K.P. asks from Westminster, CO on March 05, 2007
Infant Not Nursing Well
My son was born 4 weeks ago (at 37.5 weeks--so he was a little early, but fine). I am having a terrible time nursing despite advice from nurses and lactation consultants. any help would be appreciated.
I'm feeding on demand--he started out on a 3 hour "schedule" with one 4-6 hour night period and a few 1-1/5 hour morning periods--since his growth spurt at 3 weeks he has been on a 2-3 hour "schedule" with the occasional 4-5 hour period at random times. The lactation consultant weighed him before and after a feeding (at about 2 weeks) and confirmed he was getting 1.5oz of milk for 15 min of feeding. He's gaining weight and height fine (thriving). But he is always hungry and the nursing is not going well at all.
1)He has trouble latching on properly -- most times he doesn't get much of the areola. he has a tiny mouth, which is part of the problem, I think
2) He won't go bare breast; i still have to use a nipple shield.
3) He likes to suck a few times and then breathe a lot--I have to keep massaging his jaw to get him to keep sucking.
4) he falls asleep during feeding--I've tried keeping him warm, keeping him cold, changing him first, waking him, all sorts of things...but he drifts off and sometimes I can wake him and sometimes I can't really--but he falls asleep consistantly before he's had enough to eat and then wakes up 10+/- mins later starving!
5) he takes forever to nurse--a minimum of 15 min (often as long as 30) per breast
6) I can nurse him, keeping him sucking and waking him up for 30-40 minutes and he will still be so hungry that he will down 4 oz of formula or expressed milk
7) he fights me--he spits the nipple out or freaks out and waves his head around and loses it--often I have to hold his head in place to keep him "latched"
8) he pushes at my chest with his hands when I am trying to get him latched and he's pretty strong so it's hard to get his head close enough. he also freaks out and scratches/pounds my breasts and his face
my milk is in, and lets down fine...in fact it pours out of me, soaking my clothes if a feeding is late. I pump regularly and he nurses regularly. When I pump (after feeding him) I express between 3-5 oz of milk in one sitting.
Breastfeeding has been enormously stressful--trying to get him on the breast and keep him sucking and all--it's not relaxing and it's not working well and now he doesn't even seem to be getting enough! I spend an hour changing and feeding him and then often have to supplement with a bottle and then he may still be fussy and often wants changing again and then i get about an hour before it starts all over. I'm really getting frazzled and feel like a failure to boot.
So What Happened?™
I learned that I was switching breasts before he emptied one so he never got the highly satisfying hind-milk. Also I decided that, since he would be on bottles for several feedings when I went back to work, I shouldn't feel guilty if he was on bottles for several feedings now. When he and I started to get too stressed out because a nursing feeding wasn't going well I would just give him a bottle--either formula or expressed breast milk. Also for a while I just gave him bottles during the night-time feedings--that way both he and I could get back to sleep without a two hour drama. Finally, I discovered that because he was born a little early, his sucking wasn't fully developed and his mouth was too small for my breasts. Now that he is older, his sucking is much better and his mouth is the right size. It took time, but now he and I seem to have it down. He's still not a grade-A latcher and takes some coaching, but we're doing pretty good over all!
L.L. answers from Denver on March 06, 2007
HI! I had the same problem with my daughter, but she was tongue tied and couldn't latch on properly. I just decided that because I wanted the best for her that I would pump breast milk and bottle feed and I did that for a year. Will he take a bottle? I am disappointed that I didn't get to experience breastfeeding but I am glad she got the best I could give her by pumping for her. I don't know if that helps at all. Hang in there!!
C.H. answers from Colorado Springs on March 19, 2007
K.,hang in there. My son would take up to 1 1/2 hours to eat the first 6 weeks!!! They like to take their time, as we all should while eating. Why are you using breast sheilds? has your LC suggested you do so? Sometimes those things can cause more harm than good. If you are sore make sure he is latching right and give it some time for your nipples to adjust. As long as you are not cracked and bleeding you are probably all right. Try some lanolin after every feeding and make sure not to use any soap on your nipples in the shower, it dries out your skin. Good luck to you both and know you can do it!! C.
K.D. answers from Salt Lake City on March 05, 2007
I wish I'd had something like Mamasource when I was trying to nurse my first baby (boy). I had a terrible time trying to get him to nurse and felt like a complete failure as a mother when we finally just decided to bottle feed (he would however "comfort nurse" until he was 4 months). But after having breastfeed my second child (for 13 months) I realize that it's not how you feed your child, but rather that you just love them unconditionally and you'll be a great mother!
However, it did take my daughter and I at least 3 months before we got even remotely good at nursing (although I never had to supplement and she was fat and healthy). Not a day during those first few months went by without a thought of quitting, but I'm glad I stuck it out, no matter how hard it was.
I never had to use a nipple shield, but I know what you mean about a tiny mouth (and a breast as big as their tiny heads). It does get easier the bigger your baby gets, so keep that in mind. You said he falls asleep while nursing, have you tried just waking him before he would normally eat to see if he will latch on a little better while he's still half-asleep? I found my daughter would latch on well if I caught her before she started crying in hunger.
You said he pushes you away and turns his head and cries? Could there be something in your diet that he's smelling in your milk that he doesn't like?
The good news is that you are able to pump and have no problems with producing milk, so that's one thing in your corner. And the fact that you are still breastfeeding is another. So if you really want to continue, I say just keep trying and hopefully things will get better (they did with me) and if you decide it's too stressful (as I did with my son) there is no shame in bottle feeding or supplementing (or even pumping and bottle feeding). You are obviously a wonderful mother who loves her baby very, very much!
Good luck with your baby. It ALL gets easier as they get older.
J. answers from Salt Lake City on March 07, 2007
I am not an expert by any means but I just had my 2nd baby who is now 6 weeks old and the thing that has really helped me is the book Baby Wise. I think it really helps you to see that your baby is getting enough to eat even if she/he has short nursing times. Sometimes my girl will only nurse for 5-10 minutes on one side and yet she is still having the correct # of wet diapers and is still thriving.
As far as the latching on that is a different story but it might help if you know the baby is actually hungry, not just rooting like they are programmed to do.
Take this for what it is worth to you. Hope things work out.
C.B. answers from Denver on March 05, 2007
I am sorry to hear you are having such trouble with this! I do have a few tips, even though my daughter was pretty easy, she was anxious, but did the pushing thing, she always fell asleep, but she ate really fast (about 3-5 minutes per breast!)
1. swaddle him before feedings, this will keep him from being able to push away and helps you be able to latch him on properly! I am not sure what you mean by a nipple shield, I have never heard of this!
2. when you notice him drifting, tickle him, un-swaddle him, move him around a little, just to keep him awake! Another thing is, try switching him to your other breast when he starts drifting, that way, it gives the first breast time to really fill up (hopefully help him get a little more at a time) and maybe the big movements will get him alert again!
3. when he does the sucking a lot and then breathing (my daughter did this for a little while) is your breast in his face at all? or is he just sucking too fast? My daughter sucked really hard and really fast and I had to hold my breast back, cause it was so hard for her to just open her mouth and breath, unless I gave her that extra room!
4. as far as him taking forever, our doctors were concerned and told me that babies should nurse about 10-15 minute per breast, but my daughter gained weight just fine, so they quit worrying, since she was growing and obviously getting enough in her! I have heard from a lot of nursing moms that they usually nurse for a good half hour, so don't feel like he is just wasting time!
With these struggles, if you can pump well (sounds like you can, but I don't know what is normal, I always got 6 oz off each breast after a feeding!) there is always the option to just pump and feed him from a bottle! This way you can monitor how much he is getting and if it seems to go easier, it may take the stress off you and still give him the nutrients! Also, it may be so hard because you are stressed out! Good luck, I hope it works out for you!
Good luck, take care,
S.L. answers from Salt Lake City on March 06, 2007
My suggestion is BOTTLE FEED!!!!!!!!You have tried long and hard enough.Switch to formula.He's already gotten all the antibodies he needs anyway within the first couple weeks.Save yourself the stress and him!!!!
K.K. answers from Denver on May 30, 2007
My son had a lot of the same issues you are having. One of the major issues was his impatience and he was a little lazy. He would get so worked up into a frenzy because the flow was not fast enough for him, or he had to suck to much. It would be impossible to keep him latched on and even the lactation consultant could not get him calmed down enough to stay latched. Both he and I were so frazzled and on edge each time we tried that I finally made a decision...I decided to pump and bottle feed him. I did this for four and a half months and would have continued, but I have lupus and had to stop nursing to return to my medication. It was a bit time consuming, but got easier and I was lucky and could pump about forty ounces in just four or five fifteen minute sessions a day. The downfall is that once my son became old enough, his awareness of what I was doing increased and he became a bit "jealous", so it was hard to find the right time to pump. Please do not feel like a failure. Sometimes things just do not work out for some reason or another and with this option, you are still providing your son with breast milk...do yourself a favor and collect all of the information you can about pumping, storing, transferring containers etc. I was finding things out for four months that no one told me and I thought I was well informed. Please feel free to contact me if I can help in any way... I am overflowing with information on the subject. Trust me, if you decide to go the route I did, the weight will automatically lifted and you and your son can enjoy your time together instead of stressing out over feeding him.
D.G. answers from Albuquerque on March 06, 2007
i had many of the same problems with my son and some of these problems with my daughter as well. with my son i ended having to switching to pumping breast milk and feeding him with a bottle because he got so upset trying to nurse that after a while he just started bawling as soon as we sat down to nurse. it's great that you are pumping milk, you don't want to lose your milk supply. i would recommend giving your son the chance to nurse, but if he starts to get frustrated, just pump and let him finish with a bottle. he's still getting breast milk that way and your milk supply wil stay where it should be, and you have time to bond without crying and getting upset. don't let your son get to the point where he doesn't want to nurse because it's too stressful for him. it took my son until he was about five months old before he was ready to nurse regularly again. most likely your son will eventually get the hang of nursing. and don't feel like it's your fualt, everyone mom i know had a hard time nursing their first child. it's a lot harder than it looks, for your and baby! just hang in there and i'm sure things will work out fine. good luck!
K.H. answers from Colorado Springs on April 18, 2007
my daughter fought nursing as well. One position that i found that she liked was laying down (of all things)...lay on your side with the baby facing you (and you might bring a toy or something to hold his attention and help keep him awake a little bit while doing it). I also got to the point where I would just pump to a bottle...then my daughter was still getting the breast milk, but it wasn't nearly as frusterating...and we still had our bonding moments while I was bottle feeding her. Good Luck!!