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Thread: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    Default Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    My 3 month (soon to be 4 month) old dd has been refusing to nurse while awake. If I offer while she is awake, she screams and pushes me away. This has been going on for almost 2 months now. The only thing I can attribute it to is OALD/OS. The OS is under control, but I still think I have a pretty strong let-down. I do all the "tricks": laid back nursing, let the spray go into a towel, etc.

    I guess my question is: will she ever be willing to nurse while awake? I can see this becoming a bigger problem as she gets older and harder to get to sleep before each feed.

    This is my 3rd nursling. My first weaned at 36 months, my second at 24 months...so I know how sweet/rewarding a nursing relationship can be....this is totally unnerving.

    Anyone ever have any experience with a baby with an aversion? Please tell me there is hope for her to actually want to nurse.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    I certainly think there is hope. Babies who have never nursed have been brought to the breast at several months old. And the fact your baby nurses when asleep is a v. good sign. I have a few questions:

    How is baby being fed when awake? Are you pumping? Do you cue feed (however baby is eating?)
    Besides OALD, have your ruled out other causes of nursing strikes? For example, Nursing position issues, pain (from GERD for example) or changes in your soap, lotion, detergent or deodorant (yes these really can affect nursing!)
    Have you tried the ideas here: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    What else have you done for the OALD-block feeding etc? The various ideas here?: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supp.../fast-letdown/

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    Thanks for the quick response! Yep, tried varied nursing positions, etc. So far, I've been able to feed her every 2-3 hours during the day, whether it's been getting her to sleep then dream-feeding or catching her just as she is starting to stir waking from a nap and nurse before she has had a chance to wake up. It has been crazy. No changes in detergents/scents, etc. The only thing that has not been ruled in or out is GERD.....something that I should consider? The few times that I've managed to get her to latch while awake, she'll take one suck and turn her head away and gag and stick her tongue out.


    I've block fed to get the OS under control and am currently nursing one side per feed and that seems to be working well as far as supply goes.

    The only other thing I can think of is I have a *very* active and noisy toddler. A few times right around when this escalated, he would come running into the room screaming like a wild banshee while she was nursing and it would scare her half to death. Not sure if a couple of isolated instances of this happening would cause an aversion?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    There is a mama here who kept dreamfeedingher LO who refused to nurse awake, and she eventually overcame it and is successfully nursing again. Dont give up hope!
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    I have an identical problem that is also escalating (right down to the hyper toddler!). My DD is 2 months and for the last few weeks will.not.nurse when awake. Same behavior. She will turn her head, fuss, and "punch" my breast. I have to get her mostly asleep to feed, then do dream-feeding or catch her while she is waking up. It's killing me and I don't know what to do. It really defeats the "convenience" of nursing, right? We're traveling for several weeks at the end of the month. I can't possibly do this for each feed while also keeping my toddler under control. I don't know what to do. It's stressful enough to make me consider EPing, which I did for DS for 14 months, as crazy as that is.

    I also have OALD but my OS is nicely under control now. I also wonder if it's a GERD (she more the silent reflux type - doesn't spit up but has other symptoms) thing. Perhaps I will talk to the pediatrician about it.

    Please update this on how you are doing or whether or not you have discovered any tricks.
    Blessed with DS - born 9/2/09 - nursed/pumped for 12 months
    Blessed with DD - born 3/27/12 my dreamfeeder

    903 ounces donated.
    http://www.wakemed.org/landing.cfm?id=135

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/babyselfwean/

    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/09/is-yo...ng-strike.html

    I would NOT EP. The bottles will make this worse. I know you have EPed and think it is more comfortable...once you sort this out, you will be amazed at how much easier this is than EPing ever is.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    The few times that I've managed to get her to latch while awake, she'll take one suck and turn her head away and gag and stick her tongue out.
    Huh. It feels like this should be a clue but of what? Some kids do have a very pronounced gag reflex, my youngest did. Never bothered him nursing but as a toddler he gagged and tossed his cookies at the slightest provocation. I wonder if somehow there is tension around nursing (casued by any number of factors-memory of the OALD, fright, etc. and that is causing a tightening in the throat and causing the gagging? In that case what you are doing-continuing to do the dream feeding, sems like a good path...Can someone else take your toddler for few longish outings over a couple of days? I don't mean overnight I mean just several hours but maybe on consecutive days (maximise overall time to lessen pressure) I am wondering wonder if a relaxed one on one "vacation" with baby might help-like a nursing vacation but maybe with no pressure to nurse, just lots of opportunity.


    GERD is a tricky diagnoses and way over diagnosed, but sometimes just throwing things at a dartboard to see what sticks helps. Many of the symptoms of OS/OALD are similar to GERD so one can mask the other. Of course they could happen together.

    Back to the gagging...When you bring baby to the breast, do you need to shape your breast and/or somehow "get" baby to latch? Or can baby latch more or less on thier own? (I assume that is what baby does when asleep) I am just wondering if somehow letting baby self latch or somehow encouraging a more shallow latch would help with the gagging.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post

    Back to the gagging...When you bring baby to the breast, do you need to shape your breast and/or somehow "get" baby to latch? Or can baby latch more or less on thier own? (I assume that is what baby does when asleep) I am just wondering if somehow letting baby self latch or somehow encouraging a more shallow latch would help with the gagging.
    No, her latch has been perfect from day one. She just will. not. latch. while awake. I'm not sure how I would encourage a shallow latch, since I'm always relieved just to get her to latch when she is asleep. I'm in favor of your idea about a toddler free day just to focus on the baby. That can probably be arranged if I call in a few favors

    In fact, last weekend, she refused to nurse for over 13 hours (even dream feeding), so I kicked everyone out of the house and was at least able to get her back to feeding in her sleep.


    As far as the gagging....I wish I could give more details or have a better idea myself. Since this generally doesn't happen while dream feeding, I haven't had the opportunity to witness it very often. *ugg*

    At least you ladies are giving me hope that this could be a phase and that there is the possibility she will grow into and be able to cope with the letdown or whatever is bothering her.

    Oh, I wanted to mention she has never had a bottle, so there is no nipple confusion/preference going on. I was tempted to pump and give a bottle during the 13 hour strike, but I figured that could probably be the worse thing to do in this situation.

    Again, thank you for the insight and I hope to hear from anyone else who is going/ or has overcome this situation.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    IT sounds like a strike. And as can be attested to by midwestmama and others here who have worked through strikes, a child can totally be fed enough while dream fed. Don't be discouraged and try not to take it personally.

    Way too lazy for formula

  10. #10
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    Cool Re: Breast aversion...only nurses while asleep

    There really is hope but it may take a while! I have OS/OALD and have dealt with feeding problems from day one and breast refusal from almost day one. My baby is now 7 months and things have started to improve but it is hard and you are right, not the convenient thing that it is meant to be and also not the enjoyable experience that it should be. My baby also gagged like yours when she was younger, she no longer gags but she does still struggle with nursing and chokes often, but she does not get as stressed out by it all and will sometimes stimulate a let down and then come off and try to play with the spray. My 1st child also refused to nurse from 2 months until about 6 months but we went on to nurse until she was 2 and a half years old! I went down the reflux route with both of mine and even gave them meds but it did not help. I don't believe that they had reflux, it was literally just the OS/OALD, I can't blame them, it scared them, a baby will naturally protect their airway. The gagging in our case, was just down to her gag reflex being quite far forward, this improved with her putting things in her mouth ie tethers and later on BLS. Getting through it has been a very hard road, and to be honest, still is. The best thing I did was to buy an ergo carrier, I too have a toddler and before the ergo, found it impossible to get out, with the ergo, she is always close to my breast, so can nurse whenever and wherever be it awake or asleep. During the day, she will only nurse in the carrier. My advice would be to continue to nurse her in her sleep but offer without pressure when she is awake. If you are determined to continue breast feeding, it WILL improve but it won't happen over night and it is really hard going, however when it does improve you will reap the rewards. I got my baby back to the breast by keeping her on one side all day and the other all night, yes this was partly to reduce my supply, but also by the fifth feed on the same side, the let down did not spray so it seemed to help her overcome her fear and she would then ask for the other side. I know how hard it is, my thoughts are with you, keep posting as it does help to keep in touch with other who understand what you are going through.

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