Q&A: fussy baby while nursing

N writes:

"My four month old and I got past the initial difficulty beginning nursing (pain, latch problems, mastitis, the usual suspects) and we were off to a really good start with the whole breastfeeding thing.  She is gaining well and healthy.  But she often does this thing at the breast that drives me crazy.  She kicks, screams and thrashes while nursing.  If I hold her where her feet can hit the back of the chair, she’ll kick against it, moving her whole body away from the breast while she’s latched on (not pleasant).   If I position her where her feet can’t kick against the chair, she’ll instead scream and whip her head back and forth while latched on (also not pleasant).  Taking this as a sign she’s not really hungry, I’ll take her off the breast, which is met with shrieks of protest.  Put her back on the breast, we get a repeat showing of Wrestlemania: Baby Edition.  It doesn’t seem to be a low supply issue as it’s always easy to express milk when she’s doing this, but I don’t really believe it’s that the let down is too strong for her either. Her older sister did this too when she was nursing, but this one is much worse about it.  I can’t quite figure out what’s going on here.  Any suggestions?  I’ve been stretched about as far as I can be – literally!"

Yeah, I remember this. I think it may be some kind of gastrointestinal growth spurt of some sort, but it was perplexing because there were no other symptoms of other gastric distress–no excess farting or crying 20 minutes after a feed (the classic symptom of a lactose intolerance) or anything like that. It sounds like you don’t ahve any of this other stuff either, just the donnybrook on the breast. I never did figure out what caused it, and it went away in about a month or so on its own.

In the meantime, what I did was try to put as much pressure on my son’s tummy as possible while he was nursing, and for whatever reason that seemed to work enough that he could finish an actual feed without going all Goodfellas on me.

The way I did it was by doing all my nursing (except for the middle-of-the-night nursing, which didn’t seem to bug him) reclining on the couch. I’d have him facing down on top of me, stretched across the length of my body, perpendicular to me. So we were a lowercase t, and I was the vertical line, and he was the horizontal line across me.

That meant that he was nursing face down, but he also had all his own body weight on his tummy on top of me.

I have no idea if this will work for your daughter, but it’s worth a try. Readers, can you offer up anything else that she can try if my tummy-pressure thing doesn’t do the trick?

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