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Breastfeeding turning into a wrestling match!

(34 Posts)
Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 09:48:17

DS is 10 weeks old now, and we have developed a fun new breastfeeding issue. Basically, he's started twisting my nipples, biting, tugging, unlatching and relatching and in short, being a wiggly, screamy nightmare to feed. I'm in pain all the time and am starting to dread every feed.

I have a fast letdown but he seems to have adapted to that. This all starts after the initial letdown is done. I've tried taking him off to burp, giving him to DH for a break to calm down, changing how I hold him, sitting alone in a quiet room in case he's getting distracted, sitting forward, sitting right back, talking to him, shushing him, singing lullabies, being silent, and putting a hand on the back of his head, but nothing I've tried so far works. He's sleeping ok and making lots of wet nappies, and at least one or two dirty ones a day, and he's gaining weight so I assume he's getting enough, but we end most feeds before he gets that milk drunk look as we both get so stressed until he can't stay latched on, and I can't stand the pain any longer. So we stop then.

Family are putting me under gentle pressure to give up (no one in my family has breastfed in living memory so they don't know how to help and I don't think they think it's worth the stress). I've staved them off for now by saying my goal is 12 weeks then I'll reassess the situation. But that's not far away now...

I don't have much in person support - there's a breastfeeding cafe at the local children's centre, but last time I went one of the mums was going on and on about how formula should only be available on prescription and how bottle feeding mums were neglectful and didn't make eye contact and so on confused and it made me feel so cross and uncomfortable I don't really want to go back there. I think breastfeeding is a personal choice and I don't hold with condemning those that don't do it.

Is it worth trying nipple shields?

Effiethemonster Mon 07-Mar-16 13:07:30

How often are you feeding him? I found their hunger cues hard to read at this age (hands always in mouth!) and didn't realise my dd had started to stretch her feeds and wasn't actually hungry enough when I was trying to feed her. I moved to 3-3.5 hourly feeds and she properly concentrated! She still doesn't often get that milky drunk look unless she's mega mega tired but I think that's just their age, they suddenly have more interesting stuff to do than feed! He is a bit younger than when my dd started fussing though...so maybe not.

If that doesn't work I found rocking her whilst feeding sometimes helped.

Coconut0il Mon 07-Mar-16 14:14:07

After the constant feeding of the first few months DS changed how often he wanted feeding. Don't know if he just got more efficient as he could finish a feed in about 5 mins and be happy for about 3 hours where he wouldn't go 5 minutes without being latched back on in the first few weeks.
Maybe try leaving it a bit longer between feeds so he is definitely hungry? Read another thread on here the other day where a 3 month old was pretty much how you describe and the advice was to leave him a bit longer between feeds. Hopefully that would help with the turning and unlatching. DS2 is 6 months now and I have many scratches and he does try to claw my boob every feed. I've started giving him either a muslin or breast pad to hold instead!

Coconut0il Mon 07-Mar-16 14:18:11

Don't know how to link but the thread title is 'think this is the end of breastfeeding and don't know what to do' . The advice on the second page might be helpful smile

Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 15:37:25

Thanks guys. It is so hard to read the cues now he's found the joys of hand sucking! I'm doing every 3 - 4 hours unless he's shrieking for boob - he can go longer (up to 5 hours in the day and he can sleep right through now) but I was told that was too long so I've been aiming for 3 hours, roughly. I could try and stretch it at bit though?

The clawing is awful, isn't it? He's become an expert at getting out of scratch mitts, so I put a pair of my socks over his hands up to his elbows to stop him clawing me this morning, worked quite well... Get out of those, kiddo 😈

I will have a look at that thread, thanks coconut. Ellie, he was two weeks late so I think he's hitting some stages a little earlier than one might expect. He's certainly a lot. Or sociable these days and fights naps like a tiger, the daft little man...

Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 15:38:59

Sorry, that should say Effie and 'a lot more sociable'... somebody decided 4.30am was a fine time for today to start and it's showing a bit!

BertieBotts Mon 07-Mar-16 15:44:54

Have you tried swaddling him to feed? DS was a nightmare and used to flail all over the place and break the latch. Maddening!

Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 15:46:18

I have. It's like feeding an angry sausage. He doesn't like to be restricted!

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:13:48

If feeding him less frequently as per the other thread doesn't work, then I'd suggest two other things to consider:

1. Switch feeding - allowing him to take the fast flowing milk from one side, then when that slows and he gets frustrated, switch to the other side and repeat. Switch sides as many times as necessary for him to be satisfied. He may be happier with the faster let down he gets each time you change sides.

2. Tiredness - maybe it's not a feeding issue? I find at this age they have a big developmental leap and it can affect their ability to sleep (esp daytime naps when everything around them is so interesting). My lo gives feeding cues when she is tired but doesn't actually want to feed and can get very worked up if I try to feed her, however, she also needs more help at the moment to get to sleep/stay asleep for naps. If I help her sleep well (putting her in the sling, buggy, holding and rocking her for example), she's a different baby and feeds much more calmly and efficiently.

Good luck!

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:21:25

Just re-read your op and noticed you say he's fighting his naps. Definitely consider this being the thing that's causing the upset then. I promise, whatever you need to do know to help him get the sleep he needs will not mean you are still rocking him to sleep when he starts secondary school (exaggerating here, but you know what I mean!), just do what you need to do to meet his, and your, needs now and in time his need for your input will lessen.

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:22:04

* now, not know

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:22:46

* now, not know

Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 16:23:01

Thanks! Can I ask, will switching sides increase my supply? I have issues with engorged boobs, so I generally try to do one side only to not encourage even more production...

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:24:24

Also, maybe at the point you think is the end of the fast let down, he is actually done and doesn't want any more?

Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 16:35:21

I don't know - he tries to latch himself back on, so I assumed he wanted more?

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:46:34

Humm, the confusing signals they can give, eh?! When I had real struggles with feeding my first I was told that if a baby has actively fed and then unlatched of their own accord and seems content (not necessarily asleep), then assume they have had enough to eat. They also said that most babies will instinctively latch again if boob is offered but that doesn't necessarily mean they are still hungry, esp if they latch again but then come off again.

Another thing I noticed with my dc3 is that the only time she ever roots frantically/gives really 'I'm desperately hungry' cues, she is actually desperate to suck because she has wind and needs to burp ( needless to say, allowing her to latch doesn't solve the issue and she will fuss until I burp her and she manages to bring up the air that's bothering her, which can take a while).

Latenighttv Mon 07-Mar-16 16:51:57

This doesn't help but my baby is 11 weeks and doing the exact same thing! You aren't alone!

TakesTwoToTango Mon 07-Mar-16 16:57:55

Re switching, I know people have different views on this, my own is that baby will only take what he needs, be that from one boob or two. If he takes from both sides, they will both be left with some milk in them to give the feedback signal to your body that it produced a bit too much (hopefully with the upside that neither boob is left painfully engorged), and as long as you are relatively consistent, your supply will eventually settle down.

MigGril Mon 07-Mar-16 17:08:26

I'd read the other tread it had some good info on there.

Try the switch feeding. It will increase your supply but you don't sound like your feeding that often anyway. Can I ask you said he's sleeping through, so you know how many feeds he's getting?

I know you said he's gaining weight well, but unless you've a big problem with oversupply (oversupply is a totally different problem to fast let down the two don't always come together). Then giving both sides is normally best especially if your having large gaps between feeds.

Did you know babies use their hands at the breast to access more milk. It becomes more noticeable as they get older. But this is why they will get very frustrated if you swaddle them or restrited them at all. Make sure this nails are cut or they have mittens, hard I know.

Spudlet Mon 07-Mar-16 19:25:17

Hi Migril. It varies from day to day, but I'd say we're doing a minimum of 5 and maximum of 8 feeds every 24 hours. He either sleeps through or wakes once, then I feed pretty much on demand during the day. So our normal day looks a bit like this:

5.30-6am wakes up, first feed
Period of jollity, then nap
10-11am second feed
More jollity then nap
2-3pm third feed
Afternoon nap
5-6pm fourth feed
Bath
More napping
9-10pm fifth feed and bed
Then possibly 3-4am, sixth feed

But he will chuck extras in sometimes and those naps vary hugely in length and in how much he fights them! If he wakes earlier he normally chicks a second breakfast in, for example. And although evening cluster feeds are now less common, he still does them.

I'll give switching boobs a go, although our last feed was much calmer... Still a bit fraught though. He's grizzly generally, think he's feeling a bit sad - possibly a growth spurt?

Dixiechick17 Mon 07-Mar-16 21:16:23

How long has he been doing this? My DD used to do this if she had latched on for comfort but didn't actually want the milk, or during growth spurts when she was trying to tell my body that she wanted more. I thought it wad due to my fast let down and would lay back or on my side but it didn't make a difference. If she started getting fussy I would stop and try again a little while later.

MigGril Tue 08-Mar-16 07:34:08

Ok most definitely do both sides at least each feed.

Don't worry but I'm slightly concerned you've reduced your milk supply and this maybe causing the fussing.

If you look at it like this, if you only feed off one side and where doing between 5 and 8 feeds a day that each breast being stimulated between minium of 2 and 4 times. Now this would be ok if your baby was 10 months with an established milk supply. But at 10 weeks it's more likely to lead to milk reduction and epically with very few night feeds. Which are really important for supply. The situation isn't a problem yet as your baby is still getting milk gaining weight and having at nappies. But the fussing at the breast is often early signs of a problem starting. Feed more now will fix the issue without having to do anything else.

Like I said in my last post fast let down and over supply aren't linked and what you do to fix one problem isn't the same for the other. Feeling over full in the early weeks is totally normal this often settles on its own. Did you have any other concerns about this?

Spudlet Tue 08-Mar-16 12:00:43

My main concern is that I'm doing this wrong and letting the boy down. And how much it bloody well hurts to feed him. Although perhaps offering both sides will help with this as it will stop me having time to get so engorged that the boy can't get the nipple into his mouth (which is what I was trying to solve by only doing one side at a time). One nipple is now permanently a funny shape from feeding, and the initial latch on that side is just screamingly painful - but a hv watched me feed and said my latch was good so I've just been putting up with it and trying not to cry in public. I was also worried about him not getting to the hind milk, hence trying to get him to keep going on one boob for a long time.

I didn't think I was that bothered about breastfeeding, I said that I'd give it a go and if I couldn't do it, I'd stop. But now I've actually started, I hate the thought of stopping before 6 months, even though lots of times I've really wanted to stop... It's very emotional and I never expected that.

Hey ho! Thanks for the advice - I'll give offering both sides a go and also (based on the other thread) letting the boy stop when he stops and burping and waiting to see what he does, rather than immediately offering more boob, more more more, as I do think he's getting more efficient at getting the milk out and I don't need to keep shoving him back on the whole time. We had a lovely mid-feed chat this morning (well, he chatted and I sort of moaned and smiled at him with one eye closed as I was having a migraine!) then carried on and it was all much calmer, thank goodness. And finished in about 20 minutes, but he seemed happy with that.

MigGril Tue 08-Mar-16 14:08:35

I think from what you've said I would also suggest giving the BfN's breastfeeding helpline a ring, miss shappen nipples and pain when feeding shouldn't be ignored. This could be a simple latch issue just some additional help. Or maybe something else but painful feeding by 10 weeks really should be a lot better.

Your doing nothing wrong in fact by the sounds of it things are going quite well. You just need a little bit more support to get all the way there.

The phone number is 0300 100 0212

Dixiechick17 Tue 08-Mar-16 20:03:40

He might be latching on fine initially but then getting lazy with the latch mid feed, which could cause pain and a misshapen nipple and then be sore for every feed. My DD used to get lazy with night feeds and I used to hurt for a few days, I stopped offering her the boob straight away, sometimes as said it wasn't about wanting milk, it was a comfort thing. I too used to feed off one boob per feed, she was very effective at getting what she needed quickly. I'd definitely call the number above for some advice.

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