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Thread: Baby wants comfort but not milk

  1. #1

    Default Baby wants comfort but not milk

    My baby boy is 6 weeks old and breastfeeding has been going well. I do get some discomfort but no nipple trauma and it's tolerable.
    The issue I am having is that baby uses my breast to comfort himself to sleep, which I don't mind at all, in fact I think it lovely. However he's currently in a growth spurt and so needs comfort more than ever. When he wants to suck and I let down, he gets upset because he doesn't want the milk. I have tried to give him a dummy for these occasions and when I need to sort out my 3 yr old for what ever reason. But he will not take it despite repeated attempts. He gags and just spits it out. Any advice? I hate seeing him upset when I know he just wants to suck to sleep. He's getting overtired and grumpy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,754

    Default Re: Baby wants comfort but not milk

    Hi and welcome!
    Some babies will not take a pacifier. None of mine did. But I found my pinky and knuckle made a great pacifier when needed.

    6 weeks is a peak time for milk production, meaning that it is common that at this point, mom may actually make more milk than baby needs. This can cause milk to come very quickly and a bit forcefully. This causes some babies to not be happy with that fast flow. It is normal and expected that baby wishes to nurse to sleep and for comfort, and actually a baby is capable of controlling the milk flow so they can comfort nurse. But when fast letdown is happening, then baby is not able to control the flow as well. Additionally, if there is any issue with baby's latch, that can cause baby to not be able to control the flow as well.

    first you want to be sure you are not inadvertently making the letdown problem worse. Many moms are told they have to pump their milk even when baby is nursing around the clock. Or told they have to be sure baby nurses both sides every time baby nurses. In fact nether is needed most of the time. These are milk production increasing actions, that are only needed if a mom needs to increase her milk production, and that is usually not needed. Of course there are other reasons a mom might pump, and if you are pumping for some reason let me know how much and why and we can troubleshoot that if you like.

    To help baby handle fast letdown, it helps to encourage baby to nurse frequently. A baby this age would typically nursing at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. It is entirely fine to encourage baby to nurse more often. The more often a baby nurses, the less active the flow will tend to be.

    The other thing to try is change your nursing position. Leaning back with baby on top of you helps slow the flow. Also sidelying with mom and baby front to front seems to help, maybe because baby can let excess milk dribble out the side of their mouth. You can put a towel under baby in this case.

    Also of course there are other ways to comfort a baby to sleep. While nursing to sleep is normal, not all babies do it all the time. I remember my oldest when through a period where he just would not nurse down. Instead we had to walk around with baby snuggled against our shoulder as he "fussed" himself to sleep. Baby wearing can often help in such situations.

    Also, nursing should not be uncomfortable, especially by this point. If your discomfort is clearly improving, you may be fine. But if it is not, I would suggest having a consult with an ibclc or working on improving baby's latch on your own. Here is some info:

    latch and positioning ideas: http://feedthebabyllc.com/latch-and-positioning/

    What to expect at consult with IBCLC: http://www.cwgenna.com/lconsult.html

  3. #3

    Default Re: Baby wants comfort but not milk

    Thanks for the reply. Baby has been better today and not as fussy although I think you are correct about the milk flow coming too fast since he often has to unlatch after the flow of milk starts. I have tried laid back nursing but I really struggle to latch him properly and he get stressed. I don't pump at all but I will be starting to pump occasionally starting in the next few weeks or so (just so I have a stash if I ever have to be away from baby). I have literally followed his lead when it comes to feeding. If he's happy and asleep after one breast then I don't offer the other one but if he seems unsatisfied or fussy then I always offer the other breast.
    As for the discomfort, it hasnt improved at all which is why I'm wondering what's causing it. Midwives and hv have said the latch looks good. I even had a breastfeeding peer support worker out about the issue and she said the latch is good too. She offered some tips on positioning but she it looked fine really. Mw was baffled by the pain I am having. My nipples are undamaged but it always feels kind of sharp when he sucks and I feel I have to hold my breast.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Baby wants comfort but not milk

    If nursing is hurting you, that means the latch is off. It does not matter what it looks like! Latch can look great and hurt and look shallow and be comfortable.
    Thrush is another possibility, but a pretty remote one. When it hurts to nurse in the newborn period especially, it is almost always a latch issue.

    Can you see an IBCLC for a complete consult? Midwives and peer counselors can be very helpful, but not if all they are offering you is "it looks good" when you are telling them nursing hurts. An LC who said the same would also be wrong.

    if you want to keep working with laid back positioning, you can always latch baby in a sitting up position and then lay back a bit. But changing nursing position is often the key to improving latch.

    Fast letdown is a self correcting issue most of the time. When your milk production calms down, so will the fast letdown. I think your more immediate issue is the nursing pain. That is worrying.

    As far as pumping, if it only occasionally for the occasional separation from baby, no worries.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Baby wants comfort but not milk

    Thanks again for the reply. I agree something is amiss and I need further help. I have messaged a lactation consultant but it depends on the cost as to whether I can take it further. I plan on breastfeeding for a long time and so I would really like it sorting though. The good thing is that my boy is gaining well and is happy, so at least the latch being off isn't affecting him his feeding or my milk supply.
    Another quick question if you would be kind enough to advice. I pumped almost 4oz this morning between feeds and I plan on trying baby with a bottle this weekend to see if he takes one (again it's only if I ever need to be away from him). How much do inoffer on one go? I know about pace feeding but not about how much I should give him.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Baby wants comfort but not milk

    While you are experiencing latch issues, I would suggest no bottles. However if you feel it is necessary to get baby practiced with bottles, keep them very small and infrequent. You are talking about seeing if baby will take a bottle and continue to take a bottle, or basically, doing "practice bottles," right now, correct? so the amount can be just a little bit. 1/2 ounce, even less, given maybe once a week.

    If you are not anticipating regular separations such as for work soon, there may be not any need for practice bottles. My three never had any practice bottles, and we never had a problem with them taking the occasional bottle as needed, except for the time I realized we had given away all our bottles just as I was running out for an appointment, and my husband fed baby just fine using a small open cup. A study that looked specifically at timing of first bottles found was that age of introduction does not matter much, some kids do fine with them and some resist no matter what age they are introduced. However if it makes you feel better, a very small bottle as mentioned above should not hurt anything.

    If this LC is too expensive, keep looking. Sometimes there are free or low cost clinics etc. Where do you live? In the US insurance is supposed to cover LC appointments.

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