July 22, 2011 1:08 pm

Nursing toddler-Wesley

Nursing Wesley right now is a difficult thing for me, but not for the reasons you might expect.

He’s nearly 16 months old now, and he’s become a quick nurser – usually five minutes or so and he’s done, and he really only nurses a few times during the day. However, since he weaned himself off the nipple shield a month ago, I’ve been having problems. Like, pain-and-damage problems. Cracks, bleeding, the whole works. During the 14.5 months he nursed with the shield (surprise, surprise) he did not learn to correct his latch problems.

His latch looks fine from the outside (lips turned out, asymmetrical latch, etc.) which makes this infinitely more frustrating. To the best of my knowledge, he just has a really shallow latch. I sandwich the boob and make sure the nip is the last thing in his mouth, but to no avail. I grit my teeth, bite pillows or my hand, and come away from every feeding with blanching, a compressed nip, cracks, and sometimes bleeding. I tried going back to the shield a few times in moments of sheer, eye-watering desperation but he isn’t having it and cries until I remove it.

Making this all the more complicated is that I have been looking into becoming an LLL Leader. It’s something I think I want to do, and there is definitely a need here as the current leader is somewhat inactive, but it’s extremely difficult for me to be enthusiastic about helping people fix their nursing problems when I can’t even fix my own. I feel like I should already know what to do, but I have no idea how to fix a persistent shallow latch in a TODDLER who has been perfecting this particular brand of nursing for almost a year and a half.

I don’t want to wean him; neither of us is ready for that. He’d be devastated and I’d be upset that I didn’t make it to two years. But I find myself avoiding nursing him, even if he asks for it (by signing “milk” and then “please,” I die of the cute) because of the pain involved. I’m applying Lansinoh like it’s my job, and I’m pulling on his chin and trying to tell him “big mouth, BIG MOUTH” to improve things, but I’m not sure what to expect with regards to healing if he does not correct his shallow latch. It’s been over a month, and the damage isn’t going away.

I love being a nursing mother, but man this is hard. I’m just not sure what to do!

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  • Jem says:

    The good news is: you’re not alone.

    The bad news is: you’re not alone.

    We’ve also been having problems since Isabel hit 14-15 months (I think I mentioned it briefly in an entry a while ago?) While it’s not causing me damage, it IS anything from bloody annoying to downright painful. I have been to lactation consultants, my LLL leader and asked online. The general consensus is “shit happens, get used to it”. Unfortunately we also have Isabel’s lip tie (and possible undiagnosed tongue tie, sigh) to contend with, but generally lazy toddler latch seems quite normal.

    Things that help me:
    * staying well hydrated
    * staying well rested (hahahahahaha)
    * making sure as you latch that you use your finger to flange the top lip outwards (hard to explain, hopefully you get what I’m saying)
    * encouraging big open mouth with “aaahhhs”

    Unfortunately these are things you’re probably already aware of, but it helps (me) to be reminded of them occasionally.

    I’ll forward you a mail from my LLL leader – it may offer some tips or advice I’ve forgotten.

  • Erin says:

    Hope things are getting a little better for the both of you. Cody thankfully isn’t giving me much trouble, although he loves rolling around and being as acrobaticly active as possible.

    I think that even with your issues, you’d make a great LLL leader. Maybe in that position you could meet someone who might have some new tips to try, and if not I’m sure the increased activity of your branch would definitely be a positive for the community. If you have decided to give it a go, good luck!

  • Jem says:

    Saw your plea on the kellymom fb page – sorry to hear you’re still having problems :(