“It was sore. Quite uncomfortable. It became excruciating. I use to bite down on things and stamp my feet whenever he was latched and I would cry and be in utter pain”
Zainab Yate is Vice Chair of a North London Research Ethics Committee and a Breastfeeding Peer supporter with the National Health Service, in the UK. After experiencing Breastfeeding Aversion and struggling to find any studies or information about it she began to research it herself and now supports mothers who experience aversion online at her site www.breastfeedingaversion.com
She was born in Iran. Her family moved around a lot. Her mother was and her father is English and they married when they were in University. They did go back to Iran, but settled in England. My mom has 7 children, breastfed them all. We had a busy life with all the kids and family activities. She is the eldest daughter and what she describes as the second mom.
She has memories of her mom breastfeeding the younger kids. It was nothing that was out of the ordinary for us. Even though in England at the time it was very much a formula feeding and bottle feeding cultures, but because my mother grew up where other breastfed, it was just a thing that you breastfed. Zainab never thought much of it as this is just what her family did. She does not recall her mom having difficulties and when asked her mom does not really remember having difficulties either. Bed sharing was the norm for her and she says she just “got on with it.” as far as breastfeeding goes. She just did it. These memories had Zainab quite unprepared for the difficulties she had as a breastfeeding mother. She really did not think much of it. Assumed she was going to breastfeed and it never occurred to either her or her husband that she would have any breastfeeding difficulties.
Her early days breastfeeding her first baby:
She feels like her birth had a negative impact on her breastfeeding. Her cesarean section, which she was also unprepared for, made breastfeeding that much more challenge. She does remember her son latching on right away. Breastfeeding was a blur the first few weeks. It was sore and uncomfortable initially. However, breastfeeding became increasingly painful as time went on. It was so bad, so excruciating, that she would cry when she breastfed. It hurt so much that she use to bite down on things or stamp her feet when he was latched.
Zainab later I found out that he had tongue tie, which affected his ability to breastfeed. Only in hindsight does she realize this tongue restriction was, at least part of her painful breastfeeding experience. I was so sad when Zainab said during our interview. “At about 6 weeks, she realized that this was not going to get any better.” This just broke my heart.
She had a very difficult beginning.
She had planned on a vaginal birth in a hospital birth with a midwife. She did labor and was dilated to about 6-7 cm, but she reported that her water had broken and so they started the clock, the 24 hour clock. This means that the staff wants her to deliver the baby within 24 hours of water breaking as to go longer increases the risk of infection. She realizes now that her water did not break and realizes that She ultimately had a cesarean section and needed to recover from this, along with endure painful breastfeeding.
She stayed with her mom because this is what Iranian families do. Noone knew how to help her with her problems with breastfeeding. Her mom nor her husband did not know how to help her. It was only when she attended a breastfeeding mothers group. They helped made position and latch adjustments. This was a peer support group and the tongue tie was not noticed at the time. Her second baby, her daughter, was diagnosed with tongue tie in the very early days and it was snipped right away. She still has pain and still notices her nipples look like the tip of a lipstick tube with her daughter. She is thinking about having an expert take a look at her daughter.
At around 4 months, her son started waking up every 45 minutes at night. She started to get an intense anger every time he would latch. She knew that it was not from pain or discomfort as she had experienced that before and this was different. She just could not understand why she was feeling such anger and range only when her son was breastfeeding. When it first happened, she did not tell anyone because she worried what others may have thought of her. She continued to breastfeed and every time he latched, the intensity of anger and rage and intense feelings of wanting him to come off. Zainab worked through it and continued to nurse him even though it was an awful experience in many ways.
This aversion was literally as if a switch turned.It was not something that built up. It just happened one day and continued for their whole nursing relationship. She was so worried that this was going to happen with her daughter that it really affected her during her pregnancy.
Learned about this issue:
She found an article about. It was about a yer or so later. She did not even tell her husband because she did not know what to say.
She said that it ruined everying. It didn’t help that he didn’t sleep very long.
She looks back on it now and wonders if there was a hormonal component that made this time period more difficult.
He was very, very attached to the breast as he wanted it all the time. He was 12 and 14,15 months old and because her son wanted to breastfeed
all the time and she felt like all she did was sit on the couch all the time and breastfeed.
Educating the public:
She feels motivated in educating other mothers about this as she feels that this knowledge would have helped her in the early days. It would have helped to know that some mothers have difficulties. She wants moms to know that not everyone is going to enjoy breastfeeding. She wants them to know about breastfeeding aversion so they are prepared with this knowledge so they will reach out for help and support.
What made her continue breastfeeding?
She did try in desperation to offer him a bottle and he refused. She felt like she had no choice but to breastfeed. She is actually gratefu that he did not take to the bottle as she felt strongly that she needed to breastfeed. It is ingrained in her the normalcy and the benefits. This is how she grew up. Zainab also talked about something that I frequently hear moms say. She said that she felt because she failed in labor and because she felt like her motherhood was tied to her breastfeeding. She said: If I didn’t labor and I didn’t breastfeed, then what exactly was I doing. Breastfeeding was like the only thing I could do.”
She found a few articles online about and took this information to her Dr.
She tried to ask her Dr. if they could explain to her why this happened to her. They couldn’t really accept this information as there was no research on this subject. She worked in research for nearly a decade at this point and she knew the importance of having information that was published. At that point she realized that the best way to find out more information about what is going on with her is to ask other moms if they had experienced this.
She put together a survey questionnaire, what is called an exploratory study, which purpose is to put some feelers out there to see if aresearch is justified.
Almost right away, I shared this survey on a few Facebook groups that i was in. 500 responses in 24 hours and hundreds more in 48 hours. Guess what? Women had something to say. She has done research before even when she has offered incentives and has never received this kind of response before. The responses were long and it took Zainab her months to read through them all. This incredible response led her to write a few research articles to try and publish them. Just a few months ago, she received notice that her articles have been accepted for publication. She acknowledges that it is hard for her to gain interest if she does not have a name for herself and has not been published before. She also presented this information for GOLD Online Conference and it has been well received. She has sent up an Instagram page with over 5000 people on it already.
What has she learned that a mother can do to help herself when she discovers she has first to do is join an online group. They are closed and private and safe places to vent and share your most private and even distrubing thoughts so you know you are not alone.
Cooration – Can you identify when it happens.
Supplements helpful – magnesium spray, magnesium supplements Joing groups helps give you some info. Some women find that with support it can lesson the smtpoms, normalize it,
She got support to manage her life and the kids so that the breastfeeding and aversion did not rule over her day and night. If they can reach out to members of the fmily Mothers help to take some of the burden off of them so they can play attention to self care. and sleep deprivation can be a big factor with breastfeeding aversion.
IBCLCs educating parents about Breastfeeding Aversion:
It seems like it can strike at any time, with any age group, any demographic and it does not discriminate. While it tends to happen later on in the breastfeeding relationship vs. in the very early days, it is still worth mentioning. This will let women know that if it does happen to them, they can know that this is something that can happen.
Resource and Contact info:
Instagram is a great place for women to check out as there is a very active group there. It is an open forum that you
Facebook group – it is moms supporting moms – Just search for the two words – aversion sucks to get to the group
Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC
Lori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC is a huge breastfeeding supporter. She has spent much of her adult life working in the maternal health field. Once she became turned on to birth and became a childbirth educator, there was no stopping her love of working with families during their childbearing years. Lori became a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula and soon became a lactation consultant. She has been helping moms and babies with breastfeeding for over 25 years. Lori founded her private practice, All About Breastfeeding where she meets with moms one on one to help solve their breastfeeding challenges. She is an international speaker, book author and the host of the popular itunes podcast, All About Breastfeeding, the place where the girls hang out. You can reach Lori by email at: [email protected] or contact her via her website: allaboutbreastfeeding.biz/contact
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