16 Reasons Babies Cry While Nursing & How to Help
In this article, we'll explore the common reasons for fussing while breastfeeding and how you can make nursing easier for both of you.
Possible Reasons for Fussing & Crying While Breastfeeding
#1. Low milk supply or Oversupply
Low Milk Supply
If you suspect your milk supply is low and your baby cries due to hunger, it's important to address this issue quickly. Familiarize yourself with the signs that indicate whether your baby is getting enough milk. Regular breastfeeding is crucial, as is pumping between feedings to signal your body to produce more milk. Maintaining proper hydration and a well-balanced diet is also needed to support your milk supply. How to increase your milk supply.
When dealing with an oversupply of breast milk, a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, aka lactose overload, may become an issue.
Symptoms may include excessive gas, green, frothy stools, fussiness, and increased frequency of short feeding sessions. To address this, it's essential to ensure a good latch, experiment with various breastfeeding positions, and consider block feeding (feeding from one breast per session).
Encouraging babies to nurse longer on one side before switching to the other can help provide the fattier hindmilk. This can lead to a reduction in symptoms such as fussy behavior during and after breastfeeding. However, for mothers without oversupply, the naturally timed release of foremilk and hindmilk components in breast milk helps minimize gastrointestinal issues, making the fat content less of a concern.
#2. Poor Latching or Positioning
A proper latch is crucial for comfortable breastfeeding. If your baby is not latching on correctly, it can lead to discomfort and frustration. Consulting with a lactation consultant can be incredibly helpful in resolving latch issues. They can assess your baby's latch and positioning and provide guidance on achieving a deep, pain-free latch that optimizes milk transfer. Consider our recommended breastfeeding courses.
#3. Fast or Slow Let-Down
A fast let-down means the milk flows quickly, which might surprise your baby and make them pull away. A slow let-down is when the milk comes out more slowly. Babies might get impatient with this and fuss. If your baby seems fussy when your milk lets down, it could be because of the milk flow.
For those who struggle with a slow let-down, gently squeezing your breast while you nurse can encourage the milk to flow more easily.
Read more about fast and slow let-downs and how to handle each.
Babies with reflux may experience discomfort while feeding and accessive spitting up. Acid reflux in babies can manifest through various symptoms. These signs may include frequent burping and hiccups and frequent spitting up. Babies with acid reflux might also become fussier and show difficulty in swallowing. Some may display an increased or decreased appetite. Other indicators are bad breath and arching their neck and back.
Managing Acid Reflux:
- You may want to consider smaller, more frequent feedings.
- Try adjusting your breastfeeding positions - keeping your baby as upright as possible during nursing and experimenting with different positions, such as nursing while walking or reclining. Carrying your baby in a breastfeeding sling can maintain an upright position and offer comfort.
- Burp your baby frequently during a feed to reduce air build-up in their stomach.
- Positioning your baby at a 30-degree angle while they sleep can help prevent reflux symptoms. Using a wedge pillow can elevate your baby's upper body during sleep.
- Gentle infant massage can help alleviate pain and discomfort by stimulating the nervous system, particularly the Vagus nerve, which controls the digestive system.
The Tushbaby Hip Carrier
With its ergonomic design and comfortable waistband, Tushbaby provides optimal support for you and your baby. Say goodbye to shoulder and back pain from traditional carriers, as Tushbaby evenly distributes your baby's weight, relieving strain and promoting better posture.
#5. Growth Spurts
Babies go through growth spurts, leading to increased hunger and frequent crying during nursing. Recognizing these phases and responding to your baby's increased demand is important.
Responsive feeding is the key to ensuring your baby receives the nourishment they need. This means offering your breast whenever your baby shows hunger cues, such as rooting or sucking on their hands. This approach helps establish a strong milk supply and fosters a close bond between you and your baby.
Staying hydrated and well-nourished is essential to keep up with increased demands during growth spurts.
How to handle a growth spurt.
#6. Nipple or Breast Preference
If your baby gets used to the fast milk flow from a bottle, they might become frustrated when breastfeeding, where the flow isn't as quick. So, if you're using bottles, try to use slow-flowing nipples to help your baby get used to the slower flow of breast milk.
Sometimes, your baby may like one breast more than the other. This is because one side might have a faster let-down, a differently shaped nipple, or more milk. It's okay for your baby to have a preference, and you can simply let them nurse from the side they like more.
If your infant cries while nursing, a fungal infection could be the cause.
- You might feel a burning, itchy pain inside your breast or on your skin during feedings, even when everything seems alright with the latch.
- Your nipples could turn pink and develop flaky skin.
- You may also notice white patches on your nipples or inside your baby's mouth.
- Painful nursing and cracked nipples.
- You might also have aching shoulders or shooting upper back pains.
- Your baby could develop diaper rash or spots on their buttocks.
All these issues can lead to your little one becoming extra fussy and refusing to breastfeed. If you suspect thrush, consulting with a healthcare professional is a good idea to get the proper treatment.
#8. Gas or Colic
Gas and colic can cause infants to cry while nursing. To ease these issues, try holding your baby upright after feeds and burping them regularly during nursing.
Here are 10 ways to soothe your baby's gas pain.
Teething discomfort can sometimes result in fussiness during nursing. To address this, offer a clean, cold teething toy before or after feeding to soothe your baby's gums. Teething babies may nurse more frequently for comfort.
#10. Stuffy Nose
If your baby has a stuffy nose and finds it hard to breathe while nursing, they might become fussy. You can try to clear their nose before feeding to make it easier for them.
To clear a congested nose, breast milk offers a natural and safe alternative to medications that could potentially exacerbate the issue. Simply put a few drops of breast milk into your baby's nostrils while they are lying down, and then use a bulb to gently suction out any excess mucus from the nose.
#11. Allergies or Food Sensitivities
Although not common, some babies might be sensitive to certain foods in your diet. If you notice your baby seems fussy during or after nursing and has other symptoms like spitting up a lot, a rash, or diarrhea, it could be related to something you're eating. You may need to consult a healthcare professional about an elimination diet.
If your baby has difficulty latching because of a tight piece of skin under their tongue (tongue-tie), this can make nursing challenging.
Read more about dealing with a tongue-tie here.
Bright lights, loud sounds, or excessive visual stimulation can cause overstimulation. To minimize this, choose a quiet, calm space for feeding. Dimming the lights and reducing sensory input can help your baby focus on nursing.
#14. Mother's Stress or Anxiety
Babies are sensitive to their mother's emotional state. Your baby might get upset during nursing if you're stressed or anxious. Try to relax with deep diaphragmatic breathing during feeds.
#15. Baby's Emotional Needs
Sometimes, your baby may cry during nursing due to emotional needs, such as a need for comfort, closeness, or reassurance. In such cases, providing comfort nursing can be beneficial. This involves offering your breast not just for nourishment but also for the soothing and bonding it provides. Skin-to-skin contact and gentle rocking can help meet your baby's emotional needs during feeding.
Babies often get fussy in the evening. This is normal and is usually because they are tired or need comfort. So, if your baby gets a little cranky in the evenings, don't worry – it's a phase that most babies go through.
#16. Vertebrae Out of Place
Changing your baby's diaper by lifting their legs may displace vertebrae in their spine, potentially causing nerve issues and discomfort. This can lead to colic symptoms and fussiness. The rolling technique is recommended as an alternative diaper-changing method to alleviate this issue. By gently rolling your baby to each side while changing their diaper, you prevent unnecessary stress on their spine. This technique ensures that the vertebrae stay in place, allowing for uninterrupted nerve communication from the brain to the intestines. Your baby might need an initial adjustment, one worth talking to your chiropractor about.
Crying during breastfeeding can be challenging, but you can navigate it successfully with the proper knowledge and support. Understanding the common scenarios, identifying the reasons behind your baby's crying, and taking appropriate steps can make breastfeeding a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for you and your little one.
Hang in there, mama. It does get easier!