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Thread: baby won't "root" anymore. won't open mouth wide enough!

  1. #1

    Unhappy baby won't "root" anymore. won't open mouth wide enough!

    So, let me give ya'll a bit of my story.

    My son is now 6 weeks old, he was born on leap day this year.
    When he was born, there were no lactation consultants in the hospital and i was having issues with him latching so one of the nurses gave me a nipple shield but didn't show me how to use it correctly. So i would just hold it in place while my son nursed.

    Well, within a few days, i had scabbed and bleeding nipples, despite applying lanolin cream religiously. A week later, i went to my lactation peer counselor (who was also a BCLC) at WIC, so showed me how to put on the shield correctly and get my son to latch better.

    Another week later, we had to bring my son to the ER because he was screaming in pain and not pooping. There he was given some medication because the doctor there saw that he was starting to get thrush. I wasn't given anything for it.

    Nursing was becoming increasingly painful to the point that i would cry every time i nursed. I dreaded nursing. I started to think that maybe my son had a tongue tie so we brought him to the pediatrician.
    He confirmed that Dylan didn't have anything physically wrong that would make nursing painful and then asked if I was getting treatment for thrush. I told him no and he instantly perscribed me some cream and pills.

    Two days later, the pain from the thrush made it impossible to nurse. I couldn't even pump or wear a bra because anything touching my nipples made them burn and sting. I felt horrible, but my son had to be given formula (and the little bit of stored breast milk i had) for a few days (i wasn't going to let him starve!)

    Now my nipples are healing up nicely (though the still hurt a little) that i don't even need to use the shield anymore....but I've run into a new problem.

    Before the bottles, my son would root (it was too cute when he did it too) He would go "eh eh eh", make a "duck face" with his lips, open his mouth wide, and bob his head. This made it easy to get him to latch and feed.

    But now he won't do any of that. When he gets hungry he instantly starts crying instead of moving his head back and forth and sucking his fists. When i try to get him to latch, he won't open his mouth very wide, but open and shuts it very quickly while licking at my nipple. I try and try to get a good latch but since he won't keep his mouth open, he clamps on the nipple a lot and it hurts SO bad.

    I've tried tickling his lips with my nipple to try and encourage him to open wide. I open my own mouth for something for him to imitate. but NOTHING seems to work. Its a constant latch, unlatch, latch, unlatch because I can't get him to get a deep enough latch.
    He then starts screaming and flailing his arms and legs and I get frustrated because I feel like a failure because i can't get him to eat.

    Its come down to me going "good enough" when I nurse him. I'll just sit and suffer in pain while he eats because I get sick of taking him on and off over and over again.

    I've only had him latch well maybe 3 times since he was born to where it was relaxing and actually put me in a good mood. I'm so sad and depressed because I want this to work but I feel like because he had bottles for a few days, I've completely ruined my chances of every having a pain-free nursing experience.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,653

    Default Re: baby won't "root" anymore. won't open mouth wide enough!

    You haven't ruined your chances! You have a tiny little baby with a tiny little mouth. Itty-bitty babies have trouble achieving perfect latches even when everything is ideal, and when there's a latching problem to start with, and then bottles thrown into the mix... But these problems usually clear up with time, because your baby is growing fast and so is his mouth.

    I have more to say but I have to go feed my kids. But I didn't want to leave you hanging, mama. It's going to be okay! You're doing a great job and you're going to get a lot of support here.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: baby won't "root" anymore. won't open mouth wide enough!

    I just have to agree with you about how adorable rooting is! It just makes your heart melt... Before anything else, I want to send a your way because I know how hard and frustrating this must be for you right now. But coming here is a great step and there are TONS of ladies who have been through similar problems.

    And oh, the trials of little babies with teeny weeny mouths! My daughter was small and had the smallllllest little mouth when she was born. She still has a tiny mouth relative to her brother. He's kind of like a wide-mouth tree frog.

    When my daughter was very, very small we had all sorts of issues. She just couldn't nurse well, period, and I was constantly crying and bleeding and... Yeah. The whole shabang. It was awful. We had her checked over, we had me checked over, etc. In the end there was nothing wrong that anyone could pinpoint and I firmly believe that the whole problem was that she had a teensy mouth and I have large breasts and nipples. She would cry and I would cry, and we did the latch, unlatch, latch, unlatch thing because her latch was never deep enough and aside from me hurting she just never was getting enough milk. We just were physically unable to match up well. Unfortunately, it simply took her growing in order to make nursing work, and it was horrible and so hard for me.

    I know that you are not having so many severe pain issues compared with before, with how painful it is for you here and there, have you considered pumping and then having someone feed your son using a syringe, cup, or SNS in order to give yourself a little break? You just nursing, nursing, nursing is important to keep up your supply and to help you and your son to work through it, but sometimes having someone else give a feed and give you (and your nipples) a break can be so helpful. I know that I was in tears almost all day when trying to nurse my daughter and I would dread the next feeding because it would hurt so bad. I started not looking forward to the time with my DD, and having someone else help to feed her made the next feeding that much easier for me because I had just a little bit more time to heal. It also gave my DD just a little more time to grow without my being clamped on...

    Are you trying to nurse your son off both sides if possible? Does he do better on one side over another? I ask because for me, I only did one side per feeding and it really helped because then I didn't have horrible pain on a side one feeding after another. I had a few hours where I could let a side heal... And if it got really badly injured, I would just pump that side and feed off the other as long as I could. My DD seemed to do better on the left side, so I nursed her almost exclusively on that side for several days (while pumping the right) because both of us felt better when she was on the left. When she would go to the right side, she would have so much more trouble.

    For your pain, I'd try continuing to apply nipple cream, taking a painkiller if you're comfortable with it (I took ibuprofen and it helped to reduce my inflammation and general discomfort from nursing), and maybe trying some of the Medela hydrogel pads (http://www.amazon.com/Medela-Tender-.../dp/B0011ECPA2). You can refrigerate these so they are nice and cool, and they really can make a huge difference in just an hour or two between feedings! I didn't believe it until I tried them, but they made my life bearable when my twins were 4-6 weeks old and we were struggling so much.

    My biggest advice would be to go see another counselor (or the same one) or to see if there is someone who can come to you. Sometimes just having someone else there to help hold, comfort, etc. can make a big difference. When I was struggling so much with my DD, and also when my DS went through a phase, lactation counselors were my best friends. They gave me new positions to try, helped to make sure that we were working well together, and so on. Is there a LLL group near you? If so, you might want to get in touch with a local Leader who could help you out. There might also be a neat group of ladies nearby who could give you some good support.

    Keep your chin up! We're all here for you.
    Last edited by @llli*nicola; April 11th, 2012 at 03:41 PM.
    Mom to amazing twins!
    DD nursed for 3y5m, DS still occasionally stops by for a snack

  4. #4

    Default Re: baby won't "root" anymore. won't open mouth wide enough!

    But now he won't do any of that. When he gets hungry he instantly starts crying instead of moving his head back and forth and sucking his fists. When i try to get him to latch, he won't open his mouth very wide, but open and shuts it very quickly while licking at my nipple. I try and try to get a good latch but since he won't keep his mouth open, he clamps on the nipple a lot and it hurts SO bad.

    I've tried tickling his lips with my nipple to try and encourage him to open wide. I open my own mouth for something for him to imitate. but NOTHING seems to work. Its a constant latch, unlatch, latch, unlatch because I can't get him to get a deep enough latch.
    He then starts screaming and flailing his arms and legs and I get frustrated because I feel like a failure because i can't get him to eat.

    Its come down to me going "good enough" when I nurse him. I'll just sit and suffer in pain while he eats because I get sick of taking him on and off over and over again.

    I've only had him latch well maybe 3 times since he was born to where it was relaxing and actually put me in a good mood. I'm so sad and depressed because I want this to work but I feel like because he had bottles for a few days, I've completely ruined my chances of every having a pain-free nursing experience

    So, baby WILL latch, but it still hurts you-is that the main issue? Or is baby refusing to nurse? I was a bit confused on that point.

    What positioning have you tried? Keep trying different positions and latch techniques until you find what works for you. There are no rules to this, just guidelines. Some moms find they must get baby to open wide ("gape") and do an "assymetric' latch, but other moms find it can be comfortable without all that if the positioing is right. Ideally, as long as it does not hurt you and baby is getting milk, it's a good latch, it does not matter how it looks, it matters how it feels. If you have not already, I suggest trying laid back positioning, it can be very helpful when there is nipple pain from latch. http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfeeding.pdf and http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/

    Some breastfeeding experts say to unlatch & try again as soon as it hurts, but others suggest working on fixing the latch while baby is on. They argue that all that latching and unlatching can be counterproductive. What works best for you will be individual of course but there are lots of things to do even once baby is latched if it hurts. Adjust babies position, (entire body position, or just head or upper body) gently try to pull babies mouth more open, gently push more of your breast/areola into babies mouth, that kind of thing.

    Oh and no need to wait until you see hunger cues to nurse! Offer anytime, offer frequently. A calm baby latches and nurses better than a frantic hungry baby.

    Is the thrush, assuming that was the issue, gone?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,653

    Default Re: baby won't "root" anymore. won't open mouth wide enough!

    Meant to come back to this sooner, but life intervened. Here are a couple of tips for dealing with at-the-breast freak-outs:
    - Offer the breast before baby is giving you emphatic hunger cues. The more hungry the baby is, the less patience he is going to have.
    - Swaddle. A swaddled baby cannot thrash or lever himself off the breast, and swaddling often calms babies down.
    - If baby starts to freak out at the breast, offer your pinky finger for him to suck, nail held down towards the tongue instead of up towards the delicate palate. Letting baby suck on the pinky for a moment may calm him down and remind him what he's supposed to do. Sometimes a baby gets so crazy that he starts bobbing his head and opening and closing his mouth in desperation.
    - Push down gently on his chin when latching him on.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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