Latch issue--please help me (long) — The Bump
Breastfeeding

Latch issue--please help me (long)

Right out of the womb during skin to skin, my baby girl Auli wouldn't latch. Actually it's the one thing I would change about the entire birth experience if I could. I think her first breastfeeding experience was a frightening and stressful one. I should have let her relax, root and find the breast on her own. Instead, I let one of my midwives (who's also a LC) show me how to latch her over and over while she screamed every time she was forced into my breast.  We went home from the hospital that day without having managed to breastfeed successfully. My primary midwife came that night and saw that she still wouldn't/couldn't latch and we were told our 6lb 14oz baby just had too small of a mouth for my areolae/nipples.  She suggested finger feeding her that night (by pumpiing/ expressing colostrum into a tiny cup, dipping our finger in and letting her suck it off). We were told to feed her every two hours this way, and it took about that time to get all the colostrum into her. And she's fall asleep half-way through.  One feeding was literally overlapping the next, and I got no sleep whatsoever.  The next day the midwife returned to see the progress, and saw how exhausted we were.  We tried my daughter at the breast again, and she's wail at the nipple.  We tried finger feeding her and she'd fall asleep.  The first midwife stopped by and showed us how to cup feed.  So we tried that for a night, and it was next to impossible.  Again, she'd fall asleep half way through, and wasn't getting anything.

Now I was desperate and exhausted.  I was sick with worry.  Even though the midwives said she's got "reserves" of baby fat, I knew she was tired and not getting enough.  I finally expressed into a bottle, and fed it to her at 4am one night.  I cried so hard and felt like such a failure, but I got a huge weight off of my shoulders because my baby had a full belly for the first time.

I continued this ridiculous cup feeding method, finger feeding to teach her to suck, followed by the bottle for the next day.  On day four the midwife came by again and gave us a syringe to attach to our fingers.  He fed her with this for over a week, continually trying her at the breast over and over.  She would snort, wail, root, kick, scratch at my nipples, root, pull the nipple out of her mouth over and over again.  She was SO SO frustrated.  I tried swaddling her to keep her hands out of the way, and she wailed harder.  I decided I never wanted to have her associate frustration with my breast, so I would try this "breast fuss" for only 10 minutes or less every morning.  I tried more skin to skin time too.  Anything to get her to feel comforted by my breasts. 

She lost 10.9% of her birth weight, and suddenly we were feeding her every 2 hours around the clock again.  She got up to her birth weight by her 7th day of life.  Now she's two weeks old, and we're still finger feeding, and fussing at the breast.  The bottle was ditched a long time ago when we managed to get a larger plunger of milk which sped up our feeding times.  We were allowed to go 3-4 hours again between feeds, and I continued trying her at the breast as often as I could.  But she showed no real latch progress really at all.  Sometimes she'll calm down and try some sucks and swallows, and now that my milk has come in it usually POURS down her face, my breasts, gets all over the bed, etc.  It just pours into her mouth and sometimes she remembers to swallow.  But she's not really latched.  She's not really sucking. I feel so drained.

She was weighed yesterday and we found out that she is still just at her birth weight and hasn't gained. She's having 8+ heavy pee diapers, and 3+ big breastmilk poo blowouts a day, so the midwife is not too concerned.  But still... commence the 2 hour feeds again.  I JUST bought a nipple shield and was so stressed out about trying it out.  And now that's shot all to hell because I don't know when or how to introduce it because I'm so concerned about her weight gain, that I'm having to pump more often now.  My breasts can't seem to keep up with the new demands of 3 oz every two hours.  Previously I had a slight oversupply to what she needed, and now I'm pumping before every feed just to get her the 2-3 ounces she needs.  I spend 20 minutes pumping each breast, begging it to give me a huge supply so that for the next feed I can try out the shield and have some milk at the ready if/when that fails.  I feel like this was the wrong time to buy the shield.  I can think of nothing else but getting her weight up. 

I tried the nipple shield once and she latched right away, sucked, swallowed, got some milk in her.  About 1 minute later, her hands got in there, she ripped off the breast shield and wailed.  I tried to put it back on and sooth her with a finger, and she rooted hard against my nipple until the shield came off again. 

She's due for a feeding right now.  I just got 2 oz out of the right breast after 25 minutes, and my left is engorged waiting to be pumped.  I'm going to finally try her with the shield again on the left breast after I express a little from it and wait for a good let down.  She's calm right now but is hungry. 

Tell me it gets better.  Thank you for reading. 

Re: Latch issue--please help me (long)

  • I'm no expert, but even with a slow gainer, 3oz every 2 hours for a 2 week old is too much.  Breastfed babies top out at around 25 oz a day, so you are overfeeding.  DD was a slow gainer too (went down to 7lbs at 1 week old from 7.8 at birth and was only up to 7.4 at 2 weeks) and I think she was taking in around 2oz at 2 weeks.  Even now at almost 7 weeks, if we give a bottle, it is just under 3oz and she might not even finish it.  If you can get 2oz from one side pumping you are doing great!

    Have you had her evaluated for tongue tie? 


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    TTC #2 - 6/12 surgery #3, FET #1 & 1.2 = BFN, 12/2012 FET #2 = BFP! DD is 1.5 yrs!
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    megl20
  • My first would not latch. It was such a frustrating and disheartening experience. I tried so often with those little hands clawing and the screaming. There were tons of tears from both of us. Try to relax, I know this is so hard, and give the nipple shield another try. I pumped and used bottles at first, then was able to get her to use the shield. After about six weeks she was able to latch without it and we had a wonderful breastfeeding experience from then on out. Don't lose hope and even if those first weeks aren't ideal, your breastfeeding experience is not doomed.

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    LnR70707
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  • Have you tried laid back breastfeeding - https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/some-ins-and-outs-laid-back-breastfeeding

    Don't swaddle while nursing.  Babies actually use their hands to help orient to the breast - in the laid back position, their hands will help instead of getting in the way.  Ideally, just hang out skin to skin in that position and let her find the nipple on her own and latch - so try when she's not starving and showing late hunger signs (like crying).

    Has she been checked for tongue tie?  It can be tricky to see so getting a second opinion from another IBCLC would be worth a shot.

    Hang in there!!
  • It sounds like you are having a lot of the same troubles latching that we had. Please get your daughter evaluated for a tongue tie. My DD had the procedure and it saved breastfeeding for us. It wasn't an immediate miracle fix (though it is for 80% of cases). Hugs and hope you get some rest.
    TTC Since 3/2010
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  • Thanks everyone.  I'll get our LO checked for tongue tie at her next appointment (tuesday).  In the meantime she's actually had a little success with the shield!  She properly nursed for the first time in her life for a full 10 minutes last night.  She fussed only a bit and sorta nursed for all the feeds we tried after that, but I am overjoyed at the progress she made.  I'm a bit confused as to how to supplement with the pumped milk after she tries though.  I pump right after I try nursing to make sure my breasts drain properly, and I get either an ounce or two from the breast I pump.  I offer her an ounce of it afterwards, but I usually wait a bit of time first (about 10 minutes, with snuggling and burping first).  I figure that if I give it to her right away, that might discourage her from the breast.  Is that silly? 
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