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Thread: Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

  1. #1

    Default Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

    Looking for some advice on my 5 month old who is now rejecting the breast 90% of the time in favor of a bottle.

    Some (a lot of) background:
    DS was born 3 weeks early, and a combination of his size, a tongue tie, and flat nipples caused me to have to use a nipple shield and for us to top off with a bottle, and supplement when necessary. Eventually, I was EBF during the day, and DH would bottle feed during a period every evening so I could sleep. At around 3 months DH switched from a size 1 nipple to a flow size 2 because he said DS was getting frustrated (I didn't want this to happen, but it did). We never addressed the tongue tie (per advice from our pediatrician) because he was able to nurse fine and was gaining weight well. At our 4 month checkup, however, he was underweight. This was very surprising to us because of how frequently he was nursing (at least every hour for long periods of time). Our pediatrician sent us to OT for an infant feeding clinic where they said he was not able to transfer milk efficiently because of his tongue tie. So we ended up having it clipped three weeks ago. The first couple of days after we're rough, but he was still nursing. Then the nursing strike started. He has nursed off and on since then, but everyday it's less and less. Yesterday he only nursed once. I went to see Lactation a week ago and she said that his tongue is healed, his motor/sucking skills are good, his latch is good, and my supply seems to be good. So it seems like he's developed a preference to the bottle. We did end up switching the bottle nipples back to flow 1. He is 5 months old today, and I should also add he is extremely alert these days and seems to just want to look around and explore his surroundings, so he's easily distracted. I think the revision took place in the middle of a sleep regression as well. His sleep schedule has been way off. I was hoping to be able to EBF around the clock after the revision, and now the opposite has happened. I desperately want to get him back breastfeeding but I don't know what to do. I have tried feeding him in a dark, quiet room, rocking, walking around, with the shield, without it. I try offering him the breast before a bottle but he just gets frustrated. I've done some skin to skin and tried laid back position, but honestly he's just so curious right now that he's just not interested in being snuggled up like that (though he always wants to be held). He was at least nursing when he was sleepy, but over the last few days even that has declined.

    I feel like we're almost at the point of no return, and I am deeply saddened at the thought of our breastfeeding journey coming to an end. Has anyone else experienced this and come back from it? Any advice?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

    I haven't personally experienced what you're going through, but for what it's worth I think you are handling the problem exactly how one is supposed to- with patience, with lots of cuddling, with skin-to-skin contact...

    When he's hungry, what are you doing- are you eventually offering the bottle out of sheer frustration and desperation, are you giving the baby plenty of time to decide if he wants to try nursing? And when you say the baby is nursing less, is he nursing with a normal frequency but for less time, or has his frequency really dropped off?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    I haven't personally experienced what you're going through, but for what it's worth I think you are handling the problem exactly how one is supposed to- with patience, with lots of cuddling, with skin-to-skin contact...

    When he's hungry, what are you doing- are you eventually offering the bottle out of sheer frustration and desperation, are you giving the baby plenty of time to decide if he wants to try nursing? And when you say the baby is nursing less, is he nursing with a normal frequency but for less time, or has his frequency really dropped off?
    The frequency has dropped significantly. I try offering breast first. Sometimes he'll latch fine and then just keep popping off before he gets frustrated, and other times he just refuses all together and gets upset immediately. I end up giving him a bottle because I don't want to force it and make it worse, and we need to be sure he's getting plenty of calories since he is underweight. He was at least nursing when sleeping and during naps, but the last few days it's only been about once a day.

    I don't feel like I'm doing such a great job of being patient. It's really frustrating and upsetting. I try to be nonchalant about it so as not to stress him out, but it's a struggle.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

    Of course it's hard to be patient! Seeing your baby cry and refuse you when you are offering him the breast is very upsetting, on a visceral, uncontrollable level.

    Have you tried offering him a small bottle, maybe 1-2 oz, and then switching him to the breast when you have taken the edge off his hunger and he is a bit calmer? This sort of "finish at the breast" approach can help a baby re-learn to associate the breast with feelings of comfort and satiation.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

    Yes, he just gets frustrated until I give him the bottle again.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24,631

    Default Re: Nursing strike after tongue tie revision

    That must be so frustrating and discouraging. All I can say is that it sounds like your approach is exactly right. If the baby isn't responding, please don't blame yourself. Breast refusal is really one of the hardest breastfeeding dilemmas out there!

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