My sweet baby boy, 5 months, has been gagging on my breast since the first few days of life after birth. He is a big boy, was born 10 pounds 3 ounces. Now is 20 pounds.
He does not have tongue tie, as we had breastfeeding issues in the beginning and a lactation consultant checked.
It is not my overactive letdown (which I have, but the gagging is ONLY happening during the initial latch, not during the letdown or following).
Clearly, he has been nursing enough because he is thriving and is growing out of 12 month clothing at 5 months. BUT, the gagging is becoming a problem.
I used to always take it personally when it happened once every few days, to a few times a day. I used to wonder, do I stink? Did I eat something he doesn't like?
Now I am not just taking it personally, I am WORRIED. Over the last week or so, it has progressively gotten worse (minus a freak 24 hours where he did not gag once). Tonight has been THE WORST. He woke up around 2:20am, I offered the breast, he gagged as usual, but seemed ferociously hungry as he kept trying to latch on again and again, but would each time gag. Finally he seemed to become sad, and was vocally complaining (although not crying) just really letting me know that he was struggling and wanted to nurse but didn't want to gag anymore.
I stopped offering and held him, but soon he wanted to try again. We tried the other breast. Same thing. Took another break. Tried again. Same thing. We got up for a while. I pumped 2oz and offered in a bottle (which he doesn't know how to use) and he chewed on it BUT DRANK 1/4 oz. So it's not the milk! Right?! But he couldn't get himself to drink anymore, and after 1.5 hours of being awake I lay him down and rubbed his back till he fell asleep.
And now I can't sleep because I am devastated, worried, wondering if this is some sign of impending doom. Cancer? Disease? Is my baby going to die? You know those thoughts you have on repeat no matter how much you know there's nothing you can do about it at the moment...
FYI, I have noticed the last 5 days or so that he has a very mild night time cough, and very mild congestion (no snot is coming out but I can hear it in there). I do not think it is viral... but he is NOT gagging on post nasal drip, I KNOW THAT'S NOT THE PROBLEM. But could it be some kind of allergy to something I'm eating?!
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. Or whether to call our naturopath or general physician tomorrow morning. I just know I need to do something. I just know something is wrong.
Can anyone offer any ideas of what could be causing this? Or what to do?
Thank you so much..... I am feeling so desperate.
If he is gagging during the intial latch and not during the letdown, I wouldn't suspect a problem with your milk. Do you have very long nipples? That could be one thing making him gag as he latches. However, you'd think that if that was the problem, it would get better as he/his mouth grows.
Gagging can also be a symptom of hypersensitivity. Other signs of this might be difficulty settling, showing signs of distress at things like clothing and diaper changes, baths, sudden movement or motion generally, resistance to being held, and long bouts of crying.
It sounds like your baby is gaining very well, which is a great sign that your baby is healthy. But it sounds like right now you're very worried about the gagging. Something you could try is aiming your nipple downward, toward his tongue rather than toward the roof of his mouth, while latching.
I hope this helps a little. If you're still losing sleep over it, though, I would not hesitate to talk to a pediatrician or your naturopath or even another LC about it. They may have some other ideas.
Mama, would you consider cross posting in the breastfeeding forum? We have some LC members who may be able to help. Also, I was always a fan of Kellymom for nursing questions. Does this seem like it could fit your symptoms? http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supp.../fast-letdown/
I would try cutting dairy out of your diet for awhile and seeing if that helps. My son had a lot of the same issues and it was the dairy in my diet that was upsetting him.
I think you should look at what has changed recently if this gag reflex has intensified. Okay he has had it since newborn but lately it has intensified, aside from the one day you noted. So....perhaps the congestion you noted is key here.
Have you tried various positions? If congested, side lying may worsen the issue, but upright, holding him upright and standing, while nursing may help.
Try various positions, instead of side lying at night, place him on your chest, his chest to yours, while you lie down. See if he will latch this way,
The other issue may be overactive letdown, even if the gag occurs at the latch and not the letdown. He may be associating latching with the fear of the flow of milk, before it even occurs. In that case I would try classic overactive letdown remedies (different position, block feeding, pressing on areola to control milk flow).
When searching, I also have come up with sensory processing disorder (was you baby born premature?)
Quote "A baby who is sensory defensive may struggle to feed initially, because drawing the nipple into his mouth makes him gag. Although the baby eventually learns to tolerate the nipple or teat, he may become a fussy eater later, gagging on different textures of food, and refusing to touch or handle finger food."
"• often develop oral defensiveness because of negative oral experiences with feeding tubes, respirators and suctioning. This can interfere with feeding, as can abnormal muscle tone inside the mouth "
Still feeling worried about this issue months later. DS is now 9 months old and although the gagging decreased it never really stopped. The congestion and cough has significantly improved, mostly gone. But last night was rough. Wakes up a lot but doesn't usually want to nurse. Or will try, but gag as soon as he smells my breast. My daughter never did this. What could be wrong??
Sometimes the hardest things to deal with in parenting are the mysteries...