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Infant feeding

Tiny newborn will not open her mouth

47 replies

metsa · 23/02/2019 11:53

My baby was delivered by C section on Wednesday 20/2. She was 36w+2 and weighed 4lbs 13. We just got home from hospital with her last night and the problem we're having is she that she simply isn't interested in feeding at all. She's formula fed. The first problem is getting the teat into her mouth - she just will not take it. I spend solid minutes rubbing the teat gently over her lips and gums before she'll eventually let it in. We're using Tommee Tippee bottles and teats, and there is milk dribbling out when we do this, which she lets run out of her mouth.
Once we do get the teat into her mouth, she has very little interest in sucking and feeding. This was a problem in hospital too and is partially why we abandoned breast feeding. I've just fed her for 50 minutes and got maybe 5-10ml into her. We need her to be getting much more than that. I watched the nurses and assistants in hospital, who were able to get more into her and I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. She's asleep most of the time during feeding. She has mild jaundice but not enough to need treatment.
Should we change to a fast or medium flow teat? We're currently using a variflow one, in the hope she would get more than through the slow flow recommended newborn one. How can we get her to open her mouth? Does anyone have any other tips?

OP posts:
NCKitten · 23/02/2019 12:06

Has a midwife seen you at home for a newborn check and weigh? I can't imagine she's growing well if she's barely feeding. I'm surprised you're already at home with such a small and early baby, but I realise I don't know the full story.

DS also wouldn't feed properly and we were readmitted and put on a feeding plan as his weight loss continued after discharge. After we were discharged for the second time we took him to A&E because it took 90 minutes to feed him 30ml (he was considerably bigger than your baby). He was also constantly sleeping, and was admitted to Special Care with a suspected infection. He also had rapid breathing though, but this is what the NHS says about young babies and feeding:

NCKitten · 23/02/2019 12:08

I really don't mean to frighten you, but inability to feed is quite serious when they're so young. DS was completely fine, but he did have quite a bad tongue tie.

StealthPolarBear · 23/02/2019 12:10

You need to get her seen, especially if she's a little jaundiced and not feeding well. I assume she's not having many wet and dirty nappies? This sort of thing can easily lead to admission. Congratulations x

Bigonesmallone3 · 23/02/2019 12:14

If she's not feeding properly you shouldn't really of been allowed the leave the hospital..
I would contact your MW..

Congratulations btw..
Our dds share the same bday Smile

LIZS · 23/02/2019 12:14

Try gently rubbing her cheek, blow on her face or rub her throat to open her mouth. If you up the teat flow she may find it too fast and choke. Iirc the variflows work by having different slit sizes depending how you turn the bottles rather than how the baby sucks. Check for tongue tie and ask the mw to show you how to use a cup rather than bottle.

Drum2018 · 23/02/2019 12:18

Could she have tongue tie? Ds had and the formula just dribbled down his face. I switched to the Avent bottles as the teats were longer. He had his tongue snipped eventually but it should have been picked up when he was born.

avocadochocolate · 23/02/2019 12:20

Contact your midwife ASAP or the NCT Helpline - they are experts on baby feeding.

burbleburble · 23/02/2019 12:25

We had to syringe feed DD initially - it did at least get milk into her. But I second others in saying seek help.

RogueV · 23/02/2019 13:01

Hi DD was born at 35+6 4.5 weeks ago now, she was 4lb10oz.
We were kept in for 5 days - they wanted to ensure she was feeding before discharge.

She was however how you describe your little one. Just wanted to sleep, didn’t open her mouth for feeding. We kept rubbing the teat over her mouth trying to get her to suck. Took ages. The midwives and HCAs were very good at getting her to take a feed.

If you are still struggling then I would get her seen to. Has she passed meconium yet? Wet nappies?

RogueV · 23/02/2019 13:02

The jaundice will also be making her sleepy - DD was the same.

picklemepopcorn · 23/02/2019 13:19

A 5lb baby doesn't take a lot- how often is she feeding? Keep a log.

You may need to stir her a little before you feed, and don't wait until she is hungry before starting. Maybe after a nappy change, for example.

I was surprised by how far in the teat needed to be- you need to push a little bit.

I had to support the baby's chin with my finger, making his jaw open and close, to help him work the teat- he was tube fed at first because he couldn't take a bottle. He only came home when I'd demonstrated I could feed him/he could take a bottle.

But don't hesitate to get help. Ring the ward and go back in for a check up and a bit of reassurance.

DonPablo · 23/02/2019 13:29

Ah, congratulations!

I think you need to get her seen: no doctor minds seeing such a tiny baby. What are your options on a Saturday where you are?

Is she having wet and dirty nappies?

StealthPolarBear · 23/02/2019 13:34

Don't you have access to the postnatal ward for 28 days or something?

NotAFuckingYummyMummy · 23/02/2019 13:40

I also had a 4lb 14 baby, although a 34 weeker.
Feeding can be tiring for little babies. So little and often is easier than big amounts in one go.
Start off with a nappy change and stripping baby off, although keep baby nice and toasty after.
Have a bit of skin to skin (excellent at helping with feeding even if you're not bf), when you see baby squirming/rooting get the nice warm bottle in Grin
Also sometimes size 1 newborn teats can tire little babies out, I found medium flow to be much better.
Definitely speak to your midwife ASAP.

Soubriquet · 23/02/2019 13:43

I would also contact your midwife and express your concerns

Babies can go downhill very quickly so it’s always best to seek professional advice

One thing to try though, strip her down to her nappy.

MsJuniper · 23/02/2019 13:55

My Dd was readmitted to the postnatal ward at 5 days due to high sodium (she had been bf). She wasn't a small baby and didn't look dehydrated but it was taken seriously. The midwives and I tried so hard to get her to feed from me or a bottle but she wanted to sleep. She had a NG tube for a few days to get some calories into her and when she'd woken up a bit she could feed ok. It was a difficult start but the doctors, midwives and other HCPs were amazing and sorted everything out for us.

I bought a load of small disposable teats from a website which went into her mouth more easily (the type that attaches to mini premade formula bottles but will also fit to various bottles) and she had those for ages.

I would try and speak to someone today - babies need regular calories and small babies especially so and it can be difficult once they are in the sleepy cycle.

metsa · 23/02/2019 14:07

She was seen by the midwife this morning and has lost 8% of her weight from birth, which is higher than they'd like but not yet a problem. She is producing wet and dirty nappies so something is going in. This was also before the disastrous feed and after a lot of night feeds so I didn't think we had a problem. She also cluster fed last night, still took her a long time but she had more milk then, several feeds worth across a few hours. The feeding plan the hospital gave us was for 20ml every 3 hours. We try to wake and feed her every three hours but she falls asleep during the feeds. In hospital we were changing her nappy and stripping her to feed, but it is cooler at home so we're not stripping her although we do change her nappy. Before we left hospital, we were getting more then the 20 mls into her at her feeds before they let us go. Since being home, she is visibly sucking more on the bottles we have than she was on the hospital disposable ones, and seems keener on them, but seems to be getting less milk down.

She's due another feed now. If she feeds badly again I'll call the midwifes or the labour ward.

OP posts:
StealthPolarBear · 23/02/2019 14:09

Hope it goes well

dementedpixie · 23/02/2019 14:16

My dd couldn't work the variflow teat. Could you try a different one to see if it works better? Working too hard to get the milk out will also tire her out

NCKitten · 23/02/2019 14:47

Which teats were you using in the hospital? DS was terrible with the standard Boots teats so we got NUK ones, which he had in hospital. He's still using those at five months! Could you get the same ones you had in hospital?

NotAFuckingYummyMummy · 23/02/2019 14:57

I would say if she has had her "requirements" over a 24 hr period, then one 'off' feed is not a problem yet, if her nappies are ok.
Just keep on with the 3 hourly feeds.
Keep an eye on her temperature, and look out for signs of jittering ( waving arms etc when asleep), this can be a sign if hypoglycaemia.
Jaundice can also make them sleepy.
Some babies just take longer than other to recover from the birth, this is very common in the first week, especially with little babies, you're doing everything right Thanks

metsa · 23/02/2019 15:02

She took at least 30ml in half an hour. I'm much happier. I'll obviously keep a close eye on her and if I get worried again, I'll call someone.

OP posts:
StealthPolarBear · 23/02/2019 15:03


StealthPolarBear · 23/02/2019 15:04

She must be getting the hang of it

Drum2018 · 23/02/2019 15:09

Did the midwife check for tongue tie?

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