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Thread: Weak suck

  1. #1

    Default Weak suck

    I really need your advice. My LO is 4 months actual, one month adjusted. He was born at 28 weeks and spent 2 months in the NICU. He was 2 lbs 12 oz when born and is now 10 lbs 14 oz.

    He started off with tube feeding then bottle feeding using my breast milk. We introduced the breast while he was in the NICU and have continued offering the breast since we returned home in late October. He latches well but doesn't suck very hard. He never gets satisfied with just the breast so I supplement with expressed breast milk after every feeding.

    We have met with two different lactation consultants and they both said he appears to have a good, nutritive suck and is not tongue tied. His pediatrician also ruled out a tongue tie. However, when we have weighed him before and after feeding, he has transferred half an ounce or less during thirty minutes of sucking.

    This routine of breastfeeding then bottle feeding then pumping all day and night is not sustainable. Plus, the stash of breast milk that I built up while he was in the NICU is nearly gone. The lactation consultant we met with yesterday had good suggestions for increasing my supply, but as far as his weak suck, she could only say "keep trying." Has anyone dealt with a weak suck that was not due to a tongue tie? Any advice or encouragement is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24,794

    Default Re: Weak suck

    Welcome to the forum! I don't have any personal experience with a weak suck, but I want to suggest an avenue you could explore which might help you figure out whether or not your baby actually needs supplemental bottles, which is using a scale to do weigh-feed-weigh measurements at home. Using the scale, you could determine pretty much exactly how much milk your baby gets at the breast. It might be more than you think, and more than baby takes in under unfamiliar circumstances at the LCs office, and you might be able to ditch the bottles and supplemental feedings that way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    10,754

    Default Re: Weak suck

    This routine of breastfeeding then bottle feeding then pumping all day and night is not sustainable.
    I agree. This type of situation is never sustainable for long. Here are some suggestions.
    First I agree with mommal, while you want to be sure baby is getting enough milk to gain normally, it is important to be careful about overfeeding. A baby who is not all that hungry is not as likely to nurse with normal vigor. In other words, sometimes a weak suck is because baby does not need more milk, not because baby is incapable of nursing effectively. One before and after nursing weight check only tells you what happened at that one nursing session, and since it is normal for a baby to take very little milk at some nursing sessions, and more at others, one session cannot be relied upon as anything but a bit more info to use. Also, baby appearing to be "unsatisfied" after nursing is not a reliable indicator baby actually needs more milk. Baby may need to suckle longer for comfort, and many babies wish to nurse for a 'top off" just a few minutes after they appeared to be finished nursing. These behaviors are normal and do not necessarily mean baby has not gotten/is not getting enough milk to gain normally.

    Second, have you considered using a lactation aid for required supplements some or part of the time? Used properly, lactation aids can cut down on the time it takes to feed baby in a situation baby is nursing but needs supplements. Here is more info on this idea: http://cwgenna.com/smartnothard.html Also, if you use bottles, they need not always be after baby nurses. It may be helpful to let baby nurse and only nurse for some sessions, and to have a little supplement prior to sessions sometimes, so baby can experience "finishing" and comforting at the breast. Babies can start to "expect" the bottle. Also be sure baby is being fed the bottle is a breastfeeding supportive way. This usually means paced feeding technique and positioning. More: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf and : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykdFuEOIdeE

    Third, have you tried feeding baby or pumping or nursing or a combination more frequently part of the awake day, so that you can take a longer sleep stretch overnight? Babies do not typically nurse on an every such and such hour schedule night and day. While they will typically need nourishment frequently including overnight, this does not mean on a specific schedule. Most babies can and do take a longer sleep stretch here and there allowing mom to do the same.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; December 19th, 2015 at 11:23 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Weak suck

    It seems that there are a lot of similar forums going around weak suck. My little one has a terribly weak suck.

    General details *31 weeker (now 14 weeks actual), 5 weeks in NICU, came home on a bottle, latched on boob if milk was flowing, fussy when it wasn't. I have plenty of milk and breastfed my 20 month old for 14 months with no problems.

    For the last 14 weeks I have been pumping while trying to feed her a couple times a day at the breast. Her suck was too weak to pull anything out so she only got milk when it was free flowing. Every lactation consultant told me that she just "needed time" to get stronger and bigger but around 11 weeks old (2 weeks past due date) they finally referred me to an occupational therapist that could see that she was having suck issues and needed some exercises. Keeping in mind that I've been an emotional wreck since day 1, the mouth exercises gave me the extra push I needed to keep me pumping a few more weeks. (If you haven't tried this avenue it might be worth a try) For us, day in and day out her suck was not getting better and so continued our constant struggle of breastfeeding, crying, bottle feeding, frustration, guilt....

    All i want to do is breastfeed this tiny little girl and give her the experience that my son and I had and yet each day the struggle seems more and more desperate. Finally today I met with her pediatrician. He could see the tears in my eyes when I told him she was still taking only the bottle. He told me that breastfeeding is just ONE part of raising a healthy baby and that I was clearly giving her everything she needed to thrive in other ways. He believed that 90% of breastfeeding benefits would be lost if it was a negative experience. After all, the bonding that I so longed for in breastfeeding turned into a traumatizing experience as I watched her calm down with every bottle feed.

    In the end, I've decided that today I will give up the dream of breastfeeding and move on to bonding with her in other ways. I've been losing my mind at the pump all day instead of actually sitting down and enjoying my little baby. I will have to hold my head high when I'm bottle feeding in public, knowing perfectly well that some mothers might judge me (as I may even have judged) not knowing how hard I tried. Not knowing that I pumped for months, had endless lactation appointments, occupational therapy appointments, did mouth exercises every feeds, and cried with my baby as she tried and failed to suck on my nipple. I wish there was more support for mothers who's babies just can't breastfeed effectively, whether the reasons be biological or environmental (bottle feeding in the NICU, etc). It is an insanely hard decision to make but in the end do what's best for your baby, yourself and the bond that you share. For me, I could see myself spirally down each time I had to pump. I was even getting angry at her, this poor helpless baby. I just wish for once a lactation consultant would say "enough is enough" instead of watching me burnout while telling me to "keep trying"

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