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Will he latch on by himself?

(17 Posts)
cornflakegirl Mon 27-Jun-05 21:46:18

My little boy is three weeks old and feeding well. But when it comes to latching on, it's all very inelegant - waiting for him to open his mouth wide enough and then grabbing my boob and stuffing it in his mouth. Which isn't a major problem at the moment - but it would be nice to be able to feed in public / in front of my father-in-law without everyone getting an eyeful...

The books I've read talk about nursing while co-sleeping - which suggests to me that, at some point, he should be able to find the nipple by himself. (I've also never noticed other women who have breastfed around me waving their nipples about!) But there's no sign of that at the moment - even when the nipple is right next to his mouth, or even inside it, he doesn't seem to recognise this as a cue to take a big mouthful.

Feeding was really difficult at the start - he was very sleepy, and also jaundiced on day 1 (he had a day on a bilibed). I copied the grab-and-stuff move from the midwives who got him eating in the first place. Have never seen anyone else latch on, so don't know if it's normal. Also wondering if boob size is a factor - am currently a K cup, so they're probably not the easiest thing for him to navigate...

Anyway, I'm mainly really grateful that he's eating well now - but it would be nice to know what I can expect in the long run.

Thanks in advance for your comments

sazhig Mon 27-Jun-05 23:34:45

Can't help you personally with when babies can latch on by themselves as we didn't manage actual breastfeeding until ds was nearly a month old so my experience of feeding a newborn is slightly different! (he was fed expressed milk via bottle until then). I would try & find a breastfeeding group or cafe near you. Lots of opportunity to see other bf mums in action! Try LLL or NCT for starters or ask your HV.

hunkermunker Mon 27-Jun-05 23:37:20

I would say that they need a bit of guidance in the early weeks, but soon work out where the good stuff's at. Don't get blase about it though or you end up with lovebites where thy latch on under your boob and suck frantically!

Big boobs are harder for them to navigate, IME (but having not had experience of small boobs, I don't know what I'm talking about - LOL!).

Congratulations on your DS!

edam Mon 27-Jun-05 23:41:23

CFG, that was me, nearly two years ago! Afraid I never worked out how to latch on without grabbing handful of breast and stuffing it in ds's face - very inelegant but eventually just got on with it as would have been under house arrest otherwise. Decided that if anyone wanted to look, that was their problem, not mine. Never had anyone make any nasty comments to me.
Don't know if bra size is a factor but I was an F cup beforehand and not exactly pert so don't think that helped.
Wouldn't it be helpful if midwives/bf counsellors/HVs actually showed you how to latch on professionally - as in not just the way you do it when you are learning, but how it's supposed to end up?
Not sure this is terribly inspiring, but you sure ain't alone...

hunkermunker Mon 27-Jun-05 23:43:17

Edam, wish they would. Makes me v when I hear of midwives stuffing boobs into babies mouths - happened to me and was totally wrong. Like trying to fold my ear into a keyhole.

I realise now I should've said, "That's all well and good, but are you going to be there every time I need to feed DS for the next year or so? Hmm?" Mind you, the midwives I had would've had me locked up for feeding beyond three days old, I think

edam Mon 27-Jun-05 23:48:19

Hm, I agree-ish but actually it was the breastfeeding counsellor who helped me get ds latched on properly and I was bloody grateful at the time as was in agony from cracked nipples and mastitis and dreading every blasted feed (would have switched to formula but dh has asthma and eczema...). I just wish she'd said 'and once you've mastered that, you can move on to stage 2 for people who know what they are doing, far more discreet'.
I think I once saw a post here suggesting that if you just leave mothers and newborns snuggled up together babies will latch on properly themselves and all this shoving the breast in their face is really unhelpful. Do you think that's true?

hunkermunker Mon 27-Jun-05 23:51:47

I think that if the woman requests help with positioning, then a hands-on approach isn't totally off-limits. But if a woman says "Please can you help me breastfeed?" then the first approach is not to grab boob and baby and bring them together, then say "That's how you do it" and bugger off. The latter's what happened to me on the postnatal ward...

There is evidence to suggest that babies left to find the breast by themselves are more successful at bfeeding than those shoved on - often babies heads are sensitive after being born and it affects how the feed if they're held on the boob by a midwife grasping the back of their skull...

edam Mon 27-Jun-05 23:56:22

That all makes sense. Honestly can't remember what happened in hospital - I know ds fed soon after birth but can't remember if someone attached him to me or not! But was v. grateful to bf counsellor for sorting out latch. Just wanted part 2 on doing it discreetly... ho hum. AND ds has bloody eczema anyway, after all my struggles - some toddlers have no gratitude, I tell you.

sazhig Tue 28-Jun-05 00:05:34

Yes - babies can use their own natural reflexes (like the stepping one) to move around on their mum and latch on to the boob themselves. We watched a lovely video of this on my peer support training week before last. Every one in the room wanted to have it happen after their next birth!

My ds was very badly traumatised by the rough handling of the numerous midwives I asked for help when I was in hospital. He rejected the boob soon after we left hosptial & it took a month to get him back on. I am very grateful for the hands off approach that the LLL ladies I sought help from. I am now very scathing of any hands on approach simply becasue bodies like LLL teach their leaders NOT to do it

KiwiKate Tue 28-Jun-05 01:08:23

Most babies can latch automatically, but some can't (especially if born a little early, and born with jaundice might be a sign of being a little early). Apparently the latching reflex is one of the last to develop.

My DS (born three weeks early) could not latch on automatically, and I had to put him on the boob. I didn't find it to be a big deal, as I was just glad he was feeding. After a couple of months he and I both got a bit better at the whole thing and were able to be a more discrete, and he hardly needed any help after a couple of months (provided he was properly positioned) except when he was tired. Some days he was better than others, but did always need me to hold my boob towards him even if he did the latching himself, he never launched himself at me like I saw other babies do with their mums, and he just got very frustrated when I left him to it.

Maisiemog Tue 28-Jun-05 02:09:25

Cornflakegirl, well done you for getting started. It does does does get better, and you care less about feeding in public anyway, after a while, but while it's still rubbish you could get hold of one of those breastfeeding books that tell you where they have babycare rooms with comfy seats and stuff for feeding. I think the NCT do one.
Anyone?
My ds was jaundiced and three week early, he just couldn't get the hang of feeding at first and took almost twelve weeks to be exclusively breastfed. Now he is 7 months and he is so funny, he does a big mouth for feeding and can latch himself back on when I'm not looking. He was abysmal initially, so it just goes to show, practice does make perfect. Don't worry it will happen.
Oh, and I found decent breastfeeding tops made me feel a bit happier about breastfeeding in public.

NotQuiteCockney Tue 28-Jun-05 07:22:46

edam, if you go to a breastfeeding counsellor, they should be able to show you another way. I was at a class for pregnant mums the other day (as a "demonstrator", DS2 was 8 months or so), and they had some interesting techniques.

Even if you don't learn another way, your DS will certainly get the knack of it. Neither of my boys had intervention for latching on, but DS1 did have shields for the first three months, which also meant feeding in public was a bit fiddly, so I know what you're going through.

cornflakegirl Tue 28-Jun-05 20:28:25

edam - thanks for your comments - it's nice to know it's not just me - completely agree about letting other people watch or not as they choose (!) - with the possible exception of my father-in-law, who already doesn't quite get me

sazhig - thanks for the suggestion about a breastfeeding group - i remember seeing one advertised in hospital - will have to dig out the details

my son wasn't actually early - don't know what caused the jaundice - but he was really really sleepy and lethargic - didn't have enough energy to eat until he'd been tube fed, poor lamb - so i was really grateful for all the midwives who stuffed my boob in his mouth! can understand why it might not be appropriate in other circumstances though

changing the subject slightly - does anyone know of a good book on breastfeeding that deals with this sort of question, rather than just the ideal theory / slating women who bottle feed / etc?

mears Tue 28-Jun-05 20:30:42

how about this one

mears Tue 28-Jun-05 20:32:47

as advertised on mumsnet

Written by my pal

cornflakegirl Tue 28-Jun-05 20:38:35

thanks mears - will look out for that

Maisiemog Tue 28-Jun-05 21:43:27

Cornflake,
I think Jaundice is really common, I read somewhere that as many as 50% of babies are affected, I don't know if that was in the US or UK. I know I had jaundice and I was almost three weeks late, as did my slightly late dp. It's such a nuisance, because it just gives you one more thing to worry about when you are trying to bf.
When my ds 'woke up' he definately improved technique, but I think I made it worse by being nervous and stressed - which meant he often ended up fed-up. I had the whole midwife boob grabbing thing as well. It didn't bother me, so much as stress out ds - I'm sure he was affected negatively by all the commotion and took a while to recover.
Whatever you do don't let him stay on if it is uncomfortable, more than the initial let down I mean. I had pain because I would tolerate discomfort as I was afraid he wouldn't latch on again if I took him off. OW!
I even used to open his mouth with my finger to make sure he was opening wide enough.
Now when I'm out and I feed him, he always pulls off just as a big group of people are walking past (nosy)

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