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Study finds fibromyalgia prohibits sufferers from breast-feeding

New mothers with fibromyalgia (FM) face multiple barriers to breast-feeding their babies, according to a study published recently in the American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing.

For the study, "Breast-feeding in Chronic Illness--The Voices of Women with Fibromyalgia," Karen M. Schaefer, D.N.Sc., R.N., assistant professor of nursing at Temple University's College of Health Professions, analyzed the written stories and tape-recorded interviews of nine mothers with FM, ranging in age from 26 to 36. All had given birth to at least one child before being diagnosed with FM, a chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain and fatigue. Because there is no cure, patients often undergo physical therapy, counseling and medication to alleviate their symptoms. Commonly prescribed medications include antidepressants, ibuprofen and morphine.

Women living with this condition are faced with a difficult decision once they decide to have children: to breast-feed or bottle-feed. Many of Schaefer's subjects viewed breast-feeding as part of being "perfect mom[s]" and breast-feeding as a critical time for mother and child to bond. But since the drugs used to control FM symptoms may be harmful to newborns, these women must either forgo their medication usage or give up their dreams of nursing their children.

"Because breast-feeding is a stationary activity, they would become stiff, sore and along with increased fatigue would often be unable to resume normal activities as quickly as they thought they should have been able to do," said Schaefer.

Also common among the women was the sense that their milk supply was not enough to nourish their babies. One woman indicated that her breasts never fully engorged, while others turned to drugs like oxytocin to increase their milk supply.

Problems not directly related to FM, but that nonetheless increased pain, like sore nipples caused by candida or thrush (when a yeast infection spread
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Contact: Tory Harris
tah@temple.edu
215-707-1731
Temple University
20-Sep-2004


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