Plenari 7 – Breastfeeding : Pain and emotion
Zubaidah Jamil Osman DPsych (Clinical) (Melb)
Consultant Clinical Psychologist, UPM
Expectant mothers are often inundated with information about the benefits of breastfeeding for their babies but are often poorly informed about the consequences breastfeeding has for their own mental and physical health. Kelleher (2006) reported that many women experienced pain and discomfort and that they were generally surprised by the extent, intensity and duration of discomfort and pain that they had; impacting their relationship with the baby and becoming vulnerable and hesitant to continue the practice. Arora et al (2000) found that the 4th factor discouraging breastfeeding is “feeling of discomfort while breastfeeding”; whilst Snowden & Renfrew (2001) indicated that “painful breasts” is the second most common reason for giving up breastfeeding in the first two weeks after birth in the UK. When mothers encountered pain during nursing, breastfeeding becomes a dreaded rather than a pleasurable experience. Tense feelings caused by discomfort during nursing inhibit the normal let-down of milk, which further complicates nipple tenderness and soreness – leading mothers to become frustrated and discouraged to continue nursing. The pain experience inherently involves not only the sensation (pain and discomfort), but also the emotions (eg. frustration, depression, disappointment) and cognitions (eg.“I have failed as a mother”, “It’s so painful that I just can’t stand it anymore!”). This session will further discuss the relationship between pain and the psychological processes involved – subsequently looking at how this conceptualisation will be able to assist mothers/expectant mothers overcoming/dealing with these issues in the future.