I am a first time mom and my baby is three and a half weeks early. I am currently pumping, but am trying to nurse. Unfortunately, she won't even latch for more than 20 seconds and I'd say about 95% of the milk she gets is from a bottle. She is 2 weeks and 2 days old. My goal is to be exclusively breastfeeding her.

Am I too late to change? Help? Ideas? Advice? Lactation consultant vs. La Leche League? Also, my nipples are fairly flat. Thoughts on nipple shield or nipple shells?

  • 1
    Welcome to Parenting.SE! Breastfeeding is a learning process for mother and child. You've got a lot of questions in here -- Have you spoken to anybody yet (lactation consultant, doctor, midwife, pediatrician?), and what sort of resources/support are available in your area?
    – Acire
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 11:56
  • 2
    Just one side note about your baby and latching on: Try pumping just enough to trigger a let-down, then get her to latch on while it "flows" - one of the easiest tricks to "show" her where the milk comes from and she doesn't have to suck that hard at the beginning. No guarantee but if she's almost got the hang of it it can be a great motivator.
    – Stephie
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 14:27
  • What country are you in? We may be able to point you to suitable resources / support.
    – A E
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


No, nothing is too late. I sense some very important things in your favour:

  • Your milk supply matches her needs.
  • Two weeks is pretty early, even in "standard" cases BF is still not that established at that age.
  • You seem determined to make this work and willing to ask for help -an excellent attitude.

Without more details, it's hard to give precise advice, but I strongly recommend getting help. Whether a lactation consultant , meeting with LaLeche or talking to a midwife is up to you and frankly depends a lot on the "chemistry" between the person(s) and you. I suggest 1:1 counceling to get started.

And no, flat nipples are rarely a concern in breastfeeding (common myth, babies don't drink "from the nipple", that would be very painful...). But you might have to coax your baby into nursing: These bottles are so easy to drink from, a breast means "hard work". Preemies sometimes struggle with this and I suspect that's why you started with a bottle in the first place.

Take your time, keep calm, get support and you both will be fine.

  • 3
    I agree, and was about to write something very similar. I would just like to second and emphasise the advice to get some practical help as soon as possible. This can make all the difference.
    – MiniMum
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:48
  • 1
    My six month old has never really nursed, but drinks all b-milk and no formula. You can make it work even if you can't figure out how to make them nurse
    – Mike Vonn
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 17:47

My first baby was 4 weeks early.

He had a hard time latching, since his mouth was so tiny. He was also VERY small and skinny, and we were only allowed 15 min of breastfeeding as it wore him out.

He had a much easier time with a nipple shield for the first few weeks. It was recommended by a nurse, though my nipples are not flat. I would say go ahead and try, and see if your baby likes the shield better.

The other thing we did was to feed him using a finger, with a tube. The tube was attached to a syringe with milk. The nurse told us this would be better for latching on. You might try this and see if you can get her to suck your finger.

I would go for a lactation consultant in your case While LaLecheLeague have lots of good information, I personally find them a little biased. A lactation consultant or even your regular pediatrician or nurses at your hospital might be more understanding of the special needs of a premie. Of, cause, this is my biased opinion :).

Holding the baby and the breast correctly will help, and you might try several things. I had to squeeze my breast to make it 'flat' to get it into my babies mouth. I also used a trick of putting a little milk under his nose, the smell will made him hungry and more likely to suck.

Nothing is too late, and bottles do NOT ruin the latch.


Continue to offer the nipple!

It took a couple weeks for my baby to latch, so in the beginning I was exclusively pumping. The cradle and the cross cradle hold I learned in the hospital from the lactation consultant just wasn't working for us. It actually wasn't until I came across this article on "natural breast feeding" that I had some success.

During the first week after birth, 92% of nursing mothers reported significant breastfeeding challenges.

The article speaks to the struggles women have nursing these days. With natural breast feeding the mother-baby positions and interactions release essential hormones and innate (instinctive) feeding behaviors. How human newborns’ innate responses are similar to those of other mammal species–including puppies, kittens, and piglets–that feed on their tummies. In other words, our babies are hardwired to be “tummy feeders.”

"To activate a newborn’s internal GPS—so baby knows where she is and what to do—she needs to feel her entire front against her mother. This full frontal contact also activates the “pressure buttons” on a newborn’s ribs, wrists, inside of the knees, and tops or bottoms of the feet, which stabilizes her spine, giving her more control over her movements so can feed more effectively". The mother is in a semi reclined position (so much more comfortable than being hunched over!) and mother and baby are tummy to tummy.

Take a look at the article, I hope that you find it as helpful as I did.

*Another tip to try is to pump for a couple of minutes first so your nipples are more pronounced to counter the flat nipple issue.

  • I fixed that link for you... Welcome to the site!
    – Stephie
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 18:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .