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Baby refusing the breast but taking a bottle

(18 Posts)
edeluna Fri 27-May-11 21:25:55

I've been EBF my ten-week-old daughter. DH gives her a bottle of expressed milk every evening before she goes to bed and that's been working great for about six or seven weeks -- they get some quality time together and I get a chance to make dinner. Occasionally, baby needs a top-up after the bottle and she's been happy to take the breast.

Today, however, and on a couple of other occasions over the past two weeks or so, DD refuses the breast at other feedings and will only calm down and eat if given a bottle. Sometimes this happens when she's very tired. Today, for example, she didn't sleep well during the day and the only way I could get her to eat in the late afternoon was to give her a bottle. At bedtime, she refused a top-up by breast but was clearly still hungry, so she got another bottle.

I'm hoping this is a phase that will pass, but I'd be grateful for any insight or advice.

PenguinArmy Fri 27-May-11 21:41:34

look up nursing strikes, sounds like a bottle preference is developing. Although it's always good to rule out ear infections

When DD got fussy like this we went cold turkey on the bottle, this approach doesn't sit well with all people though.

PenguinArmy Fri 27-May-11 21:43:25

oh feeding when they're asleep or just woken up so still drowsy is normally succesful. When we had the proper strike I felt comfortable ruling out bottles as I could get a few of these in.

squiggleywiggler Sat 28-May-11 08:22:19

My daughter developed an overnight bottle preferences at around the same age. We sought help from local bf-ing group who advised cold turkey on the bottle.

She was having alot of top ups at that stage so we used an SNS and gradually weaned off that.

Sounds like you aren't doing too many bottles so cold turkey should be possible. Am sure you can introduce one again in a few weeks.

It may well be coinciding with a growth spurt too which is why she isn't settling well.

I'd get some advice from bf-ing group or one of the bf-ing helplines, but my instinct is that if you give a bottle each time she refuses breast it will affect your supply and worsen the problem.

Lots of skin to skin again with no pressure to latch just snuggle-y time, try feeding her when you are both in the bath as they often really relax then.

kellymom.com will be helpful.

Gotta dash but will pop back later.

Albrecht Sat 28-May-11 10:16:02

What outcome do you want, if you could have it? Are you aiming to continue with mostly breastfeeding?

I think if you are, you need to stop offering the bottles, atleast for a while. It might be a phase but it might be the end of bf - milk comes out of a bottle easier and more quickly than a breast so some babies do prefer it.

When ds was a bit older than yours he started getting really distracted by the world and refusing to feed during the day. I found latching when he was falling alseep or just waking up really helped as they are not really aware of it.

Also you could try offering milk from a cup or supplimentary nursing system if she keeps refusing the breast. But definately go to a group (search here) or phone a helpline as they will be able to help you make a plan to get where you want.

edeluna Sun 29-May-11 21:03:23

Thanks, everyone. I definitely want to continue EBF. Can't really go cold turkey on the bottles bc it's either give her a bottle when she gets fussy or let her go hungry -- which, of course, is not an option.

Today was rough but I think we made some progress. Feeding when she's sleepy or has just woken up does work. We gave her a number of small bottles and got her to switch to the breast afterwards to finish the feeds. Also did some skin-to-skin, and before putting her to bed, she and I got in the bath together. The bath worked well and she latched on for a while on her own. Got fussy again once we were out, but the fact that she continues to BF part of the time is giving me hope.

I called the BfN hotline and the woman I spoke with said she thought we were headed in the right direction to get baby focused again on the breast. Fingers crossed ... I really don't fancy many more days like today. Feels like I spent most of it pumping in anticipation of rejection.

PenguinArmy Sun 29-May-11 22:05:18

tbh I went with the let her go hungry option as for us it was the quickest way back to normal feeds and I figured if she was having some feeds she was having enough (also they spend growth spurts hungry and survive that). However it is the less common route.

Glad you're making progress and hope it continues

edeluna Mon 30-May-11 12:37:28

Just got her to go down for her afternoon nap without a bottle. Yippee! And she's been on the breast more than the bottle today, so I'm feeling much better and more hopeful that we'll soon be back to normal.

PenguinArmy Mon 30-May-11 18:58:58

smile it's so stressful so make sure you're being kind to yourself.

edeluna Wed 01-Jun-11 07:54:27

The nursing strike continues. DD went about a day and a half without a bottle, but had a meltdown yesterday evening, so we gave her about 80ml.

She fed fine during the night and first thing in the morning, but now that she's more awake, doesn't want to go near the breast.

I'm finding that walking around with her and casually offering the breast after a little while often works, but she's nearing 12lb, so that's not that comfortable.

Any advice from anyone who's survived this would be appreciated! (I've already called the BfN hotline). This is day five since the fussiness began and I'm so tired, frustrated and sad ... trying to remind myself that we're making progress. I just wish I knew how long it was going to take to get her back on track.

ellabella2 Wed 01-Jun-11 09:16:10

Eduluna I totally feel your frustration and sadness.
My DS 'went off' BF shortly after starting to wean around 6mo and was taking so little milk that he ended up dehydrated. I gave in after nearly 4 weeks and started topping up with bottles of EBM/FF. He is now nearly 8mo and only accepts a BF at bedtme and in the night, the rest of his feeds are bottles.

I feel really sad that he probably wont BF at all soon but could not endure the ongoing stress of him not feeding. I think you have to decide how important BF longer term is for you versus coping with the current stress. Also knowing your DD's personality and how strong willed she is. My DS seems to really know his mind and can be really determined so it felt like a battle I was always going to loose.

Good luck and I really hope you find a path that you and your DD can be comfortable with xx

PenguinArmy Fri 03-Jun-11 02:50:55

Only advice I have is to make sure you have as much support as you can. I found immersing myself around other people helped so went to every babies and bump class, BF cafe etc.

If it helps DD didn't get to 12lbs until she was 6 months. Plus she is getting a few meals a day, which while isn't ideal means she doing OK. When we had the full on nursing strike I'd say it was about 3 meals before every meal wasn't a battle and then another 5 days of residual fussy behaviour.

AngelDog Fri 03-Jun-11 20:19:53

I agree with PenguinArmy.

Nursing strikes are horrible and so demoralising. DS went on strike at 13 months and it lasted 12 days. He's going great guns with bf 4 months later.

Do you have a ring sling or pouch sling you could use to carry her more comfortably but still be able to feed?

I've no idea if it'd help in the context of a nursing strike, but DS sometimes used to be screamy and refusing to bf even when he was hungry at that age. I'd offer a finger for him to suck on, which would calm him down enough for me to whip the finger out & the nipple in.

I'd do whatever you can to get decent naps too, as I found that made a huge difference to how well DS fed. Most babies that age can only stay awake about 1.5 hours without needing another nap (sometimes less, but almost certainly no more than 2 hours). At that age, DS would only sleep in the sling. If he missed a nap / had it too late, he'd be overtired and refuse to feed.

Hope things improve soon. smile

Pesephone Sat 04-Jun-11 17:59:28

I hope things are still improving for you. I agree with the advice to use a sling iether pouch or ring to help you with skin 2 skin and carrying baby, you can wear her in it with her in just a nappy and you top free at home. I also agree that going cold turkey on bottles is the best thing, I know it seems awfull but the more she has the teat the more she'll ascociate that with milk. Maybe try the bathing together as a regular thing ie daily.
Also there is no harm in calling the helpline again you often get a different bfc each call and who knows one may be able to offer some tips or info that the last one didn't? And even if you do get the same one she's not going to mind at all, infact she'll probably be pleased to hear things are a little better and likely will have plenty of further suggestions and encouragment.
Have you tried using compressions whilst she is bf? it can help to keep her at the breast longer and get more milk into her. Also if you can get along to a support group they can check her latch .A less than perfect latch might not allways result in pain but it can still lead to ineffective milk transfer your DD might just need to adjust her latch slightly inorder to enable her to get more milk flow. A better milk flow will keep her interested in bf for longer too. Another thing to try is biological nurturing you can google it for a description and techniques but basically its laying the baby skin 2 skin on your chest vertically whilst you lounge back it enables baby to latch on more naturally. If you co-sleep and baby bf's happily through the night then you know she's had plenty of callories during the night it might help you feel less upset if she's unhappy about not getting bottles in the day. You could try cup feeding a little just prior to every bf inorder to take the edge off of her appetite so that she is less frantic at the breast.

edeluna Mon 06-Jun-11 19:38:06

Thanks again for all the support. DD is still being weird about BFing, but she's getting better. We didn't go cold turkey on the bottles but have limited them as much as possible. Today she had just 20ml; otherwise, she was on the boob.

She still likes being carried around to feed, which is sometimes the only way I can get her to eat. I'm hoping this isn't establishing a bad habit bc she's getting too big for me to walk around with for hours! I am giving her lots of cuddles, though, throughout the day. I had a long recovery from an emcs, so am not supposed to use a sling yet. Taking a bath together usually gets her to feed, too.

She also goes on and off the breast a lot. She'll be very clearly hungry but cry when I offer the breast. Then she'll go on for a few seconds or a minute or two and then come off, and repeat this several times with lots of crying in between. She just seems quite confused sometimes and I suspect it's also to do with a growth spurt/developmental leap -- she's going through a lot of changes right now, I suppose.

I have done compressions while feeding, but I don't think milk flow/production is the issue. I'm producing loads of milk. It's true, however, that her latch may not be the greatest right now. I've been so desperate just to get her on the breast that I haven't been that disciplined about getting it 100% right.

I'm hoping to make it to a local BF support group this week. I'm a little afraid of taking her far from home, though. If she gets hungry and won't feed, then I envision a long bus ride home with a screaming baby and a lot of angry strangers.

PenguinArmy Mon 06-Jun-11 19:50:25

Just go ahead.

I went out somewhere despite DD crying for 2 hours non stop. Your sanity is the most important thing.

Plus there can't be bad habbits, you're just responding to the needs of your baby. They are not capable of controlling behaviour

edeluna Thu 09-Jun-11 12:00:19

Took DD to the BF support group yesterday. The MW there thinks her fussiness is due to the early stages of teething, so she recommended using a little teething gel. She didn't really think the occasional bottle is causing the trouble.

Baby seems to lick at the gel as I'm applying it, so not sure how much is actually going where it's supposed to. She had a hard time this morning, going on, then crying and coming off like she was in pain, but finally had a short feed before falling asleep a little while ago. She clearly wants to take the breast, so that's a good sign. Breaks my heart to think that she's in pain, though.

Overall, the last few days have been a lot better ... but I can't say I'm looking forward to the full-on teething experience. Poor thing!

Thanks again for everyone's support and advice over the past week!

Mankscat Thu 16-Feb-17 16:35:17

Did you ever find out what was the deal? I've got a similar issue with my 5 week old.

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