I had been breastfeeding for one whole year and was feeling so proud of how far my daughter and I had come. I didn’t think we’d face any more challenges on our breastfeeding journey. Oh how wrong I was! Shortly after her first birthday, I was ready to quit breastfeeding for good. I was dealing with a toddler biting down during feeds and I could hardly bare it.
Returning to work filled me with dread
It was time to head back to work. The dreaded return for some, including myself. Months of precious time spent with my firstborn was coming to an end. I was honestly terrified. My main concern was definitely boobing. I fed on demand, how would my exclusively breastfed child cope without her boobies on tap?!
I fed on demand, how would my exclusively breastfed child cope without her boobies on tap?!
I work for an NHS nursery, so luckily I would only ever be a room away from her. I spoke to my manager and she had no issue with me feeding when I needed to. What a relief!
Nova coped fine, it was me who was sad
First day down, I was exhausted, I had barely slept the night before due to the worry. But I didn’t need to worry, Nova was fine. In fact, it was as if she had always been there and when I went in to breastfeed her, she just did not care at all. She took what she needed (luckily from both as they were engorged) and off she went again to play with all the new and exciting toys. I’m not going to lie I was sad that she didn’t ‘need’ me but I was so proud of her for being so independent, especially considering she had barely had any socialisation due to the Covid pandemic.
I only work a Monday and a Friday so luckily I had the Tuesday to rest, Nova was a complete booby monster all day, more so than she had been prior to work. I thought that maybe she had just missed that time and connection we both enjoy. I didn’t mind her being so attached as I had missed her so much the day before so it was nice to have my baby back in my arms.
Her first birthday didn’t go to plan
Then Wednesday came, Novas first birthday, A WHOLE YEAR BREASTFEEDING, YAY! Except it wasn’t yay at all. Nova had picked up the nursery bug, and on her birthday she was full of a cold. I put her on my breast for her morning booby and “OUCH!” she was so bunged up she was biting down to stay attached. I unlatched and latched her back on over and over, and over again, trying desperately to get her to stop biting.
Nova had picked up the nursery bug, and was full of a cold.
I used a nasal sucker and gave her some baby vicks to try to unblock her enough to feed but she just couldn’t stay latched without biting down. I sat through the pain to finish the feed as I knew my milk would give her everything she needed to feel better, especially as it was her birthday.
She had a great day, despite not feeling herself, but she was still doing the same thing. I actually dreaded every feed during the day and luckily she was so distracted by her birthday celebrations that she wasn’t as attached to me as the previous day. I dreaded the bedtime feed though, this was always one of her biggest feeds. IT WAS AWFUL. I sat through the whole feed with tears in my eyes.
I had a toddler biting down during feeds and I was in agony
The next day was no better, in fact, it was worse. My nipples were sore, I didn’t want to feed her. I was genuinely scared to feed her. I spent ages trying to unblock her nose as much as possible so we could have a semi-decent feed. All of them were agonising. By the afternoon I was at breaking point. I had messaged my friends to say how much it was upsetting me, it was truly making me want to quit! I had made it so far and I didn’t want to give up because my toddler was biting down during feeds. My heart broke. I felt sad that my milk hadn’t protected her from getting unwell, I felt sad that I wanted to stop feeding her due to the pain, I felt sad that every time she latched on she made my skin crawl and I didn’t want her near me.
I had made it so far and I didn’t want to give up because my toddler was biting down during feeds
In my head I was saying “you’ve made a year, you can stop now” but my heart was saying something different. I just kept thinking what a horrible person I was to not want my child on me. I took a picture to show my friends the teeth marks she had left in my nipple, which stayed there for an hour after! My friends showed me support and it truly helped.
I’m so glad I followed my heart and not my head
Nova is over the cold now and honestly looking back, I’m glad I didn’t quit. I’m glad I fed through the pain. Mostly, I’m glad I didn’t listen to my head and followed my heart.
I made a year and I’m so proud of myself. I couldn’t imagine giving up on our special time we share together, that amazing connection we feel when she’s boobing. Feeding Nova has been a blessing and I’m so glad I can continue to provide her with the amazing benefits breast milk has. We hit a bump in the road but this road has no dead end yet.
Feeding Nova has been a blessing and I’m so glad I can continue to provide her with the amazing benefits breast milk has.
Biting during feeds – why does it happen and what can be done?
There are a number of reasons why a baby or toddler might bite down whilst breastfeeding. For example, they may be teething, have a cold, do it whilst distracted…or because milk flow has slowed.
Of course, biting down during a feed can be incredibly sore for the mama, and worrying too. It can be tempting to squeal out-loud in pain but try not to as you could frighten your little one. How you deal with the biting depends on a number of factors, including the reasons why your child is biting and whether or not it is a one-off or repeated behaviour.
As a first step, try unlatching your child and then latch them on again when you are both calm and free of distractions, ensuring plenty of eye contact throughout. If the child is old enough to understand you can explain to them that what they did was sore and not to do it again. If your nipple has been hurt, use some soothing nipple ointment on it.
For more helpful information on biting, check out this page.