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Thread: Baby will only eat from the left side

  1. #1
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Baby will only eat from the left side

    My daughter is a week old today and we've been having this problem since my milk came in, which I believe was Saturday. In the hospital she was latching OK on both sides but now she refuses to latch on the right breast. Her latch is perfect on the left but she just won't take the right, and I've been having to pump that side. I'm worried her hunger won't be satisfied from just one sided feeding especially as she gets bigger, even though she seems happy with it now.

    I really want to hold off introducing bottles until I have to (going back to work in 2 months). I've tried tons of skin to skin and every feeding position I can think of and she's just not interested in eating from that side! Does anyone have any insight or advice? I'd greatly appreciate it!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    Have you tried keeping her in the same position while moving to the right breast? For example if you have her in the cradle hold for the left side instead of picking her up and flipping her over to the right you wold slide her along yourself so she goes from the left breast cradle hold to the right breast without changing position.

    Is she able to turn her head well both ways - left and right? Was your labor hard and long? Something might have gotten tweaked on her way out that might be hurting her when she's on that side. If this is the case craniosacral therapy has been shown to help. It's like a chiropractor but slightly different. It pretty mich "resets" the muscles so that if something is tight or over compensating for something the therapy will help the muscle relax so the issue can be solved.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    I hope it works out for you!! A friend of mine could only nurse from one side and she eventually gave up!! Push thru!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    Thanks for your replies!

    Angel- yes she can turn her head both ways with no problem. My labor was long (13 hours) but the actual pushing phase was very short and easy, about 10-15 minutes and she was out. She was also in the perfect position, had no complications during birth and like I said, she latched OK on that side in the hospital but since my milk has come in she doesn't seem to like it. It doesn't seem like it hurts her though. She just pulls away and gets frustrated until I give in and switch to my (very sore!) left side. I have not tried simply sliding her from left to right in the same position but I'll definitely give it a go. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Perannie- thank you for your words of encouragement! I definitely do not plan to give up and will be enlisting the help of a lactation consultant if I have to.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    A baby not being able to nurse from both sides, and also sore nipples, fall into the category of problems that need at be addressed asap. It is often entirely possible to nurse a child "one breasted" but the scenario overall needs to be assessed and corrected if possible.

    If your baby cannot nurse from one side, there is a reason. A lactation consultant should be able to help you. Are you able to see a board certified lactation consultant for a COMPLETE consult (if you saw one in the hospital, it was probably not a compete consult) If not, is there any other in person help available locally like LLL?

    Do you think it is possible that the milk flow is "too fast" from that one side?
    Is it any better if you nurse your baby on the other side first?
    Are you very full or engorged when baby comes to the breast?

    What latch and positioning ideas have you tried?

    BTW I had the exact same issue with oldest, after a few days, baby refused entirely the right side (and we had many more issues as well.) I got help from an IBCLC and eventually had to use a nipple shield for a few weeks, but we got through it and nursed for a long time.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; June 10th, 2015 at 03:37 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    Maddieb- yes, I am able to see a lactation consultant through my pediatrician's office ( I haven't confirmed that they're board certified, but I would assume?). That was going to be my next step if no one here has any suggestions that worked. To answer your questions:

    Im not sure about the flow being too fast. This is all pretty new to me so I'm not quite sure what I'd be looking for. When I pump it doesn't appear that way but I'm not sure if that's really any indication.

    It doesn't seem to be better regardless of which side I offer first. She often gets sleepy while nursing and once she's done on the left side she's not very interested in even trying on the right anyway. I regularly have to wake her up to keep feeding.

    I did think maybe the problem was that
    I was too engorged for her to latch properly so I tried pumping a bit then trying again but we had the same issue. She just gets frustrated and keeps pulling away.

    I've tried cradle hold, "football", cross cradle and I've tried with her lying between my breasts and latching kind of from below. We haven't been able to figure out side lying yet. I also regularly offer her my right side after a lot of skin to skin. Nothing seems to make difference.

    Thanks for your questions, let me know if I've left anything out

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    I haven't confirmed that they're board certified, but I would assume
    Don't assume, ask. Anyone can call themselves a lactation consultant and hospitals and doctors will hire people who are not accredited by the IBLCE. I would add that just because someone is an IBCLC does not guarantee they will be able to help, but it would indicate a higher level of education and clinical training and that the person participates in continuing education. If they are not an IBCLC, (or even if they are) ask what their training and experience is.

    Here is an example scenario of a consult with an IBCLC: http://cwgenna.com/lconsult.html

    This is all pretty new to me so I'm not quite sure what I'd be looking for.
    Baby gagging, choking or coughing, swallowing very rapidly and loudly, and/or milk spraying when baby pulls off would be indications of a fast milk flow.

    I regularly have to wake her up to keep feeding
    This is pretty typical in the first week or two. Baby may kind of "wake up" shortly and appear ravenous, wanting to nurse much more often. This is normal, don't let it alarm you.

    I did think maybe the problem was that
    I was too engorged for her to latch properly so I tried pumping a bit then trying again but we had the same issue. She just gets frustrated and keeps pulling away.
    I had the same issue- I was engorged and that made my nipples "flat." What I only learned much later is that when a mom is engorged, it is not just that she has lots of milk in the breast. The breast tissues themselves are inflamed and swollen with fluid. The action of pumping actually may pull more fluid into the areola and be counterproductive. You can try Reverse Pressure Softening to see if that helps. It is described in the article about engorgement http://www.llli.org/faq/engorgement.html (Of course I realize you have to pump that one side baby won't nurse on- keep doing that!)

    So it sounds like you have tried laid back nursing and football, one of which usually is the key. I would suggest keep trying those and keep baby snuggled on you, skin to skin is great but even when you are clothed, keep baby close and with "easy access" so you can react to those early cues. Remember there are no rules, really. Adjust these positioning ideas as much as you need to. A mom can do football AND laid back simultaneously, for example. I would also suggest trying breast shaping, the breast sandwich technique might help baby get a bigger mouthful of breast. This is one of the ideas described here: http://feedthebabyllc.com/latch-and-positioning/

    I have lots of latch and positioning videos I like, but I don't want to overwhelm you when I am not sure what the problem is. Is your sense that baby CAN'T latch on that side, or WON'T? That might give us a clue...but of course this may be hard to determine. Again I really think the best course is to get hands on help ASAP.

    And do not despair! There are lots of positives here. Baby IS nursing, this is fantastic. You are pumping to keep up production in the one side, also very good. It is very early days, and this is the time most breastfeeding issues occur and can usually be resolved. As long as baby is gaining normally and pooping enough, that will indicate baby is getting enough on the one side and there is no need in that case to give baby a bottle. Additionally, if baby DID need supplements, you could give baby your pumped milk in a syringe or an open cup to avoid the bottle issues. Jack Newman has a nice video of cup feeding: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...me=vid-cupfeed
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; June 10th, 2015 at 08:27 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    Actually, she does cough sometimes while feeding, but she's never gagged or choked. However, she'll pull away often, even on the left side, then dive back in. It almost seems like she's catching her breath. Milk doesn't spray out when she pulls away but usually it will kind of dribble out.

    My sense is more that she won't latch, not that she can't. I actually got her to briefly this morning, so I know she CAN. But it only lasted about 10 seconds then she pulled away and wouldn't take that side again. What usually happens when I offer her the right side is that she'll search around with her mouth wide, like she can't find the nipple even when it's in her mouth. She may suck briefly for a second or two but it's not really a latch and I can tell she's not getting anything. Then she'll open her mouth and search around again.

    Thank you for the links and the encouragement

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    What you describe sounds like baby needs help organizing her rooting reflex maybe? There are a few ways to do this, and as always what works will vary child to child.

    The first tip is to try to bring baby to the breast (or have baby already there) at the very earliest cues or even before cues. Once baby is getting frantic or crying, baby is already very disorganized.

    Bring baby to you so her whole front is facing you. It might or might not be to your tummy, a baby can also come to mom from the side, for example. But the key is that baby's front is in contact with you at several places. It is believed that the baby's very early reflexes, even the stepping reflex, are related to helping baby find the breast and latch. So even having the top of babies feet against you so baby can push herself into the breast may help. If there is not room to have baby's whole body and feet on you due to how you are positioning baby, you can use a firm pillow or your arm to provide a firm support to help baby orient herself to the breast.

    When a baby cannot find the nipple or get a good latch, you can help this by how you position baby. Some babies seem to do best held between the breasts so one breast brushes her cheek. Baby should turn to the breast and find it and latch on at that point.

    Some babies respond better to the upper lip being brushed with the breast or nipple. Others latch best if they are brought to the breast in such a way their nose aligns with the nipple, and they can latch with their head thown "back" a bit.

    There are a series of interesting videos made my Nancy Morhbacher and an associate about these ideas. I am attaching a couple other videos that may be helpful as well.

    You will see several moms nursing in a "laid back" position. This is a good overall position and is also very helpful when there is a fast letdown issues.

    Morhbacher latch and positioning videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9g...VRtTfDzjv50Oyw

    Morhbacher fast flow article : http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/...-breastfeeding

    nice video on latch: http://globalhealthmedia.org/portfol...rtfolioID=5623

    remember these are guidelines to help, not rules to follow. do what works for you and your baby

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Baby will only eat from the left side

    Thank you so much for your help Maddie. I was very patient with her today and took your suggestion to bring her to breast at the very earliest signs of rooting and actually got her to latch on the right side twice. Granted, it was only for a few minutes each time before she had to be moved to the left but still, progress is progress. I still plan to talk to her pediatrician at her two week appointment on Tuesday about seeing the lactation consultant but I'm feeling much more confident about our ability to feed from both sides now. Again, thanks so much for all your in depth responses, you've helped a lot!

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