Baby squirming at breast and weak suck- Please help!?

Mallory - posted on 07/08/2012 ( 14 moms have responded )

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My 3 month old son has been squirming at the breast. Initially he latches on strong then his suck almost immediately weakens, his latch loosens, and he starts squirming. He continues trying to suck, but it’s not strong enough to get any milk out. He is healthy and weighs almost 12lbs. I have had to supplement him with formula after each feeding since he was almost a week old due to low milk supply. I have tried everything to increase my milk and now taking Domperidone (which is supposed to be guaranteed to work), but now he is not nursing well. Any suggestions are welcome- Please help me! I have tried swaddling him, going in a dark room, eliminating distractions, and sing or talking to him, but nothing works. If this doesn’t improve my milk will completely dry up so any suggestions are welcome!!

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A - posted on 07/09/2012

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babies squirm and unlatch/relatch at the breast when they need to pee or poop! This is usually a critical sign in helping parents who practice elimination communication and take their babies to the potty when they need to go. Babies don't like to be cuddled when they eliminate! I used EC with my second child, when he was 6 weeks old. He was fussing at the breast and doing that, so I took in to the potty. Within seconds he was going pee, and we have been using the potty ever since. This happens with many babies and I've even read an article on it on the Le Leche League website. Please do not assume its because you arent making enough milk. It will lead to breastfeeding failure. Only 1-5% of women truly cannot physically make enough milk. I have helped many stressed moms with this advice! It's very common and easy to solve. Heres a blog someone wrote about it. Now that I practice EC I can remember my first son doing it too, but didnt know what the problem was and was worried about supply as well. Next time your baby does this, take his diaper off and hold him in a gentle squatting position over the toilet. Be patient and see if he goes (or already went in his diaper).

http://www.parttimenappyfree.com.au/brea...

Celeste - posted on 07/08/2012

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I wonder if he's got a bit of a flow preference..Bottles are easier to get milk out of, where as at the breast, he has to work for it..

Are you feeding him at the first signs of hunger? Maybe try pumping to get letdown going and see if he'll stop squirming. Another idea is to do breast compressions:
http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_...

You can do this!

A - posted on 07/12/2012

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Another thing to consider. My second child would sometimes do this because he is impatient for my milk to let down again. if he shows an interest in relatching (in spite of his squirming and unlatching) I will keep him there and keep trying to nurse him. If I am patient, my milk will let down again. Other times it's clear he doesn't want to sit and nurse anymore. These times, he didn't really need to nurse, or he was full. Since you already started supplementing it's hard to say if you have a supply issue. But one thing is for sure, if you don't let him nurse, that problem will never stop.

How often is your baby nursing? Are you using a schedule? I would avoid schedules and just nurse him anytime he asks. He could turn his head back and forth looking for a nipple, he could lay back in your arms searching for your breast. Any form of sucking (on hands, thumb, objects) should be a clue for you to offer to nurse. Any fussing or crying should cue you to at least offer. You can't force a child to nurse- if he wants to, he will and NEEDS to (whether for food or for comfort). If he doesn't want to, that's fine. When in doubt, offer. This will help you better understand what cues are for nursing and what signs mean something else.

Is he just uncomfortable and trying to fall asleep? Try a different nursing position. Maybe walk around with him while he is nursing (a ring sling can be helpful for this). My second child likes to be rocked as he nurses or he will fight going to sleep.

Celeste - posted on 07/09/2012

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I think time and patience. I had to do this with one of my twins who had nipple preference and the weak suck. It took us close to 2 months for him to finally latch on.

Don't worry about breasts not being full. In fact, you DON'T want full breasts because this will slow production. Floppy breasts=working breasts.

Have you thought of using an SNS? That way he can get the supplement and stimulate your breasts.

Celeste - posted on 07/08/2012

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A baby should have a bowel movement every day up to about 6 weeks or so. After 6 weeks, it's normal for babies to not have a bowel movement.

Supplementing isn't going to increase supply, but decrease it because you're taking away the demand. Generally, to increase supply, you need to nurse more often. The more you nurse, the more you will make.

Acting hungry after a feed is not a sign of decrease supply nor is taking a bottle after nursing.

As far as pump output, #1) Pump output is NOT an indicator of supply. Babies are much more efficient than the pump #2) Your pump output is actually normal. Average output is 1/2 to 2 oz from *both* breasts.

So, a couple of suggestions. I wouldn't stop the formula supplementing cold turkey because you've been supplementing awhile. Check this link out. This will explain how to decrease formula supplements:
http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/basics/d...

I'd also contact an IBCLC in your area. Unfortunately, doctors aren't trained in human lactation. An IBCLC has much more training in lactation and can help you better than doctors.

Read this on what's low supply and what is NOT low supply. Many times, moms look at the wrong things to judge supply. This will also give you ways to increase it IF your supply is truly low
http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-w...

Early Child Intervention is a program for kids birth to age 3, if you're in the states, your state will have an ECI program (it might be called a different name). Someone will come out and evaluate your child. Based on that evaluation, they'll have someone come out and work with you and your child. If you want, what state do you live in and I'll see if I can find the info for you.

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Angela - posted on 08/11/2012

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Do you have a pump? You might want to pump a few minutes to get your milk going before latching baby on. He could be teething as well. Definitely talk to a lactation consultant. I have heard of some moms using Domperidone and herbs to keep milk supply up. A lactation consultant can help you with all of this that you're going through.

I've been using an herbal tea with goat's rue from http://www.favorsandflavors.net and I'm very happy with the increase in my milk supply. I do pumping and breastfeeding. Don't forget to do one or the other overnight too.

Mallory - posted on 07/12/2012

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How do I know he is nursing? He drinks really well for maybe 6 or 7 swallows/drinks then he starts just sucking then the squirming starts. I have been trying the breast compressions and that doesn't seem to make a difference. If all he does is struggle the majority of time at the breast what should I do?

A - posted on 07/10/2012

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Mallory, here is an article on positions.

http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/e...

Holding him in a position that helps him relax his bladder controlling muscles may help him go. I know my baby (he's now 9 months) will hold it in until I take him to the potty. I remember my first son was always really fussy at the breast and just cried a lot. One time I went to try and change his diaper. I took it off and he just happened to pee. Atfter he finished, he stopped crying. I thought maybe he had a urinary tract infection or something and that's why he was so fussy. I took him to the doctor and he didn't have one. Now, after using EC I know now he was trying to tell me he needed help eliminating. I also read in the book Infant Potty Training by Laurie Boucke that a lot of babies are mislabeled colicky when in fact they are really aware of their elimination needs. Most babies in India , Africa, and Asia are pottied from birth. I just saw a similar post by another woman on a Breastfeeding facebook group. I suggested her baby needed to go potty after other people were scaring her with reflux and food allergies. The next day, she wrote she had been out to lunch with a friend and tried to feed her baby, and he did it again. So, taking my advice, took him to the restroom, and sure enough he needed a diaper change. I've know several other women who have breastfeed and ALL of them have contacted me about fussing at the breast. Surely not all of these women have supply issues! Make sure you are feeding your baby when he communicates he needs to nurse. Remember it is for both nutrition and comfort. Your breasts are not a faucet- They don't instantly refill. They need your babies increased suckling to increase your supply. It can take days for your supply to catch up. So even if you feel empty, your baby is still working to tell your body to make more. Don't try to schedule or limit feedings. My first baby nursed for 45 minutes straight, beginning every two hours- so I only had about an hour break between nursing session. My seconds child nurses for short periods but often. Babies are designed to actually nurse up to several times an hour. Babies are constantly going through growth spurts- so especially in the beginning there are going to be several times when your baby is nursing CONSTANTLY. THis is normal and doesn't mean you have low supply. When babies are born their tummies are the size of a marble. So they eat small, frequent meals. Don't try to compare it to formula fed babies. It's a completely different animal. The protein in formula is bigger and harder to digest. This can stretch out the babies tummy and so formula fed babies are known for eating less often. THey also usually use pacifiers, where breastfed babies use the breast as a pacifier. Hang in there, it will get better!

Mallory - posted on 07/10/2012

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I had not considered the fact he might need to go to the bathroom. I will usually pull him off and burp him, because this calms him a bit before I try and continue. Maybe I will add a diaper change to this routine.

Mallory - posted on 07/09/2012

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After reading all of the info you sent I think we need to work on him drinking. right now he "nibbles" more than drinking. I also think he does have a flow preference, because after let down he does really well for a few minutes then starts squirming. Suggestions on this?
Today and through last night all breast until about 1 o'clock p.m. Still offering both breast first but my breast are not as full in the afternoon, so I had to supplement after the last two feedings.
Thank you so much for the help!

Mallory - posted on 07/08/2012

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Thank you so much! I have no help so I am not so sure as what to do or expect and the Dr is not much help. I trusted that he needed formula because the Dr said he did. I now wish I hadnt started it. I will check out the links you suggested.
Any suggestions about him squirming or pulling away from the breast?

Mallory - posted on 07/08/2012

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In the beggining (the first week) he would have a bowel ever feeding, but one day he didn't have a bowel movement and he was acting fussy so I called the Pediatrician and the Dr ask that I bring him since I was unable to breastfeed my first child due to low milk supply, and he said he had dropped a few more ounces so I should supplement. At that time (which was when he was about a week old) we started supplementing after each feed. I have constantly tried to increase my milk so he will be satisfied with just breast and no longer need the formula. Generally I start him with one breast and when he pulls off I will give him the other breast, and usually after he nurses the other side about twenty minutes I then wait and see if he still acts hungry. He usually does then I will offer him a bottle. I know I am not making enough after he has nursed both breasts acts hungry and still will drink 3-4oz of formula.
His diapers are normal, but I can't rely on that since he is also getting the formula.
I also have tried pumping today and am only pumping out about an ounce. :( I am so frustrated, because I want to be able to breastfeed!
What is Early Child Intervention?

Celeste - posted on 07/08/2012

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How are you judging supply? How are his diapers in a 24 hour period?


Are you in the US? If so, you can call Early Child Intervention for a weak suck. I had to do this with one of my twins who had a weak suck. An OT worked with him and his suck improved.

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