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Thread: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Unhappy Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    I have a five day old son who I am trying very hard to breastfeed. I started from the recovery room following my C-section and things have been going down hill since. He's a big baby and while waiting for my milk to come in, he started losing weight and the nurses pretty much said I had to give him formula or risk his health. The day after having an operation and being overwhelmed and tired, I did what they told me. Now I really regret it. We did have some sessions where he latched very well and worked hard at the breast but now my son prefers the bottle over me. Whenever I bring him to the breast he screams. I might be able to get him to stay on for one or two sucks, but after that there is a lot of crying. I am pumping and try him at the breast every time I feed, but no luck. Also, he is a very strong sleeper and we have to work to wake him before feeding, which usually leaves him in a poor mood to start with. Is there any hope that with some work he'll learn to settle down and breastfeed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    I'm sorry you having so many troubles.
    Your local lll leader might be able to help
    heres the link to find her

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    I'm sure someone with more experiance will post soon but in the mean time, here's some things you can try. With nipple confusion, I think the babies frustration with the breast is the slower flow of the milk. To help the milk flow faster from the breast you can try some breast compressions. I had to do this with my little guy or he would just sleep at the breast if I didn't.

    Breast Compressions:

    Breast Compression— How to do it - Quoted from KellyMom - Newman - Breast Compression

    1. Hold the baby with one arm.
    2. Hold the breast with the other, thumb on one side of the breast (thumb on the upper side of the breast is easiest), your other fingers on the other, fairly far back from the nipple.
    3. Watch for the baby's drinking (see videos at www.thebirthden.com/Newman.html), though there is no need to be obsessive about catching every suck. The baby gets substantial amounts of milk when he is drinking with an “open mouth wide—pause—then close mouth” type of suck.
    4. When the baby is nibbling at the breast and no longer drinking with the “open mouth wide—pause—then close mouth” type of suck, compress the breast. Do not roll your fingers along the breast toward the baby, just squeeze. Not so hard that it hurts and try not to change the shape of the areola (the part of the breast near the baby’s mouth). With the compression, the baby should start drinking again with the “open mouth wide—pause—then close mouth” type of suck. Use compression while the baby is sucking but not drinking!
    5. Keep the pressure up until the baby no longer drinks even with the compression, and then release the pressure. Often the baby will stop sucking altogether when the pressure is released, but will start again shortly as milk starts to flow again. If the baby does not stop sucking with the release of pressure, wait a short time before compressing again.
    6. The reason for releasing the pressure is to allow your hand to rest, and to allow milk to start flowing to the baby again. The baby, if he stops sucking when you release the pressure, will start again when he starts to taste milk.
    7. When the baby starts sucking again, he may drink (“open mouth wide—pause—then close mouth” type of suck). If not, compress again as above.
    8. Continue on the first side until the baby does not drink even with the compression. You should allow the baby to stay on the side for a short time longer, as you may occasionally get another letdown reflex (milk ejection reflex) and the baby will start drinking again, on his own. If the baby no longer drinks, however, allow him to come off or take him off the breast.
    9. If the baby wants more, offer the other side and repeat the process.
    10. You may wish, unless you have sore nipples, to switch sides back and forth in this way several times.
    11. Work on improving the baby’s latch.
    12. Remember, compress as the baby sucks but does not drink.

    In our experience, the above works best, but if you find a way which works better at keeping the baby sucking with an “open mouth wide—pause—then close mouth” type of suck, use whatever works best for you and your baby. As long as it does not hurt your breast to compress, and as long as the baby is “drinking” (“open mouth wide—pause—then close mouth type” of suck), breast compression is working.

    You will not always need to do this. As breastfeeding improves, you will able to let things happen naturally. See the videos of how to latch a baby on, how to know a baby is getting milk, how to use compression at www.thebirthden.com/Newman.html
    Here's a few more links with some info that may help...

    Is Baby Getting Enough?

    Weaning from formula supplements.

    Help -- My Baby Won't Nurse!

    I hope this helps out! I definately think there is hope, try not to beat yourself up too much you're doing GREAT!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    Oh yes, there is definitely hope that patience and some work will get you two through this and on to a long and happy breastfeeding relationship!

    First, congratulations on your son's arrival! What is his name?

    I'm so sorry to hear that you got off to such a rough start. It's a shame how many nursing moms-and-babes get sabotaged before they even leave the hospital. I can't comment on whether he needed the formula supplements or not, since I don't know the details. But there are lots of ways to get milk into a baby, and postpartum nurses simply should not be using artificial nipples of any sort with a breastfeeding newborn. You sound like you are blaming yourself for "letting" them do this, but you had just given birth -- surgically, no less! -- and you were understandably worried about your baby. Don't blame yourself for this situation, OK?

    It is wonderful that you are pumping your breasts to establish your milk supply and to provide breastmilk for your baby while he learns again how to nurse. The key to getting through nipple confusion and similar rocky starts is 1) keep the baby fed! and 2) protect your milk supply! How often are you pumping, with what kind of pump, and for how many minutes per session?

    You didn't mention how you are giving your EBM to your baby. If you have been using a bottle, try another "delivery system" that won't prolong his nipple confusion. This might be a syringe (you can buy them at a pharmacy, I believe), an eye dropper, a small flexible cup, a spoon, or a more specialized feeding device like a finger feeder or a supplemental nursing system (you might be able to get these items from an IBCLC or a lactation center.)

    I know you are probably overwhelmed and stressed out with pumping, feeding, all the usual baby care stuff, and of course your own important self-care following a cesarean birth. I want to encourage you, as much as possible, to drop anything that can be postponed or left for others to do, and start spending as much time as possible simply resting with your baby skin-to-skin against your bare chest. Keep him in just a diaper, and just get comfortable somewhere and stay there together. Prolonged skin-to-skin contact can work wonders with a baby who is refusing the breast or who can't seem to "get it" well enough to nurse effectively. The effect on a baby's nervous system is both soothing and organizing, and it seems to bring to the fore their innate reflexes. Plus, the extra rest and closeness will be very good for your frazzled nerves and will help release the hormones necessary for good milk production.

    I don't want to overwhelm you with questions and details, but if you get the chance, let us know what all his weight checks so far have been and when/where they were done. It would also be good to know what his diaper output has been for the last day or two (we count wet and dirty dipes per 24-hour period to gauge a baby's milk intake.) And lastly, how many ounces per feeding and how many feedings per day of supplements, both formula and EBM, is he doing?

    I'm glad you posted now and didn't wait until he was older and the situation was further down the road. I hope that we can help you by providing accurate information as well as emotional support during this really hard time.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    Congrats on your new LO. I too wanted to tell you that YES you can fix things and have a great nursing relationship. You'll just both have to stick it out and be patient. First of all I did the syringe feeding thing. I was taking a class for my Master one week after dd was born and I was NOT about to risk giving her a bottle so we did the syringe. IT was great. People think it sounds crazy but I would do that and then go to a cup if I had to. I think all of the above advice is great, hang in there things WILL get better!!
    Also, just wanted to say we had trouble with a pacifer. Everytime she took it she wouldn't latch on correctly so you may need to watch how often he is taking one of those! Just a thought. Good luck, I'm sure everything will be FINE!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    Hang in there. A similar situation happened to me. HUGE baby who lost 1 lb in the first few days, and the ped told me I HAD to supplement even though my milk was coming in that day and the midwife who caught my baby said he would lose weight and that big babies tend to have more fluid to lose than smaller/normal sized babies. The baby had gotten one bottle during my unexpected hospital stay, and that sure messed things up for us.

    What I ended up doing -- and I wish I had done it sooner in our nursing relationship, like the second day (!) -- was banning all bottles (DH used to sneak one to him when I wasn't looking, trying to help, but . . . ) and nursing. There were some very trying days there for a little while, and I wanted to quit every day for some weeks. It took me 8 weeks to get nursing firmly established, but we nursed for almost 2 years after that, so you CAN fix this. I was talking to my mom the other day about it, and she apologized for forgetting to tell me to take the baby to bed, stay there, and work on nursing. I should have done that.

    Breast compressions helped, as then the baby had to stay awake to deal with the floods of milk.

    What I'm going to do this time -- and I put it in the birth plan -- is, if for any reason the baby cannot nurse right away or they think he requires a supplement, he is to be given milk via anything other than a bottle. Consider doing that, as the PP have suggested, instead of using a bottle to give your baby your milk.

    The other thing we ended up doing was using a nipple shield. I had flat nipples too (another problem) and the large silicone nipple shield helped the baby learn to latch to me. I weaned him off it around 3 months by trying to nurse without it, but if he wouldn't latch, I used it and then took it off partway through the session. There are problems with nipple shields, so I would leave that as a last resort, after contacting your local LLL leader first and seeing what she has to say.

    Throw away pacifiers too, BTW. They don't help at this stage and can hurt.

    Good luck.
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    On the breast compressions, it says:

    Do not roll your fingers along the breast toward the baby, just squeeze

    Why? I do roll my fingers from outer edge toward the areola, and it seems to help.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Unhappy Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Sorry to be so long in responding.

    We are stilling battling the bottle. I've tried supplemental systems and a shield. He's figured both out right away and will have nothing to do with them. In fact he'll pull the shield off right away. I've tried staying in bed with him, but we're to the point now that if he even gets wind that I might be trying to get him ready to breastfeed, he'll get very worked up and we both end up crying.

    I try everyday to nurse him. Last week he actaully nursed for a while. But that seems to have been a fluke.

    He's five weeks old now and I pump to keep him fed. I still use bottles - I don't know how else I would get enough milk into him. He's over 10lbs now and healthy. I guess that is the main thing. But I as each day goes by I get more worried that it just won't happen for us. So it is good to hear that other babies didn't 'get it' until they were older, so I'll keep at it as long as I can. I really hate pumping. But then I look at his little face and know I am doing the right thing. I worry about my milk supply though.

    Thanks again.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    Hi there!

    I'm sorry you're having so many struggles. You've received some excellent information from previous posters.

    Have you tried feeding your baby a little with the bottle and THEN offering the breast? Sometimes babies get very frustrated and distressed when they are hungry and they just can't focus. Feeding him when he's not too hungry can help.

    Try lots and lots and lots of skin-to-skin contact. Strip down to the waist, strip baby down to a diaper. Hold him near your body and breasts without necessarily even offering the breast or trying to latch him. This can be done in a warm bath as well. If baby roots, you can gently guide him toward the breast. See if he'll latch himself on. Some mothers find that doing an exercise like this can help persuade baby to come back to the breast.

    Hang in there! It can be done!
    "Mothers are designed to be available to their babies--to help them make the transition into this big, wide world. To teach them to trust, and love, and feel good about being alive."
    --Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq., So I Nursed Him Every 45 Minutes

    Click here to find your local LLL Group
    How to tell if your breastfed baby is getting enough milk!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Nipple Confusion and Mommy Heartache

    Be patient and keep trying. My little girl is now almost 4 weeks old and just began nursing 4 days ago. I too was stressed out about "Nipple Confusion" and not being able to feed her myself. It is not your fault and you are not doing any thing wrong. Just try to stay upbeat (I know it is hard) and keep trying. If you get stressed out about not nirsing it will only make it harder. At first we were using only a cup to feed our baby because we did not want to have any Nipple Confusion. Finally, after 2 1/2 weeks when she was still at her birth weight we began using a bottle. I bought the Breast Flow which is said to mimic a breast. After using it for a few days my little girl finally decided to nurse from me! (I had been tring to get her to nurse before ever feeding since birth and she only nursed twice just after she was born).

    Keep trying, Be strong, Be Happy. Just give it some time and never let anyone tell you it is your fault.

    I wish you the best!

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