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Thread: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    612

    Unhappy Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    DS is 2 yrs 5 months old. On Monday, he had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. He had severe obstructive sleep apnea (at its worst, he'd stop breathing every 2-3 breaths, for up to 20 seconds at a time). He'd pretty much always had some degree of snoring and apnea since birth, but for some reason it got completely out of control a few months ago (possibly due to possible seasonal allergies, no one is really sure). We didn't want to deprive him of oxygen during a critical time in his development, and he has a heart defect that was not benefiting from the increased blood pressure associated with the sleep apnea. Anyway, I hated to have the surgery, but feel like it was necessary. And immediately, even with the inflammation and junk in his throat, his apnea was entirely gone. It was amazing to listen to him breath so easily while he slept, and sleep so deeply for hours at a time.

    DS is generally still breastfeeding 2-3 times in a 24-hour period. Mostly bedtime and morning, sometimes "reunion" times when I get home from work, though not always. Sometimes naps on the weekends.

    DS nursed about 5 am the morning of his surgery (Day 1). Kept overnight in the hospital, did not nurse at all after the surgery. Tried once, grimaced, pushed away the breast. Day 2 we went home. He did finally nurse on both sides later at night, before falling asleep.

    Today is Day 3, and though he seems to be feeling pretty good, he will not nurse. Twice, I have asked him if he wants to nurse and he's said "uh-huh," but just puts the nipple in his mouth and looks at me for a while, then pops off and pushes the breast away. No sucking, not really latched.

    So, intellectually I guess I believe that he's just not comfortable, his neck and jaw are sore as well as his throat, and this doesn't really mean anything. But the whole deal where he doesn't seem to know how to nurse is kind of unnerving to me. He says he wants to nurse, but doesn't seem to know what to do next.

    What I hate is that one of the reasons we agreed to do the surgery so young was that I thought he'd nurse for sure, he's always nursed through illness and injury before. About 3 months ago, he had a deep lip laceration that required 4 stitches, and nursed like a newborn, despite what must have been significant pain. I counted on him being able to nurse to stay hydrated and get some nutrition in. But he won't, and he's too young to understand the concept of medicine to make him better (pain pills) or that drinking and eating will help him feel better.

    So he's not nursing, and we literally have to wrestle with him and hold him down to get meds, drink, or food (mostly jello) into him. I hate doing it. He's not getting enough to drink, I know it, but I don't know what else to do. He's technically not dehydrated right now, but he hasn't pooped since the day before the surgery, and I know we're about to have massive constipation problems from the pain meds and the failure to drink.

    I just feel defeated and rejected. I really thought I knew him well enough to believe that he would nurse during his recovery. I feel like I wouldn't have done this surgery if I had known he wouldn't nurse. And I worry that he'll end up weaned because he'll get out of the habit of nursing. I just feel like a bad mom, and stupid because when the primary tool in my "mom arsenal" isn't working, I'm at a complete loss.
    First-time mom to Little Manatee (1/7/2010)

    Nursed for 3 1/2 years!



    My little boy is my everything.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    19,895

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    Sorry you and your LO are going through this, mama! FWIW, I think you made the right choice to have the surgery done now, even if it has screwed up breastfeeding. Have you tried the instant reward techniques? If not, try expressing a bit of milk onto the nipple before latching your LO on. The taste of milk may inspire him to suckle instead of just sitting there.
    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
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    612

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    So, off to bed for another night, no nursing. This time, he just said "nahs hurt," and then pointed and said "no milk." I've tried expressing, he still won't suck. I've been hand expressing a bit, but I'm no good at it, and I can feel clogged ducts coming on.
    First-time mom to Little Manatee (1/7/2010)

    Nursed for 3 1/2 years!



    My little boy is my everything.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Shakedown St.
    Posts
    1,176

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    I'm sorry. That sounds really difficult. My son had a cold recently and I think his throat hurt (I had the same cold, and my throat hurt really badly). He would latch, take a couple sucks, then unlatch and just cuddle up next to me. He did a little better nursing in a side lying position. Once his cold started clearing up, he started nursing normally again. Mine is only 19 months and didn't go through a surgery, so I'm sure it's a much different psychology though.

    Maybe give him something soothing for his throat (warm broth or a popsicle) then offer to nurse.

    I hope your son starts feeling better soon.
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    612

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    I guess what bothers me the most, too, is that we've always been attachment parents, very devoted to DS, cosleepers, gentle discipline, everything. And now, since DS is so little and doesn't understand what's going on, he's very combative about the things that are necessary for him to get better. He HAS to drink. Has to. And he won't. And it's gotten to where we are literally holding him down and forcing the pain meds into him, forcing him to drink. The doctor told us all of these risks of what will happen if DS doesn't stay hydrated, including possibly having a bad postoperative bleed, and how DS will feel so much better if he keeps drinking. But he won't. No amount of cajoling, or reasoning works with a 2 year old. At least not with mine. So we force it on him until he feels well enough to ask for food and drink on his own. And I hate that I can't offer him comfort instead, that he won't nurse, and maybe he'll be scared of us now.
    First-time mom to Little Manatee (1/7/2010)

    Nursed for 3 1/2 years!



    My little boy is my everything.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Shakedown St.
    Posts
    1,176

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    I'm so sorry. That sounds just miserable for everyone. But your son is not going to be scared of you. He's going to heal up and let go of all of this. Both my husband and I have siblings whose kids had surgeries or other medical procedures at 2-4 years old. There were lots of tears and forcing them to do what needed to be done to get better, but none of those kids has held onto any of the bad stuff as far as anyone can tell. They are all very happy, loving children. It will get better as your son heals.
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    855

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    Hi manatee. Just wanted to send you love and hugs and some positive mamma vibes. your little boy is lucky to have you for his mamma. he will be fine b/c you are hovering over him to be sure.
    even after my children weaned, we were still attachment parents. You don't relinquish that card due to weaning, or even when they go off to college or join the navy or....
    DD#1 July 1986 VB
    DD#2 April 1988 c/sec
    DS#3 April 1990 VBAC
    DS#4 June 1993 VB
    and suprise!
    DD#5 April 2001 c/sec
    BTDT scars and stretchmarks,: wrinkles and grey hair

  8. #8

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    I don’t know how it is today, but when I was a kid it hurt like heck to swallow for days post tonsillectomy. And nursing engages so many more muscles than simple swallowing, I would think it makes sense that it just plain hurts to nurse at this point. Which makes me think that once the pain and even the memory of the pain is gone your son may very well return to nursing, and when you feel the time is right, you can try the many ideas for gently encouraging your child to nurse. Maybe as he lays with you at night, he will just instinctively turn to nursing for comfort.

    I get being worried about him forgetting how, that does happen after kids wean sometimes, and the older the child the more likely for it to happen, I suspect. But how long a child has to be away from nursing for it to happen I have no idea- Just in my personal experience, I took a trip out of town and was away from my nursing 2 year old for 4 days once (nervous about it the whole time) and he nursed just fine when I returned.

    Are you pumping? Does he like popsicles? You could try making a momma milk popsicle?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Not nursing after tonsillectomy

    I had a tonsillectomy at 22. It hurt A LOT. I was rx'd Vicodin, and I took it faithfully for 3 weeks. That was the only way I could eat/drink without pain. What are they giving your little one for pain relief? And my ENT was really pushing the milkshakes on me (But chocolate ice cream was quite irritating for some reason, so I stuck with coffee or vanilla). The momsicles sound like a great idea. Do you have a pump? Getting mastitis now would not be in anyone's best interests Keep the milk flowing even if it hurts too much for your little guy to nurse.

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