Gasping while nursing? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 5 Old 05-19-2010, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
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My 9 week old DS has started gasping for air occasionally while nursing. Well, usually it happens while he's nursing. He'll be nursing just fine and then all of a sudden pull off and gasp a few times. It sounds like really deep, fast breaths like he's not getting any air and he looks scared. I hold him upright and he's okay after a few gasps, but it really freaks me out. He's been doing this once or twice a day (at random feedings, not same time of day) for the past week or so.

Does anyone else have this happen to them? I'm thinking it's not a big deal, he's just getting overwhelmed or so into nursing he forgets to breathe, but it scares me every time it happens. And it's not exactly choking - he never coughs or anything like that.
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#2 of 5 Old 05-19-2010, 04:26 PM
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Do you have OAL? Is he congested at all? It doesn't sound unusual to me, but I have OAL and I think sometimes she just gets too much and has to take a little break to breathe and swallow. Is he actually having trouble breathing or turning blue at all? If you're at all concerned it wouldn't hurt to call your midwife or doctor and mention it to them, but both my girls have occasionally done similar things.

Lindsay - DD1, born posterior and chin up at home, Aug 2007
DD2, born at home in the water, March 2010
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#3 of 5 Old 05-19-2010, 06:55 PM
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This doesn't happen all the time, but it has happened a couple of times. Usually when my breasts are really full. I think she's just getting too much and needs a break off the boob. When it does happen I sit her more upright to nurse or give a little break and burp. Afterward she nurses just fine.

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#4 of 5 Old 05-21-2010, 12:13 AM
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Definitely sounds like overactive letdown, as catchthewind mentioned. You can try nursing with your baby on top of you. I'm not good at explaining things, but if you're nursing, lean back instead of sitting up straight or leaning forward. This allows gravity to moderate the flow so that it doesn't choke the baby. As your baby gets older, he will become better at managing it and it won't be a problem anymore. That whole, pull off, gasp and get all big-eyed and frightened looking is really a classic symptom of a forceful milk ejection reflex and I wouldn't worry about it at all, other than trying things to help him not get choked up.

I also have a really strong letdown. I don't lean back the whole time I'm nursing, but as soon as I feel letdown coming I start leaning pretty far back. It helps a lot. You can usually tell that the flow is slowing by listening to the baby swallow. Once they get more into a suck-suck-swallow pattern (instead of the suck-swallow-suck-swallow that comes right after letdown) you can sit back up. If you're not good at hearing the swallow, you can watch his chin. Every time the chin pauses as it drops, that's the mouth filling up. It's not an actual pause, but if you watch you'll see what I mean. When the flow slows you'll see one pause for every two chin drops. When it's still really fast it's hard to notice the pause because it happens with every drop since the baby needs to swallow so much.
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#5 of 5 Old 05-21-2010, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, everyone. I definitely do have OAL, especially on one side...and I guess on the slower side as well when I'm full. Thanks for all the reassurance and suggestions...I'm glad it's nothing to worry about.
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