Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Guillotine for my Boob


That's what I imagine him saying, lately.

Ouch, guys. Just ouch.

I'm not sure where that other breastfeeding post left off...but I'm pretty sure it was all 'hang in there, it gets better' and all that jazz.

And at 7.5 months we're still hanging in there with the working/pumping/breastfeeding thing. And at 24.5 pounds (and 30 inches), this kid is still pretty much exclusively getting breast milk, aside a few nibbles here and there. (Especially since the whole illness kicked in...because since getting sick solids are pretty much out the window).

And pumping at work isn't such a big deal to me. I do a lot of computer, chart review, desk stuff...and generally find myself looking down 45 minutes later saying 'oh mah gawds, milks commin outta the top of da bottle and running down mah leg!'

And breastfeeding is, well, ouch.

This boy is a lively, distractable, toothy little fellow. And I mentioned the latch issues before. But the cute itsy bitsy razor sharp teeth. Now with top AND bottom to match.

The teeth. Oh the teeth.

Gone are the days of breastfeeding for relaxation. Breastfeeding to calm the crying. The fussing. Milk is for hunger. Mostly. Period.

Beware the nipple who goes too close to the mini-Guillotine.

Some people never have this problem. One of my sisters had early teethers, but was never.ever.bitten.One of my sisters had kids who never teethed until around a year old, at which point she was weaning anyway and it was a complete non-issue. I say that because I don't want to you think it is always this way.

I, however, am a nipple-shaped teething ring. And it hurts. Really really bad.

And while I used to only pump on the weekdays, and exclusively nurse on the weekends and evenings...the pump is slowly becoming a home staple item. And since the arrival of the top razor teeth, I've taken to only breastfeeding at night, when he's tired, and less distractable.

And I'm slightly ashamed to say that it's suiting me really well. I love giving him bottles. Because breastfeeding now is a stomach-churning, rushed, nerve-wracking experience. Latch ons feel like sitting at the top of a roller coaster. Finger primed at the very edge of his mouth throughout every feeding because I'm constantly on alert waiting to feel those sharp little knives clamping down on my milk-spraying nipple.

Teeth marks, people. He leaves teeth marks. And lately, bruises. And I wasn't real keen on the whole nipple biting thing before having children. And I'm not now. Still. Ever.

And yes, I've tried all those little tricks I've read about on every website that exists or book that's ever been written. But for now what's working is the bottle. And I love it. And I hate it. And I feel slightly guilty. Because I had fantasies of breastfeeding my babe into toddler-dom. Not forever, but I wasn't aiming for a one year cut-off or anything.

But this isn't a relaxing, beautiful experience lately. There's no gazing into each others eyes and me feeling all fulfilled because I'm giving my baby my perfect baby milks. There's just the fear of being bitten, the pain of being bitten, the anticipation of being bitten...and then there's the part where I'm actually bitten. Which is all screamy and gaspy and teary and such.

And even at night, when I am breastfeeding, the pain by morning is ridonkulous, which I know is influence by the return of those gawd durn baby-making hormones (i.e. I'm ovulating right now and apparently that accentuates all nippy-ish pain). By 6am this morning I was begging the hubs to go warm a bottle, and I escaped to go make my coffee and plug into my pump, and....

(I think I may have just discovered a way to gain 20 minutes of free time back.....)

Have you been here?

Did you survive it?

Did your boobies survive it?

Were you able to continue breastfeeding?

HALP! <--from my nipples.

35 conceptions:

sprogblogger said...

Urk. Nothing but sympathy here. H is teething early - ah the joy! - and while I've only been nip nipped a couple of times, it's brought tears to my eyes & he doesn't even have a top set yet. Will be interested to see how it works out for you!

Amanda said...

I have been bitten many, many times. We went through a phase and it seemed like it lasted forever but it was probably only 3 weeks or a month. It got so bad that I was a tensed up ball of nerves afraid of feedings. The internet advice didn't help me. At one point I even tried biting him. The look on his face was total shock when I did it (he didn't cry but he sure was surprised). He totally connected it. I'd grab his hand and bite just as soon as he bit me. I think it helped him connect what he was doing but it didn't cure the situation. There was no magic cure, it just eventually wore itself out and he quit. Which is a very good thing since I suck at pumping and he sucks at taking bottles. But I will say that we went through this phase before the top teeth came in because I knew I would not be able to handle it with those suckers clamping down. He's 11 months now and he still bites occasionally but we haven't had any big issues.

Is there a chance that he isn't hungry and doesn't want to feed when he's biting? If not then the best advice I have for you is to discipline him in a way that connects that it's not ok to do that. Exclaim "Ouch" when he does it and end the feeding. Or if you want to be a terrible mother, LIKE ME, give him a quick bite back when he does it. Good luck. Babies can be stubborn little rascals.

Bobi said...

My cousin got bit when her son was around G's age by both the top and bottom. We were at her older son's baseball game. And all of a sudden she screamed and handed me a baby and ran to her vehicle boob hanging out and all. He drew blood. After that she tried to stick with the boob, but he continued to bite. And at 8.5 months he would bite and laugh when she screamed or gasped. So, he became a bottle only baby.

That was very inspirational right? I wish i had something positive to add. Sorry

Her and Her and Him said...

I don't have any advice but wanted to say that I could relate to everything you wrote! I am nursing my twin girls and for the last two months (they were late teethers) I am literally in fear at each nursing session. I think I hold my breath the entire time I am nursing. I had the dream of making it past their first birthday but am now counting down the last ten days that I have to subject myself and my nipples to such torture. Good luck...if pumping is working for you I say do it. Nothing to feel guilty about. Good luck!
:) Heather
(First comment from me. Don't remember how I came across your blog but I am been reading for about two years now.)

Genie said...

Both my little ones went through a biting phase, and both stopped doing it. The only thing I found that worked (saying NO made them laugh, pulling them off was just teaching them biting as a good way to stop nursing!) was pulling them in to your boob. This is easier if you are well endowed (I am not, so it took some concentration) and blocking their noses so they can't breathe. Baby will instinctively open his / her mouth to breathe (thus no longer biting!). And then they learn that biting means not breathing, not pleasant. (This is a Dr. Sears recommended technique in case you think I'm being cruel!) However it does take some amount of concentration because for me the last thing I wanted to do when being bitten was pull the baby towards me!

Having said all that ... sorry if it's useless "advice", you may have already tried this and it isn't working. If I could have pumped I may well have pumped and used bottles through this stage too because MAN, that HURTS. If it's working for you, it's working for you. Sorry if I implied at all you shouldn't do wht you're doing!

And again ... both mine stopped biting eventually. So there is hope.

evsmarie said...

Oh lordy. My 4-month-old isn't teething yet, but I dread the day that she does. Because she already "bites" with her hard little gums and it Hurts! I can't imagine what it will be like when she has little shark teeth.

I feel for you. Nipples to nipples.

Lauren said...

My 9 1/2 month old is also pretty much exclusively breastfed. He's never had a bottle or cup, didn't start solids until 6.5 months, and even now he only has solids at night before bedtime routine. Nursing exclusively during the rest of the day just works for us.

He's always been a biter, ever since he was little. But it would ebb and flow. Sometimes/somedays he'd want to bite a lot, and it SUCKED, but we'd have long periods of no biting.

He got teeth at 5 months old, and now at 9 months he has 4 bottom and 4 top. The top ones SUCK with the biting. But he hasn't done it much.


I don't know what his problem was but he bit me like 6 times tonight. I'm sure he won't continue this long term, but sonofabitch it HURTS. ESPECIALLY WITH TEETH.

I do the "tricks" (removal, stern voice, blah blah blah), and they really do affect him. He burst into tears tonight when I yelped and screamed. It was the first time I'd been fully bitten with 8 chompers. I've been semi-bitten, and had the teeth marks and bruises, but this was different.

But if those tricks didn't work? And he just kept biting and biting and biting? Everyday? For weeks? I have no idea what I'd do. I'd be totally screwed, because he WILL NOT take fluids from any source other than my boobs.

But if I were in your situation, with a baby who would take a bottle and a good response to the pump? I'd be bottling it like you are. I am an ENORMOUS breastfeeding supporter, but if your kid WILL NOT stop biting your nipples, what else are you supposed to do but give him breastmilk in a bottle? I don't think you should feel guilty for that.

And if someone WERE to think you shouldn't do that, that person would probably be me, because I am seriously a huge breastfeeding fanatic. lol. But I think you're in the right here. Nipples are not meant to be chewed by teeth.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Yes. Ouch. Luckily ours wasn't particularly long lived, but OUCH. The only thing that worked at all was that I would dump her off in her pack and play whenever she bit me. And I got a nursing necklace which gave her something else to play with. But yeah, it eventually ended for us. And it seemed to correlate to teething, when her teeth were hurting, she bit me. I guess she thought we all ought to be in pain?

strongblonde said...

i wish i had some words of wisdom. we're still nursing twice a day and the kids are 15 months old. M has 8 teeth and T has 4. i was only bitten a handful of times though and most of them seemed like accidents. one of my friends told me that when it happens you should push the kid's face into your boob. she said that it makes it so they have to open their mouth and pull back to breathe. seems a little weird to me. like your trying to suffocate your kid a bit maybe? but i never had to do it. :(

all i can say is that i hope it gets better! xx

Ella said...

Totally been there - Eliza started biting (H.A.R.D.) around 8 or 9 months and then it progressed to biting PLUS laughter. Because, you know, it's funny to make mama scream.

Now we're at nearly 14 months and the biting has mostly gone away (mostly). It was definitely a teething-related thing for Eliza (and, apparently, also a form of entertainment for her, though she stopped thinking it was so funny after a number of immediate stern "no biting mama"s followed by me putting her down).

Hang in there! Or just continue the bottles - whatever! Sounds like he's doing amazingly well and there isn't much risk of a supply issue for you ;)

Celia said...

Peter would bite me and LAUGH. He got 6 teeth within a month and a half. It was pretty bad for a while. But he has stopped biting me for his own amusement. He does get distracted and turn/rip himself off me with little regard to mah tittehs.

What he still does is squeeze my nipples inquiringly and watch the milk come out. Or sometimes he will stop eating and just fool with them.
I am pretty sure that breasts as recreational objects are a thing of the past for us. I am amazed at your boob power. Peter is 9.5 months old and 29 inches long and 20 pounds.

He is in the 25% for weight and I am a little nervous, he was in the 50% all along and slowed down.

Celia said...

I checked my blog and it was right around 8 months that Peter was going all shark baby on me.

areyoukiddingme said...

Oh yes, been there. It sucked. It was only a couple of times, though. That's when I started telling my daughter "No!" and I haven't stopped since. :) It was most unfortunate. You have my sympathies. I wish I had some advice to offer, but my girl was pretty compliant. Good luck. And Ouch!

Anonymous said...

First kid - plenty of teeth, no biting at all, ever. Second kid - slower teething, lots of biting and scraping (and she had much less interest in solids than the first kid had). It was awful. I have stingy breasts, and the pump never worked well for me, so I just kept breastfeeding with my teeth gritted and my whole body tensed, and weaned the second kid against her will at 13 months. Breastfeeding was never a sweet, relaxing thing for me, but with the second kid it was kind of brutal. I feel for you!

Heather said...

My girl didn't teeth early, but she did go through a biting phase. She got her first teeth around 8 months, and when she was about 9 1/2 months old, she started biting. And every nursing session was completely filled with anxiety about the biting. Not fun. Not relaxing. Not one nice thing about it. But she did get over it. Eventually. I'd say it peaked after a week or two and then started to taper off... so maybe lasted a month? After that, bites were few and far between. It seemed like she finally understood at some point that the biting was a bad thing. Maybe not, but it did seem like it. (I tried to be consistent with removing her from the boob after every bite, and if there were 2-3 bites in a session, the session was done.) Anyway, we continued through the biting phase and nursed until baby was 13 months, which was the age I'd decided was the age I'd like to wean. At that point, she wasn't biting anymore.

Ugh, the guilt. I swear if we wean when they're 3 months or 9 months or 19 months old, we will STILL feel guilty. I felt the guilt. Every breastfeeding girlfriend I know has felt the guilt regardless of the age they weaned. Maybe it's inevitable... you know you're taking away something the baby enjoys... something you know that once you stop, you'll never be able to start up again... a sign of the end of your baby's babyhood. Lots of stuff to mourn and feel guilty about, I guess.

Anyway! There's nothing wrong with pumping and feeding your babe from the bottle. You're obviously still giving him tons of cuddles and mama-time. Try not to beat yourself up about it.

Bree said...

I'm barely hanging on with the bfing. I pretty much pump all day, but never get enough to have a surplus stash. So, I'm pumping and pouring directly into the bottle. I never liked bfing. It's always been hard for me. I do it because it's good for her and honestly I like that it helped me get the weight off (and then some). And, yes, I've been bitten. It totally sucks. I've screamed so loud, I've scared her.

leahjane8 said...

We went through a little biting phase. And I feel for you because it fekkin HURTS. The first time he did it, I yelped out in pain and scared the shit out of him. From then on I was cautious and ready with my finger to pull him off. And when it happened again I got him off and said "No biting" in a very stern voice. He proceeded to look at me with the saddest eyes EVER and started crying in a way I had never seen before. A scared, "my mommy was mean to me" way. It broke my heart. But biting is NOT cool. Since then, he's only done it once and it was during a late night marathon teething thing so I think it was an accident. But he's left teeth marks on me ever since he got teeth. It doesn't hurt, its just uncomfortable. And since I have him down to only 3 feedings a day (and we'll be down to none in a couple of weeks....Woo Hoo! And Boo Hoo....), I can handle it. Good luck to you and your nips!

Bethany said...

To me, the biting was a "No". I didn't have any of the latching on problems, though, as she only bit once she was full and was getting distracted/tired/felt like moving on to teething/etc. but either way it was a fine time to pull her off which is exactly what I did every time. The nipple is not to be bitten, thanks darling. In our house the biting also centered around high teething times so if she was working on another tooth she was much more apt to get into biting mode and then there would be stretches without any attempts at biting a month later, etc. (So, light at the end of the tunnel and all that!) So, I would sternly tell her "No biting", pull her off and either massage her gums or give her a teething toy or whatever. We did survive over here, both nipples intact even. DD nursed a little over two years total. Keep us posted! Is MIL gone?

Anonymous said...

My son bit me once, I loudly and firmly told him No, took him off the breast and set him down. He was NOT amused, but He made the connection that teeth equaled no boobie milk and it stopped. Best of luck!

Minta said...

Not there yet, but yowsa! Does not sound fun... I'm getting gummy bites (that hurt) now, can't imagine once the teeth come in :(

On the other hand... 20 free minutes to read, sip coffee and pump whilst Daddy takes care of the nipple mutilator sounds like a pretty swell plan.

(Love the pic of you and Gabriel in the last post!)

Kristin said...

Luckily, mine were not big biters but when they did start biting, they were old enough that taking it away and ending the feeding quickly stopped the biting. I wish I had a brilliant suggestion for you but all I can say is DO NOT FEEL GUILTY about feeding him breast milk in a bottle. What you are doing works for you and he is still getting breast milk. Hell, as long as he is healthy and thriving, who cares if it is breast milk or formula. Good luck sweetie.

What IF? said...

I never got into a good routine with breastfeeding (triplets, only 2 boobs, do the math). Just wanted to say that if giving him breastmilk for a while longer is important to you (it was for me), then you can absolutely pump exclusively and still maintain your milk supply.

I exclusively pumped for a year; it can be done. It lessens the guilt about weaning, and is a perfectly acceptable way to go with tons of other benefits, incl. but not limited to: your baby receiving nutrition and antibodies and all the good stuff for many more months without you feeling the pain and trepidation, 20 minutes of legit "down time" for you (a sanity saver), your Dh can do more feedings and get extra bonding time with Gabriel, you can continue to eat what you want without gaining weight, we'll get more frequent blog updates, etc. etc. Everyone wins. LOL.

If I was being bitten on a regular basis (OUCH!) I wouldn't continue breastfeeding. If it's stressful, not relaxing, and not happy bonding time, then it's just not worth it, in my opinion.

7.5 months and 24.5 pounds is amazing. You've done wonderfully by Gabriel. Now take care of YOU.

elaine said...

i'm sure you've already tried this, but every time the little guy bit down, he got pulled off. eventually he learned and hunger won out. we ended up making it to about 9 months and i stopped nursing because we found my guy had food allergies and i didn't feel like cutting out everything that contained eggs. by then he was eating table foods anyway. good luck! in any case 7 months is great so be proud of yourself!

Crazy Sister said...

I hesitate to share my story, since it doesn't do me very much credit.

I didn't manage to breastfeed long (where's the frikkin milk? How can there be no milk?) but once I got nipple suck-wrenched. You know that? Where he sucks you right in, then RIPS his head to the side and every nerve in your body goes with it?

I hate to say it - by pure reflex, I smacked the back of his poor little head and he was so startled he let go. I felt like crap.

That's not advice. That's just me saying, "Yeah, I remember that sort of pain."

You're amazing. I hope you and Gabriel figure something out!

mummydr said...

Sorry, no helpful advice to offer, neither of mine were biters, but my BFF showed me her wound from her 9 month old son biting her and breaking the skin. I totally understood why he was weaned a couple of weeks later. has some advice on the subject, but I can't personally endorse any of it.

Good luck and if pumping works for you then that's great.

Paula said...

We're not there yet - my little one doesn't have teeth yet, thank God. But I'm sure this will happen to me as well. Breastfeeding at first was pure torture. I would literally scream out loud when she'd latch on. It got to the point where I'd burst into sobs when she'd cry her "hungry cry" because I knew about the pure torture that was about to come. I don't know why I was so stubborn about continuing - even through cracking, bleeding, and scabbing - but I'm glad we did. Now you've made me nervous again :)

I agree with the previous poster though who suggested maybe discipline him when he bites. Not spanking him or anything, obviously, but perhaps pulling the boob away and sternly saying no.

Good luck with this newest hurdle!!

Laurie said...

Yikes. My little girl is only 2 weeks old and already my nipples are sore. The initial latch is a killer! It will be a while before teeth start showing up but I am not really looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

I don't remember how old my son was when he started biting, but "no" worked for us... Oh, and when hubby was around and baby bit me, he'd tell DS in a quiet but serious manner: "Hey, don't bite my wife!". The look on DS's face was priceless, he finally did stop biting, and at almost 2 years we're still happily nursing.

osuraj said...

I would shout out in pain, which would startle the little one while she was nursing. After doing this a few times, she pretty much stopped. We still have a couple of incidents here or there, but it's gotten a lot better.

Dora said...

I weaned. She just would not learn to stop biting (and SCRAPING!). It got increasingly worse, not better. I had a 2 strikes you're out rule. If she bit me twice, the feeding was over. We made until a week or two after her first birthday. Weaning was not as hard as I expected. There were a couple of nights when she was REALLY mad at me. One night she rolled away from me in bed, and with her back to me, let out a shout of anger. I admit, I laughed. I have a happy, healthy child. I have no guilt about weaning.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, there is no pain like that pain -- excruciating and at the same time you can't get away from it because your baby needs to eat! Awful. I think the pump / bottle thing is a perfect solution for you for now. My worst time with this was around 5 months when my little guy had top and bottom teeth but didn't understand "no." I heavily relied on the pump during that time. When I did nurse and he did bite me, I would take him off and roughly sit him down on the floor and walk out of the room, and after a few days that did seem to work. But it's not much fun to do. I also have a necklace that's a teething ring that was very helpful. Google teething bling and a website called Smart Mom Jewelry will come up. The necklace has been a lifesaver -- he'll pull off mid-nurse, bite on the necklace, and then go back on. Plus I wear it every day, so I've always got it with me.

He's 1 now and still almost exclusively nursing. The biting almost never happens any more. The teeth marks, however, are there after every feeding. It's shocking that I managed to get tough enough for that not to bother me most of the time. I never thought I'd see that happen! Good luck to you!

geeks in rome said...

both babies bit, the only consolation was by #2 I had these thick nip callouses and the grating hurt somewhat ever so slightly less. The biting still killed.

The worse was DD who would suck and then get distracted and whip her head around with jaw firmly clenching her lunch. I learned to put her head in a vice-like situation between my breast and arm so she couldn't move her side to the side. Also I would do the "pull to the breast" reflex because they both had the habit off finishing off by pulling the teat out while teeth or gums were clenched around my nipple. THAT happened a lot!!!!

I found ALL the biting episodes NEVER occured during real hunger, feeding moments. They were usually in a playful or mischievous mood or bored and at the end of a feed. that is your clue that you need to end lunch sooner.

As soon as you feel the sucking has slowed and your boob is emptied: time's up! especially now that he is ready for solids. boob empty, then hand him some fruit or a bottle. You should NOT feel guilty about denying the boob because a hungry thirsty kid will NOT bite.

If you are feeling major nipple pain all the time and not just when he bites you may have thrush. Check his tongue. Is it white? You can fix thrush with straight up vinegar on yr nips and diluted on his tongue. or use an over the counter/scrip medication. obviously wash off the vinegar or lemon juice from yr nips before a feed.

In the biting situations I would do the stern look and say no biting and refuse to give the breast. depending on age I would add more info like biting made my boob hurt and I couldn't let them have it anymore until it felt better (which was an arbitrary time period based on their hunger needs). but really the smashing their face against your breast is a life saver. it's much quicker than trying to get your finger in their mouths.

birdsandsquirrels said...

I never realized how sharp those little suckers are when they cut through until I felt a nip on my nipple. I suppose it makes sense, they have to cut through gum, but um, yeah. Ouch. Birdie went through a biting phase when she got her two top teeth in, but thankfully it was short lived, probably about a week. But that week was terrifying. The anxiety about nursing, the anticipation, the actual bite, the response from her (sometimes laughing sometimes falling apart) when I would yelp out in pain ("DON'T BITE MAMA"). If she would have taken a bottle, and if I could have pumped, I would have.

Do whatever gets you through this phase, and hopefully it will be short lived.

Also, for me, nursing has never been the relaxing, beautiful experience I was hoping for, what with the latch issues, nipple shields, thrush, and pain involved. I wish more people talked about the reality of how hard it can sometimes be.

seadragon said...

For me, eventually it stopped hurting. It was like I built up a tolerance - I could see the teeth marks but it no longer hurt!

Jill M. said...

Wow this post came at a good time! Tyler just bit me twice for the first time tonight. I yelled ouch which scared him to death, he started crying, then I felt horrible. No teeth yet, just hard gums. I cannot imagine how painful that would have been had he had teeth. Please keep us updated and let us know if you find any solutions.

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