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Thread: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

  1. #1
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    Default Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    Hi everyone. My son is 15 days old and we have had breastfeeding problems from the start. He wasn't eating enough and so they gave me a nipple shield at the hospital. They said that he has a high arch palate in his mouth and I have rather flat nipples that can't reach all the way up there for him to get a good latch. He still wasn't eating enough so I brought him to the lactation clinic after we left the hospital and they told me to bottlefeed him breast milk.

    Some other issues are that he falls asleep at my breast and he also sucks but doesn't seem to be getting a good amount of milk and/or doesn't seem to be swallowing much. I've also been told (we've seen numerous lactation consultants, nurses, doctors, and our midwife about these issues) that my breasts are too big for him and I try to hold them up with washcloths underneath and also hold my breast up for him. And that I make so much milk that it overwhelms him and he resists my breast or chokes/gets indigestion. So I sometimes pump first before offering him my breast so that there isn't so much to come out at once. (However, he gulps milk from the bottle like a champ so I really don't think this is the problem).

    So after trying all of these different ideas and tips we are still kind of at a standstill and it's really frustrating. He'll suckle at my breast for anywhere from 20 minutes to up to an hour if I leave him there. He'll either fall asleep or start crying in frustration and resist my attempts to give him my breast again. Even if he falls asleep and seems satisfied, then after a few minutes when he wakes up, he screams his head off with hunger and it's like I never fed him at all, even though he was at my breast sucking and even swallowing!

    In my own humble opinion he gets used to the bottle and prefers it over the breast because it's easier. Also I doubt that the nipple shield lets my nipple have the best position in his mouth so sometimes even when he's sucking he's not getting much. (However often when he dislodges from my breast there is milk gathered in the shield that he could have easily sucked out). I don't understand why he would stop sucking if he's still hungry! Or how he could seem satisfied/fulled after a LONG time of nursing and then act starved, as if I hadn't fed him all day.

    This is so frustrating and I don't know if anyone here will have any ideas that my consultants etc. haven't had but I don't know what to do. I usually pump after I feed him and then whenever he gets frustrated I have some in a bottle that his dad gives him. I'm also pumping for my best friend who had a baby a few days after I did (how crazy right?!) and has no/low supply. I definitely have enough milk but I just can't seem to get it to him.

    Edited to add- my nipples do get more pronounced/shaped now that my milk has come in and as a result of the nursing and pumping I guess. So the lactation clinic has started working with me on how to get him to eat from my nipple directly without the shield. When he does this it seems to fill him up more than when he uses the nipple shield. However he falls off from his latch after a few minutes and so it's not as continually effective (yet?) as with the shield. I do hope that eventually I can feed him without the shield... or just feed him at the breast to the point where I don't need to feed him with a bottle too. Right now if I don't feed him with a bottle, even if he is full for a little while then within 45 minutes or half an hour he is hungry again. And most of the time he never gets full to begin with, without the bottle supplementation.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    wanting to eat again after 30 minutes is normal newborn behavior.

    Bottles can cause all sorts of nursing issues.

    And so can nipple shields, definitely try to get away from using that.

    Have any of the LCs been IBCLCs?
    Does nursing hurt?
    Has baby been checked for tongue/lip ties or other suck disorganization?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby!

    He wasn't eating enough and so they gave me a nipple shield at the hospital. They said that he has a high arch palate in his mouth and I have rather flat nipples that can't reach all the way up there for him to get a good latch. He still wasn't eating enough so I brought him to the lactation clinic after we left the hospital and they told me to bottlefeed him breast milk.
    It sounds like you started put with some bad advice from the hospital and lactation clinic... First, shields are good for babies who cannot latch, but who can get plenty of milk from the breast when they do latch. They are not good for babies who can latch but have trouble transferring milk, because shields can slow and reduce milk transfer. Second, when a breastfed baby requires supplementation, there are ways to do it other than the bottle- e.g. cup, finger, or syringe feeding, or via supplemental nursing system.

    Some other issues are that he falls asleep at my breast and he also sucks but doesn't seem to be getting a good amount of milk and/or doesn't seem to be swallowing much
    Is this with the shield? Or is this with bare breast?

    I've also been told (we've seen numerous lactation consultants, nurses, doctors, and our midwife about these issues) that my breasts are too big for him and I try to hold them up with washcloths underneath and also hold my breast up for him. And that I make so much milk that it overwhelms him and he resists my breast or chokes/gets indigestion. So I sometimes pump first before offering him my breast so that there isn't so much to come out at once. (However, he gulps milk from the bottle like a champ so I really don't think this is the problem).
    Can you go see another lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC, for some hands-on help with positioning? Larger, softer, heavier breasts can be a problem for small, young babies, and there is only so much a hand or washcloth can do! I'd love to have someone help you with reclined and side-lying positions, because these positions do not require you to support the breast throughout the feeding. Reclined positions are especially good for babies who lose their latch or slip off over the course of a feeding, because gravity will hold the baby on the breast.

    Another reason reclined positions are good is that they take advantage of gravity to slow milk flow to the baby, reducing the gagging/choking.

    You generally want to avoid the pump when you suspect oversupply, because it encourages your body to continue making the same excess amount of milk, perpetuating the fast letdown problem.

    So after trying all of these different ideas and tips we are still kind of at a standstill and it's really frustrating. He'll suckle at my breast for anywhere from 20 minutes to up to an hour if I leave him there. He'll either fall asleep or start crying in frustration and resist my attempts to give him my breast again. Even if he falls asleep and seems satisfied, then after a few minutes when he wakes up, he screams his head off with hunger and it's like I never fed him at all, even though he was at my breast sucking and even swallowing!
    This actually sounds like pretty typical behavior for a very young baby.

    In my own humble opinion he gets used to the bottle and prefers it over the breast because it's easier.
    Yes, this is very possible! I'd loo into alternate ways of supplementing him and also look into whether or not you actually need to be supplementing at this point- which is another reason to go see an IBCLC. It would be really helpful to know what sort of milk transfer he is capable of at the breast, and an IBCLC could help you figure this out.

    Also I doubt that the nipple shield lets my nipple have the best position in his mouth
    Quite possible. Shields are not designed to help you get the nipple in the optimal position, and can in fact make nipple position worse (although still bearable).

    I don't understand why he would stop sucking if he's still hungry! Or how he could seem satisfied/fulled after a LONG time of nursing and then act starved, as if I hadn't fed him all day.
    Typical for a new baby. Short and frequent feeds are the normal feeding style for young breastfed babies. They tend to act a lot more "satisfied" after a bottle because the bottle provides such fast and easy flow, enabling the baby to get very full and then pass out.

    This is so frustrating and I don't know if anyone here will have any ideas that my consultants etc. haven't had but I don't know what to do. I usually pump after I feed him and then whenever he gets frustrated I have some in a bottle that his dad gives him. I'm also pumping for my best friend who had a baby a few days after I did (how crazy right?!) and has no/low supply. I definitely have enough milk but I just can't seem to get it to him.
    I think what you need to do is:
    1. Work on getting rid of the shield
    2. Work on positioning
    3. Monitor baby's intake for a few days using a professional scale- a good IBCLC will be able to explain how to do this and will be able to hook you up with a scale
    4. Bottle-feed in a breastfeeding-supportive way- google "paced feeding"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*tclynx View Post
    wanting to eat again after 30 minutes is normal newborn behavior.

    Bottles can cause all sorts of nursing issues.

    And so can nipple shields, definitely try to get away from using that.

    Have any of the LCs been IBCLCs?
    Does nursing hurt?
    Has baby been checked for tongue/lip ties or other suck disorganization?
    Hi, thanks for the help. I don't want to use the nipple shield or the bottle but I do want him to get enough food. At first he couldn't nurse at all until we used the nipple shield. Then he was losing weight - a pound - and they said that if he doesn't start eating more he will lose too much weight. They were talking about supplementing with formula and I said well I make plenty of milk, I just can't get it into him... so the nurse said well if she's using a nipple shield why not use a bottle to feed him breastmilk after he's done at the breast? The lactation consultant wasn't too into the idea but the nurse said that he needs to eat, so the lactation consultant said okay. To be honest I was so happy that we had come up with a plan because I felt so bad when he wasn't eating enough; he would just cry constantly and eat his hand/arm and I felt awful. In my mind I would rather him be eating enough whether it's bottlefed or breastfed, especially since it's all breast milk... but ideally I want to get to where it's only my natural breast/nipple feeding him. (That is seeming impossible though).

    Nursing doesn't hurt, at least not with the nipple shield. In the hospital when I thought I could nurse him the natural way, it ended up that he was too aggressive on my breast and/or it wasn't in the right position and I ended up with cuts and hickeys/bruises all over my nipples. Ever since using the nipple shield this hasn't been a problem of course. Sometimes my nipples hurt after pumping and nursing a lot but it's not very bad.

    All of the lactation consultants I've seen have been certified and they work at the hospital where I delivered him. At first I would use the on-call lactation specialist who was on that shift at the hospital. (I was there for an extra night because during birth I needed magnesium for high blood pressure/pre-eclampsia and then had to have the medicine and be on bed rest for 24 hours after delivery. I was groggy and so was he and I feel this impacted our breastfeeding attempts). So I worked with three different lactation consultants in the hospital, one of them on several different occasions because she had the most shifts while I was there. My baby also had his own nurse (in addition to my nurse) since I was on bed rest and the baby's nurse worked with me on breastfeeding. The baby's nurses weren't certified specialists but the lactation consultants were. Then since I've been out of the hospital I've been taking him to the lactation clinic as often as they'll let me and working with a certified specialist there. This has been the most help and the most consistent person but it isn't as often as I think I need-- I honestly wish someone would come over every day and help me because I still feel so overwhelmed! I have a midwife who has come to try to help too. (Long story - we were planning a homebirth with our first child but when I went into labor at full term she had no heartbeat so we went to the hospital to confirm that and deliver her. So this time with our son we had a dual plan with the doctor who delivered our daughter as well as with the midwife we had used throughout our pregnancy with our daughter. I ended up listening to the doctor and being induced at 39 weeks but I feel that my baby wasn't ready for labor-- it was 26 hours with a lot of pitocin and an epidural and he wouldn't engage/come down low enough until the very last minute and then I was able to push him out in 25 minutes even though he weighed 8 lb 11 oz at birth. So anyway I get more comprehensive and holistic care from the midwife and she comes for home follow-up visits and has become a friend of ours. She works with another midwife who has more experience in breastfeeding issues and that midwife has come to see us as well. I feel that I have used so many resources and I'm grateful for all of them but still I have these issues so I feel like a failure!

    They checked his mouth and tongue etc. and only said that he has a very high arch palate on the top of his mouth. And the lactation consultant at the clinic says he has a slightly recessed chin (which it is noticeably recessed) but I don't know how that affects anything if at all.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    Thank you for all the help! I will respond in italics/bold.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby!


    Thanks. He's so perfect and I feel so lucky to have him!

    It sounds like you started put with some bad advice from the hospital and lactation clinic... First, shields are good for babies who cannot latch, but who can get plenty of milk from the breast when they do latch. They are not good for babies who can latch but have trouble transferring milk, because shields can slow and reduce milk transfer. Second, when a breastfed baby requires supplementation, there are ways to do it other than the bottle- e.g. cup, finger, or syringe feeding, or via supplemental nursing system.

    I think I was unclear, sorry about that. In the hospital he would not latch and that's why they gave me the nipple shield. It's all rather fuzzy in my mind because I was on magnesium and it made me really groggy. I know that when he came out he did latch onto my breast and my midwife (who was at the hospital but didn't deliver him because she doesn't have hospital privileges there) said that he was sucking really well. I seem to remember it as he kind of latched on and kind of sucked a bit but it was more like a practice run and I didn't know what I was doing. Anyway I think at the hospital he would occasionally latch on a little bit but soon fall off and other times he wouldn't latch on at all. They said my nipples were too flat for his high arched palate in his mouth. Then when my milk came in and my breasts were really engorged my nipples were definitely too flat for him. Now they are more "normal" but I think not long or high enough for him. Now when I'm at the lactation clinic and the consultant holds my nipple in the baby's mouth he can latch but he only stays on for a couple minutes at the most. At home I can rarely get him to latch on my nipple and when he does it doesn't last long.

    Also at the hospital we were syringe feeding him the colostrum. He didn't really like the syringe and often wouldn't take it that way. The nurse I went to after I got out of the hospital (it was kind of a joint appointment with a nurse and a lactation consultant and they were trying to come up with a plan to help him eat enough) said that the syringe isn't like a nipple and if he was trying to get it from a syringe, as well as using a nipple shield, why not just use a bottle? The lactation consultant wasn't in favor of the bottle but the nurse said he needed to eat a lot more than he was. At the time I would have done anything just to get him to eat more because I don't know what would have happened had he not been able to take in more milk. But now I wonder if it can ever be put on the right track.



    Is this with the shield? Or is this with bare breast?

    The falling asleep when sucking/ sucking but not really swallowing is with the shield. I haven't been able to get him to latch long enough on my bare breast to see if he falls asleep. He seems to get a much better transfer when it's my bare breast but it's for a much shorter time.

    Can you go see another lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC, for some hands-on help with positioning? Larger, softer, heavier breasts can be a problem for small, young babies, and there is only so much a hand or washcloth can do! I'd love to have someone help you with reclined and side-lying positions, because these positions do not require you to support the breast throughout the feeding. Reclined positions are especially good for babies who lose their latch or slip off over the course of a feeding, because gravity will hold the baby on the breast.

    Where do I find one? I have just been going to the one at the hospital where I delivered.

    Another reason reclined positions are good is that they take advantage of gravity to slow milk flow to the baby, reducing the gagging/choking.

    You generally want to avoid the pump when you suspect oversupply, because it encourages your body to continue making the same excess amount of milk, perpetuating the fast letdown problem.

    How frustrating, then, that everyone has said to continue pumping for "insurance" and also to pump before feeding him to get some of the oversupply out of the way. I could definitely stop pumping or stop pumping so much. Sometimes when he is really frustrated he won't latch at all or won't stay on for long at all and we give him a bottle just so he'll eat. And I've been giving what I pump to my friend who is unable to make much milk as of yet (her baby is a few days younger than mine). Obviously if this is messing things up for my baby I can stop but I really don't know that oversupply is the problem -- he seems to suck a lot at first and then just poop out on me even though there is still milk right there in the nipple shield he could drink.


    This actually sounds like pretty typical behavior for a very young baby.

    Okay. Today I've been focusing on just feeding him at my breast whenever he is hungry and letting him fall asleep and then wake back up and eat etc. at will. Because maybe part of it is that that's just how he eats and I need to accept it rather than think he's supposed to be on some every 2 to 3 hour schedule. He woke up at 7:15 am hungry but also just wanting to be held, I think. I fed him at my breast for about 15 minutes and then he fell asleep. I put him back in the bassinet so I could get my pump stuff and within 10 minutes he woke up crying and hungry again. So I fed him at my breast for about 10 minutes and tried the bare nipple but it didn't work at all so I used the shield. He then fell asleep and has been sleeping on the couch beside me while I pumped and typed this, for about an hour now. He gets covered in milk and so do I and the couch and my clothes etc. -- there is milk everywhere. :-/ And as I type it is running down me all over the place; it's crazy. Anyway, when he wakes up I'll repeat and I hope to keep doing that without having to bottle feed him. Yesterday my goal was not to use the bottle during the day and it worked until towards the evening when he was just ravenous and was on me for an hour and then was still screaming in hunger, which is when I came on here and posted.

    Yes, this is very possible! I'd loo into alternate ways of supplementing him and also look into whether or not you actually need to be supplementing at this point- which is another reason to go see an IBCLC. It would be really helpful to know what sort of milk transfer he is capable of at the breast, and an IBCLC could help you figure this out.

    Okay. At the lactation consultant's office one time he got an ounce and a half but then the time after that when she was trying to help me use the bare breast without the shield, it was only half an ounce that was transferred.


    Quite possible. Shields are not designed to help you get the nipple in the optimal position, and can in fact make nipple position worse (although still bearable).



    Typical for a new baby. Short and frequent feeds are the normal feeding style for young breastfed babies. They tend to act a lot more "satisfied" after a bottle because the bottle provides such fast and easy flow, enabling the baby to get very full and then pass out.



    I think what you need to do is:
    1. Work on getting rid of the shield
    2. Work on positioning
    3. Monitor baby's intake for a few days using a professional scale- a good IBCLC will be able to explain how to do this and will be able to hook you up with a scale
    4. Bottle-feed in a breastfeeding-supportive way- google "paced feeding"

    Okay I will do all of this. Thank you! My midwife lent me a "scale" but it's like an old-fashioned hanging one and only has increments of two ounces. I would like to get a more professional one.
    Last edited by @llli*mylittleson; August 16th, 2014 at 09:23 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    Don't feel bad about using the bottle- you did what you had to under the circumstances. A different method of supplementing might have been preferable, but also might not have worked! Never mind. The important thing to know here is that you really don't need to worry that things will never get back on track. Your baby is still really, really young and there is every reason to think you will get things sorted as he grows.

    One technique that might help you, when it comes to encouraging your baby to feed better when at the breast, is something called switch nursing. When you switch nurse, you let baby nurse on the first breast until he starts to get dozy and his suckling goes from eager, deep, rhythmic "nutritive" sucking to shallow, light, erratic "comfort" sucking. When he starts comfort sucking, you take him off the first breast, burp him or change his diaper, and put him onto the second breast. And you repeat the process as many times as necessary, until baby will no longer wake. If you combine switch nursing with breast compressions, you may be able to increase the amount baby takes at each feed.

    In general, however, I do think you probably need to accept that your baby is not currently capable of going 2-3 hours between breast feedings. And most babies aren't! Small, frequent feedings (a.k.a. snacking) is the normal feeding pattern of a breastfed baby. My kids nursed every 45-90 minutes at that age.

    Definitely look into getting that professional scale. You want something good to the 1/10 of an oz. That way you can do your own weighed feeds and get a really good sense of how much your baby takes in when nursing. As you saw at the LC's office, the amount a baby transfers can vary a lot. In order to get an accurate estimation, I think you need several days' worth of data.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    You can get a digital Baby scale that reads in 0.1 oz increments for probably around $50 USD plus shipping.
    here is the one I got
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQRXF22/...528360_TE_dp_1

    Have you tried things like revers pressure softening on your breasts to help the nipple be soft enough for baby to latch on easier?
    then there is this latch assist device that might help (though the pump may work as well as long as you are not causing inflammation of the aerola aas well.)
    http://www.amazon.com/Lansinoh-70170...words=lansinoh

    Other options besides syringe and bottle feeding is to do finger feeding. Sometimes you can have him suck your finger and then try to switch him to the breast.

    I'm not sure if it will help your situation but look up Flipple on you tube,
    And breast sandwich. Just a couple ideas for getting a better latch without the shield.

    Your situation is so different than mine yet similar in some ways.
    My LO had terrible time transferring milk. I wound up having to supplement.

    He would latch onto anything regardless of there being a nipple or not (got some hickies to prove it.) I have huge nipples though, But he was tongue tied (not diagnosed) and because of the supplementation, not fixing the milk transfer problem and being Discouraged from pumping. I never got a good initial supply.

    There is a good chance that with continued work, as your baby grows you will be able to get him to latch properly.
    At least you have plenty of supply

    I didn't get our milk transfer problem sorted out till around 4 months and have been desperately trying to fix my supply issue since about 1 month. We are now at 5 months and down to only supplementing 3 oz per day using what I'm pumping after nursing to get my supply up.

    Hang in there momma! You are doing an awesome job. Keep working at it. It is common for even good breastfeeding situations to take 6 weeks to settle in so don't feel like you are odd for taking time to get things down.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    Thanks everyone for all the help. I ordered the baby scale and the latch assist device from Amazon.

    Yesterday I worked hard on breastfeeding all day and was able to get him to latch onto my bare nipple for a little while sometimes. I tried the breast switch technique and I nursed him whenever he was hungry. At night I was so tired that my husband bottle fed him from the breastmilk I'd earlier pumped. For those of you who say your baby eats every 45 minutes, does this include overnight? I have no idea how I could keep up since nursing him takes a really long time and then he is hungry again almost as soon as I'm done. I have a very supportive and helpful husband and this is still so draining.

    Today is much more frustrating as I nursed him several times for 45 minutes to an hour and then he would still be hungry. He finally fell asleep for a little bit (20 minutes) and then woke up screaming with hunger and wouldn't latch onto my breast with the nipple shield or bare. So we gave him a bottle. I feel so frustrated and sad that we keep having all these issues and it's like two steps forward, one step back, all the time.

    I feel lazy/guilty when I give him a bottle but it's really the only way he seems to get full. He is eating a lot more now and I don't know why but he honestly doesn't get full from my breast and only gets full with the bottle.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    I ordered the baby scale and the latch assist device from Amazon.
    Excellent! Having the right tools can make a splurge difference.

    Yesterday I worked hard on breastfeeding all day and was able to get him to latch onto my bare nipple for a little while sometimes. I tried the breast switch technique and I nursed him whenever he was hungry.
    All awesome! Did you feel like there was any difference when using the bare breast and switch nursing? It might be a bit early to pick up on subtle changes...

    For those of you who say your baby eats every 45 minutes, does this include overnight
    Sometimes. But most babies will give you a few stretches of longer sleep per day- maybe 2-3 hours. 3-5 if you're lucky. The fact that your baby is feeding so frequently even at night makes me worry about his milk transfer. Which is why I'm glad you're getting the scale. I think you need to know how much the baby gets over the course of the average feeding session.

    this is still so draining.
    We know, mama, we know! You are doing an amazing job, and it's the hardest job in the world.

    Please don't feel bad about giving in to the bottle. It may be necessary at this point- again, you won't know until you have a better idea of his average intake, and that means getting hold of the scale. Sometimes babies don't get full from the breast not because you're doing something wrong but because the baby is having a tough time getting milk out. Breastfeeding is a skill and small, weak, uncoordinated newborns can have some very significant problems mastering it. Hang in there!

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    Default Re: Newborn baby nurses but doesn't get full

    When you say he wakes up screaming, are you still holding him or are you attempting to lay him down for a nap? If you've set him down, he may be scared and waking frantic at being alone. Have you or hubby tried a carrier for naptime?
    Or if you're still holding him, could he be waking from pain rather than hunger? This is how my oldest was before we figured out his dairy allergy. He was constantly waking up screaming after a full feeding and was inconsolable by nursing or any other means for 10-20 minutes at least. This was day and night. Do you guys have any other signs of allergy: rash/eczema, bloody or mucousy stools, puffy/shadowed eyes, congestion etc?
    Your problems may have nothing to do with food intolerances but it sounded similar enough that I'm sharing my experience. I do agree the baby scale is a smart idea.
    Have you made your bed safe for co sleeping and practiced side lying? That would help you get some extra rest if you aren't already doing so. My son would only nurse in his rocking chair at first so I know how tiring getting up every hour can be. Everyone got so much better sleep when we figured out how to nurse in bed.

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