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Thread: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Default 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Let me start by saying, I'm ready to give up. My baby and I are both miserable and presently can't stand one another. There have been a lot of tears in my house lately.

    Things started out great. He breastfed like a champ until 8 weeks when he started to fall off of his growth curve. For the past 4 weeks, it's been an increasing battle to get him to the breast. The only time I am somewhat successful is when he is drowsy and/or asleep and sometimes it's a struggle because he fully wakens and screams his head off. When he is awake - forget about it. He either will accept the breast for a total of 2 minutes, most of which he is latching and unlatching, or he will scream, cry, writhe, twist and kick until we both give up. He will, however, take a bottle of expressed breastmilk from my husband, who is becoming more and more willing to give him a bottle just to make him stop crying.

    1) I don't believe I have low supply. When I pump while my husband gives a bottle, I can generally get 2.5+ ounces out of a single breast. I also don't believe that I have oversupply.
    2) I have tried all sorts of different positions - side lying (he kicks and backs away); reclined (he pinches my nipple and leans back); cradle hold in a dark room in a rocking chair (he kicks and twists away).
    3) The bottles are slow flow nipples and he isn't getting more than 2-3 ounces at any one feeding.
    4) I have eliminated dairy/soy from my diet since these seemed problematic for him at the beginning (projectile spit up)
    5) There is a question of whether he is bothered by reflux, but I can't understand why he doesn't reject the bottle but rejects the breast.

    I don't understand what I am doing wrong and I am becoming so sad that this isn't working because this is precisely when my older daughter started refusing me for nursings and we ultimately switched to bottles of expressed breastmilk supplemented with formula. I wanted this experience to be different and I know I am failing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    534

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    All I can offer is that 8 to 12 weeks was roughest for me and we got through it. My kiddo had horrible painful gas and she got through that. It doesn't happen for everyone but many with whom I've spoken also had things settle down a bit after 3 months. Very important that you take care of yourself. Feeling tense makes it feel like a battle. Do what you can to relax. Ask for help with the baby. Hope things improve and that you don't give up on yourself. This is a hard job!!
    1st time mom over 40 to Alex(andra) b: 7/14/12

  3. #3

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Let's say that you no longer breastfeed at the breast but you give your milk that you pump. YOU WILL STILL BE A BREASTFEEDING MOTHER and that's NOT a failure.

    Let's say you ended breastfeeding today, at 12 (?) weeks old (I'm NOT saying you should do that, just saying if you did), YOU WOULD STILL HAVE BREASTFED YOUR CHILD FOR 3 MONTHS! That's not a failure!

    Let's say that this breastfeeding relationship didn't go the way you wanted, so you learned and studied and asked questions and found out potential reasons for things not going the way you wanted. Let's say that you used that information to help others, or to help yourself the next time you have a baby. NOT failure, friend!

    So you can get that "worried about being a failure" off the table, 'cause it's frankly not the case.

    But yes it sounds like your breastfeeding relationship isn't going the way you want, and that happens with lots of moms, and lots of those moms are able to turn things around and make this experience a little better.

    So, here are a few ideas for you to get baby interested in nursing at the breast. They may or may not work. You might have already considered contacting a La Leche League Leader (attending meetings can be SO beneficial for moms having this sort of problem!!) or a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). Don't worry about the cost: LLL is FREE and IBCLCs can often work with a budget. And if they don't, it's cheaper than formula, so an investment!

    My ideas:
    - I would suggest you eliminate today any artificial nipples. No more pacifiers (if you're using them). And consider using alternative feeding methods instead of bottles. Some ideas are cup feeding (just get a soft-edged cup you can squeeze to feed baby), syringe (like you would use to give medicine), or spoon feeding (just a plastic spoon would work). This will really help with having the interest in getting back to the breast.

    - Lots and lots of skin-to-skin! Baby down to diaper, your bare chest. Do this at night and any time you can with your baby. Just the chemical reactions that happen in your body and his really help breastfeeding. Just the smell and feel of your skin can trigger basic instincts in him to suckle. You don't have to pressure him to nurse if he doesn't want to, but you can have it there, available, store is always open! You can also use a warm bath to have skin-to-skin with your baby. Having a set of hands outside the bath to get baby in and out with you can be helpful.

    - Make your boob your baby's best friend. Baby feeling sad? Have boob available (if he wants it). Baby getting food not from you? Have boob readily available and close by (associating food with boob). Never force your baby to nurse. Just make your bosom the comforting place that it was meant to be.

    - Wear baby in a sling. Hold your baby lots and lots. If you use a car seat that comes out of the car (infant bucket seat), leave it in the car. That way, you'll be easily accessible at anytime, not buckles and latches away. This might be a change in parenting style for you, and if that's the case, a LLL meeting would be a great place to see in action ways breastfeeding moms care for their children in bf-friendly ways.

    Good luck to you! You have so much going for you -- a great milk supply and a HUGE desire to make this work!!

  4. #4

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Oh, can you give more info about what happened at 8 weeks? He began to fall off the curve, so what did you do? Did any of that contribute to him not wanting the breast?

    What about sleep patterns? Did he start sleeping more at 8 weeks at night, thus possibly loosing some nighttime feeding sessions?

    Some of what happened at 8 weeks may be a clue to what's going on now.

    It's not too late! I recently spoke with someone who stopped nursing at 6 weeks and baby was back on breast after 3 months of no pumping or nursing. It took a while, but it happened!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    80

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. They made my morning better after another night of horrible breastfeeding. I now have to get out of bed and walk with him around the downstairs like a roving minstrel of breastfeeding. That’s the only way I can get him to latch.

    I am not sure what happened or didn't happen at 8 weeks, but here are a few of my ideas:

    1) I was babywearing constantly and allowing him to sleep on me, which I have gradually discontinued because he is going to daycare in 3 weeks when I go back to work. I know daycare won’t be allowing any of this, so I wanted to prepare him so he was less shocked by how little hands on attention he is going to get.

    2) He started sleeping a longer stretch at night. He was consistently waking to eat within 3 hours, but started going from 8pm to 12:30 or 1am. I've tried to sneak in a feeding while he sleeps but have met with the usual resistance.

    3) He seems more, not less gassy. I wonder whether he is associating the breast with this discomfort but I can’t explain why he doesn't also associate the bottle.

    I will eliminate the paci, return to the sling and try more skin to skin. I am willing to try anything! I will also have to see if my husband is willing to try the spoon feeding method of supplementing.

    My local LLL Leader did question whether I might have a supply issue since the baby only takes one breast at each feeding, although I am not sure how to increase supply by getting him to take both when I struggle to get him to take one.

    Thank you again for ideas. I am so desperate to make this work. I think that if I have to go back to work and my breastfeeding relationship goes down the toilet, I am going to be one depressed mama.

  6. #6

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    It sounds like you have a lot of stress related to going back to work. It sounds like that is already affecting your breastfeeding relationship (i.e. you are making changes to how you want to parent) even before you've started back at work.

    I think taking the time to go to a LLL meeting will really give you a safe place to express some of these concerns and really formulate in your mind what you are most concerned with! Sometimes we don't really realize what our concern is until we share our situation with other mothers who know.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    5,898

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    My local LLL Leader did question whether I might have a supply issue since the baby only takes one breast at each feeding, although I am not sure how to increase supply by getting him to take both when I struggle to get him to take one.
    Switch nursing is a good strategy for increasing production, but it is perfectly normal for a baby to only want to nurse one side at a time.

    When you say baby fell off the curve, what do you mean? It can be perfectly normal for babies weight trajectory to jump around the chart a bit. Growth charts are one measure of health and wellness. They do not tell the whole story! Were you told to start supplementing by your doctor? How much, and for how long? Did the nursing issues start after bottle introduction? If a baby is getting filled up with bottles, he is very likely to lose interest in the breast. This is why it is so important to avoid unneeded supplemtation or bottles. It can be turned around, but it's going to be really hard if baby keeps getting bottles he does not need or more supplementation than needed.

    try the ideas in the kellymom article help, my baby won't nurse. http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/ And I think you are very smart to stop trying to 'prepare' your baby for day care by changing your parenting style. I really agree strongly with mamamia about this. Instead I would suggest prepare daycare for your baby by giving them these feeding instructions http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf and maybe even asking them if they would be willing to learn baby wearing. Your baby's needs and your strategy for meeting them with baby wearing and holding your baby for sleep are normal and healthy.

    I suggest stop worrying about gas, allergy or reflux at least for now. My guess is those are not the problem. Babies nurse for comfort, so reflux will cause a baby to nurse more as much or even more often then it would cause baby to nurse less. If you have forceful letdown, that would be something that can cause breast refusal.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; February 24th, 2013 at 07:56 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    80

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Thank you for the information about how to bottle feed a breastfed baby. I will print that out and bring it with me to daycare. I recognize that I need their cooperation to preserve the breastfeeding relationship.

    Mamamia- I think you hit the nail on the head. I am super-stressed and very reluctant to go back to work and I am sure that tension is affecting breastfeeding. My son loves to be held, rocked and babied and I know daycare isn't the place where he is going to get those needs met, which leaves me quite distraught at the thought of having to leave him. I'm clinging to breastfeeding like a raft that will preserve our cuddly, happy relationship and since that hasn't been ideal lately, I'm feeling more and more stressed.

    Thank you again for your replies.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    5,898

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Do you have any other choices in where or by whom your child is cared for while you are at work? Is this typical that day cares do not 'baby' 3 month old babies???? Your child's needs are normal.

    Your child could be going to a perfect fairy godmother land of a day care while you are at work and it would still probably stress you to leave your baby-these feelings are normal, and will usually get better over time as both you and baby adjust to the new reality. But if your daycare is not going to give your child age appropriate care that seems unusually concerning.

    Also, yes, even today, some mothers who have planned to return to work by a certain time ultimately decide that deadline is not going to work for them, and explore alternatives.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    21,346

    Default Re: 12 week old refusing breast but accepting bottles

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    Do you have any other choices in where or by whom your child is cared for while you are at work? Is this typical that day cares do not 'baby' 3 month old babies???? Your child's needs are normal.
    At the very least, it might help to go in to the daycare and discuss how your child will be cared for. Ask open-ended questions- instead of asking "Will you wear my baby/cuddle him/rock him to sleep?" say "My child has a high need for physical contact and affection. How will you go about meeting that need?"

    I think a lot of mamas fall into the trap of trying to please the daycare workers by making their babies "easy" to care for. Instead of parenting the way they want to parent, they try to train the baby to be "good" and need less care- less holding, less rocking, less on-demand feedings, etc. Is that something that might be happening with you?
    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!"

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