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Thread: Newborn unable or unwilling to latch

  1. #1

    Default Newborn unable or unwilling to latch

    Our 5 day old newborn is completely healthy and doing great ... except for the fact that she will not latch!

    Strangely, in the hospital the first day, she latched successfully several times and was able to breastfeed about 5-15 minutes each time, about 3-4 hours apart. There were definitely some minor issues that came up at this point -- she seemed to have a strong tongue thrust and fussed a lot at the breast, popped on and off, struggled to latch, etc. We worked w/ the nurses and lactation consultants to try different positions, etc. The second day in the hospital, she struggled much more to latch and was only able to do so about half the time. A lactation consultant helped us learn how to hand-express colostrum and spoon feed, which worked well.

    When we got home, baby Ada basically stopped latching completely (or maybe she did once or twice the first day home). So we just continued to spoon feed colostrum, figuring that when my wife's milk came in, Ada would have a much easier time latching (as the lactation consultants seemed to think).

    Well ... the milk came in and if anything, baby seems LESS interested in even trying to latch. There is a lot of screaming/fussing when we try to get her on -- she almost seems freaked out about latching. We're trying to be really relaxed about it, let her lay at the breast skin-to-skin, find the nipple herself, drip a little expressed breast milk in her mouth or around the nipple to encourage her. The best it gets is that she's now somewhat willing to lay there for a bit with the nipple barely in her mouth -- not sucking or latching, just letting the nipple sit in there.

    In the meanwhile, we've had to start pumping around the clock, which is very elaborate, time-consuming, and upsetting for my wife (who really wants baby to feed at the breast). We don't seem to be making a lot of progress, and baby LOVES drinking expressed milk from the bottle, seems totally content to be a bottle fed baby ... which is not what WE want.

    Other factors that may be useful to know -- wife's breasts are very large and floppy (sorry, honey ), positioning baby is a nightmare & very time consuming, and the nipples are pretty flat. Second -- We did a fair amount of sort of forcing baby onto the nipple at first (not having any idea of what we were doing) -- maybe that made her averse? Third factor (not sure if it matters) -- wife's delivery went well but her placenta was retained so she was taken to the OR about half an hour after birth. This meant that baby Ada was separated from her for about 45 mins during prime bonding time. Fortunately, baby and I did skin to skin the whole time, but could that have affected their breastfeeding relationship?

    We have a lactation clinic appointment later this week and we have a second pediatrician appointment to work on the latch again (we saw the ped a couple of days ago and got a nipple shield and some advice, none of which helped). But we are really feeling defeated. Does anyone have any words of wisdom for us ... will this baby EVER latch? How can we encourage her to do so?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Newborn unable or unwilling to latch

    I can only answer really briefly right now:

    Please don't feel defeated. This is very early days. Some babies take weeks to latch and breastfeeding ends up going great.

    It is not unusual for baby to have MORE difficulty latching when mom's milk becomes abundant. Breast gets more full, harder to latch onto. That is one reason by natures brilliant design, babies can practice with an unful breast the first few days!

    If mom had IV fluid she may have experienced (or still be experiencing) edema, which again can make it more difficult for baby to latch. This resolves as mom loses that extra water.

    Here are suggestions:

    Contact local LLL ASAP
    If you must use bottles, feed baby like this. http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf There are alternatives to bottles besides spoon. cups can work well. Google Dr. Jack Newman for his website wiht videos including cup feeding
    Read this http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...ching_baby.pdf
    Try laid back nursing http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfeeding.pdf mom does not need to be this laid back as in illustration. Mom finds amount of lean that works for her. baby in any position.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Newborn unable or unwilling to latch

    BTW I assure your baby is not 'content' to be a bottle fed baby. Your baby has an instinctual need to suckle and will do so on whatever babuy can do so. Your baby is too young to form opinions about it. Opinions come later. Be prepared!

    These are tips for encouraging baby to try to latch, if not even trying is part of teh issue: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

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