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Thread: 1 week old, angry at the breast & refuses to nurse

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Northern New England
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    3

    Default 1 week old, angry at the breast & refuses to nurse

    Hi there,

    I have a 1 week old baby girl who I am trying to breastfeed (I am pumping now with a rented pump from the hospital to provide her with breast milk). She takes her breast milk from a bottle. I do regret that move but to try and finger feed a screaming newborn for every feeding just got to be too much.

    Since the day she was born she has latched on to my breast, sucked 2-3 times and pulled away. She will do this several times before she finally has had enough and starts to scream and beat my breast with her angry little fists. Nursing session over.

    The lactation nurses at the hospital thought she was just frustrated because my milk hadn't come in yet. Well, my milk has come in and it is the same story.

    I feel like I've tried everything at this point. Skin-to-skin, tried an SNS a few times (gave her too much milk!), tried feeding her when she was calm and not starving, giving her lots of opportinities to try -- I am so frustrated!!

    I so very much want to be able to nurse my daughter. Anyone had a similar experience and figured out what was wrong? Or perhaps she is just really fiesty & it will take some time for us to jive? I just want to enjoy this time instead of constantly juggling pumping, feeding and being a mom to my other daughter. Help?

    Thank you so much.

  2. #2

    Default Re: 1 week old, angry at the breast & refuses to nurse

    Big hugs coming your way , it sounds like you are going through some struggles!

    You're feeding your baby, that's the most important thing. As you likely know, if baby isn't latching you need to be pumping every 2-3 hours and a hospital grade pump is really best for helping you maintain your supply while baby isn't nursing.

    There is some info here about getting baby back to the breast. I'd continue the skin to skin contact and allow her to try wiggling her way down (nursing in a warm bath can also be soothing to newborns, mamas too!).

    If you haven't already tried laid back breastfeeding then that would be another thing to try. When feeding baby in any position be wary of putting your hands around the back of her head, most babies will push away (against the hand) from the breast. Consider her delivery, was there any physical trauma which may make any of the positions uncomfortable? Have you tried swaddling and nursing? Beginning the feed with the bottle but then switching her over to the breast?

    Have you gotten any lactation help since you left the hospital? Is there anyone who can help you at home with your daughter so that you can focus on getting breastfeeding established?

    If you haven't already seen an IBCLC then I highly encourage you to do so. In-person assistance is very valuable!

    Hang in there mama, you're doing outstanding work by trying to troubleshoot and getting her back to the breast.
    Punk-rock luvin mate to DH and mama to DD1 (born '03) , DD2 (born '08) and nursling DS (born '11) who survived infant botulism.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 1 week old, angry at the breast & refuses to nurse

    with previous post. lots of good suggestions there. get help. Something is preventing your baby from nursing or latching effectively. These issues virtually always have solutions.

    I would also suggest to try to not think of a one week old baby as 'angry', as 'refusing' to nurse, or 'preferring' bottles. i understand that is what it looks like and feels like, but ascribing these thoughts and feelings to newborns, who are incapable of having such complicated responses, is one way moms end up doubting themselves and their bodies. Healthy babies have an instinctual compulsion to nurse, it is purely a matter of survival. If a baby this young seems to be refusing to nurse, she may be unable to nurse, or needs help figuring it out, but they are not refusing the breast or angry at mom or the breast. I would even say it is incorrect to say a baby gets frustrated from 'no milk' in the days right after birth, as all moms take a few days after birth before there is much milk and that is by design, in part because it is easier to learn to nurse on a soft breast with just scant colustrum than a full breast with a strong flow.

    this is very early days, you can absolutely turn this around. Keep bringing baby to the breast without pressure, offer to nurse or simply provide access to the breasts very frequently, long before baby is hungry or frantic-try the ideas in the articles linked above and here.http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/ and get help from a local ibclc and/or lll leader asap.

    is baby actuaklly latching deeply and then pulling off? baby may need help from you getting a good latch so effective sucking can happen.

    I also strongly suggest the book the womanly art of breastfeeding-8th edition 2010
    starts to scream and beat my breast with her angry little fists. Nursing session over
    don't end the session. calm her down, give her a little milk, and try again. if milk is flowing, try breast compressions. beating on the breasts could well be a misdirected kneading behavior, positioning changes may help with this but lots of babies push, beat, or scratch at the breast-it does not mean they do not want to nurse! they are trying to figure this all out too.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; August 16th, 2012 at 12:56 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Northern New England
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    Default Re: 1 week old, angry at the breast & refuses to nurse

    Thanks so much! Especially for the encouragement. I need lots of that!

    I made an appointment to see the lactation nurse at the hospital tomorrow morning. Hopefully she will have some suggestions for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    is baby actuaklly latching deeply and then pulling off? baby may need help from you getting a good latch so effective sucking can happen.
    YES, this. She will open her mouth wide (while yelling), plant her face on my breast and get almost my whole areola in her mouth. She'll suck 2-3 times, swallow and then pull off again. Over, and over and over - then she gets REALLY frustrated.

    I tried your suggestion of not ending the nursing session & calming her down instead. I got a couple of burps out of her & was able to practice a little longer than I normally could.

    I was wondering about the birth injury idea, too. But I had such a fast labor & delivery (four pushes and she was out) that I can't imagine anything would persist this long to still affect nursing. But then again who knows!

    I will try the laid back nursing tonight and see what happens.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    415

    Default Re: 1 week old, angry at the breast & refuses to nurse

    with Meg. A baby this age who WON'T nurse, probably CAN'T nurse, or doesn't know how. It isn't that she doesn't want to, and she isn't angry, certainly not with you. I'm sorry, this has got to be frustrating though! A couple of other thoughts...you say that she will latch on for a couple of sucks and swallows but then de-latches. So she is getting let-down, right? If that is the case, maybe you have overactive let-down. That can be frustrating and difficult to manage for a young baby when the flow of milk is just too fast. You might do better hand-expressing a little bit into a towel first to slow down the flow. Laid-back breastfeeding can help with overactive let-down too, the position makes it easier for baby to handle the fast flow without choking. Overactive let-down almost always gets easier to deal with as baby gets older and bigger so it's a problem that may eventually solve itself, if that is indeed the problem. Another thought--it may help, since you are bottle-feeding anyway, to give her an ounce or so at the start of the feeding so she's not starving and then let her 'finish at the breast'. This way she's calm and not frantic from hunger and may have a little more patience for trying to latch. It also helps her learn to associate breastfeeding with fullness and satisfaction which is good. I'm glad you're getting in-person help, that's great. This is still very early days, hang in there, it will work itself out!

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