Mama Teether

by Nikki More (Eddington, ME, USA)

I need some serious guidance! I am having real problems with my son and biting. Rylee is 10 months old and has had 8 teeth since he was 5 months old. I have been struggling for well over a month to try and get him to stop biting me during every feeding (day/night).

I've been consistent in speaking firmly to him (“No Biting”) and removing him from my breast when he bites but it doesn't seem to be helping. I have a hard time relaxing when he nurses and more often than not I don't have a good let down (if at all). I'm anxious when he nurses and do not like the feeling that my wonderful bonding time with my son makes me uneasy.

As if that wasn't enough, my milk supply has dropped by more than half. I work full-time outside of the home (yuck!) and have noted that my pumping sessions are not as fruitful as they once were. I have dropped from 10-12 oz per pumping session down to 3-4 oz per pumping session). I theorize this is because he's not nursing as long/frequently because of the biting.

When I nursed my daughter (who is going on 6) there was only one incident of biting in that 13 month period (and of course it was a good one, landing me in the doctor's office getting a shot because she drew blood…but either way) =)

I'm in fear that I'm failing at breastfeeding this time and do not want to consider formula. He loves solids but I don't want to just give him solids to compensate for my inability to produce for him. Can you please help?

Answer:

Hi Nikki,

Biting is a really tough issue – and as you know it's a painful one!

First, as far as your milk supply, I would suggest you start drinking one of the mother's milk teas on the market, or taking a fenugreek supplement. This can help get you milk flowing a little better. Also, if he's not so prone to biting at night, bring him to bed and nurse as much at night as possible.

Is he biting down on purpose while nursing? Is he biting at the end of a feed when he's getting sleepy or bored? Is he frustrated that the milk is not letting down as fast as he would like?

First, I think that removing him from the breast is generally a good idea when biting is a problem. But if he doesn't seem to be stopping, you can try something else.

Pulling a baby into your chest swiftly will usually make biting stop because the baby can't breathe. He'll instinctively let go to try and breathe (obviously, don't hold him like this for more than a second or two). This will teach some babies who bite to stop.

If you're finding that he's biting because he's bored you can remove him from the breast and give him a teether or some other toy to chew on, making it clear that he doesn't sit around and bite you to amuse himself!

If he's frustrated with let-down, could you try and express a little bit to get your milk to let down first? Or massage your breasts a bit as he starts nursing to encourage the milk to come down. Breast compression is a technique that can help move more milk out of the breast while he's nursing.

If he's falling asleep while nursing then clamps down, the best I can advice is to pay attention to when he starts drifting off. Have your pinkie ready to slip in and break his latch as soon as you feel him start to bite down. My third baby, Brennan did this when he started falling asleep (he did it until he weaned at 32 months – I learned to be ready to break his latch!).

These are pretty standard suggestions, but I hope one of them is helpful. Feel free to comment and leave more details if you'd like – it's always frustrating to have nursing issues that cause problems with supply!

About the author 

Kristen

Kristen is childbirth educator, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! She has spent years helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Find her on her website NaturalBirthandBabyCare.com and helping families through her online childbirth class MamaBabyBirthing.com

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