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6 week old can't latch on, will it get easier?

(8 Posts)
hefner Thu 01-Sep-11 16:34:09

I'm really struggling with breastfeeding. DD is 6 weeks old and we have been using nipple shields since she was 3 weeks. Before we started using them DD got really distressed every time I tried to feed her as she couldn't latch on despite several breastfeeding counsellors checking our positioning. With nipple shields DD can latch on and appears to be feeding, but she is hardly getting any milk. She wasn't gaining weight and we are now giving top ups of EBM from a bottle, which seems to be working. I'm starting to get really disheartened as DD's feeding isn't improving and I don't know whether I can keep our current routine up until 6 months. I breast feed her at every feed (3 hourly in day, with a longer gap at night - up to 5 hours) but she can feed for 45 minutes and still take 100ml from a bottle. I'm expressing after every feed to get milk for the top ups - I get about 100 ml each time so I'm just about keeping up with her but I feel like I'm doing nothing but feed and express and I get stressed about running out of EBM if I have to go out and miss expressing.

I wonder whether she would feed more efficiently without the nipple shields, but she still seems unable to latch on without them despite following all the advice I have had from BF counsellors, peer supporters and kellymom. I'm just hoping things will improve as she gets bigger -has anyone had similar problems, and did it ever get easier?

seasickgal Thu 01-Sep-11 16:41:14

I had very similar problems and it was very hard. I tried everything ,like you. It did get better and at 12 weeks he finally managed to latch on for a good feed. I think it was just easier because he was bigger.

thisisyesterday Thu 01-Sep-11 16:47:03

has she been checked for tongue tie?
do you have another breastfeeding counsellor you could see and ask to take a look? local LLL group or anything?

bottles can be a red herring. most babies after a full feed, will take a bottle because it's easy and it's hard for them to stop the flow once it starts... so her taking a bottle doesn't necessarily mean that she hasn't had much from the breast iyswim?
you could try phasing them out slowly and see how it goes? just lower the amount in the bottle a tiny bit every few days?

hefner Thu 01-Sep-11 17:08:20

Thanks seasickgal, it's good to hear that it got easier for you.

thisisyesterday, one of the BF counsellors said she didn't have tongue tie (based on seeing that she can stick her tongue out) but I'll ask someone to take a look just to make sure. Good point about the bottles, I have wondered whether she's taking it just because it's there, although she does occasionally refuse some of it. Experimenting with reducing top ups gradually sounds like a good plan, although it will make me a bit nervous because DD refused top ups for a few days a while ago and lost weight, resulting in a hospital visit because the midwife was worried. It's so hard to tell whether she's had enough and all the pressure over weight gain in the early weeks has left me worrying that I'm starving her if she's not completely stuffed full!

magpieC Thu 01-Sep-11 18:13:57

My DS had a posterior tongue tie snipped last week (10 weeks) which has made a huge difference to his ability to latch on. He's been slow to gain weight and I spent several weeks struggling to improve his latch and thinking it was related to his mouth being small compared to my boob!.

He has always been able to stick his tongue out but I don't think he could lift it up. I tried putting my finger on my tongue and lifting it to the roof of my mouth without my tongue going higher than my bottom teeth - the only way I could do it was to close my jaws and suck which was exactly what he seemed to do!

There's a list of tongue tie symptoms at http://www.ann-dobson.co.uk/tongue-tie_symptoms.html which may help determine whether it's a similar situation for you.

thisisyesterday Thu 01-Sep-11 19:45:24

hmm i would def get a second opinion on the tongue tie. unless she was trained in spotting/feeling it then i wouldn't take her word for it.
some children with a minor tie can stick their tongue out, but it can still cause feeding issues, including not being able to stay latched on.
ds2 could stick his out, but it was very heart-shaped at the end which is another common "symptom" of tongue tie

sadly, there are some BFC's who are not that good, and some who go under the guise of a counsellor when they are not in fact qualified and are actually an infant feeding supervisor or whatever the hospital calls them.
I'd definitely recommend checking out credentials of whoever you see, and also find out if your hospital has someone who does tongue tie snips because you can get a referral to that person and ask them to check for one

there is a list of places here some of them you would need a referral to from your midwife of GP but others let you self-refer

hefner Fri 02-Sep-11 19:04:15

Thanks for the advice, I'll definitely get her checked properly for tongue tie.

Emzar Fri 02-Sep-11 21:03:49

For what it's worth, I was told my baby didn't have a tongue tie because he could stick his tongue out. But our symptoms were exactly what was described for tongue ties, so I got a second and then a third opinion, and eventually it was confirmed and we had it divided. He could stick his tongue out, but he couldn't keep it far enough forward, so it started in the right position but almost immediately slipped back.

The tongue tie division hasn't completely solved our feeding problems, unfortunately, but it's certainly worth getting another opinion.

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