The author

I’m a research scientist working in a major UK university, and I recently had my first child, C. So far, I have exclusively breastfed her and whilst I have found it ultimately rewarding, at times it has been a complete nightmare. One thing which definitely didn’t help was that the ‘official’ information given to new mothers by maternity services often misrepresents breastfeeding, and fails to provide women with the scientific facts. As a scientist and a writer, I was keen to uncover what the latest research actually tells us about breastfeeding (and how to make it easier) and to document the experiences that women really have when they are feeding their children naturally.

I am a member of HealthWatch, where you’ll find this site listed, and a strong supporter of the Evidence-Based Medicine Matters campaign.

27 Responses to “The author”

  1. Ashley Says:

    Your story about the early breastfeeding weeks sounds so much like mine… except I’m still in the thick of it. I’m 4 weeks out. Please give me some good news: when does it get better? When is this magical pain-free moment supposed to occur?

    A note about nipple shields: I’ve been using them to try to allow my nipples to heal. In the beginning they provided an enormous amount of relief, but now I have started to notice that my nipple is getting drawn through the little holes at the tip, causing me more pain. So trying to wean baby off the shield on the right (less-mangled) nipple, and latch is poor. Don’t know why but nipple comes out creased every time. I know how to do this, but I can’t control the baby’s mouth! He seems to just chomp down.

    I digress…

    This is the only site I’ve EVER seen that is honest about breastfeeding. I’ve been seen by two lactation consultants who tell me I’m doing everything right. I’m so frustrated and I am so ready to not be in constant pain.

    Thank you for the site.

    Ashley

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Hi Ashley,

      Sorry to hear about your current difficulties (I hadn’t heard about that problem with nipple shields before). For me, the nipple pain/injuries took 6-8 weeks to heal. At about 6 weeks it hurt a lot less, and after about two months the skin had pretty much grown back! A friend of mine had a very similar experience, and I have no idea if it’s typical, but I’ve spoken to a lot of women who seem to have encountered the same problems (e.g. http://mumsnet.com/Talk/breast_and_bottle_feeding/700405-what-is-breastfeeding-supposed-to-feel-like?pg=4). My nipple still sometimes comes out pretty much flat when I’ve finished feeding, but at least it doesn’t hurt any more!

      I have come out the other side, and I can honestly say that breastfeeding is totally comfortable for me now. For the first few weeks it was a living nightmare though! I really hope things improve for you soon.

      Caroline

    • Rain Says:

      Hi Ashley, I am currently having the same issues as you do! At eight weeks right now but breastfeeding seems getting worst, same problem with the nipple shield. When did your condition got better?

  2. Ellie Says:

    Dear Caroline,

    I am so relieved and thrilled to find your website! You have no idea how much it has helped me psychologically to read your breastfeeding nightmare journal – I’m currently going through the same thing and am about 1.5 weeks out. And the crazy thing is, this is my second child! I breastfed my firstborn for a year and half, and though I remember having some pain with her the first few weeks, it was nothing like the nightmare this time. My second daughter tore me up so badly it’s agonizing every time I have to feed her. I’ve also done a ton of research and am apparently doing things “right” now – the horrid injuries are starting to very slowly heal (or at least I’m not doing too much new damage at each feeding, most of the time). But I am guessing it will be another few weeks before I can even relax at a feeding – your journal is so far dead-on to my experience and my breasts are probably quite similar in orientation and shape to yours from what you describe. I put a washcloth in my mouth for the latch on so that I don’t squeeze the baby’s neck in two when the pain hits initially and sometimes I scream even through the washcloth it hurts so bad.
    I came off a bad nursing session just now where I cried through much of the feeding from the pain, found your site, and it gave me renewed hope that I can grind my way through this and it will get better. So THANK YOU.

    Ellie

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Sorry to hear you are in the middle of these difficulties Ellie (although it sounds as if you might have turned a corner). I hope things get easier soon.

      • Ellie Says:

        I am just posting an update – we are now at the 14 week/3 month mark and still exclusively breastfeeding! My nipples had healed by about 8 weeks, though I had a bad case of mastitis around that time too and am currently just coming off another one on my other breast. I have to add that my daughter is still not a very good breastfeeder, she is the epitome of the “barracuda” sucker and frequently bites and slips off the latch. So I’ve resigned myself to the fact that nursing her will never be a pleasant experience, at least it’s not painful and we make it through, she gets plenty of milk, and I’m extremely grateful I’ve stuck with it since there is light at the end of the tunnel. But I doubt I will be wanting to nurse her past her first birthday at this rate, like I did with her older sister (we nursed for a year and a half). I’ll be glad to get to that one year mark and stop.
        Besides your site, the articles by Dr Jack Newman have proven immensely helpful to get me to this point, so I highly recommend them. His ointment for cracked nipples was fantastic and his recovery for mastitis is also spot-on.

        Thank you again, and hugs to all the moms suffering out there.
        Ellie

      • Elizabeth Jay Says:

        Really glad to hear that you seem to have got through the most difficult period, Ellie – I hope things continue to improve!

  3. doulamama1 Says:

    GREAT blog, very informative and well written. I look forward to reading more. Keep up the good work!

    Amy

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Thanks Amy – there are definitely a lot of things on my ‘to write about’ list at the moment!

  4. Laura Says:

    Elisabeth

    Thank you for this website! Fantastic to see someone actually doing evidence based work in this area. Your blog is very informative and well written. I look forward to sharing it with my mothers group.

    Thanks
    Laura

  5. Danielle Says:

    Elizabeth,

    Your website has saved me. Well at least has saved breast feeding for my daughter and I. Last night I discovered your website and read your own account of breastfeeding which I found very honest and similar to mine. I too felt like I was doing everything “right,” the nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital said everything looked great. My daughter is 3 weeks old and I had been experiencing horrible nipple pain and sore breasts. On top of the pain I had my mother in law in my ear nagging me that I wasn’t making enough milk and the baby was “starving.” After reading through your website, I gained more confidence and hope that this nipple pain, like yours did will soon subside. I rarely comment on webpages, but I really feel much better after reading and I plan on sticking with breast feeding much longer now.

    Thank You

    Danielle

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Hi Danielle,

      I hope things are starting to get better for you now. It took about 6 weeks for me, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

  6. Kristin Says:

    Elizabeth,

    This website is a gem! I am also a research scientist (currently a post doc at US university) and I also have experienced a severely cracked nipple. In fact, sadly, my left nipple still has a gaping crack. My daughter is almost eight weeks old, and last week I, too, resorted to pumping. I had tried to breastfeed and let the crack heal, but it simply did not heal while my daughter was feeding. Her latch was good, according to all sources, and my other nipple is fine (in fact, it is a pleasure to feed her on that side – which has really helped). I have no idea why the crack occurred and have become frustrated with the lack of healing. Your site and thoughts on reshaping the nipple really rang a bell with me, and I think that may have a lot to do with it, since this nipple is flatter than the other one. I don’t know if it will heal in its former shape or in its new (rather mangled looking) shape, and I don’t really care – I just want it healed!

    So, for now, I’m minimally pumping on the left (just enough to keep the breast soft, and with the lowest level of suction), feeding on the right. And eagerly anticipating when I’m healed and can just feed my daughter without all the drama.

    I have a question for you. I’ve read your posts about wet wound healing, which were fascinating because I, too, had been told that it is the modern and medically-proven way to go. However, your research doesn’t seem to support this. How did you heal – wet or dry? I’m using some of Jack Newman’s nipple ointment with a large band-aid to compress the nipple and try to get the crack to fuse (I’ve only been doing this for 3 days, and I haven’t seen much progress – yet). So, I guess I’m doing wet wound healing, but not with lanolin or soothies (I tried those for the past 7 weeks with absolutely no healing).

    Can’t wait to poke around your site some more. Thanks for creating such an informative site – it fills a huge gaping hole in breastfeeding literature!

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Hi Kristin,

      I went the dry route (as the wet one didn’t seem to be working) and things started to clear up pretty quickly, BUT I don’t know whether this was because I stopped using ointment, or they were going to heal anyway! From what I understand, Jack Newman’s ointment contains antibiotics and antifungals and is intended to prevent infection, rather than provide a moist environment, so I’m not sure whether the research on moist wound healing would apply. Having said that, I haven’t seen any clinical trials for this preparation, so I’m not sure about it’s effectiveness per se.

      I hope things are improving for you anyway – it’s such a relief when you do finally turn the corner!

      Caroline

      • Kristin Says:

        Hello! My daughter is now 1 year old and we are a very happily breastfeeding pair. I found this site so helpful and have recommended to many friends, so I just wanted to update what happened to me post-nipple trauma.

        It took about 4 weeks of pumping for my nipple to heal, but once it did I was able to latch her on to my healed side again and start feeding without any issues. Actually, the only thing that needed resolution is that my supply had gotten too large – I was afraid to lose it, so I pumped 5 times a day and ended up producing way too much. But that evened out within a week or so and we’ve been a happy bf’ing pair ever since.

        So, for those of you in ‘the trenches’, hold on and keep at it. If you have to pump, pump. Let yourself heal. It will get better. And better. And better. Until it is ‘The Best’. :)

      • Elizabeth Jay Says:

        Hi Kristin, thanks for the update. I’m so glad to hear that feeding is going well now. :)

  7. Laura B Says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WEBSITE! It’s reassuring to know I”m not the only one out there with severely cracked nipples that take a LONG time to heal. I get so frustrated too at the info out there making me feel as though the baby’s latch is wrong! My nipples were manged with Baby #1 and again now with Baby #2. Latch was assured to be fine each time (by LC at the hospital and LLL). It took almost 12 weeks for my nips to heal the first time around!!! I cried all the time and the pain was sometimes unbearable. I pumped exclusively for a week the first time around to let it heal but it didn’t seem to help much and I missed my nursing time horribly (pain and all!). I also used Newman’s APNO and I think it helped (or at least prevented infection) so I am using it again this time. Lansinoh didn’t seem to help much nor did the nipple butter from Palmer’s (although its much easier to apply). I tried “prepping” my nips this time by putting the Palmer’s on them for three mos before my son was born (guess that was pointless!).

    My baby is now 9 weeks old and my left nipple has a gaping fissure that seems to re-open each time he latches. It is definitely flatter (but not completely) than the right one so maybe that is why it cracked so badly. I am using a nipple shield (which I didn’t use the first time) on that side and it doesn’t hurt much now (it actually hurts to nurse more on the right side where there is a very small crack). I try not to think about it and hope time heals all wounds! I got horribly depressed about the state of my nips with Baby #1 and I told myself I wouldn’t put myself through that again (the obsessing that they were never going to heal).

    Thanks again–it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there with these issues.

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Hi Laura – sorry to hear that you’re having problems again but at least you know it doesn’t last forever. I think this experience isn’t uncommon, but people (understandably) give up as a result, or just don’t talk about it!

  8. Tegan Says:

    This website is amazing, I’m recommending all my friends have a look through it, it is so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one out there who has had feeding issues.
    I had flat nipples so was told by the midwives not to bother breast feeding but i persevered and they are no longer flat! We are now up to week 6 and the bruising and cracks have almost healed and the skin has almost grown back.
    It was such a relief to find a place where women actually talk about the difficulties that can arise when breastfeeding and that it doesn’t just come naturally and pain free all the time.

    • Elizabeth Jay Says:

      Hi Tegan – I’m amazed you were told not breastfeed because of flat nipples! Glad to hear you got through it though – and that you found the site helpful!

  9. Nursing Bras Says:

    I really like the informative nature of this website and it has some excellent information that can help breastfeeding families. However, the scientific and intellectualisation of breastfeeding can be rather engulfing when people may find they feel engulfed by breastfeeding itself due to their own emotional issues.

    “I consider that our inner spirit moves in our complex neuro-endocrine (body and soul) network just like the blood flows in our vessels, or the ‘life juices’ flow in the branches of the trees.

    Our senses, emotional and intellectual abilities also grow just like trees until the conditions are given for that.

    However, when a storm hits a tree (i.e. a childhood issues / trauma) it can tear down some of its branches. As a consequence,the tree will grow asymmetrically, in a one-sided way.

    I find that a childhood/emotional trauma works just like that. It blocks the flow of activities from the emotional functioning and development. On the other hand, due to this very blockade, the flow of life energies is diverted into excessive intellectual activities, given an inner plasticity being present in the intellectual domain.”

    In short breastfeeding is a very feeling, sensitive and emotional issue and I feel it should be talked about in that way in addition to the scientific facts.

  10. Cantor Says:

    I never breastfed my child and he grew up perfectly healthy and clever. He is 15 years old now. The first weeks have been wonderful, really blissful. No tiredness, no pain, I was totally available for him, no shouting, no resentment, NO GUILTYNESS. I would never have been able to live it like that with that higly unperfect, failing system that is breastfeeding. As everything nature does, it is flawed. Chaotic. The “benefits” of BF are very minor, much more than what la Leche League promise us. Just a slight protection against gastro-enteritis and that is very much it. The LLL’s studies are biaised. On the other hand, BFeeding may harms the relationship between mother and child, as it is very painful, exhausting, repetitive. A minor benefit and a lot of disadvantanges; my decision was quickly made. IT IS JUST NOT WORTH IT. I hate La Leche League, bunch of lyers. I do not appreciate their hidden agenda. LLL IS A LOBBY.
    (Sorry about my English, I am french-speaking)

  11. Lekki Frazier-Wood Says:

    Thanks so very much for this blog. I am a research Scientist too and need to read decent evidence for the answers to my questions. The posts I have read so far have been amazing.

  12. khataza Says:

    I ‘m breastfeeding for 6weeks now but I’m still felling pain an my nipples are sore an craked it is so painful I’ve consltant with my Dr but still painful I really don’t know what to do now.

  13. Michelle Says:

    Hi, I currently have the domain truthaboutbreastfeeding.com. but I’m not doing anything with it (alas 4 kids have kept me very busy). I would be happy to give you the domain for free. Just let me know if you want it and we can initiate a domain transfer.


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