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Will she ever latch on?

(53 Posts)
JennyWren Wed 15-Jun-05 23:07:36

My dd is now 9 days old and has never latched on to breastfeed. I had a long second stage of labour (7.5 hours) and she was too tired to feed at delivery, and then I had a PPH and wasn't well enough to try again for the rest of the afternoon. I feel that this delay probably was a big part of the reason for her reluctance to breastfeed . By the time I could try, she wasn't interested - she didn't seem to know to open her mouth wide enough and although we persevered gently she became very upset and angry, so we had to keep stopping until she calmed down. In the end, we gave her donor milk using a syringe until I could express colostrum, then we gave that using a syringe. After 3 nights in the major hospital we transferred back to the cottage hospital where I had been labouring originally (I was transferred in second stage to be able to have the oxytocin drip), where we were recommended to change from a syringe to a bottle to encourage dd to suck. The midwives there were really supportive, and helped us try every feed to get dd to latch - we've tried the traditional hold, the rugby ball hold and lying on my side with dd 'feeding' from the top and the lower breast.

Is there anything else we should be trying? We have at least one prolonged session every day of skin-to-skin contact, letting dd crawl up my stomach - she heads for my nipple but never latches on. Every feed we encourage her to breast feed, and we've tried before her bottle, midway through the feed and after the feed, with an equal lack of success. We also tried using nipple shields, but she didn't take to those either. I've just read Mears' link on starlover's thread, about rebirthing, and I'm hoping to try that tomorrow morning when my dh is at home. Any other ideas anyone?

I also have 2 other questions. At present, I am expressing enough milk for all of Megan's feeds, but I am worried that I won't keep pace with her increasing demand. Tonight she is having a growth spurt phase and waking more often than usual to be fed, and I'm only just ahead of the game. I'm expressing every three hours during the day and whenever dd wakes for a feed during the night. I try to aim for one pump more than dd has a feed, and on the whole get about the same or a little more over the course of 24 hours as dd drinks. How long can I expect to keep pace with her demand? Is there anything else I can do to increase my supply?

Also, how long is the longest you have known a baby continue like this before they finally latch on? Am I flogging a lame horse? How long should I persevere before accepting defeat?

Expressing like this is very restricting - I could breastfeed anywhere but I can't exactly plug my hospital grade pump in and pump in the Tesco cafe! I don't mind though, as long as there is actually a point to it. I am trying to keep positive and take one feed at a time, but I have to think ahead a bit. My plan, such as it is, is to keep going as long as I can match dd's demand, then supplement with formula as needed, and at that point I think I will have to re-evaluate how often I want to express, just so that I can get out of the house. It isn't so bad whilst dh is on paternity leave, but once he's gone back to work, if I have to bottlefeed then pump every time dd feeds I'll never get out of the house at all, and I can't do that for 6 months!

Sorry for such a long post and thanks for your advice!

janeybops Wed 15-Jun-05 23:21:22

I used nipple shields with both of mine.

dd for 8 months, then she went onto formula

ds for 4 months, then began latching on properly and continued till 15 months old.

phone NCT helpline they are very helpful.

Flossam Wed 15-Jun-05 23:22:13

I really feel for you. You are doing a stirling job. Congratulations on both the birth of your DD and also your determination to breastfeed. I'm sorry I don't have any advice, but just saw that your post was unanswered so had a quick peek. Keep bumping this for Mears, Pupose or Tiktok (or even hunkermunker can be useful at times , hopefully they will be more help. You sound like a supermum, your daughter is very lucky and I hope it all gets sorted soon. xx

mears Wed 15-Jun-05 23:52:43

Glad you liked the link to Starlover and hope it is of use.

I really think it is important to get support from a breastfeeding counsellor - hopefully you got local numbers on discharge from hospital. It would be better to cupfeed your dd instead of giving her a bottle as the technique of sucking a teat is different than the breast. When babies are supplemented for any reason in our unit they are cupfed. You can buy little cups that have a smooth edge for that purpose. Cupfeeding doesn't take any longer than bottlefeeding. Babies get desperate to suck and will be more likely to suck the nipple if they have not been confused by a teat.

This link might be useful

Lots of skin-to-skin contact and perseverence needed. It can be done.

JulieF Wed 15-Jun-05 23:54:22

Oh Jenny, this brings back so many memories for me. Wondering whether it would ever happen and feeling that I had completely stumped all the experts (and boy did I see some experts)!

My ds was 1 month old when suddenly without any warning he latched on after complete refusal. My advice would be to take each day at a time. I also felt that the crunch would come when dh went back to work but somehow I managed to keep going through sheer determination and some would say stupidity and pure bloody mindedness.

Keep going with the skin to skin, co-bathing, dripping milk down your breast from a syringe.
I did receive different advice in one respect though from both my midwife and several breastfeeding counsellors. They told me to swithc from a syringe to an infant feeding cup so that ds didn't get nipple teat confusion. They felt it was important for him to learn to breastfeed first before we used a bottle.

How long you should persevere before accepting defeat is entireely up to you. I just want you to know that it is possible as I had only heard of people who had given up quite early on. There did come a point where I felt that I couldn;t cope with expressing through the night so for a very short time I used one formula feed a day. I'm not saying you should do this, it was something I decided after discussing it with my healthcare preofessionals and at the time it was the right decision for me as it bought me a bit of extra time so I didn;t give up completely.

We will never know the reason why ds refused. We had a lovely homebirth although it was very fast. We did try cranial osteopathy and I don;t know whether it was co-incidence or not but it was very shortly after that he first latched on.

With regards to getting out and about. I used to carry a hand pump with me ( I used the hospital grade one at home) and my HV organised a programme of b/f support group visits where I felt able to express withouth anyone feeling it was out of the ordinary. Are there any NCT/La Leche/Baby Cafe's in your area. Just getting out and getting some moral support can make all the difference.

JulieF Wed 15-Jun-05 23:58:45

If you email your address to julief at netmums dot com I can have two infant feeding cups in the post to you tomorrow. You can also use the top off a bottle in the meantime or buy a pack of three new from NCT maternity sales I think

mears Thu 16-Jun-05 00:01:06


mears Thu 16-Jun-05 00:02:18

Snap JulieF

berolina Thu 16-Jun-05 07:59:23

Again, like Julie, I recommend persistence. My ds is 4 weeks and 1 day old and was supplemented with formula in hospital (with a bottle, nobody told me cup feeding was an option) due to jaundice and weight loss. He latched on originally but started refusing the breast erratically - that is, he would latch on sometimes, but mostly refuse. However, I persevered - trying him on the breast at the beginning of every feed, sometimes in between, while expressing (I know, it's a killer to express at night isn't it?) and giving formula. I can now report he hasn't refused the breast since last weekend . And this despite bottles. Am still doing some expressing and giving a little formula as supply is not quite up to scratch, but I hope that's on the way out. It was a real breakthrough when he started getting more direct breastmilk than EBM. My situation might be slightly different than yours in that ds did latch on at the beginning, but there were times when he went a whole day refusing, getting horribly worked up, screaming and scratching and hitting me and it looked pretty black. Mears, tiktok, pupuce etc. are the best people to give you concrete advice but I just wanted to give you a little hope and say WELL DONE for persevering!

tiktok Thu 16-Jun-05 08:44:04

Jenny - there is some great info here. I won't add to it. Sometimes, I think that situations like this are not helped by too much information all at once. Decide what you can mnage to do today, and come back and report

I'd just add this - it is early days, you have already made progress as your dd has gone from being upset and angry to enjoying your skin to skin cuddles

throckenholt Thu 16-Jun-05 09:05:57

My ds1 was like this for the first month - I then breastfed him until 12 months.

Berolina has a thread like this from a couple of weeks ago - lots of good advice and support there.

Also if you cat me I can give you more info on what worked for me.

JulieF Thu 16-Jun-05 15:19:39

Berolina, I'm so pleased things are going well, I followed your original thread with interest.

JennyWren Thu 16-Jun-05 16:41:22

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for your messages - it means a lot to know that we're not the only ones this has happened to! It is great also to have an idea of how long it might reasonably take. We tried the rebirthing bath today, as well as 'dry land' skin to skin time, and she didn't latch this time, but we'll keep trying it. I do feel much more positive today - the midwife came to visit this morning and dd has regained her birthweight so with that and lots of wet and dirty nappies I am happy that she's getting enough to drink. We've also been given the OK to let her go up to 4 hours without a feed if she doesn't wake by herself, rather than the 3 hours we were doing, so she has had slightly longer naps today, which has given me more time to pump and have a bit of time to myself - even just an extra half hour has made all the difference. And I've broken the 100ml point for a pumping session today, so my supply is definitely increasing with her demands, at least for now.

Julief - thank you so much for the offer to send me those cups. I will e-mail you - although I can hear that dd is waking up, so it might have to be later!

Thanks again to everyone - I'll let you know how we get on...

18mumtobe Fri 17-Jun-05 12:25:29


i know how you feel, when my ds was born 11 days ago, he wouldn't latch on properly, we tried stright after birth but he wasn't interested as was too tired from the whole experience.

i then kept trying all day but he wouldn't feed at all because he had alot of mucus still in him and was bringing it all up by being sick. he never feed at all until the next evening when i went to a birthing centre and they helped me using nipple sheilds.

ds was tonge tied when he was born which is why he wouldn't latch on, have you had dd checked to see if she is tonge tied.

i breast feed for that night but it was so painful by the next day i had started expressing and have been ever since. so ds has breast milk but from a bottle which is working very well. is it abit restricting as you have to express for every feed and it makes going out very diffcult but its worth it if they are getting the breast milk instead of formula.

mears Fri 17-Jun-05 12:36:26

Will you ever try to to latch him on again 18mumtobe? If his tongue tie had been snipped he should be able to latch on without causing pain. It is brilliant that he is still getting breastmilk but you may find that over time your milk supply will not match his needs as the breasts are not stimulated as much by a pump as a baby. You certainly may be one of the fortunate women who will have an excellent supply anyway and will be able to continue expressing indefinately. It just seems to me you are missing out on the lovely experience of actually breastfeeding which was the bit I absolutely loved.

fastasleep Fri 17-Jun-05 12:42:04

Best of luck 18mumtobe...I expressed for 9 months and it drove me crazy in the end sorry, probably not what you want to hear! Maybe keep trying him on the breast on the off-chance xxxx expressing is hard work!!

fastasleep Fri 17-Jun-05 12:43:20

Best of luck to Jennywren as well (silly me forgot to add your name!)

starlover Fri 17-Jun-05 12:44:52

18mumtobe my DS was the same when he was born. He was bottle fed for 10 days, and i tried him at the breast before EVERY feed (and sometimes in between). when he was about 10 days old he just took it!

He was then exclusively b/f until recently!

definitely agree with mears that it's worth getting him onto the breast if you can.
I am back to expressing now (for other reasons) and it's doing my head in! DS is now mixed fed as i couldn't keep up with his demand.

JennyWren Sat 18-Jun-05 21:38:57

Hi 18mumtobe. Good luck with the expressing - it is hard work, isn't it!

There's been no real change in the Wren household. We've tried the bath again though, and this time she did actually open her mouth to nuzzle at my nipple, which I am looking on as an improvement. We have got our NCT breastfeeding counsellor coming around tomorrow morning, so hopefully that may help. We are also due to go back into hospital for the day on Monday, to get some more help.

The bad news is that I think dd may end up needing some formula tonight. She woke twice last night because she was thirsty, and if she does the same tonight I just don't think I'll have enough milk to give her. With it being so warm she has wanted much more to drink yesterday and today, and I've been struggling to keep up. I'm going to pump again now, and again at about 11.30pm, but today for the first time she's drunk more than I've produced.

pupuce Sat 18-Jun-05 21:47:57

Don't despair, I am currently working with 2 women witrh similar problems.
Rebirthing definitely helps.
If you are expressing often your supply will be fine but I can appreciate you may find that your supply isn't enough especially if she wakes at night and you haven't got EBM in fridge !
Have you tried latching her on at night before giving the formula.
I know several women who managed to latch on after 4 weeks (from NO latcg at all from birth).

starlover Sat 18-Jun-05 21:53:24

JW... definitely try latching her at night. I almost had success with DS the other night because he was so sleepy!

mandyc66 Sat 18-Jun-05 22:16:51

hi! just skimmed over this thread and am sorry you are having trouble breast feeding! One thing to think about (as am sure you have) is if you are getting anxious the baby will sense that so try and relax as much as possible.Try different positions.Trying lying in bed with baby next to you and see if he can nuzzle in that for some. so get comfy girls and give it another go. hard to do but try and open the mouth first make sure they get a big mouth full..if it hurts more often than not they arnt latched on properly so 'disconect' and try again!!!

icklelulu Sun 19-Jun-05 20:07:34

Read this thread yesterday but ds woke up so couldnt post a message!I cant remember if anyone mentioned boppy cushions? They can help with positioning. My health visitor uses the phrase 'the angle of dangle'. My DS was very fussy and difficult to latch on at first but now he is 6 months and a brilliant feeder, he can almost help himself! I hope everything works out for u. It is still early days so dont give up!

mandyc66 Sun 19-Jun-05 21:41:23

I was told tummy to tummy nose to nipple or something similar to that!!!

starlover Sun 19-Jun-05 22:05:13

lol... yes that's what your supposed to do.
unfortunately tummy to tummy and nose to nipple just doesn't work for some babies. DS just screamed if he was put anywhere near a boob! let alone getting it near his nose!

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