To describe what it is like for women with fibromyalgia (FM) to breastfeed their infants.Study Design and Methods:
Nine women with FM who chose to breastfeed their infants were the sample for this qualitative study. van Manen’s phenomenological method of reflection, writing, and rewriting was used to analyze the data collected through in-depth tape-recorded interviews and written stories.Results:
All nine women felt that they were not successful in their attempts to breastfeed, and felt frustrated. Themes included (a) muscle soreness, pain, and stiffness made it difficult to breastfeed the baby; (b) fatigue interfered with the breastfeeding process; (c) the need for medication, perceived insufficient milk supply, and sore nipples led to forced unplanned weaning; and (d) being forced to wean the infant when not ready to do so created sadness and a feeling of depression.Clinical Implications:
Nurses who work with women with FM who choose to breastfeed need to be proactive in providing informational, emotional, and physical support to facilitate a successful breastfeeding experience for these women. Knowing that the pain, muscle soreness, stiffness, and fatigue of FM may affect breastfeeding can direct nurses to help women with FM plan for support after childbirth and learn techniques to control/reduce the muscle pain and stiffness. Nurses are encouraged to refer breastfeeding women with FM to lactation consultants and support groups for encouragement and validation regarding their concerns about breastfeeding. It is important that nurses continue to serve as advocates for breastfeeding women with FM and keep other healthcare providers informed about the issues related to breastfeeding for women with FM.