She never learned properly and now she's refusing :( :( :(

A baby's refusal to feed is a distressing time. Sometimes the refusal is outright; other times just an extreme fussiness. Usually it is temporary and the baby returns to the breast. Share your experiences and support one another through this tough time here.
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She never learned properly and now she's refusing :( :( :(

Post by klaeyre » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:14 pm

My DD is 3 and a half weeks old, and we have got off to a very rocky start with breastfeeding. The time in hospital was very tough, and I had some bad experiences with the first few midwives that tried to help me feed her, leading to very blistered nipples. DD was jaundiced and sleepy with a small mouth and possible tongue tie, and by the time we were discharged, the plan with the LC in the hospital was for me to pump and bottle feed, and to keep on trying to get her to learn to feed off me with the nipple shield.

So for the past three weeks since I was discharged, I've been double pumping, getting a great supply and she's been guzzling her bottles and gaining a huge amount of weight - and every day I try at least once to get her to breastfeed with the nipple shields. It was always tough, she wouldn't latch well -- but earlier this week she actually started doing it successfully.

Then.. I think I stuffed it up-- after two days of her feeding well on the shield, I decided to take the shield off and give her my bare nipple. She completely hated it! I tried again the next day because I read that you need to persist with it. But it was very obvious that she didn't like the bare nipple -- she would be rooting around ready to feed and then as soon as I put the nipple in her mouth the poor thing would have the saddest most hysterical crying ever.

BUT .. since then she has now started refusing to take the nipple at all, even with the shield. It even starts before we try -- if she's crying and we offer the bottle, she might fuss a little trying to get it into her mouth but starts sucking really happily. But if I put her up to my bare chest ready to look for the nipple- she starts screaming and crying like she's in pain. I try to stay calm and soothe her, and persist with it, and even when I do get her to latch (which she is not doing as well anymore either- small pinchy mouth again, although I suppose she only 'got it' twice ever so this is still the norm for her I guess) -- then she sucks for about a second and then screws up her face and screams and screams.

She doesn't scream like this at any other time. I really thought she was sick or in pain the first time she did it- but now there's a definite pattern, she ONLY does it when I try BFing her :(

I really don't know what to do. If it does come down to it I am fully prepared to exclusively feed with EBM, and this is going fairly well for now, but I don't think the time has come to give up on BFing just yet. I'd like to be able to do it. But it's hard to persist because she's become so challenging to feed that I can only do it when my husband is home to help, and he's back at work now. And it's getting so stressful. She's only been fully refusing for about half a week, so it's early days - but before this it's not like she's ever known how to do it.

I just don't know what to do, and I don't know how long to persist, and at what point you just go- ok this isn't going to work. It's also hard that the problem is probably being caused by her having bottles, but I can't stop doing that as it's the only way to feed her now! And I don't want BFing to get even more stressful for both of us that I become even more forceful about it. It's really upsetting seeing her get so distressed and my nipples still get damaged when I try and feed her.
Last edited by klaeyre on Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Em's mum » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:49 pm

Hugs! It sounds like you have had a really rough start.

My best suggestion would be for you to get in contact with the helpline, if you haven't already. They will be able to ask you questions and help you come up with solutions. In the top right corner of the page is their details. If your unable to ring just send them an email.

You are doing a wonderful job, it sounds like you are one strong woman! i found it hard enough without having cracked nipples and a baby refusing! Good luck with it all and please let us know how you go.


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Post by s squirrel » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:34 pm

Sorry quick reply feeding DS, but with DD I used nipple shields for nearly every feed for about the first 12 weeks, I swear she had a cheese grater hiding inside her mouth :shock:
I expressed and BF as I had a huge supply/oversupply, I ended up feeding her till she was 2.5 :wink:
So please don't give up! It can still work - I am proof :lol:
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if you can't run, then walk,
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Post by KarenMac » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:29 pm

Oh you poor thing. It sounds so difficult and stressful. I can only second the idea of calling the helpline if you haven't already. I found them to be fabulous after DD1 was born.

She sounds a little like my DD1 who was HORRENDOUS to BF in the early weeks. I ended up expressing and bottle feeding as well and I found that, once my nipples had healed and I tried to get her back to the breast, she refused! My theory was that she preferred the bottle as it was less "work" for her. I basically just held out on her and refused to give her milk from any source other than straight from my breast (I didn't have the commitment to expressing and bottle feeding that you do...I'm too lazy :oops: ) and she eventually came back. I have to say, though, we never really enjoyed BFing and, even though we made it to 12 months, I don't think either of us had a pleasant time of it :lol: If you are happy to express and bottle feed, then I reckon go for it...if this is how she wants her BM then she's kind of already made that decision for you. They're little toads that way :lol: There's also nothing wrong with using a nipple shield long term either...I know quite a few mums who've used a nipple shield full time for 12 months or more with no dramas. I promise she will feed eventually. If there's one thing I learned from having a chronic breast refuser like DD1, they don't let themselves starve. As hard as that is to believe sometimes, babies really will feed if they're hungry enough. Big hugs for what you're going through right now but please know that you are not alone xoxo
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Post by mimma » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:57 pm

Hugs hugs hugs... I'm so sorry about your rough start.

You have already had some great advice. I can only throw into the mix lots of skin to skin time, no pressure cuddling but with boob available. Have a look at baby led attachment? There is a link to some info on the ABA website.

You sound super determined and you are getting advice from the right place.

Keep us updated.


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Post by klaeyre » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:07 pm

Thank you all for your encouraging words - we have called the hotline twice so far since DD was born and have found them excellent. I haven't called since it became really clear to me that she was refusing though, so I may try calling again. I also had great support from the early feeding clinic that was available for the first two weeks after discharge.

I really wanted to do baby led attachment, and expected to be able to because I heard all about it in the antenatal classes our hospital ran- then had a caesarean and it was a few hours before the first feed and my legs were still numb- and before I knew it this midwife was just ramming DD onto my nipple. My husband stood up to her and asked if we could take it slower and then she just left and didn't help us at all. I'm disappointed that it didn't go to a good start, but it was helpful to be told that we can keep on doing it even for these few weeks. So I tried doing it last time after I called the ABA, and it did work - DD wiggled her way over to the nipple, but then she completely flipped out when she discovered it didn't have the shield on it. I haven't tried it since she's been refusing the shield as the last two times I have tried BFing her with the shield, she has started her screaming even when we start doing the skin to skin :(

So I guess maybe my next step is just to get the skin to skin going nicely again and keep her really settled even if it doesn't turn out to be a good time for a feed. The hard thing is that she seems to just have two settings when it comes to breastfeeding - asleep, or screaming her head off. It's really strange, and as I said before all quite new behaviour, she doesn't act this way around the bottle.

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Post by Loli&Lulu » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:19 pm

mimma wrote:Hugs hugs hugs... I'm so sorry about your rough start.

You have already had some great advice. I can only throw into the mix lots of skin to skin time, no pressure cuddling but with boob available. Have a look at baby led attachment? There is a link to some info on the ABA website.

You sound super determined and you are getting advice from the right place.

Keep us updated.

Big hugs. Lots of skin to skin contact without pressure helped us a lot when DD was young.

She seems to go through a bout of refusal every couple of months for various reasons but we have always overcome them and are still breastfeeding at almost 17 months.
DD#1 May 2010 - BF to 19 months
DD#2 August 2012 - super cute cheeky booby toddler - storked by AndyPandy. :-)
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Post by BuzzyBeeDee » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:37 pm

I just wanted to bump this thread as it is almost exactly the same as my own situation. I had an awful time BF'ing in hospital, my nipples got so damaged I couldn't do it after the second day and ended up pumping and bottle feeding EBM for two weeks whilst they recovered. Then when I tried her back on, her latch was still terrible no matter what I tried (including getting an LC). I have been told by multiple sources that my technique is perfect, there's nothing wrong with her mouth and my supply is great, so there is really no reason it shouldn't work. However, I stopped really offering the breast because I was getting too stressed out with all the pain and she wasn't feeding effectively anyway because of the poor latch. Now any time I even get her in position to start the latch she starts crying, it's really heartbreaking. She gets hysterical when she gets the nipple in her mouth.
I've been to a residential program (5 days, 4 nights) to try and reestablish BFing, no real progress was made but they also suggested just doing S2S without offering boob for a while just to get her used to being there and form a positive association. I guess I will try that for maybe a week and see how I go. However, would appreciate any other suggestions!

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Post by fellare » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:44 pm

Hey BBD,

can you call one of the counsellors? 1800 686 2 686 (mum 2 mum), they can talk you through the options. There are a few different things you can try.

you can also get a booklet on breast refusal, through mothers direct.

I'm sorry, I can't help you much more than that, but I'm sure others will.
Boobymonster weaned at 3.5yrs.
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Post by mooki » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:39 pm

hi BBD, have you heard of baby Led attachment? ... ent-breast

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Post by Skeeta » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:32 pm

This was totally the story with DS1 (plus inverted nips) and I pumped for almost a year. It just stressed me too much to keep forcing what just wasn't happening.

DS2 has had a much better latch but even still, it took us a couple o'months or so to reach the point of ditching the shields and bottles. One thing that helped with DS2 that you could try is putting only a little bit of EBM in a bottle as a tempter, let her swig it down then just hold bub skin to skin in cradle hold, shield on. Try to relax. Watch telly, fiddle with your phone. I found DS2 nestled in and latched when he felt he didn't "have" to. This is the basis of baby led attachment as above. imo keep the shield for awhile yet, she's so young. She'll get the hang of it!

Obviously, advice from personal experience isn't the be-all and end-all but it's worth a shot. :-)

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Post by Ronale » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:35 pm

I'd second a call to the helpline, trying baby led attachment and lots of skin to skin, but I'm also slightly confused...are you using a shield? How old is your bub?
There's also an exclusive expressing thread that you could have a look at if you feel that breastfeeding is going to be too stressful for you after the week - this way you can still give your bub breastmilk.
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Post by tses » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:59 pm


I can't offer any help as I am in the same situation except my girl is 4 months old and I am still trying, But I would like you to know that I have a friend that has been exclusively pumping for 2 months got back to BF successfully. One day she thought she would give it a go and magically he latched on like a champ. so this will work! especially your baby is still young!

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