Breastfeeding with Fibromyalgia - Yes, It's Possible
The research on fibromyalgia and pregnancy is quite inconclusive. While some doctors and some patients say that pregnancy causes their symptoms to flair, others say that it alleviates their pain. The research on fibromyalgia and breastfeeding, however, is much more conclusive. Numerous studies have been done evaluating how fibromyalgia influences breastfeeding. These studies all indicate that it is very hard to breastfeed with fibromyalgia. This is not to say that it's not possible to breastfeed with this condition. It is important, however, to understand why it is difficult and to have the tools with which to overcome these difficulties.
Breastfeeding is difficult for patients with fibromyalgia because of the chronic pain, joint disorders and other issues that patients experience. In addition, if pregnancy alleviated some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, most people find that those symptoms return soon after the birth. The symptoms often feel even worse than they did before the pregnancy, and this can make it a very difficult time to deal with breastfeeding.
Tools and Techniques
While breastfeeding can be difficult for those with fibromyalgia, it isn't impossible. There are a number of recommendations that can help you to succeed and to breastfeed your baby. Since stress can cause your fibromyalgia to flair, and can keep your milk from letting down, it is very important to create a stress-free environment when you plan to nurse. Certainly, there are many stressful things about having a baby. It is very important to approach your breastfeeding with a positive attitude and to try to make it as stress-free as possible. Use pillows to support your head and your body while you feed the baby. Find a sling or pillow that you can use to prop the baby up as well so that you aren't supporting his weight. You may find it to be easier to nurse while lying down on a bed with your baby facing you.
Find a Quiet Space
Try to create a quiet, relaxing location for nursing. Turn on soothing music as you are about to nurse. Close the door and block out noise or stress coming from other areas of the home. Nurse in the same location each time and do so in a relaxing spot that is comfortable. Consult a lactation specialist if you feel that you are having trouble nursing or that the baby isn't latching on properly. You may also want to try aromatherapy or other treatments that will help you to relax in the months after the birth. Getting help can only be an asset.
You Can't Fail
It is very important to come into this experience with the attitude that you can't fail. If you nurse your baby for three days and then decide that it's just too painful - those are three days that you had to bond with your baby and to feed it your nutrients. Should you get to the two week mark, the two month mark, the five month mark - great. Whatever you can do is better than nothing. If you do decide to stop breastfeeding, there is nothing to feel guilty about. Your baby will still receive wonderful nutrients from formula, and will still be showered with love from you. Do the best that you can do within your physical and emotional limitations and realize that whatever you do is wonderful and enough.