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Thread: Really bad nursing behaviour

  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    Default Really bad nursing behaviour

    I am really at my wit's end with my 10 month old's nursing behaviour. It is getting so bad that I honestly just want to quit.

    Biting: he's been biting me on and off for months, since the first teeth sprouted around 6 months. But, now...oh my word, it HURTS. BAD. There is no discernable trigger to this and he is completely unresponsive to my reaction. He will invariably bite me if the light is on and/or if I smile at him--it's like an invitation to play. He sometimes bites if he is done but doesn't want to just roll away. Sometimes he just bites for no apparent reason. I have tried firmly saying no and taking him off the breast. No reaction. AT ALL. I have tried pulling him in towards me and saying no. Again, no reaction (he doesn't even let go in that instance). Sometimes I yelp in pain. No reaction. Today, just now, I screamed. REALLY loud. I was really angry about it (it was like the 11th bite in a short period of time). Can you guess..no reaction.

    Nipple playing: This makes me more irritated than the biting and it is CONSTANT. He honestly cannot nurse if he is not playing with the unused nipple. It hurts and it annoys me to no end. I try to keep the unused nipple covered but I swear he can find it...under my clothes, under my bra, under a bathrobe, you name he can get to it. And, he does. And, when I try to move his hand, he gets really mad and it goes right back so it ends up being a major battle. I cannot stand the nipple playing. I'd rather him bite me.

    Distraction: He is SO, SO, SO distractible and has been since about 4-5 months. The only place we can successfully nurse is in the bed, in the bedroom with the lights off. No noise, no talking. I can rub his head, back or feet but no other interaction. NIP is impossible. The only way I can get him to eat in public is to go to a single user bathroom, turn off the lights and hold him while pacing or swaying (in the dark public bathroom). I have tried a nursing necklace and it makes the problem worse. I have tried giving him something else to play with and then he won't nurse because he gets so busy playing (or then starts biting).

    Breast switching: He's been doing this for ages too. He constantly switches back and forth between breasts for the entire nursing session. Usually he'll spend about 5-10 seconds on one breast before switching to the other (sometimes less). The only times he doesn't do this is during the night and the first two feeds of the day (right when he wakes up and one hour later). I have tried breast compressions, but this usually makes him come off the breast quicker. I am not really convinced it's a flow problem anyway, as I can often hear him gulping and I have had trouble in the past with OALD. I try to put him back on the same breast when he comes off, which sometimes works, but often this causes a struggle and he can move himself between breasts without my help.

    Strange positions: He often moves around and around and around while nursing. I don't mind this except that he is often stretching and pulling the nipple he is sucking on while he is doing it. It doesn't really hurt in the moment but my nipples are becoming pretty raw.

    I'd really like any and all suggestions. I have been so committed to BFing him and have made it through a lot of early problems. I really wanted to go well beyond a year, but honestly, it something doesn't start changing I think I'm going to quit. It is not a nice experience at all and I hate that I am loosing my temper and yelled at him today. I feel like such a failure.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    oh, mama, that sounds like a really rough time. any ONE of those things at a time drives me nuts (and i've had most of them).

    is there perhaps one you can choose to work on right now (maybe the nipple playing?) that if you could get it to stop, you'd have just a little more sanity and be able to push on to the next thing? i have to keep my other nipple covered all the time. that's a pain because DS also likes to switch a lot like yours. so i wear a tank top that's very easy to pull up/down. i also, most of the time, just keep one hand clamped over the other breast. when he wants to switch i let him but then i clamp the other nipple. i wonder if a nursing necklace might help specifically for this issue?
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    The nipple play is instinctual on the part of the baby. They know that if they stimulate the other breast that the milk will come sooner.
    When he bites you STOP. Don't just take him off the breast. STOP the session. And put him down and walk away. After saying OUCH. So he knows that the direct consequence of biting is no more nursing. Most babies can grasp this concept the 3rd or 4th time in a row this happen to them.
    The back and 4th is probably just about wanting constant letdown. And being to impatient to stay in once place so he is just moving back and until he gets the letdown. The nipple play probably actually really helps with this which is probably why his time on the 1st is so short but he stays with the next one. And unfortunately the acrobatic, gymnastic nursing is very very normal for a baby of this age. Hang in there Mama.
    I would work on the biting. Because I think THAT is the one thing you can actually affect and get him to understand right now today. The other two things, I would focus on in 8 weeks. Because the year point is when it becomes OK to begin to set limits. In the next 2 months he will begin to understand language much much more. So at the year point I think it would be acceptable to begin to work on the nipple issue without him freaking out. Because all he knows now about that is that it's HELPING HIM get what he wants. After the year point when the relationship begins to shift, with your ability to rely more on solid food, you are able to make your wants and needs in this relationship more known because there are room for boundaries like this. At this point he is too young to understand you refusing him something WHILE you are still nursing and you are at this point still his main source of nutrition. In 2 months it will becoming less so AND it he has to months to understand that if he does this certain thing (like biting) it means NO NURSING, you will then be able to apply it to other things (like nipple play.) Hang on mama, You are soooo close to there!

    Way too lazy for formula

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*djs.mom View Post
    When he bites you STOP. Don't just take him off the breast. STOP the session. And put him down and walk away. After saying OUCH. So he knows that the direct consequence of biting is no more nursing. Most babies can grasp this concept the 3rd or 4th time in a row this happen to them.

    So at the year point I think it would be acceptable to begin to work on the nipple issue without him freaking out.
    I do stop the session. It doesn't make a difference. We come back 10/15 minutes later, an hour later, whatever....he bites again.

    I cannot wait 2 more months on the nipple twisting thing. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but I cannot tolerate it any more. It makes me crazy, it hurts and the idea of putting up with it another day makes me want to cry. Seriously, I cried reading your response.

    I think I'm just done.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    mama, i TOTALLY hear you about the nipple twisting thing. you are not crazy. i can't tolerate it either, not even once, much less 2 months. end this thing and maybe you'll be able to get through tomorrow.

    so: DON'T put up with it another day. clamp your hand over your other nipple. wear 6 layers. give him a toy to play with. whatever it takes to stop it, now. at 10 months he is learning cause and effect. he'll get it. be firm.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    Some suggestions, just throwing out ideas.

    I cup my breast when my DD is nursing and let her twiddle with my thumb. She operates it like a joystick and twists and turns, etc. if she didn't have that she would go for the nipple.

    I wonder if a cold teething ring or something to bite down on just before nursing would help with the biting? Does he bite during every single session or is there a pattern?

    I'm sorry you are going through this mama, it sounds really tough.
    Lisa

    Mom to Aimee, born 8/22/11
    for 20 months!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    thanks pizanite and auderey. cupping my breast does work but for some nursing sessions (like nap time and bedtime), i have to walk him while nursing and pat his bottom to help soothe him to sleep---and, i only have so many hands!! tonight, i got out an old nursing tank top. he was able to get his hand in the top but not down to the nipple. sometimes i can get him to hold my hand as well. i'll just have to keep at it.

    with regard to the biting...there isn't any pattern i can distinguish. today, he bit me every.single.time. i do stop the nursing session, but on days like today, that means that he never got a complete nursing session in (and some of them, i had to stop really early). i offer again later but then he bites again. so it's really hard to know if he is getting enough.

    he did have a cold the last couple of weeks and a fever earlier this week. he's also been a LOT crabbier than usual (he is really a very easy, sweet baby and never crabs). we took him to the gp on wednesday but they didn't think there was anything wrong. i don't see any teeth coming through or swollen gums, but maybe it is teething. he has bitten me in the past but never like today. i'll try the teething ring tomorrow. the nights are usually easy nursing sessions (fingers crossed!)

    i think i'm also just really tired and that isn't helping me to deal with this. and my husband is really not supportive about this--he doesn't get why i want to continue, why i think breast is best and why i'm reluctant to just start giving a bottle (dh's magical plan). he's always after me to quit breastfeeding when it gets hard.

    I'm super crabby so that isn't helping. and i do feel super guilty for loosing my temper earlier today. i want breastfeeding to be enjoyable for us both and i want to have a good, nurturing relationship with my baby. i don't want to be that mom who gets upset over something like nursing and looses her cool. my mom was a total trainwreck and i don't want to repeat that. well...that was a tangent. sorry. thanks for listening.

    anyway, no formula in the house and i don't have a freezer stash. the shops are closed for the day, so i'll be plugging away for now. baby's got to eat and mama's milk is all there is!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    Bottles might fix one problem: your DH's lack of support. A lot of guys who aren't big BFing supporters become real lactivists when they realize that bottles mean that they are going to have to start getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby! Because you know, anyone can give a bottle!

    I think the llladies who have advised patience, persistence, and a zero tolerance policy for biting and twiddling are on the right track. When baby exhibits an undesirable nursing behavior, just calmly put him down and walk away. It may take a while for him to get the picture that biting/twiddling means that the nice, cuddly nursing session ends, but he will get the picture.

    Did anyone suggest getting a nursing necklace? Sometimes those are good for twiddlers and distractible babies.
    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!"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    A few questions for you:
    - What position(s) are you nursing in?
    - Does nursing on one side seem to cause more biting than the other?
    - You mention that biting has been going on since about 6 months, but has it gotten worse with the cold?

    A few preliminary thoughts:
    - My son had a cold combined with some molars teething around 10 months and started to get referred pain in his sinuses from nursing lying down. We had success sitting up or with him propped up until the congestion passed but boy, it was tiring changing positions with a wiggly baby, like you describe.
    - Have you tried cooling the gums pre-nursing? I keep some frozen peach slices in the ice box just for this purpose and it can buy a few minutes if bite-free nursing on really bad days.
    - I keep a soft silicone teether with me (I even wear it as a bracelet!) and offer it as an alternate whenever my son nips. I've even been known to chew it in an exaggerated way to make my point that that is where chewing can take place.
    - Does your LO let you hold his hand when he nurses? I often rub or play with my son's fingers to divert his attention from twiddling. Might work, might not, but it 's worth a try.

    Good luck mama! I'm so sorry to hear your frustration and hope that together we can help you find the right solutions for you.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Really bad nursing behaviour

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    Bottles might fix one problem: your DH's lack of support. A lot of guys who aren't big BFing supporters become real lactivists when they realize that bottles mean that they are going to have to start getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby! Because you know, anyone can give a bottle!

    Did anyone suggest getting a nursing necklace? Sometimes those are good for twiddlers and distractible babies.
    You haven't met my husband. For all his wonderful qualities (and he does have many) he isn't a middle of the night guy. The few times I have been able to get him to help middle of the night, he's been "so tired" the next day, he slept until noon (if he wasn't working) or went to bed as soon as he got home (if he was working). Plus, bottles are pretty hit or miss with out LO. But, it might be worth it to just make the point.

    I have tried a nursing necklace--he likes them but they distract him from nursing. He really seems to not be able to pay attention to more than one thing at a time!

    I will keep on stopping the nursing sessions...it just doesn't seem like he cares. But, I'll keep trying and see what happens.

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