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First baby - nursing problems

617 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  joannejoanne
Hi, my baby is 9 days old and we are having a terrible time with nursing. He had some early successful latches (at least I thought they were) at the hospital but then he started having more and more trouble. Add to that overly aggressive lactation nurses who changed every shift and kept roughly shoving his head into my boob and by the time we got home he was screaming everytime I put him near my breasts.

I stayed calm and gentle but to no avail. Then he started losing weight and slept all the time. We could barely rouse him to eat anything and were feeding him by dropper and then my a finger syringe. He lost all his hunger reflexes.

Finally, our lactation consultant said we needed to get food into him and the easiest way was a bottle (with my pumped breastmilk). She assured us we could get him back to the breast once he was stronger.

He started getting better and his reflexes returned. Then we discovered he was tongue-tied (little web of skin was holding his tongue down on the bottom of his mouth making opening wide and using his tongue impossible).

We had that clipped today.

But he is still screaming when I put him near my breasts and even when I try to do skin to skin with our wrap. I thought all babies loved skin to skin but he screams and pushes away from me.

It is making me feel awful. I just gave him to my DH because I feel rejected and horrible. And now I feel horrible for doing that.

I am pumping every two hours and it is murder on my boobs. I want to give him everything he needs but I am worn out. I feel like I am at the end of my rope. I so wanted to be able to breastfeed and it seems impossible now.

How do I get him to not scream at the sight of my boobs? How do I help him get back in synch with me? I am so gentle with him and take such good care of him but he seems to dislike being near me.

I am probably overreacting. I just feel so frustrated right now.

I know giving him the bottle has probably messed everything up but my lactation consultant said it was the quickest way to get his weight back up and even now, he is only just starting to gain back weight. We cannot risk him going downhill again.

What should I do?

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Continue to work with an LC. Try to get away from the bottles working with this LC, if that's not working, get a second opinion. But you may need to try some unusual nursing sites to help get the baby away from having Boobie-related PTSD. Perhaps a warm bath, soft baby music, and you take the bath with him, get him relaxed and try to latch without the fuss. Spend the day in bed and work on the latch. Have the LC come by to help you with that session, so hopefully there will be no crying.

It's NOT impossible. But as soon as you can, you need to start working with a LC to fix the PTSD and start nursing the way it's supposed to be. This CAN be overcome. It's just going to take some time and some work. With the right help, y'all can do this.
I would second what RS said and add calling LLL for back up support. This LC isn't the one you had at the hospital, right?
Your feelings and frustration are normal, and to be expected, so please don't feel like you're being "horrible" by handing baby to Dad because you need a break.
Having a new baby is hard at the best of times, let alone when you're having problems.
I agree that you should continue to work with the LC. Your baby is still very young, and it is certainly possible to get him to breast, but it will take some time and patience. There certainly are times when the most important thing is getting food into your baby, so don't worry too much about the bottles. I would however suggest that you talk to your LC about starting to supplement by some other method such as finger or cup feeding now that your ds is stronger. Since he is resisting even being skin to skin, I would suggest that for now you work more on just spending time with him rather than actively trying to get him to nurse. Babies are very sensitive creatures, and they pick up on our frustrations even when we're doing our best not to show them.
Focus on spending time cuddling with your ds, without the stress of trying to put him to breast. If he won't tolerate skin to skin at the moment, then don't force it. What you want is for both of you to be relaxed. Getting in the bath with him is a great idea as many babies enjoy the warm water. Again, just focus on cuddling and being close to begin with, and continue pumping and supplementing. I would also suggest having your doctor do a full exam to rule out any possible birth injury that may be causing discomfort.
If you are and your baby are able to get back to being relaxed with one another while cuddling, then getting him back to breast will likely come easier. Once you get him comfortable with being skin to skin, and cuddling, then I would suggest trying baby-led attachment. Your LC should be able to explain this to you, and help you with it, but basically it involves holding your baby vertically between your breasts, and following his cues as he finds his own way to the breast. When you are holding him at the breast, make sure that your hand is not on the back of his head. Your fingers should be supporting his head by gently holding the base of head. Babies have a reflex that will usually cause them to push away from the breast if you hold the back of their head. Another suggestion I have is to try him at breast after you supplement so that he is content and more relaxed than if he is hungry. Once you get him latching and sucking at the breast, you can still supplement before nursing, but gradually decrease the amount of supplement. The benefit to supplementing before nursing is that your baby learns to associate the full, content feeling with the breast.

The link below has some good info on working with a baby that won't nurse:

It is possible to get him back to breast, but remember that it's going to take time and patience. For the next little while you need to focus on yourself and your baby, and let family and friends take care of you and the house! Hang in there, and please let us know how things are going!
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You've gotten lots of great advice here.

I thought I'd add that co-sleeping can really help because it can be easiest to get baby to latch when he first begins to root around, but before fully waking.

Hang in there!

Originally Posted by joannejoanne View Post
What should I do?

Huge hugs! You have received sone great advice here BUT having dealt with nipple preference first hand and LOST I will tell you now that your babe is stronger you have to TOSS the bottles. Your babe is confused, he does not understand that your breast is where her gets fed and cuddled. Mine did all that you describe and I was given similar advice, to take it day by day and be gentile she will come back, well NOPE she was hooked on her bottle. If he has the option to suck on ANYTHING other than your breast he most likely will since that is all he knows.

I would keep pumping like crazy and begin syriinge feeding/cup feeding but no sucking devices (I am even against finger feeding unless it is for suck training, they can get just as attached to your finger as the bottle.)

Offer the breast not when your babe is really famished and if screaming begins ABORT the mission you don't want negative energy near your breast. Be topless at all times near your babe, and if you get any sort of latch, even if it hurts don't unlatch him you want him to get comfortable, you can fix it later when he begins to take the breast more readily. (and heal any soreness you have from a bad latch

Also get an LC who knows and as sucessfully worked with nipple confusion of this severity not just read about it in a book. It is a vrey delicate dance between mom & very young baby to get a babe to do something that they really don't want to do. also has some good tips.
This is what LLL recomends:
Tips for Getting Baby Back to the Breast (LLL)

  • Try nursing when your baby is asleep or very sleepy, such as during the night or, while napping.
  • Vary nursing positions. (see illustrations.) Some babies will refuse to nurse in one position but will take the breast in another.
  • Nurse when in motion.
  • Nurse in a quiet, darkened room or a place that is free from distractions.
  • Give your baby extra attention and skin-to-skin contact, which can be comforting for both of you.
  • When offering the breast, undress to the waist and clothe your baby in just a diaper when ever possible. Use a shawl or blanket around you if the room is chilly.
  • Use a baby sling or a carrier to keep the baby close between attempts to nurse.
  • Take warm baths together to soothe.
  • Sleep together in order to provide closeness and more opportunities to nurse.
I love this list, it helped me see progress when I was battling nipple confusion.
The revised LLL BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK lists nine stages of observed behavior through which a baby progresses on his way to breastfeeding well:
  • The baby aggressively fights the breast.
  • The baby cries more when being held than when he is put down.
  • The baby is willing to be held in some positions, even if not in a cradle hold.
  • The baby tolerates being held in the cradle hold.
  • The baby will attempt to root.
  • The baby will lick at the milk on the nipple.
  • The baby will attempt to suck, using an in-and-out movement.
  • The baby will take milk at the breast (using a nursing supplementer, eyedropper, or feeding syringe).
  • The baby nurses well, even before the let-down occurs.
HUGS, Keep your head up. Your babe loves you and he needs you now more than ever to be strong for him and bring him back to you breast. Get good help and toss the bottles, you Will suceed! We are all pulling for you.
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Thank you so much for the support and the advice!

I am feeling much better than I was a few days ago. We met with our LC today and she helped us work on getting our little guy closer to getting on the breast. We even had a weak latch for a minute or so. He also calmed down enough to fall asleep just sucking on the end of the nipple. Not a latch but a great step forward.

This weekend we are going to work on transitioning him from the bottle to an SNS at the breast. Although his frenulum has been clipped and he has more tongue motion, he still needs to build up his tongue muscles so we are going to use a nipple shield for a short while so he will be able to latch on. Also, he has a fairly recessed lower jaw. Once we get a succesful latch with the nipple shield and are able to stop using the SNS, we will work on getting him latched just to the breast. It may take several weeks as we need to let him get his tongue figured out and let his jaw come forward more. Also, he needs to grow a bit and get even stronger. The good news is he gained a good deal of weight over the last week and is almost back to his birth weight.

BakerALM, thanks for posting that info on the nine stages. It helps me not feel as bad about the initial difficult stage. I think we saw him working through some of those stages today as he initially fought the breast and then relaxed. It may be a battle we fight many times over as we get him more and more acclimated. But I am feeling much better about our chances of getting him to the breast.

Also, we are finally able to not be as regimented about the feeding and pumping schedule. We can now go more on his hunger cues rather than sticking to a strict every two hours thing. And because my milk supply is so stellar despite the situation, I can pump more to my comfort level rather than for a set amount of time (i.e. pump until my breast feel empty and soft instead of a set 10-15 minutes). I think this will be less exhasuting.

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