Refusing to Breast Feed

Updated on November 05, 2014
K.W. asks from Herndon, VA
25 answers

My grandson is 10 days old. He will not nurse. When he was born he was tongue tied but they clipped it. My daughter had to resort to using formula in the hospital and when he first came home. She had a C-section and her milk was slow to come in. She has tried pumping a little before nursing to get it started. She has tried nursing him after she has pumped. Now she is pumping and putting it in a bottle. The Dr. Brown nipple is to fast. The Avent is slower. I researched on line and found that the Playtex drop in is the slowest slow flow nipple. I think he gets the milk to fast in a bottle and doesn't want to work for it out of the breast. Not only does he cry, he turns red and get so mad when you put him on the breast to nurse. He doesn't mind laying on it but don't try to put it in his mouth or squeeze the milk in. He can pitch a fit so loud that I never knew a new born could.
Please ladies, help!!! My daughter wants to breast feed him but he is unwilling.

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So What Happened?

We have already seen the lactation consultant. He has the right suction and my daughter is holding the breast right. She had several l consults in the hospital and one since we have been home from the hospital. Also, 2 trips to the pediatrician and she was very helpful. We have tried laying him on the breast just for skin to skin and he likes that and will root around. But the minute you put the breast to his lips he screams. We have used a nipple shield also. He acts like he is mad because the nipple on the shield is not full like the bottle nipple. The Playtex nipples are a slower slow flow. He is gaining weight and sleeping and pooping. She is trying to pump all she can and only supplement when necessary. She is also taking lactation support supplements from the health food store.

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answers from Chicago on

She should talk to a lactation consultant. The LC can help her help him latch on. And honestly, if he does not, it is not the worst to happen. I had triplets the just could not latch. They just wouldn't and I did not have any money to have someone come help me. So, I pumped. They were supplemented with formula but for the most part, they got breast milk. I pumped until they were almost 10 months. They got the benefit of the breast even if not physical.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

She may end up pumping and giving him breast milk in a bottle. It's a compromise, but it's not the end of the world.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Miami on

I agree about a lactation consultant, but also about the remarks Mel made about some of the militant ones who will HURT your daughter by trying to make her feel guilty if she is not successful. The truly ONLY important thing in the grand scheme of things is the health of the baby. You do not realize just how fast an infant can get into trouble, K.. My own baby lost so much weight in the hospital when he was born that the doctor told me that I HAD to supplement because we could not just wait it out to see if he could nurse more.

Your grandson had a tongue-tied problem, and maybe you're right about the flow of the nipples. My son couldn't suck hard enough, and we didn't know why until he was 4 years old and found out that he has a submucous cleft palate. As it was, I nursed AND supplemented. First breast and then bottle until he was full. That worked for us both.

Maybe if the baby gets part of a bottle first, he would take the breast more easily without being so frustrated. More importantly, she needs to make sure that he gets enough to eat so that he doesn't end up in the hospital.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Her hospital and/or pediatrician's office should be able to refer her to lactation consultant immediately. (If she says, "But I already saw one at the hospital after I delivered," she still needs to see one now, probably a couple of times.) She should call tomorrow first thing. As a mom who also had a lot of issues with breast feeding, I strongly advise her to see a consultant ASAP -- she should be able to get a same-day or next-day appointment since most consultants are keenly aware that the "patient" is a hungry newborn!

She is trying a lot of different things and might be inadvertently giving the baby so many different options that he's confused. It will help her a lot to have a professional watch her try to feed and see what's going on and to consult about things like types of nipples for bottles, etc. This could be a very simple problem with his latching that a consultant, who sees babies at the breast all the time, could help them fix!

It also can help to get advice from someone who is not emotionally invested in you and your baby, frankly. New moms are tired and upset when the baby has feeding issues, and advice from a calm professional who says "This isn't unusual, you are not alone, and here's what to try" can be a big help at an emotionally fraught time when everyone around her is advising and advising and she's not sure what to try next.

One thing to know: Some consultants and breastfeeding advocacy organizations can be VERY militant about how moms absolutely must breastfeed and have somehow failed if they cannot do it or do not wish to do it. That's not what your stressed-out daughter needs to hear! Be sure she tells the hospital or pediatrician's office that she needs a consultant who is open to both breastfeeding and bottle feeding as options, so she does not end up with someone who pressures her to breastfeed even if it does not work or her milk production gets too low or whatever. Absolutely it's great to breastfeed but if she ends up having to pump and use a bottle or use formula, her son will still turn out fine.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, K.!

Congratulations on your grandson!!!

Your daughter needs to see a lactation consultant. Her pediatrician should have one on staff. If not, I would recommend Reston Town Center Pediatrics (if you really live in Herndon).

She needs to continue pumping. Stress will keep her milk production low. But if she wants to breast feed, she needs to continue pumping. There is nothing wrong with pumping and putting it in the bottle. She needs to understand that even if he is NOT sucking at her breast - if she is pumping and giving her son breast milk via a bottle - she's STILL BREAST FEEDING...the delivery system is different...tell her to RELAX AND BREATHE!!! It's all good!

Your grandson may be "lazy" - sorry- some babies DO NOT want to "work" for the food - so the bottle is the way to go. Your daughter wants to feed him with the best she can? That's breast milk. I know formula isn't "bad" - but have you tasted it? sorry - but eeww. I know MANY women HAVE to do it - and there are MILLIONS of kids who are formula fed and are just fine. Support her in her desire to breast feed - just remind her that it's OKAY if the breast milk is coming from the bottle and not her breast!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I thought breastfeeding would be a snap, but my son and I had a terrible time with it.

I would spend over an hour trying to get him to breastfeed and then think it worked, only to have him scream and scream until I gave him a bottle of formula. By the time I would finally get him fed, I maybe had an hour of sleep before he was up and crying again.

I brought in a lactation consultant and the schedule she worked up for me was completely ridiculous. It eliminated almost any chance of sleep longer than 45 minutes at a go. I have no idea how someone can be expected to produce lots of milk on all stress and no sleep.

The madness went on for nearly a month and finally a good friend of mine, who happens to be a pediatrician, told me to give it up and just pump. My son got his breastmilk through a bottle and I was able to get on a saner schedule. I supplemented with formula when needed.

BTW, my son is 8 now, very healthy, and doing great in school. If your daughter finds out she can't breastfeed the traditional way, it won't be the end of the world.

Best of luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I agree that a LC can help.
Perhaps your daughter also needs to get used to the fact that a lot of times what we *think* things are going to be like don't always turn out as we had planned.
It's great she wants to try to BF, but she needs to realize it's more important THAT she feeds her baby than HOW she feeds her baby.
Can she pump and put her milk into bottles?
I'd she doesn't have enough to supply him like that, maybe she just doesn't hsve enough....

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My son also wouldn't nurse initially, and after around a week of struggle, we ended up mostly feeding him with bottles. I did continue to pump and he did get some milk from me, however it was formula which grew him. He actually decided to nurse again once he hit 3 months old and 9 lbs, however I never produced much. He also continued to be very light-weight, and still is to this day. Ultimately, he got some of those great antibodies etc from me in a bottle and then by nursing until age 1, and he grew healthily, even though much of it was from formula.

A lactation consultant is a great idea. She may have some good ideas which can get him willing to try again. OnePerfect One's point is also important that it may happen that this is one of those times when a parent's vision doesn't come to pass that way. It was day 2 of my son's life, when he made it clear that this nursing thing wasn't what he wanted at that time, and he had a mind of his own. Anyway, wishing you all good luck.
ETA: Based on what you have said, your daughter is doing all the right things. I was in her position and understand how frustrating it is when kids and circumstances are just not aligned with our visions! Glad the boy is growing and on track.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

Has she tried different positions? Definitely talk to a lactation consultant, but in the meantime she should spend as much time with him skin-to-skin and attempting different nursing positions. My first one would only nurse lying down next to me (his body parallel to mine) for the first couple of months and cried like he was being tortured if I tried it any other way. My third one preferred the football hold. I had thrush and sore nipples with all of them. I persevered and am glad I did.


It's a skill, and it can be difficult at the beginning. I think the reason some LCs are kinda hardcore about breastfeeding is that for so many years the first piece of advice any nursing mother with an issue received was "just switch to a bottle". Tongue tied? Switch to formula. Need to go out for a while? Formula. Bad latch? Formula. There are situations where putting in a little more effort is just too much for a new mom and the easiest route is the best one for everyone involved. It doesn't mean breastfeeding wouldn't have worked eventually, but for many women it's just too difficult. So, I'm of two minds here, really. Yes, she should do everything she can if she's determined to breastfeed. However, being a new mom is really hard, and if the stress and exhaustion of trying to do this is too much for her, her milk production is low, and everyone is miserable, switch to formula.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My daughter had difficulty getting her babies to latch on. She saw a lactation consultant and was then able to nurse. The lc suggested a nipple shield which got them nursing. The lc also worked with her on different ways to hold the baby. My daughter gained confidence by working with a lactation consultant.

Her insurance covered the lactation consult as well as the pump with a copay.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Reassure your daughter that as long as she is trying not to freak out.

Our daughter had a very long and difficult birth. She was exhausted. We tried everything and even with e LC, it just was not working for her.

So I pumped. I pumped as long as possible. The good part about this? My husband was able to feed our daughter so I could sleep!

There are a lot of techniques, so tell your daughter there is hope.
Also remind her that no one, NO ONE should put any pressure on her, and no one is allowed to judge her about this.

We live in modern times and when a baby cannot breast feed for whatever reason, we have all sorts of solutions.

No harm to our daughter drinking formula. She is a healthy young woman. Smart, smart..

We are moms, we do what we have to do, no regrets!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The hospital usually sends a lactation consultant out, has that happened yet? She needs a pro to come in and help her. You can also contact Le Leche League, a community of breastfeeding mothers who provide support and advice at no cost. Look up your local chapter and CALL. Someone will likely be on your doorstep within a few hours!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Check for lip tie, get an LC appt for tomorrow, usually they will squeeze you in same day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

this is the one recommended to me by my lactation consultant for its slow flow.

As a mother who failed to nurse her first (who also refused the breast) and practically killed myself trying to nurse my second (who had a weak suck), let me start with the most critical bit of advice first:
Go see a professional lactation consultant (likely provided through the hospital she delivered at) right away! I cannot stress how important that will be. She will likely have a good bottle recommendation for you as well.

Pumping and bottle feeding is something many of us have had to do. Its no joke, it doubles the work of feeding the baby. But if exclusively BF baby is what she hope to do, she needs to pump at every feeding if she wants to build up to a supply for it. 8 times a day, every three hours around the clock. I had to do this and it took three people, me, my mom and my husband to pull it off. Your daughter will need lots of support if this is going to work out. Eventually you can drop the night pumping and ideally you will get baby on the breast more and more with the right help and tactics and gradually get off the pumping. But while you are working through the problems, she needs her milk production stimulated every three hour.

Also, it takes a good 72 hours for any tactic you try to really start to work. This is why you don't want to take this persons advice and that person's advice, try it for a day only to give up and try something new. See a professional and follow their instructions.

I personally gave up because I could not keep up with the round the clock pumping and hoped to compromise with some breast milk and some formula, but sadly, baby just hated the breast, I had no support to pump day and night, and the whole thing on my first baby was like standing on a sinking ship. I feel for your daughter. There are supply issues that are hard for any woman to work through, but a baby who hates the breast is an obstacle on top of an obstacle.

If it does not work out here are two things I can offer having done it both ways. Bottle feeding is a bonding experience too. Lots more eye contact that breast feeding, and just as tender and sweat. And breast feeding is not a bonding experience if its not going well. Not at all, so let it go if you need to.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

She has 3 options: pump and feed BM in a bottle, feed formula, or go see a Lactation Consultant and try to get breastfeeding to work. Any option is fine. There is a lot of mom guilt when breastfeeding isn't going well and that can contribute to not throwing in the towel, even though it would be better for all involved. I've had a baby who I pumped for, a formula fed baby, and two breast fed babies. (The formula fed one has been the healthiest). All of those decisions were what was best for the family at that time.

The lactation consultant can work wonders. Or, if she'd rather try a nipple shield (you can buy one at babies r us) - they saved my breast feeding relationships. They can really work wonders.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'd contact a lactation consultant and see how that works. Formula is fine, but I understand. I got Shingles 3 days after giving birth and was told to pump & dump my milk because of the drugs for it. That screwed up my nursing, but with help, I got it back (it took 3 months to be 100% nursing) and I nursed for 2 years.

My LC was great - her attitude was "breast is best, but FEEDING the baby is priority" - that's what you need. If he won't breastfeed, that's OK. As long as he is getting nourishment, that's great. Pump as much as you can to supplement with formula and all will be well.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Lactation Consultant!! My hospital in California offered 1 hour of consulting for $40, and I think that included a follow up visit, which I never needed. Best money spent! Try to get in right away, and in the meantime, have your daughter continue to pump as much as she can.
Breastfeeding can be really hard at first, so tell your daughter to not get too frustrated. Anything can be off and make it hard for baby to feed - the hold, the position, the baby's tongue tie, etc.
Have your LC show you a few holds. The traditional "cradle" hold is actually really tough for newborns, and we had more success with the "football hold", where baby's legs are behind you, and a pillow is propping up the baby up to your breast. In this hold, baby can breathe while getting a latch.
I found the following products helpful in getting my kids to latch on properly -
the "Breast Friend" pillow positions the baby in just the right spot to latch easily. Medela nipple shields also helped tremendously when my nipples were sore, AND because my nipples were flat, which made it hard to latch on to. We used these until about 3 months once we had established a good nursing routine.
Best wishes!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My first was lazy and just wanted to be fed. Nothing worked with him so we went the bottle/formula route with him. It worked for us but it was an emotionally difficult decision. I tried two different lactation consultants with him and neither helped.

My second was easy going and with the help of a new lactation consultant we finally got the hang of it. She came to my home and sat with me. She believed in seeing me in my element and coaching me in the spot I planned on feeding in. She was an absolute Godsend and without her I don't think I'd have been able to get all the parts to work together. The trick with my youngest was supplementing WHILE breastfeeding. I would get him latched on and then slip a tiny tube into the side of his mouth. The tube was attached to a syringe of formula. As he sucked, I would gently add a bit of formula at a time. The formula encouraged his sucking and gradually over the course of about four weeks I didn't have to supplement. It was an awkward thing to do but once I figured out how to latch him, insert the tube, press the syringe and hold my breast and baby we did well at it. The good news is it encouraged my baby at nursing while still providing him enough food. As an added bonus it helped in the long several weeks it took for my milk to fully come in.

Encourage your daughter to get further help from a lactation consultant. She may need to shop around to find someone who suits her. As well she needs to realize at the end of it all feeding her baby is far more important than how she feeds him. Finally breastfeeding is a lot of work and I don't think most of us appreciated that before we tried it ourselves. In the beginning few weeks you feed a lot and often; then it tapers off and you confront new issues. Good luck to all of you and congratulations on the new baby.

P.S. I used a system similar to the one in the link. However, in a pinch a long nosed syringe can be used.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

The web site "Kellymom" has a lot of wonderful suggestions that your daughter may find useful. A lactation consultant is also a very good idea as they can see what may be causing a problem.

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answers from Columbia on

Well, that sucks, doesn't it?

It sounds like baby doesn't want to breastfeed. That's okay. Your daughter can pump and he'll still enjoy all the benefits of breastmilk. Sometimes you just have to be okay with not having things as you expected.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Please ask her to call her pediatrician to get a referral to a lactation consultant. Then she can go to the LC, and LC will watch her try to nurse, and will help her get started. It's just really hard to figure out what the problem is online, when we can't see what's going on. Please do it ASAP, before too much time goes by.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Get a lactation consultant asap. The sooner the better for both mom and baby. I used to live up there - call the NOVA Birth Center and ask for referrals to a Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Here are the numbers. The consultant will come to your house and work with you. Many times it is covered by insurance.

Phone: ###-###-#### ♦ Fax: 888-770-0243

Don't count on the pediatrician - not all of them are able to help with breastfeeding. My first son had a lot of trouble and my male pediatrician, while breastfeeding friendly, was useless. My second also had a bit of trouble but our female pediatrician who was also a board certified lactation consultant was able to help me position him better and help me help myself!!! Please call the above - most of my friends have used their recommendations.

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answers from Houston on

I had flat nipple, and nothin I would do would get my babies to latch on. I used these

And I never had any trouble after that. Makes it easy for the baby to latch on

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Some babies just don't take to nursing. I never got my oldest on , no matter how hard I tried. I eventually came to terms with it. If she really wants to breast feed, I would suggest putting him on when he isn't really hungry and wants to just suckle. When he is hungry, he wants it then and he isn't going to settle for working for it. And if he is upset, he won't be able to settle and feed. Or try giving him some from the bottle until he is content and then slipping him on the breast. Really, the best thing you can do is be supportive. Many moms feel a lot of guilt because breast feeding doesn't work out. Some reassurance that baby will be fine if it doesn't happen would be very helpful.


answers from Norfolk on


Has the baby's mouth healed from the tongue being clipped?

Encourage her to be patient. look on line for baby massages.
Let her learn to massage her baby when he get mad and let him calm down and then attempt to breast feed. Keep alternating back and forth with massages to the baby and trying to feed him at her breast.
Good luck.

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