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Thread: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Question HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    My daughter's (first) baby is 4 weeks old, & nursing has been a rewarding experience for the most part, yet very challenging. She has had a lot of latching on/over supply problems, which frequently remain primary nursing "issues" for her, yet she has been brave & highly determined not to get discouraged.

    Recently, because Rochelle (Mommy) needed to get some sleep even though baby was fussy, Ian (Daddy) came to the rescue & took baby to another part of the house. He let her suck on his finger, which worked to quiet her down... everyone was happy! Since it worked the first time, whenever baby has gotten fussy but wasn't wet, hungry, or had an itch somewhere, the finger trick has been employed.

    Rochelle told me today that baby has started to refuse the breast, preferring Ian's finger, but I told her that I didn't think that would last for very long, because just like a cat who doesn't like a change in cat food brands; when she gets hungry enough, she'll figure out where her hunger can be satisfied!
    (Wrong, Grandma!)

    Because her breasts were getting uncomfortably full (& because she was concerned about baby getting needed nourishment), she pumped & bottled her milk, & Daddy got to feed baby for the first time... a thrill for Ian, but left Mommy feeling pretty bewildered, when baby contentedly chugged it down!

    I successfully nursed all 4 of my babies (on an average duration of 18 months) & of all my breastfeeding challenges, I'd never experienced ...or heard of... "nipple confusion"! All 4 of them had pacifiers, because it made sense to me that they needed "comfort sucking" between demand feedings. (I could tell when they were serious about eating... but when they weren't, the plug went in & life was that simple!)

    Maybe times have changed, but this is sure a new one on me! I really feel for Rochelle, being faced with what seems like a "crisis" to me, too! Now, the questions are, "Will baby go back to the breast?" - "How to get her to accept the breast & not demand Daddy's finger?" - "How to keep everyone happy, well fed, well rested... & still breast feed?"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    what a great grandma to come looking for help for your grandchild.
    I know sometimes when my babies were tiny they did not nurse well when I was too full. Mom can take a warm shower and try and massage some of that milk out. That will help the baby be able to latch on beter.
    Your dd might want to search out her local lll leader she can help if she runs into other problems.
    most breastfeed babies will guzzle a bottle its a reflex and they will suck untill the milk is gone.
    Mom might have to be stubborn with baby, and just avoid the bottles for now.and try them again later.
    I had one that refused the passifier and that is hard but she just didn't want it and to try and force her to have one just wasn't natural to me.
    Hubby helped in many other ways besides giving a bottle when I needed a break. Could you ask your son-in-law if he would be willing to help by cooking or just taking care of mom so that she can take care of the baby?
    I know mil role is hard. are you close so you can take meals and help with the house? My hubby used to take the baby in the eve after she was fed and read to her while I put our older children to bed. That was a big help to me.
    Tell your daughter also that things are going to get beter. the 1st 4-6 weeks are the hardest!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    Thanks for your response, Andrea!
    Rochelle turned 42 a week after she delivered, & had wanted a baby all her life... in fact, she wanted a GIRL baby, so she could name her after my Mom. (We're a closely knit family & she'd always been *still is* "Grandma's girl"!) She'd been to fertility specialists because she couldn't seem to conceive, but they couldn't find anything wrong! She'd been having some pre-menopausal symptoms & we thought all her eggs were gone (or rotten!), so when she showed up pregnant as soon as she stopped trying, we were all just "tickled pink"!
    Lilia Naomi Rose ("Lil' Naomi") is truly a prayer answered - a dream come true!

    She's our 6th Grandbaby, as our son has been blessed with 5. His former wife, however, didn't even attempt to nurse their babies, as she considered the whole concept of breast feeding to be gross & repulsive, & nothing could change her mind. Rochelle wholeheartedly disagrees, which has been a special treat for me, as I wouldn't trade those bonding/providing times for anything in the world! (I believe that breast milk is God's special "formula", formulated & timed out exclusively for each baby... although wet nursing is the next-best thing when the need presents itself - & cows milk is for baby cows!)

    WELL! It looks like I got lost in the outer-reaches of right field, here!
    (Don't mind me... I have plenty of time on my hands & will probably do it again!!) Now, in answer to your questions...

    Ian is quite supportive of Rochelle & baby, although he's "totally inept" in the kitchen, & doesn't mind having to navigate around the things he leaves laying around the house... (which drives Rochelle up a wall)! He's been spoiled though, so I must say that he does his best, with he way he's been "trained"! He DOES try, & being a Daddy is new to him, too.

    I'm sorry to say that I live in Oregon, while Rochelle, Ian & Lil' Naomi are on Maui! My arms ache for "my girls" & if I were able to get to Hawaii, believe me, I would be there, cooking, cleaning & snuggling, to the point that they'd all probably be sick to death of me! LOL! As it is, we have to settle for the next-best thing, so thanks to modern technology (free long-distance telephone plans), we can reach out & touch on a daily basis!

    Having recently dealt with Thrush & all the problems that go along with it, Rochelle has been so exhausted & trying to stay ahead of depression, that she's neglected to do something for herself... but yesterday she went on a short outing with a friend she met at her prenatal classes, & realized that HER contentment plays more of a vital part in the health of both baby & herself, than she'd thought!

    She had enjoyed prenatal Yoga classes while she was pregnant, & found out from her friend that postpartum Yoga sessions will start this week...
    "and I can take the baby with me!"
    She sounded better when I talked to her last evening, than she's sounded for a whole month, & is definitely going to add herself to the list of essential ways to care for our little darlin'!

    I had located a LLLL for her in the beginning, for her latching on difficulty, but her first contact was less than satisfying as she didn't feel very supported when she was told that she couldn't get help over the phone & that a home visit would cost her $65!!! The only other thing I could think of was to use my 3-way calling feature to put her in touch with my former LLLL, whom I'd developed a lasting friendship with. Together, we were able to give her tips & a pep talk, which she said was a tremendous help.

    Since that time, I've encouraged her to call & ask about LLL meetings & try it out (even though during her first contact she wasn't informed of meetings or asked if she'd be interested in joining.) I think that we should all allow each other a "bad day" once in a while, so it may be safe to assume that the lady she spoke with was just as tired & pressured as she was! Now that she knows that her "needs" should be high on the list, along with those of baby's, she wants to find out if she is allowed to attend a couple meetings before joining. While she has heard nothing but positive things from me about LLL & wants to be a part of such a support group, she is understandably skeptical at this point, & I understand her point of view. (Back in the days when I belonged to LLL groups, I don't recall membership dues, but I can understand the need for it & am willing to offer it as a gift to her & Lil' Naomi, if she chooses to join.)

    Rochelle & I are both determined to make her successful breast feeding experience a part of our beautiful little blessing. After having been involved with LLL for so many years, I'll always be convinced that we can't get better BF support anywhere else... I'm soooo thankful for this web site, AND the forum! We've both done LOTS of reading here, & since Rochelle doesn't have much time to spend on the computer, posting is one of my "Granny jobs" for now!
    A labor of love! ...Can you tell I don't like to talk? LOL!

    (Thanks so much for YOUR support & for taking the time to read my chatter, Andrea... I do realize that time for the forum is hard to come by, for "Mommies-in-demand"!)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston SC

    Default Re: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    It sounds like you all are on the right tract but I just wanted to add that I am sorry that your daughter in law had a bad experience with a LLL? All leader work on a volunteer basis and can not charge for home visits. Memberships which are $40.00 here in South Carolina are OPTIONAL! You can attend as many meetings as you want and get as much help as you want for free. Lactation consultants charge but LLL is free
    Hang in there as all these things will pass as soon as they came What a great grandma you are to be so helpful! aLLL the best! Brittan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    I really don't know if this suggestion will work, but it's worth a try. My dd did use a pacifier for a while and at times only wanted it. Now that I know she has reflux I think it was because she didn't want the pain associated with eating. (First dd just loved her binky and the breast!) But I'm getting off the subject because I don't think that is the issue. What I used to do is place dd on the Boppy with her binky. After she was nice and relaxed I would gently but quickly remove the binky and latch her on. Perhaps after a nice shower (to release some of the milk) mommy could let dd suck on her finger and try the old switch. Just a thought.

    I just have to comment how the mother of your first 5 grandchildren thought bf was gross. That is such a baffling idea to me (and to you too, I know). I am always surprised to hear such things!

    Well, baby's calling. Wishing your family all the best!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    How does Ian hold the baby when she sucks his finger? Perhaps Mummy can imitate what he is doing starting with her finger than as the baby becomes content.. switching to her breast (same as socalpaula said above.. sorry repeat) ? Or skipping her finger all together and just imitating what he does but with breast? Even more, have Daddy stand behind and say whatever he does to the baby while she's finger sucking? Baby is definately young enough to break this habit.

    Personally, if I were in this situation, I would probably try every position possible for baby until we found a comfort zone. That would include baby crying about it and all.. I definately would not let her win I say that in the nicest way really. I mean if I've got milk, and my milk isn't bothering her, then my thought would be to be stern and persistant about it. LOL easier said than done I'm sure.

    If difficulty latching on is the case, I would pump, and massage, to get rid of the engorment so baby could nurse. My last ditch attempt to soothe engorgment would be placing a regular bottle nipple over my own to get baby to empty some of my breast than place baby back on my own nipple. I know LLL would be against this for nipple confusion, however it saved me 14 years ago when my son was born. No breast pump, even electrical eased the pain I was in. However some wonderful nurse gave me that tip when I was in the hospital, and I'll never forget her advice. It even helped with baby #2 when my milk came in I only needed to use it once for her.. she was so mad she could not nurse because I was so big, I showered, I pumped, I massaged and after a little persuasion with that bottle nipple she got rid of my milk, and we never looked back. FYI, she does not like suckies or bottles, so she did not get confused by it, neither did my son.

    Anyway I just totally rambled.. so sorry. I also wanted to tell you what a wonderful Grandma you are! Your daughter is very lucky to have you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: HELP! Finger sucking to quiet baby was a mistake?

    Thanks for your replies, friends!
    Rochelle was busy with baby when I talked to her last night, so I read your posts to her.

    Brittan, she was glad to hear that the LLL dues are optional! If she joins a group, I'll still send in the membership dues just the same, as I know that no organization can function effectively without financial support. Maybe there WAS a membership "fee" back when I was a part of a LLL group & I just don't remember it because it was optional then, too! We were on a pretty restricted budget back when our family was new & growing, so there was no way in the world that I would have been able to pay for membership! I didn't really have many BF problems, but there were so many people around me that didn't see any value in it & weren't supportive of me, so I just don't know how I could have hung in there without my circle of friends in the LLL groups I joined... & I developed close lifetime friendships with many of them! It's a worthwhile organization & such a Godsend for so many nursing moms, that I'm happy to be in a position at this point in my life, where I'm able to "pay the organization back" for the excellent support I'd received from them, so many years ago. (And that I'm getting again, here!)

    I'm not sure that I know what qualifies a person to be a Lactation Consultant, but from what Rochelle tells me, both of the LLLL's in her area charge for personal home visits. (Maybe the leaders just happen to be LC's too.) Hindsight being what it is (20/20), I think that LLL is something we should have looked up in Rochelle's area & gotten her involved with, while she was still pregnant. That certainly would have made it easier for her & saved lots of grief, when she suddenly found herself in a "strange new world", faced with so many questions & not knowing where to turn... except to call Mom! (And Mom is certainly not up-to-date on information about new products & new approaches/medications that have cropped up in the past 25 years!)

    socalpaula & okpat, Rochelle thought that your suggestions about the warm shower, positioning, & the quick-switches were very helpful. I also e-mailed her the link to Forceful let-down & Oversupply, which includes illustrations & a wealth of information on the things you wrote about. Okpat, I think that your comment about being stern & persistent is right on! While I believe that babies DO tune in to Mom's frustrations & anxieties (making it even more important to maintain a calm, soothing tone of voice), I'm reminded of a comment once made to me, "So what, if you haven't been a Mom before? That baby hasn't been a baby before either, so just WHO is training WHO?" LOL! (Food for thought... watch for messages from baby, but YOU BE IN CHARGE! Everybody wins!)

    One of Rochelle's biggest problems has been that her breasts are so full, & of course that flattens out the nipples, resulting in a latch problem. She doesn't fully understand how to express her milk without the use of a pump, & it's hard for me to explain that to her over the phone (I guess I'm "out of practice"), but I've cautioned her about the added stimulation she might be getting from the pump. (Breast pumps always made me sore, & I thought that they over-stimulated, which kept the problem going!) Someone told me once, that every time the baby nurses, they're "filling out an order for their next meal". I kept that in mind, when I was tempted to bring baby to bed with me to nurse in the middle of the night, because I'd usually fall asleep... & wake up 2 hours later, flat on 1 side & engorged on the other, with a baby who's tummy was full! (That made for discomfort for most of the following day!)

    Socalpaula, your mention of reflux stirred a curiosity in both of us... we're reading up on it, cuz it sure could be part of the problem! Thanks!

    I'll NEVER get over the attitude that my ex-DIL had about breast feeding! I told her that just because she saw "some slob on the city bus open up her shirt all the way & let everything hang out" while she fed her baby, didn't mean that's the way it "has to" be done! Still, she said, the idea of having "something" sucking on her body just seemed like a "nasty" thing to do, & if bottle feeding wasn't perfectly healthy for babies, they never would have been invented! I might mention that this girl cheated herself out of bonding with her kids... she walked out on them when they were 4, 5 & 7, without leaving even as much as a note, with a lame excuse! (She simply felt that she was tied down & didn't have a life, & wanted to find one!) My son raised the 3 kids by himself until he met a beautiful lady (a "born mother", I might add) who had 2 little girls of her own (& had nursed them both), & he married her. She's been "Mom" to all 5, & you'd be hard-pressed to guess which ones are her natural children, when watching their interactions!

    Anyway, I think that once Rochelle gets to a LLL meeting, she'll be able to feel more confident with what she's doing & she'll relax more, which is going to make a tremendous difference in her BF success. She's determined not to get discouraged, but I know first hand (you NEVER forget) how hard that really is, without peer support! Thanks again & again for the support you're giving (to both of us) here!
    Please keep her in your prayers!
    Last edited by Patty S; October 24th, 2006 at 01:23 AM.

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