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Thread: Baby cries when breastfeeding

  1. #1

    Default Baby cries when breastfeeding


    I have a 13 week old baby girl and we seem to have an issue at breastfeeding. In the last 2-3 weeks, most of the times we are breastfeeding, she eats very actively for 6-7 minutes in one breast only and then starts crying. She used to do that once in a while since the second week but lately it has become the norm rather than the exception. In the first week that she had this behaviour, I did not push her into eating more, when she unlatched, I stopped breastfeeding and got her to burp ; however during one week she lost 20 grams, her dirty diapers reduced from 7-8 which was the norm to 3-4, she started sleeping for 6 hours in a row during the night which was not the case before and I noticed at least one greenish poop per day. I got stressed about the weight loss and in the following week I was really persistent with putting her over and over again to the breast. What happens is that I console/rock her for a little while, she eats for 1-2 more minutes and then cries again so every feed is really a fight. During this week and after all this persistence she gained again 200 grams and her dirty diapers increased again to 5-6 and so did the times she wakes up at night to feed (we have one feeding at 2am and one at 5 am); however, I am really sad to push her into eating as it is obvious that something is not right; sometimes, especially in the last few days she cries inconsolably, I cannot seem to put her back to breast until she gets to sleep from crying.
    Two more things that may be a hint to those of you who are more experienced are the following: during the nightfeeds she seems to be eating better and for longer, even 15 minutes, sometimes she even sleeps while breastfeeds very slowly. Also, I am afraid if it was wrong to make her use the pacifier (this happened a little while after she was 2 months old), could she be confusing the breast with the pacifier at this age? I went to the pediatrecian and asked him if this could be acid reflux as I am reading in some fora (she has occasionally spit-ups and hiccups) but he says if she had a serious case of acid reflux, she would not eat so well in the first minutes and she would have other symptoms too, like vomiting, which she does not. He suggested that once she start crying, her father feeds her with a bottle of my expressed milk and see what happens. This does not seem to work either, she refuses to eat from the bottle too.
    I would really ask for your help as I am really worried about my baby and also I feel my breasts semi-full all the time, I express quite often during the day in order not to have problems with mastitis etc.

    Thank you in advance,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    Hi. can you provide a complete weight gain history? You don't have to list every weight check, but enough so we can see the overall pattern from birth until now. Give the weight and the date or day/week of life. If you can do so easily, can you convert to English measurements ( pounds, ounces?) If not, I will do it myself.

    Because everything you describe is entirely normal except a baby LOSING weight. Poops often become less frequent anytime after 6 weeks, many babies no longer even poop daily after that. Some poop a lot, some a little, so after 6 weeks it is really not possible to accurately measure intake by number of poops. Weight gain typically occurs in spurts rather than steadily. If I am converting properly, 20 grams is less than an ounce...when you saw this loss was it over a week? A month? 6 weeks? How long was baby not gaining and possibly losing? Were the weight checks on either side of this loss done on the same scale?

    Green poops is an entirely normal variation. Sometimes they indicate a virus...if baby was ill, that might explain baby not wanting to nurse as often.

    Crying at the breast can mean many things or nothing at all. As long as a baby is gaining normally while breastfed, there is no need for bottles and since bottles are so likely to cause problems, they should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

    Pacifier use (or overuse) has been linked to poor gain and also to breast reluctance or refusal. So I would suggest stop pacifier use until you have this figured out. It is not so much "confusion" as that anytime something is used as a substitute for the breast, whether it is a bottle or pacifier, it can mess with normal nursing behavior.

    Baby sleeping 6 hours at night is not necessarily a problem unless baby is not nursing with normal frequency the rest of the time. How many times is baby nursing each 24 hour day (about?)
    On the other hand, if there really is an issue of poor gain, it makes sense to encourage baby to nurse more and perhaps discourage such long sleep periods. Things that may cause a baby to sleep longer than is good for baby are pacifiers for sleep, swaddling, baby sleeping separately from mom or away from the sounds of normal family life and sleep training.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    Hi @llli*maddieb,

    Thank you indeed for your interest and your advice. Here is some more information:
    Birth weight: 7 pounds 6 ounces
    2 weeks: 7 pounds 12.9 ounces
    4 weeks: 8 pounds 12.4 ounces
    6 weeks: 9 pounds 7.7 ounces
    8 weeks:10 pounds 1.9 ounces
    9 weeks: 10 pounds 7.2 ounces
    10 weeks: 10 pounds 6.5 ounces
    ~12 weeks: 10 pounds 15.7 ounces
    The weight loss I saw was in a time interval of just over a week, aka 8 days. After I saw it, I started pushing my baby to eat and during the next 10 days she gained around 9.2 ounces. The weight checks were all on the same scale.
    Regarding the breastfeeding frequency, my baby used to eat quite often until this started (i.e. until the 9-10 weeks) which means every 1.5 hours during the day and every 2.5-4 hours during the night (usually 10-12 feedings in total). I must admit that as I am starting work in a month from now, I got a bit stressed with this frequency of nursing and I started the pacifier so that she does not comfort nurse so much and hoping that her breastfeeding sessions are reduced to 8 or so. Once I did this (start the pacifier and attempt to schedule her feedings) I think she started to feed much less frequently, sometimes she even went 3.5-4 hours during the day without asking to be fed, which made me worried and then I noticed the weight loss issue. I then started to feed her every 2 hours during the day and she started gaining weight again.
    Do you think this (trying to schedule and pacifier) caused the problem? What can I do now to correct it? Is it again a wrong approach to feed her every 2 hours? Should I wake her during the night to nurse her more than twice (usually she nurses at around 9.30 pm, then at 1.30-2 am and then at 5-5.30 am)?

    Thanks again,

    PS. The baby sleeps in her cot just next to our bed ( in the same room).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    Ok, so I am not 100% sure there IS a problem with gain, overall. However, since you saw a big slow down in gain at exactly the same time you started limiting time at the breast, then I think there may be a problem with doing that. But whether this caused a weight gain issue or not, it is never a good idea to do this, nor is it necessary to do this before a mom returns to work. I will explain more about that in a moment.

    Your baby has been weighed unusually frequently. This may be good as it caused you to notice a possible problem right away, but was there any particular reason for this? Have these checks been on the same scale?

    Overall gain looks 100 % normal and good until 4 weeks and then a little on the slow side especially from about 6 weeks on. Was anything different starting around 4 to 6 weeks? Medications, anything? Did baby go from nursing one side to both, or vice versa?
    Obviously the last week was gain of about an ounce a day, so that is back to normal gain, so overall gain does not look bad, in my opinion. What is odd is that you feel you have to force baby to eat enough and this makes baby cry.

    Now, as far as nursing frequency- you can expect a baby to nurse at least 8-12 times a day in the first several months of life and usually, longer. Some babies start nursing less frequently after 3 or 4 months, but many do not. Some nurse even more frequently then! All normal. There is nothing better or more desirable about a baby nursing less often. Nor is there anything wrong with so called "comfort nursing." Some babies really need to nurse 12 times a day or they will not get enough milk. All nursing is comforting and when a baby comfort nurses, they are still getting milk! How often an individual baby needs to nurse to get enough milk will vary and depends on a number of factors.

    When you are at work, you should not need to pump as often as baby currently nurses. Most moms do fine with about 3 pump sessions over a typical 8-10 hour separation. Some might need to pump 4 times, but that would be unusual. A few moms can get away with two times. It depends on how well mom responds to pumping and many other factors. If there is some reason you will not be able to pump about every 3 hours at work, let us know and we can help troubleshoot the situation.

    Also, during the work day when baby is getting bottles, baby may or may not eat as often as baby nurses. Many will not. Overall, as long as baby is nursing a normal amount when with you, including at least some overnight nursing, the general rule of thumb is that baby gets between one and one and a half ounces per hour of separation from the caregiver. So for a 10 hour separation, that would mean about 10-15 ounces per day. Ideally this will be broken up into small, frequent meals of about 1-3 ounces at a time, which is similar to the size meal a baby will take at the breast and thus biologically normal. Also, ideally baby would be fed on cue, not a schedule, just as baby is nursed. Some babies will not eat quite that much and will make up for it when home with mom.

    This is why reducing feeding sessions or putting baby on a feeding schedule is not required before returning to work.

    I would suggest try to stop thinking about schedules at all. Feeding baby every 2 hours instead of every 3-4 hours means baby gets more milk which is good. But it is still feeding on a schedule, and not how most babies prefer to eat. Does baby ever nurse for a while, fall asleep nursing, sleep for a few minutes, and want to nurse again? Does baby ever cluster nurse? Does baby like to nurse to sleep and in her sleep? These are all normal nursing behaviors and can be encouraged. If baby nurses more frequently when you are awake, you may be able to forgo waking baby more to nurse when you trying to sleep yourself, although overall there is nothing wrong with waking baby (or gently encouraging baby to nurse in her sleep) if that is needed.
    To gently encourage baby to nurse more often, I would suggest hold baby most of the time except when you are sleeping.
    It is great baby sleeps beside you. If you are swaddling baby or baby gets a pacifier, you can try eliminating those as they are meant to lengthen sleep and may work too well. You could consider if bedsharing (Sharing your sleep surface with baby) might work better for you. This facilitates nursing and more overall sleep for many moms. You can read more about this and how to make bedsharing safest in the book Sweet Sleep and here: http://www.llli.org/sweetsleepbook/tearsheets
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; December 29th, 2015 at 06:03 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    Thank you for your detailed advice and encouragement. Regarding the weighting, there was no particular or medical reason for this, I just thought it was a good idea to buy a scale and monitor baby weight gain, as I am a new mom and not so sure about my breastfeeding capacity.
    Regarding the change around 4-6 weeks, indeed there was a change. My baby used to cry occasionally at the breast and she also had explosive and green poop. The advice I got from the midwife back then was that I had an oversupply or fast let down issue and I had to do two things, to nurse in a reclining position which I still do and to nurse only from one breast every 3-4, hours which I tried for 2-3 weeks.
    Also, the baby used to cluster feed a lot, now it does not. I realise that to discourage that and also comfort nursing was a mistake on my side, I honestly hope I can remedy the situation now following your advice. I fear that baby no longer actively asks to be breastfed, only maybe during the night.
    One last question during the last couple of weeks, she also sucks her hands a lot even during the time I offer her the breast. What does this mean? Isn't sucking hands a sign she wants to nurse?

    Thank you again

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    Just wanted to pop in and offer my thoughts while Maddie is away, although I'm sure she'll be back in later to respond.

    As babys grow they begin to suck their hands for other reasons in addition to hunger. One possibility is exploration, another is comfort. If you feel it is comfort rather than exploration baby is seeking, you could gently remove the hands from the mouth and lift the breast a little closer to baby to suggest a 'swap'.

    Bedsharing and holding baby frequently are brilliant advice from Maddie, babywearing in a sling is great for facilitating holding baby while carrying out necessary tasks and moving about. It can even be a great way to travel in place of using the pram. Eliminating the pacifier at least for now is also a great idea, as baby may be using it as a substitute for the breast. I agree also with ditching any sort of schedule. Offer frequently, be available for nursing on demand, and stay close to baby.

    I am surprised that a midwife would suggest block feeding (restricting feeding to one breast for intervals of say 3 hours or more)in order to deal with issues of fast letdown or oversupply. Blockfeeding is usually advisable in extreme cases of oversupply as it can drastically reduce milk production. Blockfeeding with up to 8 hours between use of the same breast can actually harm milk production at an early stage. Over production usually (though not always) naturally settles around 5-6 weeks, sometimes up to 8 weeks.

    Blockfeeding and scheduling in my experience can exacerbate issues with fast letdowns as well, I found that more frequent offers of each breast dealt nicely with my own letdown.

    I am glad that this is an approach you are no longer taking. Reclined feeding however is wonderful under almost any circumstance so there is no reason to change this.

    My own daughter had a significant weightloss following birth, and to rectify it I spent my days topless while holding baby. It made me freely available and we quickly found it encouraged weightgain. You could also try this when you are able, it may help even with baby being a little older now.

    It could also be worth offering the breast at times when you feel baby might want comfort, such as after vaccinations and weigh-ins on cold hard scales to try and reestablish some comfort nursing.

    @Maddie I recall flipping back through old posts and seeing something reposted on the forum from a lactation consultant, though I cannot remember for the life of me where. The consultant's article suggested how we as adults have a biscuit or a glass of water when we like and that babys naturally eat in a similar way. IT may help the OP further understand frequent, cluster and comfort nursing. Any thoughts on where we might find it?
    Last edited by @llli*jessiesmum; December 30th, 2015 at 05:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    I cannot recall who said that about biscuits, but this article covers similar territory: http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/...-as-a-pacifier

    OP I cannot add much to jessiesmums excellent post. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for mothers to be told to block feed when it is not necessary, as I believe was the case with you and your baby. Whether doing so led to a slow down in weight gain rate we of course cannot be sure of, but there is no doubt it could have, as block nursing is a milk production reducing technique, and it works quite well at this. The good news is that babies gain has not been severely curtailed and baby appears capable of gaining normally. This would indicate that any resulting issues with your milk production are being corrected by encouraging baby to nurse more often, which is how milk production works a good deal of the time. More milk out of the breasts, more often, = more milk produced.

    It can certainly be confusing to be a new mom who has never nursed a baby before- that is how all of us got here in the first place! I would suggest getting a good book about breastfeeding, specifically, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition.) There are more normal changes ahead that you want to be prepared for so you do not panic. For example, many moms believe they make less milk at around 3 to 4 months than baby requires, due to normal changes in how baby nurses and how the breasts feel. The book also covers the return to work, - handling separations, pumping and bottles - in detail.

    Feeding on cue does not mean baby must actively ask to nurse. Some babies are much more subtle than others. It is fine and 100 percent appropriate to offer to nurse baby as much as you like.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    @maddieb and @jessiesmum, thank you so much for such detailed guidance and kind support. I will try to follow all your suggestions and hope that I can remedy what i have done wrong. Happy new year!


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Baby cries when breastfeeding

    I hope you can stop thinking you did anything wrong. It sounds like your baby is entirely healthy. When troubleshooting a problem we basically throw ideas out and see what sticks. Your original concern was baby crying when nursing. This might indicate a problem but it also can be normal nursing behavior. Hopefully some of the ideas we have offered will help with that, if not, please let us know.

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