Crying/pulling away while feeding

Michelle - posted on 10/01/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 5 weeks old. Most of the time she breastfeeds fine, but at least a few times a day she gets very fussy. She will latch on and take a few swallows but then pull away and start screaming and kicking her legs. I have tried burping her until I'm blue in the face, she always burps for me, and seems content, but then will do the same thing once she's back on the breast. Feedings like this tend to take an hour or more until she finally conks out. There have been days where the majority of feedings go like this, which means pretty much all I do that day is feed her...very frustrating! When she is like this, she seems to like being bounced, which leads me to suspect gas is the problem, yet no amount of burps seem to alleviate the situation. She almost seems like she's in pain when she swallows, but I haven't seen anything in her mouth that would lead me to suspect thrush. At other feedings she is very content, and usually only needs one burp; in general she doesn't have problems with gas. Is this normal? Should I just be grateful that every feeding isn't like this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

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Heather - posted on 10/16/2009

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My son is four weeks old & he does that too...he started doing it about a week ago and I found that he calms down when i switch sides...I think he has a favorite boob & gets fussy when I put him on the other one. I think maybe the flow is too fast on that one breast. So now I just breast feed him on the one side & pump & bottle feed on the side he doesn't seem to like. Also...mylicon gas drops work WONDERS for gas.

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My baby does the same, but much more frequently, just like my first baby did. After consulting every source in the world, you can't be 100% sure why they do this, but I suspect that in half the cases it is because she's not really hungry but just very sleepy and wants to suckle to console herself, and when the milk comes out she gets so mad she starts kicking and screaming (believe me, it is true!). Also sometimes your milk comes out too fast, which I think is what happens the other 50% of the time. I've been told that I have loads of milk that comes out almost too easily, so sometimes the first spurts must be too strong for my baby to handle. Sounds like your baby's problem isn't gas (that's what I thought too at first) but one of the two reasons above. Now, when my baby starts crying like that, I change to the other breast....if she has the same reaction, I try burping her, then I try both breasts again...if she has the same reaction AGAIN, I just stand up and rock her until she sleeps because I've learned that she screams like that when she's tired and can't always put herself to sleep. Most of the time she'll take a 10 minute cat nap, wake up, and then nurses just fine. Hope this helps

Danielle - posted on 10/10/2009

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1) It sounds like gas. If burping doesn't work, just keep her in a supported sitting position. This way the gas can make its way up better than putting pressure on her tummy when burping. If that doesn't work, the air bubble could be in her lower belly. Put her belly on your shoulder and burp her that way.
2.) It could also be a heavy let down. If your milk is coming down too fast for her to swallow she could be pulling away to avoid choking. *My son had that problem and I ended up pumping an oz or two out first (and froze the expressed milk) and then nursed him. That worked wonders.

Jennifer - posted on 10/07/2009

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Both my children have done the same thing and with my first I didn't realize it was due to allergies and reflux until much later and after I had given up nursing him, now with my daughter I new the symptoms and she is already on Zantac and I can't eat any dairy or soy due to her allergies even the slightest little bit of either and she is a mess. You should try talking to your ped but you could also try an elimination diet for dairy as it is a very common allergy to see if it helps. My daughters symptoms include terrible nursing like you described, her poop turns green instead of yellow, and she screams a lot it is very upsetting, plus she is a champion spitter, my son had silent reflux so it never occured to me until he was around 6 months old and he wasn't eating unless he was sound asleep and was totally miserable that he finally got diagnosed. Good Luck.

Karen - posted on 10/04/2009

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My daughter went through a phase like that also around 4 months.There was no medical issue for us but what worked was feeding her in the football position with her legs tucked under my arm.She finds comfort in a snug swaddle or cuddle though so I am sure it wont work for everyone.And the distractions work well here also,quick diaper change or bounce/burp on the shoulder.I also pass her off to Daddy because maybe sometimes she needs someone different for a few minutes.

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Amanda - posted on 10/21/2009

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My 11 week old son does the same thing. I can't tell if it's because he has a bottle preference (I've had to express milk and bottle feed him since birth due to latching problems) or if it's a supply issue. He doesn't seem to finish off the 1st breast before going to the next one like he's supposed to when he nurses, which is frustrating for both of us. I usually end up switching him earlier because he'll stop sucking and fuss, while usually coming off the breast. He starts to play with the nipple and gets upset because nothings coming out even though I can hand express some once he feels it's empty. He basically stops sucking hard enough, honestly. I believe I have a fast let-down because it only takes about 5 low-setting pumps to get my flow started while using my pump, which may be the problem. I had to give him formula for about 4 days at 6 weeks old due to breastmilk jaundice, and he still was gassy so I have no reason to believe his fussiness is due to my diet. Any suggestions? I will mention the reflux issue to his pediatrician since he is one to spit up quite a bit regardless of the feeding method (breast or bottle). I don't want him getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. I know the expressed milk is fine, but not when he's getting it directly from tap.

Kim - posted on 10/10/2009

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Reading your post made me want to cry- my baby did the exact same thing!! She has a milk/soy allergy (well, more like milk/soy/beef/tomato, but milk/soy is the most common) Try giving up dairy and see if that helps. That's usually the most common culprit. It is SO hard giving up dairy and soy, but SO worth it! Let me know if you want more info (or recipes!) I've been doing this for 3 months now and don't see it ending soon for me (most babies outgrow it when they turn 4 months.)

Shirley - posted on 10/10/2009

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My daughter would do the same thing. It looked like she was uncomfortable so I started burpping her when she got like that and she was fine to feed again. Hope this helps take care = )

Amanda - posted on 10/10/2009

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It might be an ear infection, or she may be cutting teeth. Put your finger on her gums and feel for sharp sprouting teeth. She might just be slowing down on eating for a bit. Also you might have eaten something she doesn't care for in taste. If she has a temperature it probably an ear infection!

Kim - posted on 10/06/2009

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I had the same issue with my bub pulling on and off and refusing the breast even after a break since she was six weeks old. Got diagnosed with reflux a few weeks later and was put on Losec twice daily which helped considerably. Would be best to talk to your GP/Paed to find out if it is.

Kat - posted on 10/04/2009

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I was also going to say it could be due to the growth spurt that hits around 6 weeks. I remember going through it with my son and it's frustrating. I found sometimes walking with him while nursing helped soothe him since he loves motion, so it would help him calm down while eating. I read that they pull off and get fussy because the increase of feedings is telling your body to produce more milk so until the supply is upped by your body they might get a little frustrated. You can try also using the nursing cover even at home because your baby might be getting distracted by outside influences going on around. There are good points listed above as well, just hang in there! Sometimes I would take my baby off when he was really fussy, burp and walk with him for a minute and put him back on and it would go better.

Laura - posted on 10/04/2009

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I wet through the same thing with my daughter a couple of weeks ago(she is 16 weeks). I finally figured out it was gas and I changed my diet a bit. I only drink coffee right after feeding her so she wont get most of the caffeine and I only eat broccoli and spicy food once a week. She is now so much better at eating, she drains both my breast.

Michelle - posted on 10/04/2009

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My daughter would do this as well. but it is infrequent and random. i just do what Elizabeth said and take a break from trying and go do something else for a few minutes , like a diaper change or something to distract her. then i try to burp her...even if she hasn't fed at all, and then try again. i know my daughter went through a faze that she wanted to be sitting up while eating. it was very interesting trying that one.

Jennifer - posted on 10/04/2009

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I went through this with my son too. Try switching positions. He got fussy when we were too hot and also because my flow was either too fast or too slow. It does change depending how old they are. Our bodies know that they will be growing and need more milk but the baby may not be quite ready for it yet. My son did better with the bottle for some reason so I just pumped and fed him. Good luck.

Elizabeth - posted on 10/03/2009

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Snap. My girl is the same. She's fine with most feeds, but fussy with others. So whatever it is, fort our girl, it's clearly not so upsetting as to always trump her enjoyment of feeds. We've found she's content with feeds that occur after she's had a nap, so I think part of the problem is frustration on her part - especially since sometimes she pulls on and off quite contentedly, and other times she has a grizzle about it. If she's really upset, we now distract her with something else for 30 min (a walk, play, nappy change etc) and then try again. By that point, she's calmer, often sleepier, and she'll then calmly nurse to sleep.

Jessica - posted on 10/03/2009

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It sounds to me like maybe an ear infection, it can hurt to swallow w/ one! Or it could be what Holly said w/ the reflux. Get a hold of your ped asap!! If it's an ear infection you want to get it under control as quickly as possible.
Thrush isn't supposed to be painful for the baby, my son never seemed like he was in pain when he had it. If it is thrush you'd know b/c your nipples would be on fire when nursing, it's VERY painful.

Chelsea - posted on 10/03/2009

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This could be thrush. To rule it out you can do the treatment which is 100% natural and safe. Put gingian violet (available over the counter in natural food stores and a lot of pharmacies) on your nipples and in babies mouth twice a day for up to 4 days. If that doesn't resolve the issue than you can at least rule out thrush.

Ashley - posted on 10/03/2009

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i found that if i held my son in a different position or switched him to the other breast he calmed down.. instead of holding him across me i put him in the football hold and he was fine, he also has a preference to the right breast, for the gassiness i give him mylicon which is safe for newborns and it worked like a charm i used the pink kind because the dye free made him spit up a bit,, also watch what you are eating, if its spicy, garlic, chocolate, broccoli, or caffiene it seems to make him fussy, if you desp. need caffiene try dinking instant it has half the caffiene of perked!! hope this helps it will get better soon

Ruth - posted on 10/03/2009

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how often is she feeding? at 6 weeks they go through a growth so hang in there and see what shes like next week. allow at least 3 to 4 hours in between feeds roughly, don't be too strict if she can't wait its just a guide line to aim for. All the best and hang in there

Stacey - posted on 10/02/2009

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Hi there! My son was the exact same way at that age (now he is three months old). And the bouncing worked also for me. I found when I went to feed him I would lay him almost facing me, on his belly (feeding like a ittle piglet), more upright than laying straight across your abdominal. I know it might seem awkward or an unusual way to nurse, but it helped Trytin to nurse better. Good luck and hang in there girl. You aren't alone. :)

Holly - posted on 10/01/2009

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I had this problem with my daughter. Have your pediatrician look at her and bring up reflux. This was my daughters issue. She was put on Zantac and was like a whole new baby.

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