Wednesday, September 10, 2014
My daughter has refused to latch and nurse since the day she was born. After successfully breastfeeding my older two children, I didn't expect to have a child that wouldn't or couldn't nurse. I first wrote about our experience with Karebear refusing to nurse here- http://latchedonmom.blogspot.com/2014/06/breastfeeding-or-pumping-through-it.html.
It's been a whirlwind of emotions because I've put so much time into working on latching and exclusively pumping for my baby. I typically attempt to latch before, during and after bottles. I have pumped every 3 hours (6-8 sessions a day) getting about 2-4 ounces per session. Each pumping session takes a minimum of 20 minutes, however spending an hour pumping has happened more than not. It's been exhausting! I've had many times where I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere and wanted to throw in the towel. Well Karebear's going to be one on the 16th and just this last month I decided it's time to wean from pumping. So I have cut one session out, getting 5 sessions per day. I am wanting to get to 4 sessions, so I've just been trying to spread the time out in between sessions. I feel very uncomfortable when I'm at 4 ppd (pumps per day). Weaning from a pump is quite a process! My plan is to be at 2 ppd or less when she's 18 months.
We are still actively working on learning to latch. Karebear has been diagnosed with laryngomalacia, dysmorphic craniofacial features and jaw anomaly by her pediatrician. She had a lip tie and tongue tie revision at a month of age. She now recieves speech and occupational therapy to work on oral muscles. The occupational therapist says her lips, cheeks and jaw are very weak and she has an overactive gag reflex. We have a plethora of exercises we do daily to help with this issue. With all these hurdles, it may seem hopeless to even imagine she could latch but I have felt from the beginning that she can. Her first latch was so perfect. I believe in her and have been helping her find confidence. In my opinion, it's the biggest component to being efficient at anything. You have to think you can. Whenever she puts her mouth anywhere near my nipples,  I reassure her by giving love squeezes, whispering I love you into her ear, clapping hands and shouting hurray, dancing together in celebration. The more reaffirmation she receives,  hopefully the more faith she will have in being able to complete the task.
Today we've practiced. I sort of have a routine. She gets her breakfast in her high chair,  with 3 ounces of breastmilk in a bottle. Then we relax for awhile. She plays contently while I do my morning power pump. Then she seeks mommy for comfort. We start with snuggles, skin to skin- breasts out while she gets comfortable on my lap. I attach the SNS and offer it a few times. My four year old loves the SNS. She's also been a teacher in getting Karebear to latch. The SNS hasn't been successful yet for my baby, but it's an option I think is good to offer her. She usually lasts ten minutes then wants to go play more... after about an hour, before lunch, again I hold her and offer to nurse her. Without the SNS. I also use this time to show her images of babies latching or even play the videos I've made of Karebear trying to latch. This has been the most receptive time for her. She licks and gently sucks. Will not latch but like I said, I boost her self esteem with positive affirmations. Perhaps one of thesedays she will be ready and go all for it. I also offer to nurse her right before bed. She will latch, suck once and release. She has to have the control over it, if I push it only makes her upset. We want happy feelings associated with nursing!
I haven't found anyone that knows what I'm going through. This journey really is my own. The lactation consultants I've been in contact with have offered ideas through messaging but none have been able to come and witness what's going on.  Taking Karebear out of her routine doesn't work, and where we are now is the furthest we've been. I'm hoping that a lactation consultant will find the time to come and help us. Maybe someone will see something we can add to improve the outcome.
I am holding onto hope at this time. Hoping it will just click for her. Like a light switch. Maybe with more therapy we'll see improvement. I also am looking into craniosacral therapy.
If you're experiencing or have experienced trouble getting your baby to latch, what worked for you? I'm open to your input!

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