Breastfeeding Aversion and Agitation (Aversion)
There are only a few studies on the phenomenon of aversion, but there are no research studies published showing what can help. I do cover some tips to lessen aversion in my book
YOU ARE AN EXPERT IN YOUR EXPERIENCES, TRY SOME OF THE FOLLOWING AND NOTE CHANGES
If you are experiencing breastfeeding aversion and agitation there's a number of things you can try to see if they relieve your symptoms and help you continue breastfeeding
Latch, Latch, Latch
If your newborn baby has a poor latch, get help immediately. Whether its attachment and positioning or tongue tie, having painful feeds will lead to dreading feeding, and even if it becomes resolved it may lead to aversion long term. Also, whilst there is nothing published that suggests suckling changes from when a baby is a newborn to when they become a toddler, it can certainly feel very different to a mother. For a start, toddlers have teeth, and you can feel them if the latch isn't right. As a child grows and their dependency on milk decreases, the latch can often be a lazy one. Make sure to promote a wide latch and proper suckling every feed to lessen your aversion.
Distraction, Distraction, Distraction
Perhaps the most instant relief comes from cognitive distraction. Feed while with other people for distraction, go out, if you can't then get people over. Look at your phone, read a book, watch TV, some mothers with severe aversion say holding an ice cube lessens it (yes it works, even for D-MER). Cognitive distraction works because your brain can't spend energy doing both something cognitive (like an activity), and dwell on overpowering emotions. Whatever works to distract you until the end of the feed. Watch a video about it here.
Whilst this one might not be in your control, it is important to note. Sleep is important for functionality and sanity. Mothers often say aversion is much, MUCH worse when they are sleep deprived. Take any opportunity to sleep, if that is not possible reach out to ask for help. Get friends or family to watch your child/ren so that you can have the opportunity to have a short nap, EVERY DAY if possible. Try mindfulness (Headspace offers a free trial, with short 10-minute sessions that are accessible online anytime). Listen to sleep hypnosis tracks on YouTube to help you at least doze in the day or at night, if you cannot sleep or if it is not possible to sleep as you are a primary caregiver and have no help.
Hydration and nutrition
Breastmilk is mostly made up of water, and as you feed, you will be making more milk and using more water. Hydrate, A LOT, especially at night. Many mothers notice an instant change with their aversion upon hydration.
Breastmilk has many, many constituents, see Jenness, 1979. (The article is available here). Many more are discovered with each passing year and it's uncertain that we know all its properties. What is certain though is that 'lactation represents the greatest postnatal energetic expenditure for human and non-human primate females, and the ability to sustain the costs of lactation is influenced by a mother's physical condition.'(Hinde, 2009. See here). If you can see a nutritionist, sort out your diet, and eat better, to see if this has an effect or lessens the aversion. Although there is no research to prove its efficacy, many mothers take supplements to reduce aversion, such as B12, Magnesium and Vitamin D, and for them, it works. Read about why here.
Time out for yourself
Feeling 'touched out' and not having any personal space can be a common complaint of successfully breastfeeding mothers, particularly for those feeding older children or tandem feeding. Having time alone or time for yourself and not breastfeeding is crucial for some women to get a handle on aversion.
Aversion can start when a woman has the return of her postnatal (partum) menses, and for some mothers, aversion continues with each monthly menstrual cycle, in varying forms. Hormonal imbalances can play havoc with us women, knowing that this balance redresses after your period can help aversion, so keep a note on when you are due and see if there are any correlations. Also, ask your GP or doctor to do a blood test and check any abnormal results on your hormones such as LH, FSH, prolactin, oestrogen, and progesterone.
Ask your GP (UK) or Doctor to perform a full blood test, checking your female hormones, Iron, Vitamin D etc in order to establish any deficiencies, and rule out any other conditions.
If this is not giving you any answers, it might be an idea to take the time to see a registered nutritionist.
And my research shows that seeking counselling for deeper issues helps with aversion
Keep a diary, note when aversion happens to you in order to establish if there is a pattern
You are not alone in experiencing aversion.
Join a local breastfeeding group, or our Facebook Breastfeeding aversion group.
Share your story, get support.
Contact me here to contribute an article to the site.