It is up to you which method you choose to feed your baby. Each option presents different issues to consider when you have PGP.
There is no evidence to support the suggestion that breastfeeding will slow down recovery with PGP. Many women have been advised to stop and found it made no difference to the symptoms, and normally women make a full recovery while breastfeeding. Some midwives and doctors believe stopping breastfeeding will help recovery, but they are those who still believe that it is a hormonal problem. Having spoken with many women with PGP who have breastfed, often for extended periods, there appears to be no link between giving up breastfeeding and recovery. Recent research found that women who breastfed recovered faster than those who did not (see 'Is it just my hormones?' page for more information). Women can enjoy breastfeeding for as long as they wish (the World Health Organization recommends at least two years’ breastfeeding to give you and your baby the most benefit from breast milk) and make a full recovery.
As we have said elsewhere in the website, PGP is a mechanical problem, so the main reason that breastfeeding impacts on pain is if you are not sitting or lying comfortably to feed your baby, so make sure that you find a supported position to feed right from the beginning.
Breastfeeding is one of the things you can do for your baby even if your mobility is very restricted, and many mothers find this is a really important time to bond with their baby and enjoy spending time with them. Breast milk is also the best food for your baby and provides all the nutrients that are needed as well as helping to build immunity to a large number of childhood illnesses. It also protects you against osteoporosis (important in a condition like PGP) as well as some breast and gynaecological cancers (see the UNICEF website for more details of the benefits of breastfeeding).
However, as for all mothers, positioning is important and feeding is not always straightforward at first. It takes time for both of you to learn. In addition, it is important that your pelvis is comfortable while you are feeding. It is better for your pelvis to avoid sitting in bed with your legs straight out, so it is usually preferable to sit in a chair. A crescent-shaped, bean-filled pillow can be a great help with breastfeeding and take the new baby’s weight, while cushioning your symphysis pubis so that you can hold your baby more easily in the early days.
If you are breastfeeding and need to express, make sure you have everything you need and sit back and relax! There are many local sources of support for breastfeeding so make the most of them: local breastfeeding clinics, NCT breastfeeding counsellors who will visit at home, baby cafés in various areas, breastfeeding peer supporters, midwives and health visitors.
If you are formula-feeding remember to plan ahead, i.e. make up batch bottles of boiled water to store in the fridge. However, do not store prepared bottles of made-up formula (because it is not sterile).
Night feeds can mean extra trips up and down stairs. You could invest in a night and day feeding system that enables you to store bottles in a cooling box and heat up the bottles in a steam heater after adding formula powder just before use. Alternatively, use a travel kettle and jug to heat bottles. Sterilised bottles of ready-prepared feeds (as provided in hospitals) can be obtained from some manufacturers. Teats for these bottles are available direct from the manufacturers or from Boots. The milk can be ordered through a pharmacy; it is expensive but can be very useful.
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