My wife & I had a horrible birthing experience this past week and are in need of some serious advice. (I won't go into any of the details since that's not the purpose of this post. PM me for more information and I can share.)
Our new kiddo spent 6 days in the NICU (unnecessarily) and was pretty much bottle fed the whole time. I say pretty much because although this hospital and staff claim to be 'breast friendly', the various nurses tending to him in the NICU gave us a really hard time when we came up to breastfeed. We pretty much dealt with the same nurse during the day and she always shooed us out after a handful of minutes (long before it was closing time for rounds, orders, shift change etc.) or just nagged us to death while trying to get him to latch. It just wasn't a good environment for that. Still, we went up when we could, but couldn't get up there all the time due to the cesarean and the aforementioned frustrations.
We got home 2 days ago (the day he and my wife were both discharged) and its been rough.
Like clockwork, he expects his meal every 3 hours and we're usually ready for all that with bottles, but getting him to latch and breastfeed is proving to be quite challenging.
- My wife has flat, if not slightly inverted nipples (one more so than the other), so we knew going into this that it could potentially be an uphill battle.
- The moment we get ready to put him to breast, he gets really fussy and when we put the breast to his mouth he rejects it, almost immediately going into rage mode. He never closes his mouth or tries to suck.
- We calm him down & try again but this process repeats.
Here's what we've been doing:
- We've got a Lansinoh Latch Assist and are trying to pull it out as much as possible. One nipple has always been a little more 'out' than the other, and the Latch Assist helps to a degree temporarily, but the other isn't showing any progress.
- We've got a Modela Nipple Shield that we're putting to use with mixed results:
- He tends to accept the breast with the Nipple Shield more often than not (likely because the texture is similar to a bottle nipple?) but if/when he sucks, milk isn't always flowing (manual expression yields that the breast is full of milk)
- Sometimes he just isn't interested in it at all and bawls
- We're pumping and manually expressing milk to saving for when he's hungry.
- We express a little milk so its hanging on the nipple, try to latch him and sprinkle some more milk onto his lips to help encourage a suck. This almost never works.
- We repeat the above except we use a curved plastic syringe (Monoject Curved 412) that we hook into the corner of his mouth once he latches to inject a little bit of milk to encourage a suck. This 'works':
- He responds to the milk in his mouth, drinks it, sucks a bit more then stops after a few seconds as if to wait for another mouthful of milk. (Likely the results of using a bottle?) If we don't inject more within seconds, or before he finishes his gulp, he explodes. So we have to have a near constant stream of milk in order to keep him interested.
- After doing this for 15-20 minutes he sometimes just feeds himself for 2-3 minutes without 'encouragement'. (yay!) This is pretty rare though.
- We haven't seen any positive changes when we put him to the breast:
- Once his lips touches her skin, he eagerly hunts for the nipple
- We 'sandwich' it as much as possible, and get as much in there as we can when he's got his mouth wide open
- But even with the nipple and some areola in there, he doesn't want to suck
- He goes from a cranky/fussy cry to all-out yelling (body tensing, high pitched cry etc) and doesn't respond further until we calm him down.
- In the end, we give him a bottle.
- We've tried giving him the breast a few times before he was hungry but the end result was the same.
My wife is severely discouraged and feels this is hopeless. Although I'm big on the positive reinforcement and encouraging her, I too am starting to feel similarly.
We don't want to aggravate our son, starve him, or create a negative association with breastfeeding so we're considering abandoning this cause, but I don't want to. (I'm not a quitter, but I'm not above backing down.)
We're desperate to get some advice and/or suggestions!