastfeeding line which is great for advice - they're really nice!

Well done again for trying so hard but if you do have to resort to expressing or even formula please don't beat yourself up, I know there's so much expectation to just automatically know how to become a human milk machine but its not always that easy - what you've already done for him is amazing.

Good luck, enjoy motherhood :-)

Clairew7 in reply to dons88

Thank you for that Dons88, I will try and last a little longer before introducing a bottle if I can. Great suggestion about expressing and freezing in advance too, that could come in very handy.

After speaking with the midwife I'm going to try the nipple shields, although I have to confess they do baffle me a little at the moment as they seem enormous compared to my actual breast! I'll try speaking to the NCT line too, as it would be good to get more advice too. I think I was so emotional about it when it was hurting last night, feeling so low as though I was letting my son down, it's just nice to know that I'm not alone.

Thanks for the supportive words. Cxx


hiya have you tried the nipple guards they go over your nipple and its like a teat of a bottle so stops the pain...i never used them but my sister in law did...she got on ok with can be hard breastfeeding..cracked/bleeding nipples bloody hurt! and i found it really hard everytime i fed my daughter i went to my drs begging for help because id had enough and she wouldnt take a bottle but no one was much help! i finally found a bottle which had a latex teat just a cheap 99p bottle from the chemist and she took it! and that was at 4 1/2 months, if you are trying to introduce a expressed bottle i would say do it at the last feed. breastfeeding has its pros and cons but well done for perservering and dont be too hard on yourself sounds like it hasnt been easy for you x

Clairew7 in reply to Hidden

Oh bless you Babymother, so sorry to hear you didn't get much help with your daughter, 4 1/2 months is a very long time, especially if you were feeling the pain I am, I know I just couldn't do it. Thank you again xx

Well done for trying .and not wanting to give up Have you tried having a nice warm bath and then feeding baby either in the bath with you or soon after you come out that might help you both relax and help the milk flow a bit faster. Make sure his whole mouth is full of beast so he is not sucking just the nipple that should ease the discomfort . Have you tried ringing the breastfeeding helpilne 0300 100 0212 .

Clairew7 in reply to babylou

Hi Babylou, the midwife also suggested a warm bath, but once I've healed a little to try and help. It doesn't seem to be a problem with the milk flow as it literally runs out of me the second I take my nursing bra down and he does take a nice big mouthful to start with, just he then decides to throw his head back and pull himself down onto the nipple, he is a little monkey! The midwife watched earlier and said I was doing everything right and the latch looked good, so I don't know why he hurts so much on that side. Will definitely try the helpline.

Thanks again Cxx

Allyemo1985 in reply to babylou

Babylou great advice I remember sitting in bath and just leaking I never thought to feed straight away. That's defiantly in my plan now thanks Hun x

Sounds like you are both hitting that point where breastfeeding is a challenge but well done for persevering!.. It is the hardest thing to see your baby struggling to feed while you are in pain as well. I wonder did you try different positions - sometimes approaching the nipple from the opposite side (like holding a rugby ball) or lying down on your side will work better. I agree with the last post, that a relaxing bath and also skin to skin might help you both.

If you want to introduce a bottle it is really best to wait to 6 weeks because before that time he might become confused: sucking from the breast is harder to do and takes different muscles in his mouth, so introducing a bottle earlier might undermine the development of this skill and make latching even harder for him to do....

I definitely think that the Breastfeeding Helpline would be a reliable source of advice - they will answer calls on Saturday and Sunday and will spend time to talk it through. Ultimately you both need to aim for a relaxed feed, whatever you decide.

Well done again and Good Luck!

Clairew7 in reply to nookanoodle

Thanks nookanoodle, I'm definitely trying to persevere and you're right it's so hard to see him trying and yet wincing whenever he touches me.

Yes we've tried the different positions with him too, at the moment he will only latch in the rugby ball, but previously was latching in the cradle hold.

Thanks for the info about introducing a bottle, I definitely want to avoid the little monkey getting confused and it becoming any harder.

Good to know the helpline are there on weekends too. I'm going to try the nipple shields and hope that they give a bit of healing time, then for a nice warm bath feed I think. I really hope it works as I know he deserves it bless him.


Its so difficult, I know - I've been there twice!!! With my daughter i got so sore all that was coming out was blood clots. This was after about 5 days and at that point I had to change to formula feeds. With my son (now 3 months old) I was desperate to be able to feed him. It started off ok and all the midwives commented on how good he was at feeding but to me it seemed that he kept slipping off and he seemed hungry all the time. After a few days i started to get sore so started topping him up with formula feeds after breast feeding him. I worried that my milk supply hadn't come in so started expressing to increase my supply. It turned out he had a really bad tongue tie which didnt get snipped until he was 3 weeks old.

Has anyone checked for a tongue tie? Ask your health visitor or breastfeeding support worker. Offering a bottle as well as breastfeeding in the early days will very likely make it more difficult for your baby to latch on properly - this happened with me. I managed to express for 4 weeks but it was really hard work (i also had a 2 year old at this point) as you have to express day and night. You might be better letting your baby feed off the "good" breast and express off the other at the same time and freeze it untill later when feeding is more established and you can introduce a bottle. You can get electric ones that are very good (ameda for example) and you can even get special bras that mean you can express hands free!

By 3 weeks my baby was just having bottles although it was EBM with formula top-up if needed as using bottles had made his latching on even worse. after 4 weeks i stopped expressing as my milk was drying up and he went entirely onto formula. If you manage to get the breastfeeding established then you have done brilliantly but if you end up having to give bottles please dont beat yourself up. At the end of the day if your baby is happy and healthy and getting the nutrients they need then you are doing a great job!!

Clairew7 in reply to Monkeyfish

thank you monkeyfish, I am putting myself through the ringer a bit at the moment, feling very guilty. I tried the nipple shields tonight and it still hurt plus he made me bleed... I want to get it established, but with this level of pain I'm really not sure I'm one of the lucky ones at the moment. Cx

I agree don't beat yourself up and put yoursrlf under too much pressure. O used to find with my first the more pressure I put myself under to continue the more tense I was at eacj feed and the worse it went. Each time I thought I'll give up tomorrow something seemed to click! My local surestart and NCT branch both have trained peer supportes who will come out to you as well as groups and they are well worth it. I also have a friend who fed entirely onne side with success, no diff to feeding twins!! Good luck but if doesnt work out he will be just fine too!! xxx

Clairew7 in reply to lottiesmum

Thank you lottiesmum, I think I'm most tough on myself at night, as you will know w which is when I'm up on my own. Finding it a bit easier with the shields now so fingers crossed it continues to improve. Cx

It sounds a daft question but are you able to take any painkillers. If you can I am sure you have but it was just a thought Bx

Clairew7 in reply to babylou

Hi babylou, thanks for that, I hadn't really connected the dors on pain relief, but as I had a section I'm still on pain killers and paracetamol for that, so think I'm at my quota! Cx

Hi love,

I had this with my son. He was my 2nd and if he'd been my first I would have given up! I promise it does get easier but I did express and mixed fed from the start. He never got confused and was happy to have milk anyway it came!! If you're producing milk no problem try expressing and using a bottle. Especially if you're cracked give them a chance to heal. I also used nipple shields which helped me heal quicker as they covered my nipple with milk which soothed and healed them.

Hope things get better

Sarah xx

Clairew7 in reply to Pootlestw

Thanks sarah that's really good to know. He's such a hungry little mite I think he'd probably be the same as your son, it's just not knowing any different at the moment. Thanks again. Cxx

Hi there, my little one didn't want to latch since day 1 and I was too desperate to breast feed she will fight with my boobs and cry so hard I would end up giving her formula and my boobs were so painful that I was scared to breastfeed her so I start expressing and giving it to her instead of formula and now she is 6 weeks old and I breast feed only as "snaks"...

For the latching I used some of the Health visitors advice one of them is having a bath together and breastfeed while in the water, she loves it and ever since then she latches much better, also they recommend lots of skin to skin time, maybe spend a day with him in bed just breastfeeding that also has helped a lot.

Hope if helps, Good luck

Clairew7 in reply to Johannapipo

Thank you, that it's really helpful and good to know. Cx

Hi, you sound like you're having almost the exact same problems as I did. When my little girl tried to latch on I would get a really sharp pain going up the side of my breast and my nipples were so cracked and bled, she also had a prefered side.

The midwife and health visitor came round and both said that she was latching on fine and they couldn't understand what the problem was, I then rung the breastfeeding helpline and spoke to an amazing women who thought she wasn't taking the nipple far enough into her mouth so that it was rubbing against her hard palet which was what was causing my pain. Basically I had to make sure her mouth was open really wide and then get the nipple in so it was hitting the soft palet, it took a lot of practice and I remember sitting in bed sobbing and dreading her waking up and having to feed her again so I understand completley how you are feeling. I really wanted to breast feed too and felt guilty for not "getting it" but the good news is it got better! I tried changing the position I held her in (I was recommended trying the rugby ball hold!) after about 2 weeks we managed to get it sorted, my Mum told me that breastfeeding is a skill you need to learn and not to think you are doing something wrong or to feel guilty if it takes a while to learn that skill. Also giving the baby a bottle isn't you failing, its just as important to look after yourself as well as the baby. In the end I breastfed until she was 18months old (she refused to stop!) so it does get better.

My little girl refused to take a bottle but on the odd occassion we managed to get one in her we found the medela calma teat really good, as it works in a very similar way to breastfeeding so might be worth a try. I think we left it a bit too late to try her with a bottle and thats why she never really too to them. Even though the advice is 6 weeks remember its an individual thing, I know mums who did mixed feeding from 3-4 days old and had no problems. They give guidelines but babies are just as individual as adults and will like and dislike certain things, trust your instinct and if you feel you want to go with bottles before the 6 weeks then give it a go!

I really hope things improve for you, the first few weeks are pretty horrific, but it gets lots better!

Clairew7 in reply to slummum

Oh, thank you so much for that, out makes me feel so much better to hear you got past it, and yes after speaking to the support line I think my son has the same problem with not opening wide enough and taking enough into his mouth, I think it's a skill we both need to learn! He is much better in rugby ball but still wrestles me to latch how he wants. It's so good to hear it gets better and takes practice. Cx

KazWales in reply to Clairew7

I also found the first few weeks of breastfeeding horrendous, with cracked nipples etc. But bit by bit, it did get better and by 6 - 8 weeks we were doing ok. By 3 months it seemed like the most natural thing ever, and I managed to keep going until my son was 11 months. However, the first 2 or 3 weeks were really hard and my son damaged one nipple a lot more than the other too. I had an electric breast pump, which really helped me keep things going. I pumped from the damaged side and he fed from the other side for a few days while it healed. Hand expressing is really difficult, and I couldn't get much out that way.

In the first few days I gave my son a bottle of formula last thing at night when I was desperately tired, which seemed to help him sleep a bit longer before I had to carry on feeding. Once I got good at expressing using the pump, I just used expressed milk in a bottle when I needed to. I used the Tommee Tippee teats that are supposed to mimic the breast, and he didn't get confused. At 3 weeks old he refused to take a bottle, but by then we were getting a bit more used to breast feeding.

It's so hard and well done for persevering - I promise it will get better!


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