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thread: Fussing at the breast - breast refusal or just tired?

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Apr 2006
    Perth
    4,203

    Fussing at the breast - breast refusal or just tired?

    Miss A's feeding has improved a little but lately she's started fussing sometimes when she's feeding during the day. She'll feed well for a couple of minutes but then start pulling off and crying. Its usually after she's been awake for a while (we have a wake, feed, play, feed, sleep sort of thing going) so I'm wondering if its because she's sucking for comfort to get back to sleep but is still too full from the initial feed, or if its the beginnings of breast refusal. Other than her getting upset, she's causing pretty serious damage to my nipples because she pulls off a little, clamps down and then drags my nipple with her when she pulls back, so I'm back to being torn and bruised.

    Night feeds are never an issue, I think mainly because she's still basically asleep



    Any thoughts on what it might be and what we can try?

  2. #2
    Registered User

    Apr 2011
    On cloud nine!!!
    587

    How is she with the first feeds after sleeps? Sounds to me like its NOT breast refusal (but I'm not a trained expert just LOTS of experience with fussy babies) she is maybe not really hungry and just wanting to be asleep, maybe you could try just cuddling before nap? Although I know by babies when little and ready for bed often didn't want that from me either presumably because it was confusing having the feel and smell of me right there when its not what they wanted or needed I hope she settles into things soon I know how tiring and stressful/upsetting it can be with bubby being upset with you when you're only trying to mother and comfort them

  3. #3
    Registered User

    Jul 2006
    Melbourne
    4,895

    I don't think it is breast refusal (not that I can be sure) but more so possibly b/c she is tired. Can you play prior to feed then feed and put her to sleep or is she really hungry when she wakes? Does she need that feed after play to go to sleep or can you just put her straight down?

    Not sure what else to suggest but hopefully one of the bf mummas can come in and give you some advice.

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Aug 2008
    Adelaide
    1,488

    DD2 would do that when she was smaller and tired. What worked was either shortening playtime a little before she got too tired. Or just cuddling and rocking her until she was drowsy and either feeding her then, or sometimes i could put her to bed.

  5. #5
    Registered User

    Nov 2011
    Radelaide
    910

    Lulu how old is she? Often when a bub is sucking then pulling off and crying it can be a reflux issue (like say acid reflux, which feels similar to our heartburn) But if she is say 6months old and never had reflux problems maybe it's something different.

  6. #6
    Registered User

    Jan 2009
    In my own little fantasy world
    2,946

    It sounds very similar to what my DS did at about the same age. I was so freaked out I took him to a lactation consultant. She told me he was tired not hungry & taught me how to look for tired signs. We used a dummy for his comfort sucking and rocked him to sleep instead. His tired signs have never been obvious though. I usually based it on time instead.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Add Starfish on Facebook

    Apr 2007
    Sydney
    1,759

    What time of the day does she fuss? It could be that she is overtired, or that the milk is not flowing fast enough and she is getting frustrated.
    It could be a developmental phase when she is just a bit fussy in general, which should pass soon if this is what is happening.
    Has AF returned recently? The hormones can affect the taste of the milk, so this could also be a reason that she is fussy. Also - have you changed your diet or anything else about your usual routine? This is something else that could be affecting her behaviour.
    Have you called the ABA? They could probably offer you some more suggestions.

  8. #8
    Registered User

    Aug 2008
    Adelaide
    1,488

    I meant to ask how she feeds after waking? Is it only the feed she had before going back to sleep that she is fussy for?

    That's the problem I had and it was because my letdown was too fast. She wanted the comfort but not so much the milk at that time.

  9. #9
    Registered User

    Aug 2008
    Ouiinslano
    5,303

    We got really similar behaviors due to overstimulation from about 6 weeks onwards. Baby wearing was our saviour.

  10. #10
    Registered User

    Apr 2006
    Perth
    4,203

    She's 11.5 weeks now and I guess its been going on for a week or so to a huge extent, although since birth she has had periods of doing this that come and go. She's generally the worst at the morning feed - around the 9-9.30 am time. I'm sure part of the problem is tiredness but unfortunately there's not much I can do about getting her to bed earlier because I have to get my other girls to kindy and pre-primary (not walking distance either so the poor little love is pulled in and out of the car). Otherwise though she can have these little episodes at any/all of her feeds that basically aren't in the middle of the night.

    Her hunger after waking depends on how much/little sleep she's had and again, this first "day" feed is the problem time of day because she is a fantastic night sleeper (touch wood!) so when she wakes at 7.30 am or so she is understandably starving and its generally a really good feed with no fussing. If its only been a couple of hours or so she's not that hungry so we do nappy changes and sometimes even a bit of play first.

    I haven't had any diet changes - after the issues I had with DDs 1 and 2 I'm extra careful about what I eat. Luckily DD3 doesn't appear to have any issues with reflux at all though.

    Do you think a trip to the LC (again - I think I'm funding this lady's retirement!) is worth it, or just sit it out and see if its a developmental thing?

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Aug 2008
    Adelaide
    1,488

    There is a developmental leap around 12 weeks so it could be that too.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Add Starfish on Facebook

    Apr 2007
    Sydney
    1,759

    There is a developmental leap around 12 weeks so it could be that too.
    ^^This.

    Re seeing the LC again - what do your instincts tell you? Are you really worried, or just unsure? Call the ABA. It's a free call and they can probably give you a better idea of what could be happening.

  13. #13
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jan 2006
    11,633

    Maybe she's finished after a few minutes? How're the nappies?
    It could just be a developmental thing, though, too. Hang in there

  14. #14
    Registered User

    Jul 2006
    Melbourne
    4,895

    I'd call the ABA first and try to work out a plan of attack with them, then see after a week how she is

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Apr 2006
    Perth
    4,203

    Thanks ladies.

    Starfish - I'm not worried as such (provided its not anything that's going to lead to her stopping feeding). She's not hideously distressed or anything - just crying and grumpy. I have no concerns that she isn't getting enough milk because she's a beautiful little buddha growing out of her clothes seemingly daily. The biggest problem is the damage she's doing to me and that feed times can be unpleasant for both of us, and my other girls if they're around.

    MadB - plenty of really wet nappies. I'm going through about 8 cloth or 6 disposables a day (ie between 7am and 9pm)

    TC - thanks. Hadn't thought of that.

    RCC - will give the ABA a call and see what they think. I'm so determined to keep feeding that I think I'm avoiding calling the ABA because I don't want anyone "official" telling me there is a problem. Nothing like putting your head in the sand!

  16. #16

    May 2008
    Melbourne, Vic
    8,631

    ... I'm so determined to keep feeding that I think I'm avoiding calling the ABA because I don't want anyone "official" telling me there is a problem. Nothing like putting your head in the sand!
    No need to be worried about that hun. The counsellors are trained to help you work out what's going on and encourage you to follow your instincts so if you want to keep feeding, that's what they'll help you work out how to achieve.

    Have you got a sling or carrier you put her in when you have to do the drop offs? It does sound like it might be an overstimulation thing...

  17. #17
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Jan 2006
    11,633

    If she's doing well then can you just let her go off if she pulls off after just a few minutes? if all else looks good, try not to get hung up on the length of feeds, etc.

  18. #18
    Registered User

    Mar 2006
    4,542

    Hi hun. I can't believe Miss A is nearly 3 months already!! The girls have given you lots of tips/advice and I think it's a tired thing because she is sounding exactly like H when he is being fussy at the breast when he's tired.
    I would give ABA a call hun. They have been absolutley brilliant when I've called and have truely saved me a few times. Give them a call hun and see what they say or your LC if she would make you more comfortable.

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