My baby refuses to suck

I have a two-week old baby who does not take to breast-feeding. All attempts to coerce her to breastfeed have failed so far. Surprisingly, she readily accepts breast milk that is expressed into a feeding bottle but I’m worried all the same.  She is my first baby.

Princess, Lekki, Lagos

NHO Doctor says:

Two weeks is a relatively short period for a young mother to perfect the technique of breast feeding. There is nothing wrong with your beast milk and obviously the baby is well because she s accepting to feed. If she is refusing to feed directly on the breast, she is implying that she is uncomfortable while breast feeding.

Check that you are carrying her comfortably when you breastfeed, that is, one arm to ’cup’ her on your lap while your other arm is to help place the breast in her mouth. The breast must not obstruct her nostrils at any time or she will resent breast feeding. Ensure that she latches on to the breast with the nipple and areola tucked into her mouth. This helps her to extract milk easily from the breast when she sucks. The areola is that dark area of the breast adjacent to the nipple. When you insert only the nipple, the milk flow from the breast will be minimal and baby will get frustrated sucking on the breasts.

Ask your midwife or doctor to check that you do not have what is referred to as inverted nipples. This can make breast feeding difficult at the initial stage. The midwife or doctor will teach you how to overcome this problem. I wonder how big or mature your baby was at birth. Small babies, especially premature babies, take longer to acquire the ability to feed adequately on the breast.

I must commend you for expressing breast milk into a bottle instead of getting artificial milk. However, I encourage you not to give up trying to feed the baby on the breast. She will accept it soon if you just check on some of these points that have been raised. I encourage you to solicit the help of a trained nurse, midwife or paediatrician to guide you through this initial stage of nursing a baby on the breasts.

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