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Thumbsucking when BF

(13 Posts)
belindarose Tue 03-Nov-09 14:59:26

My 11 week old DD seems to have decided she likes sucking her thumb more than feeding! For the last couple of days, feeds have been really short as she has constantly tried to slip her thumb into her mouth instead of my nipple. I've been trying to persuade her to feed for longer, but with no success. A bit worried as BF took us so long to establish I still feel very much a beginner. Also, her weight gain has never been fast, so I don't want her to start taking less milk.
Any thoughts or advice please?

belindarose Tue 03-Nov-09 17:46:56

Can anyone help please? This has now turned into full on refusing the breast. I've just had half an hour of screaming at the breast and had to give expressed milk that was in the fridge (fortunately). However, she's now demanding more milk but still refusing the breast. Both a bit hysterical now.

JetLi Tue 03-Nov-09 18:29:37

Oh goodness, how awful.
Could you both get in a nice warm bath together or do some skin to skin in bed for bit to see if that helps? Just have the boob nearby as it were?

belindarose Wed 04-Nov-09 11:39:53

Thanks, JetLi - I didn't get chance to reply last night. I read your reply to another thread yesterday about fussing at the breast too, and that was helpful. We've had one good feed today at 5.30am, which always seems to be a successful and nice one. Then 9ish, which started out really badly with lots of pulling off and thumb sucking. I tried some of your suggestions like sitting her up and distracting, and she eventually settled for a 'proper' feed. Hoping we get more good ones today. Perhaps more patience on my part is required!

anothercoldcupoftea Wed 04-Nov-09 12:49:35

Hello - just want to say, keep on trying! I've had this on and off with my DD2, I have to gently pull her thumb out and hold her hand to get her to feed sometimes. Not sure why (maybe she doesn't really realise the difference? or she just likes her thumb more? or maybe she's teething or something, who knows!), but the key seems to be keeping really calm and being patient. Good luck...

belindarose Wed 04-Nov-09 13:29:27

Thanks, just had a reasonable feed. It was happy, but lots of pulling off and hand holding. I wonder if the thumbsucking and the pulling off are to do with let down. It might be that she pulls off when letdown seems fast and sucks her thumb to keep calm while she's 'waiting' for more milk flow ?? Sounds weird, but that's what it seems like she's doing. I need to persuade her that only sucking in the right place will encourage more milk!

JetLi Wed 04-Nov-09 14:35:55

Hi belinda - my DD has been a world-class fusser. I never found just 1 answer, but many different things helped at one time or another. Mostly she just grew out of it in the end (albeit not entirely!). But it's very frustrating at the time.It used to feel like feeding a baby alligator with all the thrashing around.

anothercoldcupoftea Wed 04-Nov-09 20:23:26

Belinda - you may have a point there, I've got a fast let down as well....

belindarose Fri 06-Nov-09 12:27:26

Thanks for your ideas. I'm finding things are improving by staying calm and not panicking! I think I worry over-much because we had such a rocky start to breastfeeding that I worry the slightest thing will put an end to it. Turned out that one thumbsucking episode this morning was because she was tired - fell asleep on the breast eventually and napped for ages. The tea time fuss seems to be because she just wants a really short feed and I'm trying to keep her on longer! Thanks JetLi for the thought that it's not always the same message she's trying to give me.

Reallytired Fri 06-Nov-09 16:56:38

My daughter loves sucking her thumb. It hasn't harmed her yet or wrecked breastfeeding.

I don't think that thumb sucking is a dangerous for supply as a dummy. What makes a dummy problematic is that a parent normally puts the dummy in the baby's mouth at the first sign of yap rather than offering the breast. It is different to a baby physically choosing to suck their thumb.

At a eleven weeks your milk supply is probably quite well established. Also babies are more efficent at suckling. She does not need as many feeds as a newborn. Trust her to let you know if she is hungry.

IslandIsla Fri 06-Nov-09 18:41:00

Hi belinda, I have a similar story. I also had a rocky start to BFing - DD's first feed formula from a bottle and ending up with mastitis at 4 weeks are two highlights (but still BFing at 7.5 months smile) ... and at around 9/10 weeks my daughter discovered thumbsucking. I found that feeds became far shorter. At first i was worried about her milk intake but eventually realised that in the early days alot of 'feeding' was actually just sucking (and of course once she was older her feeding was more efficient). Once she started thumbsucking she didn't need to suck on me so much. She may be refusing the breast as she is full! Trust her to take the milk she needs. I find it amazing how fast my DD feeds now. She often wants just a few minutes on the breast. Gone are the days of watching whole tv programmes whilst feeding!

At 7 months, thumbsucking is now how DD signals she wants to be fed or that she is tired (or often both!). More often than not I still have to prise the thumb out of her mouth to feed but this is a sort of ritual between us now, and she sometimes gets the giggles when I take her thumb out to put the nipple in!

bonfiresnomore Fri 06-Nov-09 18:46:48

My DD2 did this too - she loved her thumb. I had a very fast let down & the flow was a bit overwhelming for her at times. She also used to use my nipple as a dummy, 'pretend' sucking so no milk came out!

belindarose Fri 06-Nov-09 20:10:43

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I know I should trust her to let me know when she's hungry and to take what she needs. It's more about confidence in my ability to breastfeed than lack of confidence in her I think. The thumb sucking is fantastic most of the time as it helps her sleep beautifully!

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