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?