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Thread: Difficulty latching after letdown

  1. #1

    Default Difficulty latching after letdown

    I could use some nursing advice. I've been EBFing my 16 wks old DS. It was a bumpy start but things have mostly worked themselves out. The main problem we initially had was that I have large breasts and relatively flat nipples, so my small baby had a tough time getting a good latch; but that hasn't been a problem for the last couple of months since he's gotten bigger/stronger. Lately however, after I letdown my breasts and nipples become extremely soft making it nearly impossible for DS to get a good latch. Pre-letdown and post-letdown he nurses really well; but after the initial flow has passed he gets very fidgety/frustrated and constantly pulls off and back on, presumably trying to get a better latch.

    I'm not sure if this is a latch problem, or if the fact that my breasts are getting soft so quickly indicates a supply problem. I SAH so I've been a fairly casual pumper and have never gotten great volumes from pumping, but in the last couple of weeks my output seems to have dropped from 2-2.5 oz to more like 1.5-1.75 oz per session. I attributed this to the fact that DS started sleeping through the night around 8-10 weeks, but now he's up again for an additional night feeding.

    FWIW, his wet diapers seem to be about the same; but we switched to primarly cloth around 12 weeks so I'm of course changing those a little more frequently--so it's hard to compare exactly.

    DS's weight gain has always been consistent but he's toward the bottom of the curve, so there's not as much room for error (hence my concern)

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    Welcome to the forum!

    Once a mom has been nursing for a few months, and her supply has adjusted to meet demand very precisely, without a lot of extra milk being made, it's very normal for her to feel "soft" or "empty" pretty much all the time. Feeling full/engorged means you're making more milk than the baby needs. Once supply has adjusted, pump output typically declines- particularly for moms who are not religious pumpers. And when milk goes from overabundant to just enough, the sort of behavior you're seeing- where baby pulls off the breast and fusses- is very common. Best thing you can do for it is to allow the baby to figure out how to use nursing to stimulate the milk supply and flow speed he wants to have. This isn't really a problem you need to fix for him.

    Is your baby feeding on demand, and if so, how many times a day does he nurse?
    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!"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    Thanks for responding so quickly! This is all good information--I guess my main concern is that, assuming my supply is fine, we're still maintaining good milk transfer. I broke down this morning and bought a scale to weigh him pre- and post-feedings and, at least for today, he's only getting about 3-3.5 oz at each feeding. I usually offer to nurse him every 2 hours (sometimes 3-3.5 if we're out running errands). He usually only has one night feeding, so that translates to about 8-9 feedings each day. So I'm thinking he probably gets around 27-30 oz. This sounds low to me; at least according to the book I'm reading which seems to suggest that 4 mo. olds should be getting around 35-40 oz --although I'm not sure if that goes for both BM and Formula. As I said, he's a little guy (25% for height, 6th% for weight last we checked), but I'm not sure if that means he should be eating more or less than larger babies.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    3-3.5 oz is terrific milk transfer! A breastfed baby typically takes just 2-4 oz of milk per feeding throughout his/her entire first year. This is a huge contrast to the amounts that formula-fed and bottle-fed babies eat. I'm sure you've seen a formula-fed baby sucking down a 6-8 oz bottle- I know I have!

    27-30 oz of milk per day is terrific for a breastfed baby. On the high side, even, according to this link: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/. 35-40 oz is for formula-fed babies only.
    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!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    286

    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    I still feel a little strange with soft breasts because of the supply/demand adjusting after oversupply. At first I was very distraught, but now after a month or two I'm okay with it. It definitely feels weird at first, even "wrong" if you're used to feeding from firm, full breasts all the time.

    I was just thinking about what mommal said the other day, about FF babies sucking down like 8-9oz. I have a bottle that we bought and never used, it goes up to 10oz! It sounds like things are going really great for you! 3-3.5oz is plenty. It's hard not to compare to FF babies if that's what's in the book. What book are you reading, just out of curiosity? Also, your baby may be low in the weight percentile but that doesn't really mean anything. It just means that most babies are heavier, but not that yours is unhealthy. You can be a big healthy baby or a small healthy baby!
    and Mama to two little girls

  6. #6

    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    Thanks for your help--I feel so much better after reading these replies. I really had no idea how much breastfed babies ate per feeding. The softer breasts definitely take some getting used to. For now I think I'll just focus on trying to feed him in areas where he'll be less distracted, and maybe trying some new positions as well (I've exclusively been using cross cradle, but now that he's bigger I may try lying down with him again which we had a hard time with when he was a newborn).

    karrieperry--I've been reading Baby411. Overall I've found it useful for troubleshooting various issues that have arisen, but if you have any other recommendations I'd be interested to hear about them.

    Thanks again!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    I think you may be experiencing something called the '4 month fussies.' This is something noticed by many moms at around this age-baby just starts nursing 'weird.' It is a stage. It's not anything that has been researched and I don’t think anyone knows exactly why it happens, but the evidence is so strong that it DOES happen, it is written about in the LLL breastfeeding manual The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition)

    As mommal says, baby appears to be getting PLENTY of milk per session. Babies this age still tend to nurse quite frequently and that is healthy and normal, so go ahead and nurse as often as you and baby like, even when you are out, and your production and baby’s weight gain should be fine.

    A four month old formula fed baby might get 5 8 ounce bottles a day. Is this healthy? Evidence is suggesting these giant, infrequent feedings contribute to obesity risk, and the suggestion now is to feed bottle fed babies frequently, on cue, in smaller amounts to make bottle feeding more like breastfeeding. Because breastfeeding is what is normal, biologically speaking.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Difficulty latching after letdown

    For breastfeeding information, "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" (8th edition) is the best thing out there.

    For parenting advice, I personally like:
    - The Baby Book by Sears & Sears
    - My Child Won't Eat! By Carlos Gonzalez
    - The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
    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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