Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The pain

I am convinced that breastfeeding is one of the best gifts you can give to your child. This gift, however, sometimes comes at a high price for the mother. Because, whereas breastfeeding is thought to be something very instinctive and natural, more often than not it it something that one needs to learn. Not only can it be very painful in the beginning, I find that there is a lack of supportive doctors for those who want to overcome those pains and continue breastfeeding. Switching to bottle-feeding is very often seen as the only solution to breastfeeding pains. I agree that sometimes it is better to quit. If the pain is so strong that feeding becomes pure torture and you literally become afraid of your own baby, then it is maybe better to stop. However, I also think that with the proper support and advice you can get rid of the pains. Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt.
Anyway, because I suffered a lot in the beginning with Auro, I was prepared to go through it again with Tosca. And indeed, after about 6 weeks of sore and cracked nipples (toe-curling pain!), it finally seemed to get better. Around Easter, however, I again started to have a burning pain during the feedings (only on one side) and shots of pain in my breast in between the feedings. It hurt so much that I had to take paracetamol to find some relief and I decided to seek 'professional' help. We first went to the consultorio (a place where you can go with all your child-raising questions, on given days they also provide free consults with pediatricians, obstetricians or gynecologists ) where an obstetrician looked at my breast and told me I did not have mastitis (inflammation of the breast). She told me to leave my breast uncovered as often as possible. This did help with the cracked nipples, but the deep breast pains after the feedings remained.
I then looked for a La Leche League group in Genoa. By this time we suspected thrush (a yeast infection) to be the culprit of my pains and the La Leche League people agreed. They told me to have a doctor prescribe me some medicine. 
We then went to see a friend of a friend, who is a gynecologist at the hospital where I gave birth. Grateful as I am for her seeing us during her lunch break, she could not help me much and could not give me any medicine. She told us to have it looked at by a pediatrician. 
In the meanwhile we had found out that doctors used to prescribe gentian violet for thrush and that very often solves the problem. More importantly, we found out that you could get it at the pharmacy without prescription. Finally something I could try! Since they didn't have it in stock, we ordered it at the pharmacy. 
Then, we went to see our family doctor. She must be the most ignorant doctor there is, because first she said that one can not have a fungal infection on the nipple. She then continued by saying that I needed to take antibiotics (which only a gynecologist can prescribe) to treat the thrush (antibiotics can make a yeast infection worse!) and stop breastfeeding right away. When I uttered that there are antibiotics that one can use during breastfeeding, she admitted that that was also a possibility, but more importantly that I should go see my gynecologist. 
At this point I started loosing my patience. I decided to give myself until the end of the month to fix this problem or I would stop breastfeeding.
Anyway, after the completely useless visit to our family doctor, we then tried with the pediatrician. Surprise, surprise: he had a look and decided it wasn't mastitis. He then said that we'd better go to the gynecologist.
Exactly one week ago, I got my hand on a bottle of gentian violet and I started using it in the evenings. Messy as it is (it stains the nipple purple and everything that comes in contact with it... after a feeding Tosca is left with a purple mouth, chin and cheeks), it did seem to help. The pain became bearable and some feedings were actually pleasant.
 Then, we did what we should have done from the very beginning: we went to the maternity department in the hospital where Tosca was born and asked to see the pediatrician there. We had to wait a little, but it was worth it. She agreed that it might be thrush, but that she couldn't be sure because there are no visible symptoms. The pains I described to her (she actually wanted to know about them!) did seem to point in the direction of a yeast infection. She prescribed Daktarin, a cream that I have been using for 2 days now. I can't really say whether it is getting better or not, but it seems to be better. It definitely didn't get worse. I still have some pain in between the feedings, but a lot less than before.I really hope I can start enjoying feeding my baby soon!


  1. Can you get Daktarin or it's equivalent Daktarin Oral Gel(Miconazole)[] where you are?

    when I suspected thrush, i would use that on my nipple bc Oral Gel is safe for Infants. The pain would become bearable and then go away.

  2. The pediatrician prescribed Daktarin Oral Gel, so that is what I am using now. I really hope it will work for me as it did for you. I'm very hopeful now that I've heard someone else was helped by it ;-) Thanks!

  3. The Daktarin Oral Gel is really much more convenient and not messy like the Gentian Violet (which is so easily available here, unlike where you are). Oh well, except for the cost of that oral gel, of course! Gentian Violet is very cheap.