I have a six-day-old newborn who is really struggling with breastfeeding. He starts crying when I offer the breast, and screams and fights me if I try to get him to latch. We're otherwise bonding well, but this is heartbreaking.
We got good latch within a few hours of birth, although he'd only suck a few times before popping off - that continued through the afternoon and evening. The next day he got to the point where he'd nurse for 5 - 10 minutes at a time, but on day 2 he'd latch, suck a little, pop off, and actively fight me when I tried to re-latch. I started suspecting supply issues at that point - my milk wasn't in and I'd gone from being able to hand-express a little colostrum to getting NOTHING, and when I'd try to nurse him he'd scream, arch his back, kick, and push me away forcefully. By the morning of day 3 he was screaming with hunger and starting to show signs of dehydration, so we started supplementing with formula in a low-flow bottle. On day 4 we got an SNS, which he refused to use on the breast but happily took on a finger. Day 5 (yesterday) saw my milk start to come in, but he still refused to latch and would become violently upset if I'd try, even if there was milk on the nipple. We continued using the SNS and started adding in breastmilk, and as of that evening I was able to pump enough to feed him breastmilk exclusively overnight and this morning.
Last night he was willing to root at my breasts and lick a little milk off the nipples when I was leaking, but if I'd try to get him to latch he'd scream and fight. We've talked to multiple LCs as well as an LLL leader, and they all say he CAN latch just fine. The LC I saw last night when I rented a hospital pump was able to get him to latch and nurse, but only by holding his head very firmly and basically forcing him onto the breast while he cried, which goes against my parenting beliefs and makes me cringe to try on my own. He DID nurse when she did that, and we managed it once when we got home, but he fights it so much that I don't think I can bring myself to continue doing it, especially as I just read an article on kellymom that advises against using any sort of force.
So here we are on day 6. My supply is building, I think I'll be able to feed him expressed breastmilk more or less exclusively from here on out, but I REALLY want him to nurse. The SNS is great, but it's a lot of work to set up (especially at night when I'm trying really hard to keep feedings low-key so he'll go back to sleep) and I'd rather be spending time with him than pumping.
Today we're going to crank up the heat in our bedroom, strip us both to the waist, and spend the day doing skin-to-skin bonding. I'm encouraged by the fact that last night he rooted quite a bit and was insistent on sleeping with his head smooshed into my breasts. I'm going to try the suggestions here: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/baby/back-to-breast.html for encouraging him to seek out the breast.
As far as we can tell he's not tongue-tied, he hasn't shown signs of reflux since his first morning home, I had only minimal drugs (low doses of Nubain) during labor and his delivery was uncomplicated and he was immediately brought to the breast after birth - he never left my sight while we were in the hospital. He's full-term, born at 39w2d, and weighed 9lbs 9oz when he was born.
Thoughts? Advice? Anything I'm missing?
I wish I had some advice, but I wanted to at least tell you that you are not alone. My firstborn simply would not nurse - period. I spent six days in the hospital with her (she had a Group B strept infection) where I had constant help from nurses, but none of them could get her to nurse. They nicknamed her "Buckaroo" because she'd flail her head back and cry at the mere sight of my boob. Heartbreaking, yes. I tried for two more weeks at home, but finally gave in and began pumping and bottle feeding her.
My theory in hindsight about why she wouldn't nurse is this. I have very flat n*ppl*es and she had a very tiny mouth. It was simply too difficult for her to latch. A nurse later told me (with my third baby who also never nursed) that it was like trying to latch onto an inflated balloon.
The only advice I can give you is to seek all the help you can get now while he's still tiny so if the time does come where you feel you have to throw in the towel, you will have no regrets because you will know that you've done all you can do. I live in a small town with no lactation consultants, and it haunted me for years that I did not drive 100 or more miles or pay someone to drive 100 or more miles to help me.
I wish you the very best. I know how sad it is.
nak so shorter than i would ;like.
first, big hugs and tears of sympathy. you can work through this.
this can be a response to discomfort post birth, and also of being forced to the breast. i also share your parenting beliefs.
things to think about:
cst or chiro for baby asap to help with discomfort and positioning issues
skin to skin letting baby self latch (www.breastcrawl.org and drjacknewman.com videos)
no 'typical' nursing positions. try upright, baby in control
try a 'rebirth' - have a warm bath with baby (and someone else watching!), get dry but skin to skin and lay back with baby on your chest and let baby reconnect with his instincts. If you can, you may want to express some milk so your nipples are already milky. Baby will likely let some emotions out - cry and complain about how difficult this has been - which is expected. it has been difficult!
watch your hand placement - avoid baby's head as it is often sore after birth.
and sending good latch vibes your way
Yes, try a chiropractor. 2 of my 6 kids were refusing to latch or for one it was he just clamped down hard. Saw a chiro at 3 days old and had perfect nursers immediately. It was pretty unbelievable to see the difference.
what about a nipple shield?
Kythryne, I feel your pain. Here's my story, it might bring you some hope.
My now 3-month old took the breasts with a good latch early on. From past experience, I figured my milk wouldn't come in until late of the 4th day so I supplemented him with formula at the end of the first day (could not stand seeing my child cry with hunger again). From that point on, he decided that he liked the bottles better. He forcefully rejected the breasts with kicking, screaming, pushing away from me, and stopped eating all together. Everyone told me to continue and I should contact at least a lactation specialist for help. I felt forcing my child taking my breasts was more for my benefit than his. So at 6 days old, I decided to stop forcing him to take the breasts and I must pump in order to give him breast milk.
Five weeks later, we had to be out and I had not had a chance to pump; he woke up unexpectedly and demanded milk. Without having extra milk available I offered him my breast. He drank some and went back to sleep. Since then, he gradually preferred my breasts over the bottle. We were out again today, he only drank one oz. breast milk from a 5 oz. bottle and about 10 minutes from a breast. He actually waited until we got home to fill up his tummy. We were out from 10:10 a.m. and 4 p.m. What I am trying to say is may be your son will want to be nursed in a couple of weeks. BTW, my son did not care for the nipple shield.