Last week we wrote about thrush, which may be one reason why babies cry while breastfeeding. This week we will discuss two more reasons that can cause babies to cry while breastfeeding: reflux and fast let-down.
Laid-back Breastfeeding - The Ultimate Position!
Reflux: Heartburn! How many of you had heartburn while you were pregnant? If you have ever felt this burning in your esophagus and chest, you know how absolutely uncomfortable this is. Most babies have some sort of reflux, as their digestive systems are still immature until they are about 3 months old. Babies with reflux often feel this pain in their chests while feeding, which may cause them to arch their backs, pull off and on, or just pull off and start crying. It is important to work with a lactation consultant if your baby is exhibiting these symptoms. Sometimes reflux can be managed with feeding your baby in a more laid-back position and keeping him/her upright for 20 minutes after feeding. Sometimes reflux can actually be a symptom of a food intolerance, which will drastically improve once the food is removed from the mom's diet. Other times, reflux can be a sign of a more challenging condition called gastro-esophageal reflux (GER), which sometimes needs to be treated with medication. A certified lactation consultant should be able to watch your baby feed and help you solve this issue based on your baby's symptoms and your medical history. You may also need to meet with your pediatrician. Whether it is reflux or food intolerance, formula is not the answer, so keep on breastfeeding and seek the help of a lactation consultant.
Fast let-down: Picture turning on the garden hose and trying to manage swallowing the liquid while dealing with the fast flow. This is the best way I can describe to a mom what it feels like when she has a fast let-down. Sometimes a baby will clamp down on the nipple to slow down her/his mom's flow. (Like kinking the hose to stop the flow) Other times, a baby will pull off and gasp for air. You may also hear your baby gulping super-fast and seem to sputter a little, which may lead to him/her swallowing a lot of air and becoming gassy later after the feeding session is over. Or, your baby might just pull off and cry if he/she sucked in a lot of air. Dealing with a fast flow can be fairly simple with just some small positional changes. Mom can lean back so that gravity can help to hold the milk in her breasts, rather than pouring into her baby's mouth. Also, a baby placed in a more upright position, either sitting on her/his mom's lap or lying on her chest, often can tolerate a fast flow a little better, as gravity will assist her/him in swallowing mom's milk at a more comfortable pace. Check out more information about this positioning at Biological Nurturing.
I cannot stress enough the importance of working with a certified lactation consultant if your baby is crying while breastfeeding. The stress on you, as the mom, can become overwhelming….and it doesn't have to be. Use your community resources and get the support you need so that you can continue to meet your own personal breastfeeding goals.