why does my baby fussy at the breast

Thereвs nothing more frustrating than when your baby wonвt feed and you know sheвs hungry! She goes on, she goes off, she cries, she snuffles around and looks for the breast, she opens her mouth wide, latches on, sucks a few times, then pulls off, and cries again. Lots of mums call me with this scenario в crying themselves в believing their milk is вbadв, they donвt have enough, or thereвs something wrong with their baby. Rarely is it any of these reasons. As to what the real reason is, Iвm not the baby, so I donвt actually know. Iвm not trying to be a smarty pants, either. There are a few things we can try to calm the crying, but sometimes accepting that most newborn babies have at least one burst of excessive crying (which could go on for several hours) each 24 hours, reassures us that itвs normal and itвs not anything we as mums are doing wrong (we canвt help think these things, it must be our default thought process! ).


Now for some troubleshooting. We can eliminate things like wet or dirty nappy, too hot or too cold pretty easily. We can investigate low supply by finding out about weight gains and how many a nappies the baby is weeing or pooing through (4-5 heavily wet disposables is good! ). I usually explore oversupply next, is the let-down super fast and is there milk squirting everywhere, with the baby spluttering and barely able to cope? Then, positioning and attachment. A mum told me the other week that her daughterвs hands would get in the way, so her husband held them behind the babyвs back while feeding, which would distress baby even more. Other times, Iвve seen mums trying to get their baby to stay at the breast by grasping the back of her head.


Babies hate this and often thrust their heads back even more. So getting some really good help with positioning your baby can make the world of difference. Finally, learn how to relax. Stress rubs off on little ones, and if we all take a deep breath, do some neck exercises, loosen our limbs and put a bit of Enya on in the background, the wailing doesnвt seem so bad, or could even turn things around when mum isnвt so wound up. I spoke to a mum once whose five-year-old nephew suggested singing вTwinkle, Twinkle Little Starв to his screaming, breast-refusing baby cousin and within seconds, the milk was flowing and the baby hungrily drinking. To sort out whatвs happening, seek out your local ABA counsellor, visit your hospitalвs breastfeeding clinic, or see a lactation consultant.


Or do all three! The more help you can get in the early days, the better. Sure, every professional may have different suggestions, but itвs our job as mums to listen and take the advice on board and work out what works best for us. Suddenly, our babies grow up, we work out their cues, and the crying calms down. Or we calm down. For more information on crying or refusing babies, check out the Australian Breastfeeding Association
Babies can do this for several different reasons. Sometimes it s when the milk flow slows down or the breast is drained. Switching to the other side at this point can often help. You can switch back and forth several times if you need to. Since the breast is continually producing milk, your baby may be able to drink again on that side.


Sometimes babies pull away from the breast and fuss because the milk is flowing too fast. If this is the case, you may find that your baby pulls away soon after starting to feed and just as the milk is letting down. She probably starts swallowing faster and faster, and then pulls away and fusses because she can t catch her breath. If your baby does this, give her a minute to catch her breath and calm down before putting her back on the breast. This may help her relax. I ve also found that some babies get tummy pain from eating too quickly, and they may start to fuss and pull away as they re eating. If your baby is a fast eater, try tucking one of her knees up to her tummy while sheвs nursing. This seems to help babies feel a little bit more comfortable, as opposed to when theyвre feeding stretched out.

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