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Thread: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    Sometimes, especially in the evenings, my LO will latch on, suck for 5 or 10 seconds and then unlatch herself. She'll suddenly turn her head away, sometimes without letting go of my nipple which hurts. She will do this over and over for hours if I let her. She isn't fussy and doesn't seem like she's starving, but she is definitely rooting and looking for a boob. She seems to get some milk like this but not much. She'll suck maybe 5 or 6 times for every small swallow. She's never done this when my breasts are full and she hasn't eaten for a while...this is usually part of a cluster feeding pattern where she's been nursing all evening and my breasts feel empty and she still seems hungry.

    My first intuition is that she's emptied my breasts and is still hungry and sucks a few times, finds that she's not really getting anything, and pulls off, frustrated. I almost think that she's hoping there is a 3rd untapped breast out there somewhere that she just hasn't discovered yet, lol... But if I try to hand-express, I can spray milk very easily. So I know there is milk there for her, at least a little. But it seems like she's not getting much at all. It does seem like she's hungry though because sometimes (rarely) if she is persistent enough, after maybe 1/2 hour or 45 minutes of this, I'll suddenly have another small let-down, or that's what it seems like, because all of a sudden she'll be there intently drinking what seems like lots of milk in a sustained suck-swallow-suck-swallow pattern--and very happy about it.

    It has also occurred to me though that maybe her belly is full (which goes along with my breasts feeling empty) and she just wants to suck. And she's sucking and every 5th suck she gets milk and pulls off because she's full and doesn't want the milk. But she can't resist the urge to suck which is why she goes back for more sucking?

    I've tried giving her a pacifier and she'll suck on that a few times and then it will fall out of her mouth. I'm not sure if she's rejecting it because she'd just rather suck on my breast or if she is rejecting it because she's hungry and nothing is coming out.

    Like I said, this doesn't happen that often (maybe once a week). Usually, she drinks easily from one or both breasts and stops when she's done. When it does happen, it is pretty uncomfortable. After an hour and dozens of rounds of her yanking on my nipple, I am usually losing my mind! And either way, she doesn't seem to be getting what she needs (either more milk or some non-nutritive sucking). Should I be trying to distract her after she does it only a few times? Often, she's doing this when we're all trying to go to sleep, and it's 10 pm, and then 10:30 and then it's 11 pm and I just think if I gave her 2 or 3 oz of breast milk in a bottle, she'd be satisfied and we could all get some rest. The last thing I want to do is give her a bottle when I'm home, but she seems hungry and the latch-unlatch-latch routine is not giving her what she's looking for.

    Her weight gain and outputs are fine, and this isn't happening every day so I'm not so much worried about getting food into her this minute. I've tried to resist the bottle to avoid longer-term problems with my supply. I figure, if nothing else, having her there sucking for hours on end is good for stimulating my breasts to produce more. But sometimes it seems like a bottle in the evenings once a week would be a sanity-saver and would make baby happy too.

    What should I be doing here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    Remind us how old she is?

    Some degree if evening fussiness or just distractible, non-focused, confusing behavior, is very normal. I think your intuition about baby wanting to suck but not necessarily wanting to eat is excellent- often that is exactly what is going on. The best thing you can do is to nurse through a difficult evening, but if baby isn't into that or is causing you distress because you're so uncomfortable, here are some other things you can try:
    - warm bath
    - motion (stroller ride, swing, bounce on exercise ball, rock in a chair, etc.)
    - white noise (radio static, vacuum cleaner sound, etc.)
    - fresh air (take baby outside)
    - closeness (snuggle baby in a sling, join her in the bath)
    - calm house (lights, tv, and stereo down or off)
    Basically, you're trying to change the baby's sensory inputs, and hoping that new and calming sensations will help her make that transition from tired bit awake to peacefully sleeping.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    Thanks, glad to hear this is normal. She's 3 1/2 months old. I think you're right, we just need to nurse and nurse and then if that gets to be too much, find something else to do. It's sometimes hard to get over that feeling that if she wants to nurse, she must be hungry and I need to feed her any way I possibly can. So it helps to hear from someone else that it's quite possible that she's not actually hungry and is just looking for a way to unwind. Thanks!

  4. #4

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    I am having the same issue with my 3 1/2 mo. Only she wants her thumb instead of my breast sometimes. It's very frustrating and confusing for me too. She's usually doing it during the day, but not often as well. I hope we get through these fussy/weird times. Good luck.

  5. #5

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    my baby does the same. he started to be distractible when he was 3months old. he is now 7months and still the same. i work FT and pump at the office. i usually have an output of 16-24oz for 4 pumping session. i wonder when will we ever finish this stage. i don't really know how much he gets from me when we feed directly but when I am out at the office and my mom takes care of my son, he usually just finish 10-16oz (varies daily). I leave the house at 6AM and arrive 7PM. i am also hoping to get through this stage as i want to breastfeed for as long as i can.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Northern Cal.

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    My little two month old has been doing this to me in the evenings lately as well. I find it helps if I get up and dance around a little bit (or a lot, I'm getting tired! ). Often she just falls asleep when I jiggle her around a little bit. I think it's all part of the normal evening fussies. Later, babies do get very distractible, and will pop off to look around. This does tend to get better around the first birthday, but then often it's a problem for the opposite reason - all of a sudden your toddler will.not.unlatch.ever. So it's always something, I find! If everything else is going well, just do your best and roll with it.

    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  7. #7

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    Well, i used to dance and sway my ds when he was 3-4months now, i still do to entice him for a feed. afterall, he really would nurse when he is sleepy. he also won't take much from the bottle unless he is sleepy. he would just snack for 5-6sips when awake and that's it. all the while i thought he was suffering from silent reflux as he would arch his back in attempt to end the nursing session in case that i insist in contuining so. he was put on antihistamine for a month but did not improved his feeding behavior. i doubt that it is a supply issue because i can pump 2oz++ per breast when i pump. i just keep hanging in there that soon it will be better. by the way, we started out bfeeding with only 5mins nursing yet he gained 1kg++ in his first 2 months. the rest is ~500g per months. he was 7.3kgs when he was 6months.

  8. #8

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    I find that vtypically when my dd dos this she either needs. To pee, hae a bm or burp/pass gas.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    My LO does this too when he needs to burp.
    Mama to M, BF 17mo
    and H, born Feb '12

  10. #10

    Default Re: baby latches and unlatches over and over and over

    I'm in the exact same situation as described by the first user. The problem is that my little one does this very often, and usually from one breast. This happens any time, mornings, or evenings and is very frustrating because he looks like he is suffering, and I don't enjoy nursing at all when this happens.
    Anyone can help? Those who went through this, did this go on for long? Did you find out what the problem was?
    I would really appreciate any help.

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