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Thread: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

  1. #1

    Default Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    I think my two month old might have a feeding aversion. I'll start from the beginning...

    When DD was first born, she had an upper respiratory issue. It wasn't serious at all, but it made it really hard for her to breathe through her nose which made it even harder to nurse. She would latch and then just panic when she couldn't breathe. It wasn't like a normal stuffy nose where you can just use that snot sucker. She just had to cough it up and whatnot over time. It had cleared up by the time she was three days old, but by then she had lost 14 ounces and we were told we absolutely needed to supplement with formula. We were told to use SNS and a nipple shield (she has a latch like a piranha and I had blood blisters) and did that until my milk came in.

    At about day 7 or so when my nipples started to heal a little, I tried to ween Letti off the nipple shield which she seemed to have a pretty tough time with. By day 10, we were just down to regular breast feeding, but she fought me quite a bit during feedings and, this being my first baby, I thought it was normal. She would cry a lot and seem really frustrated when she nursed, but I would just continue to latch her thinking she'd work through it eventually. Boy, was I wrong.

    Things got progressively worse until at 5 weeks, she had a whole night she refused to latch. She would lock her jaw when I tried to push on her chin to latch her. She would cry and cry and root around like she was hungry, but would scream when I offered my breast. Eventually, she ate, but we started having a couple feedings a day like this.

    Again, things continued to worsen. It's now gotten to the point where when she won't eat, I'll try to offer her a bottle (which she used to LOVE) and she won't take that either. It doesn't matter if it's formula or breast milk. Sometimes, she'll latch initially and then get frustrated when she doesn't get let down immediately, but more and more often, she's refusing to latch altogether. I even had a lactation consultant try and fail to get her latched.

    I've spoken to three lactation consultants and been to a La Leche Meeting. I can't seem to find any ideas that will turn DD in the right direction. She is gaining weight steadily, but it's just such a fight to get her to eat and it's heartbreaking for me as a mom to see her go through this.

    Here's a list of things I've ruled out as being the problem:

    It's not my diet; DD seems to be really impatient for my let down mainly (which I attribute partially to basically force feeding her the first 4 days of her life). If my diet was the culprit, I think she would probably latch initially and then get upset when she tasted my milk, or she'd have a negative reaction after she ate. Neither is the case. Like I said, often times she'll latch initially and then get frustrated before she gets let down (once she gets it, she calms immediately and eats great), or she'll refuse to latch altogether.

    She doesn't seem to have any trouble with gas or other pain. No ear infection, no tongue or lip ties, no thrush, or reflux. There's no physical reason nursing would be difficult for her.

    I know my let down is not too strong for her. As I said, once she gets it, she relaxes immediately. Although, after the milk flow slows down again, she often refuses to eat once more and screams and cries because she's still hungry but impatient (my take on the matter).

    I've tried nursing her every hour, hour and a half, or two hours - before she gets too hungry. I've also tried waiting at least three hours in case she's not really hungry before then. Neither seems to have any effect. The aversion (or whatever it is) strikes randomly and often. It doesn't seem to matter where I nurse her or what time of day it is. It can happen at any feeding at any location.

    Nothing is wrong with my supply; she's still gaining weight. Mainly, though, I think it's because at night, she nurses very well. So, she must eat enough in three feedings to keep her weight healthy, even if she eats poorly or completely refuses others. I've tried to recreate those night feedings during the day (nursing in my room in the dark with her noise maker on after she's just woken up from a nap) and it hasn't helped either.

    I've played music for her, sung to her, gotten in a bath with her, done skin to skin, walked around with her while I tried to nurse her - nothing has helped. I even tried going back to the nipple shield to see if she'd take that, but she doesn't like it now.

    I've tried doing the SNS with pumped breast milk to get her started and although it seemed to help at first, she still gets extremely frustrated, like she can tell the milk isn't actually from me.

    She's only had a bottle maybe a dozen times in her life, so I know she hasn't gotten dependent on those (she never even had one until she was two or three weeks old, well after our issues started). Also, even when she's calm and very hungry, she'll still refuse bottles on occasion, just like she does my breast.

    My stress doesn't seem to be much of a factor; even when I'm completely relaxed and excited to nurse (sometimes we'll have 5 or 6 successful feedings in a row and I'll be feeling extremely encouraged), she can still have a complete meltdown when we try to feed.

    I haven't started any medications and neither has she.

    I tried getting my let down right there for her with my Medela pump (I thought that might help her learn to have a positive experience with feeding), but my body doesn't seem to respond to the pump. The only pumped breast milk I get is from when I nurse her on one side and pump on the other. Even if I've missed a few feedings with her when she refuses to nurse, I get next to nothing when I pump. I'll pump and pump and my milk just never lets down.

    I'm absolutely at my wits' end. I'm so sorry for the lengthy post; I wanted to make sure I explained all the details.

    Please help me. I'm worried she's going to start eating worse and less and eventually start gaining weight poorly. Not to mention the general trauma it causes us both at about half her feedings. Any advice on how this started and how to improve things would be so greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    has breastfeeding been assessed by a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and/or has baby been seen by an ENT?

    Maybe whatever was going on shortly after birth, which sounded like a physical issue, is a clue to what is going on now.

    Also if a pump is working that poorly that milk is not extracted when you have plenty of milk, I would consider if the issue is the pump rather than you.

    You say baby is gaining well/ How well? Is it possible that after all the issues, you are at this point overly concerned about intake, (understandable) and overly stressing at each feeding? A two month old in some cases may not need to nurse as long or as often as a younger baby. I am a big believer that it never hurts to offer to nurse, however, Baby perhaps feeling pressured to eat, or eat longer or more than baby wants. especially when not all that hungry, might possibly cause or exacerbate the problem?

    tried fennel for slow letdown?
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; November 26th, 2014 at 03:47 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    Breast compressions can help with slow letdown too and keep baby at breast.

    You say baby is gaining well... Are you able just to try and relax a bit and if she won't feed settling her other ways and then offering again a bit later?

    Is there a chance you just have a good supply and baby doesn't need to feed that often?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    She's gaining about 6 oz a week still, which I know is great. I'm just tired of every feeding being a fight. I tried waiting longer between feedings, but she shows active signs of hunger after 2 hours and will start to cry. The longer we wait, the more frantic she seems to be and the longer it takes to get her to eat. If she's especially hungry, that's often times when she won't latch even to begin with. Then it takes an hour or more to get her to eat when she finally just succumbs to exhaustion and hunger. She slept longer during one of her naps yesterday to the point that it had been 3 1/2 hours since she'd eaten. She panicked before I could even get her latched. I do end up just trying to settle her down and then offer again later. Eventually, I can get her to eat even if it's four or five hours later. As far as pressuring her to eat more goes, I was guilty of that in the beginning, but after a couple of weeks I realized she was just a fast eater and would let her be done when she seemed satisfied.

    I've tried breast compressions, but I think my boobs are too small. As soon as I compress, it seems to pull me out of her mouth.

    She's been seen by 3 lactation consultants and they all just seemed concerned. The only thing one of them suggested was to get in a bath with her and do skin to skin prior to feedings. I tried that and it seemed to have no effect at all.

    I've tried three different pumps (two different brands), all with the same results.

    I haven't tried fennel. I didn't know that had anything to do with let down. I'll absolutely try that; thanks for the tip!
    Last edited by @llli*lettismom; November 26th, 2014 at 09:00 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    Yes I do not know much about fennel either but I have seen it suggested for slow letdown in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

    I don't think it is ever a good idea to try to lengthen times between feedings esp when baby is clearly cueing! I just meant, perhaps you are worrying overtly about length of feedings. Especailly since baby nurses frequently, each nursing session does not have to result in lots of milk transfer.

    The tip about the bath is about helping both mom and baby be more relaxed and playful and not so focused on milk transfer. It is one of many ideas for this, nursing when baby cues or even before cues, nursing when baby is sleepy or just waking, adjusting position to side lying or laid back, skin to skin, etc, are all ideas with the same idea in mind. They are not some magic cure that will work for everyone of every time, but sometimes finding one or two ideas to help both you and baby relax is very important.

    She's been seen by 3 lactation consultants and they all just seemed concerned.
    OK, I just want to be sure- these were IBCLCs, and these were a private appointment of an hour or more, you and baby were loo9ked at, a history taken, and a breastfeeding session was observed? Were these appts similar to what is described here? http://cwgenna.com/lconsult.html

    I've tried breast compressions, but I think my boobs are too small. As soon as I compress, it seems to pull me out of her mouth.
    OK, I know what you mean. But there is no reason to grab the whole breast in a c or u hold and squeeze- a breast compression can simply mean gently pushing on the breast anywhere above the areola with a fingertip or two. ('above' meaning back from the areola- not meaning only the top of the breast but under and sides as well as works for you.) IN other words, the idea is to gently push/squeeze milk out of the milk ducts a bit faster, and this can be done however it works best for your anatomy.

    Could your breast size be the issue with the pumping? Flanges that are too big will cause there to be not enough suction and thus, little or no milk extracted.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; November 27th, 2014 at 12:57 AM. Reason: clarification in ()

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    I wanted to clarify I didn't mean lengthening times between feedings either, more that if she is anxious/refusing not to force it!

    Have you tried the reverse and offering more but with the proviso that if she isn't interested move on to something else.

    Stress on your part can inhibit let down too, so I know it's easier said than done but try to relax. I know mamas that gave made feeding into a game by squinting milk at baby, or going topless with a baby in a carrier just so they get used to breasts being there without pressure to eat.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    As to feeding length, I don't worry about that for the most part. Once she gets let down, she will eat happily as long as the milk is flowing. She usually finishes both sides in under 10 minutes, but I know she gets enough if she seems sated and happy afterwards. Also, there's the aforementioned healthy weight gain.

    With breast compressions, I don't try to hold my whole breast. Even just pushing at the top, sides, etc. seems to disturb DD's latch. If I do it super gently, it doesn't seem to bother her, but then it doesn't seem to improve milk flow very much either. I'll keep working on it, though.

    The flanges do seem a bit large for me and I'm planning on buying a smaller size this week to see if that helps me let down with the pump.

    The lactation consultants were all board certified (2 of them with over 40 years experience) and observed her during a feeding. It was maybe 20 minutes though two of the times. Two times I didn't have a special appointment; once was at the pediatrician's office (I just asked to have their on-staff LC come in to observe) and the other time was at the end of a LLL meeting with the LC who was running the meeting. She observed the baby and tried to get her latched to no avail. I did have an hour long appointment with a LC once, but DD was VERY sleepy and actually ate without putting up a fight, so I just explained what she usually does. Should I get another appointment with someone else?

    I have tried feeding DD more frequently and less frequently; the meltdowns still seem random. I haven't seen improvements trying either method. I always try to feed her when we're both calm (although that's easier said than done for me as you know) and it really doesn't seem to help. That's not to say that if I'm extremely stressed that it doesn't exacerbate things, but even when I'm feeling encouraged and am perfectly calm, sometimes DD will just lose it within 10 or 15 seconds into a feeding, regardless of time, place, or interval between her last feeding. If I distract her and get her to smile and play a little before, sometimes it helps a bit, but the aversion still strikes often without warning. The best luck I have with her is when she's just waking up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Feeding Aversion at 2 months?

    Did any of the people who watched baby nurse think there was a nursing issue?
    I guess I am wondering if this is more a (baby) personality problem or possibly some other health issue, than a breastfeeding problem. If I understand correctly, baby is gaining, and baby is capable of having calm nursing sessions at night, and even occasionally for 5 nursing sessions in a row.
    There is really no reason that a baby who can nurse well some of the time should not be able to nurse well all the time. And yet, many and probably most babies do NOT nurse well all the time, and get fussy, scream, cry, won't latch, clamp, etc. at some sessions, even daily.
    Most of the time, this is not often enough to be a concern, and mom can calm baby another way and try to nurse again later. But some babies, the issues happens so frequently there is more the concern baby will not nurse enough to get enough.

    The health issue might be something that causes pain or discomfort some of the time. A baby has to engage a lot of anatomy in order to nurse. So pain or tightness is the jaw or neck, headache, earache, gum pain, even not liking the position because an arm or something gets pinched or leaned on, as well as gastrointestinal discomfort, and probably many other things, can cause issues.
    You have seen lots of helpers, so I assume someone has discussed if maybe seeing a chiropractor, or someone who practices cranial sacral therapy or bowen (maybe bowin? Can't remember) therapy, might be worth a try?

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