Baby cries at breast - about to give up!(20 Posts)
My 7-week old boy has, in the last two weeks, started crying whenever he is offered the breast, even when clearly hungry. Used to be mainly in the evening/night but now its sll the time. He cries as soon as he is in position and then cannot latch on. Often I can only get him to latch by offering finger or dummy to suck then quickly switching! He'll also come off frequently at first, crying and writhing around and rooting, and sometimes need help relatching. It's taking away the enjoyment of breastfeeding. We've been giving him a bottle or two of formula/ebm at night, so I'm worried he's become lazy or forgotten how to latch or just confused! No signs of reflux etc, we were told he has a short tongue (takes him an hour to feed), let down can be fast or slow (no difference), any ideas!? I've seen a bf counsellor and a lactation consultant with no real answers. It's making feeding in public stressful and I'm tempted to swap to bottles ebm/formula so avoid the grief for both of us. Also battled with lots of soreness and mastitis - finally got over those when the fussing started. Was hoping its a phase but is getting worse, not better! Nursing used to a great comfort for him but this seems to have gone - rather upsetting for me, being rejected! He is gaining weight well so no real concerns there.
Strange, so he was feeding fine but then gradually (or suddenly?) started rejecting the breast. Are you on any medication that could affect the taste of your milk? Can you stop offering him a bottle at least for a few days in case the problem is that he's preferring the ease of feeding through the bottle rather than having to work hard at getting milk from you?
I'm not an expert in anyway, but could it be that your letdown is very fast? haveyou noticedany greeny poos?
Thanks for your thoughts!
AnnaLiza - It was fairly sudden but gradually got worse (so gradually introduced night time bottles when it became too much of an ordeal) but he'd been having irregular but daily bottles since 3/4 weeks or so, so would have thought confusion would be minimal. I've been on and off antibiotics since his birth, but currently off them, and nothing else has really changed. I might try cold turkey on the bottles as that seems to be the most likely problem.
MeWhoo - don't think it's the let down, which can sometimes be fast and sometimes slow, usually he's sobbing before he even gets to finding out! Possibly in anticipation though...? Green poos ocassisonally but not often/recently!
Seems most likely to be ease of the bottle that's bothering him, especially since he takes so long to feed, a bottle must be SO much easier for him. But still a bit of a mystery as to why it's started now, and not sooner, but perhaps he's just becoming more aware as he's getting bigger, and doesn't need the comfort from me as much.
Any other suggestions gratefully received!
My baby started doing something similar at about 4 weeks, I used to end up abandoning feeds with him screaming and me in tears too. I never really got to the bottom of what caused it, he just grew out of it around 8 weeks.
My partner used to hold his hands out of the way to stop him pushing himself off the breast when he thrashed his arms.
If you think it is about your flow being slower than the bottle, you could try gently squeezing your boob when he starts sucking to speed up the flow?
Also could try feeding more frequently before he gets really hungry?
Or could it be a growth spurt?
Good luck and I hope it sorts itself out soon
OP, mine refused the dummy point blank at 3 months. So I do think you may be right. They suddenly become more aware and able to make some choices for themselves around that age. I know it would be hard to give up bottles but if you're committed about carrying on breastfeeding it may well be the "first" difficult choice that you make as a parent for his own good. A bit like sleep training later on, for example.
Good luck and let us know how you get on!
Could he be uncomfortable in the position you feed him in? Do you use different positions and holds? You could try the rugby ball hold or the side lying position to try and relax him a bit.
Could you try a baby straight jacket type thing....
Sounds ridiculous but I've seen it work and at this stage you may be prepared to try anything...
You lie baby on a muslin/thin blanket, put one arm down by side and tuck blanket over arm and under bottom and repeat on other side
Lots of skin to skin? Hard in this cold weather though and obviously not do able outside..have you got a good pump...if your really keen on baby having bm keep up the pumping and bottle feed. I've three dc and they were all different and I had to do different things with each
It's difficult to get a baby to latch that's crying as the tongue is up rather than down.
I'm sure you've done this but a bit of express milk then a breast feed as the edge as been taken off the hunger??
I've been there when baby is desperately hungry, breast milk is everywhere and everyone is crying and sweating...it's a really horrible feeling. Good luck (smile)
Sounds like posterior tongue tie to me - looks like a short tongue. In fact this was what my DS was originally thought to have. It was actually a psterior tie. I would get it rechecked by a LC who is also a tongue tie divider.
Thanks for al your input and ideas - at least I don't feel like I've broken my baby now!
It's still a bit hit and miss and he still needs help latching on, with a dummy, but feeds ok once he gets going. I don't think he's uncomfy as he'll fall asleep being cradled into my chest. Definatly going to try more skin on skin (weather permitting!) and, thinking about if, this began not long after we moved from co sleeping to his Moses basket. Still reluctant to ditch the bedtime bottle (just getting a routine sorted!) but will do if things don't improve...definitely going to be strict with myself about no more daytime bottles/top ups when desperate!
Narmada - interesting point, it has been checked but I might see if there is anyone else local to consult. It would explain a lot.
Posterior tie is very, very likely to have been missed even if it has been looked at. Numerous health professionals missed my DS's, including 3 BF counsellors, endless health visitors, a paediatrician and a GP. They are very very hard to spot. From what you have said I would bet very good money on this being the problem.
Other signs would be: choking on fast letdown; slipping off breast and having to be repositioned; sore nipples; high arched palate (look inside baby's mouth when crying); clicking when feeding; leaking milk around mouth when bottle or breastfeeding; seeming to take in huge amounts of air (thunder burps).
If it is a tongue tie, a simple snip will likely make things so much better. It's over in five minutes.I really, really, wood look into this. At 7 weeks, it is so possible to get things back on an even keel. Feeds might be shorter, weight gain better etc.
If you have a few spare quid then you could go direct to a lactation consultant who specialises in tongue tie. There is a list of 'tongue tie dividers' on the lactation consultants of Great Britain website. I would not trust a GP or even a BFC to spot it. Certainly not a HV. Honestly, it takes a specialist eye.
Also, you mentioned comfort nursing no longer being a comfort.... this was exactly the same with my DS too. I suspect he had far less control over the milk flow than he should have done owing to his tethered tongue and so sometimes generated letdowns when he really just wanted to comfort nurse.
The posterior tongue tie may make it more difficult to latch on but it will be the bottles that are causing him to reject breast feeding.
You will need to go cold turkey on the bottles if you want to re-establish the breastfeeding, just stop using them. I had to do this at 12 weeks, by which time my dd (who has a posterior tongue tie) was hardly breastfeeding at all. The first day was very difficult and I had to feed her drops of milk from a dropper because she wouldn't go on the breast and I didn't want to give her a bottle or starve her. The second day she did go on the breast a bit and the third day a bit more. By the fourth day she was exclusively breastfeeding. We gradually introduced a bottle for dream feeds some weeks later and I breastfed my dd until she was 15 months, when she self weaned.
If you want to re-establish breastfeeding, try not to make any plans for a few days and cut out the bottle. Also, make sure you eat and drink plenty and do middle of the night feeds, to ensure you have enough milk.
Personally I don't think tongue tie is the silver bullet here. He is gaining weight well, there is no pain (right OP?) - he's been feeding well for several weeks, which suggests that the snip at this point probably would not make a great deal of difference, even if you found someone willing to refer you on the basis of what you've said here (and not sure you would, TBH).
But for some reason he is unhappy and frustrated, particularly at the start of a feed. It's hard to judge without observing, but I think these are the main two possibilities to consider:
1. Oversupply - pulling off screaming at start of feed is classic sign - think drinking from a fire hose!
2. Uncomfortable position - maybe you're holding him differently, sitting somewhere else, he's got bigger?
Either way, forcing him onto the breast in any way would be a terrible idea and could make the problem much much worse. This is a time for responding with sensitivity to his cues and trying little tweaks. It sounds like you are doing that already OP!
OP said she had battled with soreness and mastitis so I think pain is an issue. For this reason alone I would get any TT seen to. You shouldn't be sore 7 weeks in unless there is something like thrush going on, which is also a possibility. Any white patches in his mouth or burning pain in your breasts?
TT can still cause problems down the line when the milk supply starts to move from hormone-driven to supply-and-demand driven. Some babies with TT (e.g., my son) are able to thrive in the initial weeks because they basically just open their mouths a fraction and hang on (!) - oversupply does the trick.
The bottle idea mightn't be a bad one but other things like eating and drinking adequately won't make any difference to your milk supply.
If a LC identifies a tongue tie, she will be able to refer you on herself. I wouldn't rely on a GP or HV to make diagnosis. Here is a link to a list of hospital-based tongue tie clinics:
Of course eating and drinking make a difference to your milk supply. If you don't take in enough calories and fluids your milk supply reduces
Not necessarily true bessie123 unless you are doing extreme dieting or are very dehydrated, although it's often something spouted by HVs as the 'reason' why a baby is deemed not to be getting enough.
Thanks all. Still not much progress, only latches on when sleepy and even then, comes off crying pretty quickly. I hate that something that should be enjoyable and comforting for us both has become such an ordeal! I've had to express plenty to keep my supply up ( hopefully working) and giving it to him in the dreaded bottle when desperate.
I did struggle with soreness for the first month or so - and once that had got better this new problem started!
Looks like the way forward would be getting a second opinion on the tongue tie, and cold turkey with the bottles.
Cutting out bottles and battling through the refusals.. What is the best way to make sure he still gets enough? Cup? Syringe? Any thoughts on if I should cut out bottles immediately or get the TT checked out first?
Thank you all!
If you can use something other than a bottle and its not stressful for you go for it. If not don't fret. Important thigs are protecting your supply, maintaining familiarity with breast for him, and getting sufficient calories into him.
But yes, I think getting a second opinion on the tie is important and based on my experience I would say do this sooner rather than later.
I second completely the posterior tongue tie and the needing someone very specialist (probably private and this would also be quickest option- look at 'milk matters' website for advice in your area) to look at it (ours was missed multiple times). Sooner is so much better than later. You can search my nickname for previous posts. I had a really really similar situation to you. Only started about week 7/8 when my supply was 'established' and became less gushy and less easily available (oversupply at start). dd only fed first let down and pump was better at getting milk as she just wouldn't stay on. Sleepy feeds- on waking or when stirs in night were helpful at maintaining my supply. side lying or upright in sling while walking or rocking seemed best postion for latch.
We had the same issue with first eve then afternoon then morning feed. Also felt like I had very little milk. Also pumped like mad. started to feel teeth when feeding at 5 months so investigated further. Tongue snipped at 7 months (yes months) and haven;t pumped since. 80% feeds now good latch others not so bad.
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