New Parents: Help Latching Post NICU Visit - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 08-31-2013, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
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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.


Far starters...

  • 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':
    1. 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.
    2. 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!



Many thanks!

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#2 of 8 Old 08-31-2013, 09:47 PM
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You just described the first 6 weeks of out home life. 5 days in the nicu for jaundice. Just keep offering him the boob. We did what you did constantly. Position was a big deal for us but really it was jost constant switching. Breast shield, bottle the nurse,  skin to skin.


The easiest and best thing that worked for us and even then did not work all of the time was sleep nursing. When the baby was sleeping I would put him by me. Lay on my side and just latch him in his sleep. His little baby reflexes would kick in and before he knew what was happening he was nursing. This did not work all of the time and like you described nothing worked all of the time. It was realy discouraging. I urge you to just keep pumping and keep trying. At around six weeks mine got the super hang of it and my 3 months was a chubby nursing pro. Just keep at it. Also help her get the baby on. Sometimes when i was so worn out and frustrated my partner would swoop in and put the baby to breast.


My son is a side nurser and still is (he is 21 months) that was our eventual permanent fix. Also white noise helped him to calm down and nurse. I promise it wll get easier and your description and story is so much more common than you realize. Nursing can be super difficult and I remember not being prepared for how hard it was when it was supposed to be all about nature and instincts.


Oh one more thing let the baby hang out by bare boobs often that way if he turns his head he can latch or do all of that if he likes. Less of an "IM STARVING" reflex. And we used this bottle.


I think it helped to kind of ease in the transition.


Good luck I have been there hugs to your wife I know EXACTLY what she is going through.

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#3 of 8 Old 09-02-2013, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Good morning & thanks for taking the time to not only read the post, but also respond!


After reading your response, as well as several other posts on, I have renewed hope.  My wife, mother & I are working on a strategy based on what you and others have suggested, and have high hopes that in a month or so we'll be pump and bottle free.  (Well except for trips of course!)


That mimijumi bottle looks pretty slick, and although it has decent reviews on Amazon and positive comments in various forums, the one 'issue' that keeps rearing its ugly head is the nipple: many say its too hard.  I'm actually surprised as it seemed like it would be fairly supple.  What's your opinion of the nipple?


I'm also equally curious about other bottle nipples that are more life-like, like


My mind is blown that there are almost no nipples on the market that resemble a breast & nipple.  Surely there are women out there with short, flat or inverted nipples that want to breast feed, but all of the bottle nipples out there are vastly different from their breasts making it extremely difficult to transition.  I haven't been able to find a nipple out there designed to help you go the opposite direction: bottle to breast.  2013 is rapidly coming to a close - how does something like this not already exist?  (OK, I'll get off my soap box now!)


The Bare Baby bottles and Mimijumi bottles seem to be the only bottles on the market that closely resemble a breast & nipple.  I haven't been able to find many reviews on the Bare Bottles, so I'm a little concerned since its so new and can't be found anywhere outside their website.  As for Mimijumi, I like the design and the descriptions, but concerned about the 'hard nipple' many have reported.  Whatever nipples my wife has aren't hard!


I'm going to run over to Buy Buy Baby today to pick up some Breastflow bottles by The First Years.  It appears to have a smaller nipple and is more breast-like than any other we've seen so far - that's at least a start.


Again, I greatly appreciate your input and advice and eagerly look forward to responses from other visitors of the site!

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#4 of 8 Old 12-18-2013, 09:40 PM
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have yall try a sns  that help me alot with my son cause he would not latch too but he was a 31 weeker too so we had alot of issuse her a link to the sns that i used with my son and now i am use it with my 6 week old too

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#5 of 8 Old 12-20-2013, 10:09 AM
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Have you read about tongue tie? He may not be able to latch properly thus become frustrated if he has tongue tie. There are various forms of TT and many good topics here on Mothering dot com. It tends to be missed or overlooked by hospital staff so you may wish to investigate and see if it could be a factor.
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#6 of 8 Old 12-20-2013, 07:22 PM
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I've only got a moment, but didn't want to not respond..... so glad to hear that you are feeling does get easier.


I was wondering if you've had a chance to see a lactation consultant (either through the hospital or privately), or if you've got a LLL group or leader close by who might be able to offer some support/suggestions.

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#7 of 8 Old 01-12-2014, 10:28 PM
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i had a preemie who was a "disorganized feeder" ... we were in the NICU for 2 monkey was so tiny & had many issues breastfeeding (which was really frustrating because i successfully breastfed my older son for 3 years) . i had never used a bottle before & i had to pump & bottle feed her . at first she was gavaged (in the NICU) & she had many issues latching on & sucking...i continually offered her my breast & ended up getting phenomenal lactation support.


it was so incredibly difficult at times, but i never gave up & by one month old she was exclusively breastfeed! so have hope! don't give up!!! it can be done!!! 


i attribute our breastfeeding success to the preemie haberman feeder bottle (it is supposed to emulate the breast) was designed by a mom for her special's needs child. my daughter does not have special needs nor a cleft palate but my lactation consultant told me it was fantastic for preemies or babies with sucking/latching issues.


i tried most of the bottles mentioned in the previous posts...BUT the haberman feeder for preemies was incredible & worked for us!!!!


(edited to add: i had to reframe my mentality & think of the bottle as a temporary tool to achieve my goal of exclusively breastfeeding. as i said before, it was an incredibly difficult journey for us (she could not suck hard enough to get milk, i tried everything: nipple shields, SNS , a variety of bottles etc.but nothing worked until we used the haberman)... my DD was gavaged in the NICu but before every feeding i offered her my breast...for the first 2 weeks she would just nuzzle & try to feed with not much luck. i pumped the entire time & she was fed my milk...she hated bottles and had difficulty sucking them...i was so worried that she would develop nipple confusion or refuse my nipple after trying so many different types of bottles, but even though she could not get much breastmillk  i still continued to put her on my breast before every feeding (which sometimes resulted in frustrating freakouts). i swear the mini haberman saved the day & got us out of the NICU. it allowed her to get the nutrients she needed to get bigger & stronger, it also helped her learn to suck properly which made it easier for me to breastfeed.

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#8 of 8 Old 01-22-2014, 08:22 PM
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The problem with so many bottles that are meant to look like the breast is that they still work by making baby suck or latch onto only a nipple. Think about the way a baby nurses and how the breast fits in his mouth- he doesn't just draw in a rigid nipple but the areola, which is the reason his mouth gapes open wide and accommodating while nursing.

With this in mind, the ONLY bottles I've ever been able to use with breastfed babies are the Lansinoh momma and now the new Joovy Boob bottle. Their nipples are entirely different. Instead of a nipple on a mound shape, they are gently contoured into a smooth nipple/areola combination. Forget the mimijumi - it may look like a breast but it doesn't function like one.

I was able to get my bottle fed preemie switched 100% to the breast over a period of 10 days by feeding him with the Joovy Boob.

It's worth a try!
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