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Thread: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long]

  1. #1

    Default 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long]

    Sorry this is so long, I just wanted to put as much background as I could if that helps.

    I'm a second time mother, but this is my first baby breastfed more than a few weeks. That said, I've read up on just about everything I could. But I can't really find any answers for this. My 10 week old boy was breastfeeding pretty well. He is pretty fat. I weighed him with me on our scale and it seems that he is about 16 lbs, though I have to take him to his 2 month appointment this week (missed the last one). At around 7 weeks though, he started to latch and unlatch every few seconds. I noticed I have had overactive letdown, with some spraying, but only in one breast (not sure if it counts as overactive letdown without spraying?) and I noticed this after his 6 week growth spurt. Oh when I started side lying with him around this period of frequent waking, he would only take a little and fall asleep. When he started having green poops, I switched to block feeding to correct both issues and this went away. But he seemed to get even fussier and I was not sure if I had diminished my milk supply. Oh yeah, around this time of introducing side lying sleeping, he began to become very gassy as well, lots of passing gas but I attributed this to me not burping him when we sleep. Also during this time, we went on a trip out of town and we could not even get back out of town because he hates his car seat and wanted to feed for 3 hours, all the while latching and unlatching as we sat on the highway with both me and my husband frustrated and confused.

    During weeks 7-9 he constantly constantly nursed and didn't sleep and suddenly became unputdownable. I figured he was comfort nursing because he would latch, unlatch, get mad about milk coming and started to wake up to nurse every hour and would wake up quickly from naps. I even got an oversupply and engorged from all the comfort nursing. Previously to this, he was sleeping for about 2 hours at a time, even with an occasional 3 hour nap and one 3 hour stretch at night (this happened for only one glorious week at about 6 weeks before the growth spurt). I have since figured out that at some point, probably during or after the previously mentioned trip, he became chronically overtired as I was totally missing his cues and he is the sort that will never stop looking around, being alert and is happy until he's screaming.

    Now that I've figured out that he was overtired I've been weaning him off comfort nursing so much by trading it for rocking when he no longer eats without crying anymore (which was the way I used to get him to sleep). He eventually stopped wanting to suck so much and allowed me to rock him. He's starting to sleep more at night with about waking every 1.5 to 2 hours and I have even been able to put him down in his cosleeper/bassinet for one nap and am currently praying he'll finish this current one. So things are getting better and at night he nurses (while sleepy) pretty well, like normal.

    But the problem is this - when he is fully awake, he STILL nurses for a few seconds, pulls off, takes a few breaths or looks around, relatches, rinse and repeat. Sometimes he'll even nurse for a few minutes but then he'll pull off and milk will be dripping everywhere (not spraying, just dripping very quickly). Sometimes after a few minutes of this I get frustrated and put him down to play or in his swing but in about 5-10 minutes he is screaming for food again and then the same cycle starts. This continues on until he changes to crying in between latches and then I know he's tired and I rock him to sleep.

    Also, sometimes he falls asleep but wakes up soon after, hungry. And he is not draining the breast at all during the day, though this may have something to do with my oversupply. What is going on here? I am so frustrated that I am beginning to hate nursing and he refuses pacificers, doesn't really drink from the bottle (he sometimes drinks a little, most times he won't though I don't get the chance to pump much so I haven't offered it much lately) and I feel like if I give up, he will starve. I was wondering if it could be reflux or thrush but it doesn't seem like we match those symptoms. I read about distractible babies but he seems too young for this and is it really this bad when they are?


    I know this is a lot of info but I've spent weeks researching this and I have no definitive answers and I don't know if something is wrong that I'm not seeing. I've got no confidence that his ped will either since these are the people who told me when he was a few days old to start supplementing and not letting him feed more often than every 2 hours because my breasts needed time to drain and babies get all of their nourishment within 15 min and to not let him nurse longer than that. Yes, I know.

    Thank you so much for any guidance. I used to love breastfeeding and look forward to it but now I'm just looking for any way to get out of it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    Welcome to the forum!

    That "on-off, on-off" style of nursing is really common in babies whose moms have fast letdowns. It's the baby's way of keeping himself from getting firehosed when he nurses- take a sip, pull off and wait for the letdown to calm down, take another sip, etc. It's an annoyance, but there's nothing wrong with it per se.

    While 2.5 months is early for distraction to strike- it's more typical in 4-6 month old babies- it's certainly not out of the ballpark for this behavior, particularly if baby happens to be an especially alert type.

    Basically, your baby strikes me as a frustrating little guy, but not an abnormal one. Have you tried reclined nursing positions? That may slow milk flow enough for baby to nurse without needing to do the whole on/off routine. And when it comes to comfort nursing and nursing to sleep, I encourage you not to give those things up, as they are biologically normal for babies and usually much easier than any alternative comfort measure!
    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: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    Hi, thanks so much.

    I think sometimes it is the letdown because he will come off coughing or choking, but usually if he's really hungry he'll just drink through it and he won't unlatch and we'll be fine for a few minutes. Alternatively, I've got the part where he unlatches and seems to take a break (probably the fast letdown like you were saying). I have tried reclining with him before but haven't recently - I will try that tomorrow to see if it helps him.

    And the other thing that happens - after he's been on for a few minutes, he'll unlatch and he'll take the boob if I offer but only for a moment and will refuse to take more. So instead of continuing to fight, I decided to let him go and he'll be good for about 5 min to 20 min and then he'll want to nurse again. I guess it's kind of like he is snacking? He does this the whole time he's awake. I already don't go outside with him much at all (maybe 4 times since he came home) because of how often he nurses and because he doesn't like his carseat much. But now I'm thinking I'll never be able to go out until he's on solids, if then just because of the frequency (and I don't feel comfortable nursing in public because of my large breasts, so I only do it in the car).

    I'm not sure what to do to get him to stop snacking. Before he did this though, he usually ate for 30 min, fastest 20, longest 45 on average unless it was a clusterfeed/growth spurt. So I'm thinking he's just spacing out that time or getting better at eating or something. Is this something I'm just going to have to deal with for the next year? Or at least until he stays awake more than an hour at a time.

    I won't give up comfort nursing, it was just getting to the point where he was very frustrated because he did not want milk, he only wanted to sleep and would cry everytime he got milk but he felt nursing was the only way to get to sleep...he was always trying to suck the sheets when I put him down even, and would wake up wanting to nurse because it was triggering his reflex I guess? So when I began wearing him in a sling, he seemed to decide he didn't always need to nurse to sleep anymore and got a lot more rest...but he still does nurse to sleep at night. It is much easier than rocking or wearing a sling but for some reason comfort nursing doesn't seem all that comfortable to him during the day very often.
    Last edited by @llli*xel; September 1st, 2013 at 09:03 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    "Snacking" is an entirely normal eating pattern for a breastfed baby. I remember reading this near ethnograhic study about nursing frequency in a tribal agricultural society where the moms wore their babies during the day and slept with them at night. Guess how often the babies nursed? Every 17 minutes, on average! The babies would fuss a bit in their carrier, and the moms would shift them around for a little milk, and then go right back to hoeing their garden. And in my personal experience, snacking remains a healthy eating pattern for children way up into the elementary school years. My 2nd grader still takes a snack to school, at the school's request, because the kids learn and behave better when they have a little mid-morning fuel.

    All that being said, your baby will eventually be able to go longer than 5-45 minutes without nursing. Babies grow faster during the newborn stage than at any time in the rest of their lives, and they thefore need a lot of food. And they also have very little that interests them aside from nursing- but that will change! One day your child will discover his own fingers and toes and will spend a lot more time playing with those, and he'll start getting interested in things he can see across the room... As those changes occur, he'll need to nurse less often. I predict that by 4-6 months he'll be able to go a couple of hours between nursing sessions, and when he does nurse it will be fast because he will be able to get all his needs met in just a few minutes. It sounds like he's already a speedy nurser, something which is common with babies who deal with fast letdowns.

    Are you burping him well? Babies who cope with fast letdowns sometimes gulp a lot of air while nursing, and that can make them feel full- until the air burps out.

    Also, what sort of position do you use during the daytime vs. the nighttime? It sounds like the nighttime nurse-to-sleep sessions are easier than the daytime ones, for some reason- and often that is related to positioning.
    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

    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    Well, that's certainly interesting to hear about snacking. I don't know how humanity has gotten so far. Babies are seriously needy creatures and I'd think less people would be willing to put up with that! But, I guess we do what we have to.

    That's really encouraging to hear, that he may be able to go a few hours without eating in a few months. It feels like it will never end right now, especially because I hear of some people whose 12 month olds still nurse every hour or two. I will admit I'm not very good at burping him. I used to never do it at first because I heard some myth that bf babies didn't need it. I do it now, but only for a minute or two because I usually only ever get one big burp and maybe one or two little ones.

    In the daytime, I use football hold usually though I've started experimenting with cradle. It was the only position I could really use because of the size of my breasts and how tiny he was at first, without smothering him. I side lie at night. But now, I'm super worried because last night he woke up at 3 am and I started to side lie nurse but he kept unlatching immediately, not crying, but wanting to relatch and showing all signs that he was hungry. He'd get it in his mouth, then spit it out and cry if I tried to keep him there. He did this from 3 am to 6:30 am and I tried everything I know to get him to eat or sleep, and he refused the bottle by clamping down around it. He's never even not eaten for that long while not awake or stayed up that long before. He was super upset eventually because he was so hungry and tired but would only unlatch. He eventually latched on and stayed there in a reclining position (he wouldn't take it when I did the same position earlier) and immediately passed out. He woke up several times to feed while he was sleepy and then went down for a long time. Then he ate while he was sleepy twice more.

    Right now, he woke up on his own at 2 pm and I fed him for all of a minute or two before he pushed it out. Now he's just lying here on the bed looking exhausted and tired and not crying at all. I thought maybe he may have thrush because he had yeast diaper rash (I diagnosed myself, not doctor) that I was able to make clear up some with antifungal but doesn't appear to have any other symptoms. He's also not crying in pain at latch. Sometimes my nipples are a bit itchy and I've had pain in the past but I don't really have symptoms. I have some genetian violet here I was gonna try today but I'm getting seriously worried that something more major might be wrong with him because he's not eating much at all. He is acting normal when awake though, smiling and kicking. I'm thinking about asking doctor about reflux but he doesn't seem in pain when he spits up. Oh and sometimes he makes a face when he pushes it out, like he tasted something he didn't like. Which is making me start to think reflux again (or both!).

    edit - Just tried feeding him in a reclined position on my stomach, skin to skin and he fed a lot better and calmly, rarely trying to unlatch, but still tried to unlatch upon letdowns. When he didn't unlatch, he seemed like he was struggling with the amount of milk. He was sleepy though.
    Last edited by @llli*xel; September 2nd, 2013 at 02:03 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    Hi xel, welcome to the forum!

    Mommal has given you lots of great info. Since the laid back was helpful, I suggest, keep experimenting with positioning and keep offering to nurse at early cues. If the problem is (or even partly is) a fast letdown, nursing frequently and nursing laid back or side lying will most likely help quite a bit. Also, with forceful letdown, that usually calms down as time goes on. And yes, there can be forceful letdown without spraying. You tell a letdown is "forceful" pretty much by the way baby reacts to it. If baby does not mind the fast flow, then it is not a problem, and if they do, then it is.

    Breastfeeding not only should not hurt, once moms and babies get the hang of it, it is normally comfortable and, for the most part (perhaps not all the time but mostly) a pleasant & relaxing experience for both mom and baby. If you are finding nursing primarily uncomfortable or painful, please let us know.

    Because babies normally nurse a good deal of the time, many moms find laid back and sidelying are great positions, because not only do many babies like them, these are comfortable and relaxing positions for mom. Remember laid back is very adjustable- adjust and play around with it as needed to find what works best for you and your baby. All it requires is that mom is reclined to some degree (it may not be much) and baby can be in any position at all.

    Often by the 3-4 month mark, many moms who keep breastfeeding find they begin to reap the many personal benefits of nursing-the ability to easily comfort baby, easily gentle baby into sleep, to safely and easily feed baby on the go, to be able to give their baby everything baby needs while relaxing, while taking care of an older child, or (within reason) doing whatever needs doing-perhaps with the help of wearing baby in a sling or wrap. There are many ideas our society has adopted (snacking is unhealthy, babies should not nurse to sleep, babies can be held 'too much," babies should be on a feeding or sleeping schedule etc. etc.) that have nothing to do with reality, biologically speaking, and actually interrupt the natural flow of mothering and make mothers, especially nursing mothers, doubt themselves, doubt their babies, and doubt their ability to nourish their babies.

    Do you have any LLL or other breastfeeding mother support group in your area? It can really help to simply be around other nursing mothers and babies.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    While I don't have classic overactive letdown, I do have fast letdown. During the day if my eight week old has gone a long time between feedings, he tends to do the latch-unlatch thing you are talking about. He will often rest for several minutes unless I offer again. However, at times, he starts fussing and latching-unlatching in between the fussing. When this happens, I finally learned it means one of three things for him.
    1. He needs to burp. Like you, I heard the myth that babies did not need to be burped, especially because when sitting down, I tried many positions and could never get him to burp. Finally I learned that if I hold him up against my shoulder and WALK, he gets some big burps out.
    2. He is trying to poop. It is so frustrating to have him pull away yet cry when I try to move him to burp him. When this is the case, at some point, he usually poops once or twice and then feeds quietly and contentedly.
    3. He has gas. This one really frustrates him. Bicycling his legs seems to help with this, and we try to also do this throughout the day. Sometimes I have to stop the feeding for a while when this happens.

    The pulling on and off really frustrated me, and he did it again this morning (turned out, he was pooping). But I think the fast letdown makes my baby gulp more air resulting in the gas and burping, too. This may not help you, but it finally solved my confusion about my baby.

  8. #8

    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    Thanks everyone for the insight. Yes, I've been feeding him side lying (this works fine when he's sleepy, otherwise he seems to get upset) or reclined back. But reclining back I find in some ways easier but in many difficult. I mean, I am so grateful that at least he's eating for longer periods of maybe 5-10 minutes instead of immediately pulling off. But he's a long baby so it's somewhat tough to position, and my large boobs work for and against me in that position. He was/is definitely choking when I have a let down and sounds like he's drowning in milk. I've been doing extreme block feeding (like I fed from one side all night and did another for about 6 hours until soft) but I still have tons of milk in both sides.

    How long does it take for supply to come down? I always had fast letdown but it's only been too much since they've been engorged/have had an oversupply. I still don't know if he has reflux or just is suffering from oversupply as he has wet coughs, hiccups often, and sounds like he has milk in his lungs sometimes, but seems otherwise fine and happy. He is still eating constantly while awake too, which I read can be a sign of reflux, but again not sure. I go to the doctor Friday but I'd hate to give him meds for something that is caused solely by oversupply/fast let down. It's tough because he's hard to position, the milk keeps drowning him, and then when he's done he wants to go back 5-10 min later until he sleeps. Things are much better than they were, but I still am trying to figure out ways to cope with my whole day focusing on stressful breastfeeding. I know it will pass too, but I don't want both of us to suffer while it does. I just wonder if things will improve if my supply goes down. He still has some green poop sometimes at the beginning of the night feeds.

    It's also tough because he's so alert and sometimes pulls off to smile and talk (which I love) or to look at something. Then he fights sleep and starts trying to root around and eat to go to sleep. I am wearing him in a sling as he sleeps right now so that I could even do anything today besides breastfeed. I'm sure I do have a LLL around and I'll definitely think about going to be around some other moms.

    monbebe, I will try your way of burping to see if that helps get out more burps. I have experienced some of the same things. Another I would add to that list for us at least is, he's tired and therefore he's fussy. It's tough having to figure out what number it is all the time! I hope your nursing continues to go steadily.

    It's getting tempting to want to just give him a pumped bottle because he never seems satisfied.
    Last edited by @llli*xel; September 3rd, 2013 at 01:59 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    As far as how to nurse reclined I suggest keep playing with it. Baby can be in any position and so can you, basically. There is no wrong way to nurse and every mom and baby fit together in their own unique way (and it changes as baby grows.) Many moms with larger breasts find the position difficult at first, this is usually solved with experimentation-maybe adjusting the degree of recline (reclining less, usually) and/or, by holding baby more to the side than directly on top of you. It depends on how your breasts are shaped and how they naturally lie. As far as baby being long, this is a position that works well right into toddlerhood. Without seeing you I cannot tell why baby’s length would be a problem-maybe, you can angle baby's bottom so baby is more diagonally across you rather than straight up and down? When doing laid back, baby can be in any position, even in a cradle or football type hold, etc.

    How long it takes for supply to adjust to normal levels is going to vary. I am sorry I missed you are already block nursing. How long have you been doing that? Block nursing normally will bring down milk production pretty rapidly but until it does, it will often make forceful letdown worse, (or at least, worse each time you switch to the other breast.) Also some mothers need to do even longer blocks in order to reduce production. There are other methods of reducing overproduction, but if your overproduction is that extreme, I would strongly suggest visiting an IBCLC. Is that possible for you? A mom wants to be very positive the issue is overproduction (or still is overproduction) when block nursing or taking other steps to reduce milk production. The danger, of course is that you might reduce your production too much.

    I don’t really understand how a bottle is going to help. Then you are simply adding the work of pumping and bottles into a situation that is not going to be helped and is very likely to be made more difficult by pumping. You make plenty of milk, and baby is growing well-correct? So it is not as if your child needs a bottle in order to be satisfied. But a baby wanting/needing to comfort at the breast is normal. Your child wanting to nurse frequently is normal. Baby needing to nurse at varying intervals and wanting to nurse a different length of time each time baby nurses is normal. In part due to recent research linking bottles (even breastmilk bottles) and childhood obesity, the current recommendation is to give a bottle fed baby small amounts of milk frequently, to be more like breastfeeding, which is the biological norm.

  10. #10

    Default Re: 10 week old latches, unlatches, every feed - [Super long

    I have been playing around with it and mostly it seems to depend on where I'm sitting.It's actually harder for me in the recliner because baby's legs hit the back more easily and he begins stretching/kicking, but I'm finding I have more room on the couch and positioning diagonally is much easier. I also tried doing it while sitting down in the sling and it is much easier as he's already practically in position (legs folded) and there is some additional support and I can just tighten it when I'm done.

    I've done the block nursing before, but never this extreme. Actually prior to this, I had to only always nurse from one boob at a time, except at night where I had to start doing two feedings in a row because he kept feeding for short periods and then falling asleep and waking up with green poops, though this could have been the beginning of the oversupply. It does make sense that it will be worse before it's better considering baby is getting an overflow of milk.

    I started doing it about 8 pm last night. I don't think I'm that severely overproducing as it seems already to be more managable so I think I'm going to cut down on the time I'm spacing it out by now because I am afraid to affect my supply (though so far, no evidence of that at all as baby is feeding for only short periods compared to the amount of milk that comes out). I am thinking of doing two feeds on each side rather than the 4ish I did over the last day. Things seem to be getting better rather than worse, but if I need to go to the IBLLC I will.

    I thought maybe if I fed with a bottle he would get more filled up since my oversupply seemed to be dissuading him to drink for long. It does seem that he is having totally unpredictable feeding patterns. Sometimes he eats super often every 5-10 min but sometimes he falls asleep for 2 or more hours and only eats for 2 min and goes back to sleep. I guess I'm just used to the newborn pattern of sitting there and drinking for 45 minutes without any distractions.

    By the way, can one breast produce more?

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