Many older babies will also begin to fight sleep in the evenings. I have never understood this phenomenon, because sleeping is one of my favorite activities. Many babies will fight sleep even while their eyelids are drooping and you know for a fact that they are exhausted. A baby who is fussy at the breast in the evenings may not stay on long enough to get the fatty hindmilk that will help fill his tummy so he will sleep a longer stretch at night. If your baby is fussy in the evenings and wants to nurse frequently, offer him the same breast until he has nursed on that side for twenty minutes. Switching from side to side too often can cause him to take in more of the foremilk, which is higher in lactose and can cause gassiness.
Also, your milk supply is lowest in the evenings, and you are the most tired and stressed. This can be a very frustrating period for everyone involved.
The techniques used for encouraging a fussy baby to nurse are similar to those used for babies who are refusing the breast completely. Try the above techniques, but if nothing works, consider giving him a supplemental feeding (preferably breastmilk) during his fussy period if you can't get him to settle down enough to nurse. This may be a good time to introduce a bottle if he is older than three weeks. Dad can give him a little milk in the evening, and give you a break as well. You might even be able to take a hot bath -- ah, luxury!!!!
Whatever the cause of a baby's refusal to nurse, you can almost always convince him baby to continue nursing. It takes a lot of patience and persistence, but the benefits to both of you are well worth the effort.
Anne Smith, IBCLC has breastfed a total of six children (three boys, three girls). She feels that her first hand experience plus her more than twenty years experience of counseling nursing mothers are among her most important credentials. Anne has been a La Leche Leader since 1978 and IBCLC since 1990. As a nursing mother, LLL Leader, and IBCLC, Anne has worked in many areas over the years. She has led support group meetings, taught breastfeeding classes, trained breastfeeding peer counselors to work with low income mothers, worked one-on-one with mothers to solve breastfeeding problems, helped thousands of mothers with breastfeeding questions over the phone, held workshops for health professionals on various breastfeeding topics, taught OB, Pediatric, and Family Practice Residents breastfeeding at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and run a breast pump rental station with over 100 pumps, scales, and nursing bras for the past eleven years. We invite you to visit Anne's website.
Copyright © Anne Smith. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.