Breastfeeding is not just nourishment for your baby. Breastfeeding is a way of developing an emotional bond with your baby. It is a way of making your baby feel safe, comfortable, and loved. But why would your baby cry after breastfeeding? What does it mean if your baby arches his/her back, thrashes around, cries and screams after a breastfeed? Does this mean you don’t have enough breastmilk or that your breastmilk is faulty and making your baby uncomfortable? People may suggest that this is because you don’t have enough milk. they may suggest you to bottle feed your baby after a breastfeed and see if your baby drinks up. But if your baby is getting enough milk from you and still cries after a breastfeed, what is wrong?
When your baby drinks from your breast, s/he can suck in two ways. she can either suck in a way where she gets the milk(nutritive sucking) or in a way where she doesn’t get any milk (non-nutritive sucking). But when your little one drinks from a bottle, she cannot suck in a non-nutritive way. When s/he sucks from the bottle, there is a continuous flow of milk, even if your baby does not want to drink the milk. So, your baby has to drink this milk or s/he will be flooded with it. A baby likes to suck for many reasons and not just when s/he is hungry. A baby might suck for comfort, or when s/he is overtired or feeling pain. It is a form of comfort for your baby. So, what are the signs that tell you if something is wrong?
Signs Why Your Baby Cries After A Breastfeed
1. Your Baby Is Tired
A baby who is overtired might cry right after a breastfeed. Young babies usually fall into a good sleep after a breastfeed. But there are many babies who may feel unsettled and cry more than they sleep. Cluster feeding is common during these unsettled periods. Cluster feeding is when your baby has many short breastfeeds rather than a long one shot breastfeed. During the unsettled periods, the baby will suck at your breast, and then fall asleep for a few minutes. When you pull your baby away from the breast, s/he may start crying. This cycle can be repetitive and go for long hours until your baby is tired and falls asleep. These unsettled periods generally fade away once your baby crosses his/her third month.
2. Your Baby Is Having A Wonder Week
When your baby is having a wonder week, s/he will cry after breastfeeds. A wonder week is when your baby has a leap in his/her mental and/or physical development. Your baby’s brain is making new connections and is consolidating all that s/he has learned or learning. A wonder week can occur when your baby is working on a new skill such as crawling. Due to this increased brain activity, it may take some time to process things and this causes your baby to cry more than usual.
3. Emotional Stress
Babies are sensitive to our feelings. Your baby is more comfortable when you are caring and stress-free when attending to them. So, your baby may cry after a breastfeed if you or any of your family members are stressed for some reason.
4. Your Baby Is Teething
Many mothers feel that their babies cry more when they’re are teething. This includes after breastfeeds too. Babies cry during teething because they may experience soreness in their gums when sucking.
5. Your Baby Is Distracted
If your baby is over 3 months old, s/he may get distracted by the surroundings. Initially, you may see how your baby is happy to feed whenever you latch your breast onto her lips. But as your baby grows old, any sound in the other sound of the room might catch his/her attention. Your baby may then want to look to the other side to find the source of the noise. When you don’t allow your baby to turn and see where the noise came from, s/he may get upset and start crying.
6. Your Baby Wants To Burp
Sometimes, your baby may come off your breast if s/he wants to burp or poop. Try and burp your baby between and after feeds. Place your baby on your shoulder and wait for him/her to burp. If s/he doesn’t burp after a couple of minutes, move on to your next task. Not all babies feel the need to burp after or between feeds. Once your baby is grown enough(4-6 months) s/he will learn to burp on their own.
7. Flow Of Milk Is Not Right
If the flow of milk is too fast or too slow, your baby may start to cry. If you see your baby pull away soon after your let-down(when the milk begins to flow from your breast) and is coughing or gagging, it can be due to an overactive let-down reflex. Babies can get impatient if the milk flow os slow or if the flow slows down after the initial let-down. Your baby will pull away, knead the breast and then arch his/her back and cry. Breast compressions can help your baby get a continuous flow of milk. If breast compressions don’t work, switch to the other breast.
8. Your Baby Doesn’t Want To Breastfeed
If your baby cries when brought to the breast or sucks for a minute and then cries, maybe it is because s/he doesn’t want to breastfeed now. As your baby grows, s/he becomes efficient at breastfeeding. It may take only a couple of minutes for your baby get his/her fill. If your baby is frustrated it only means your baby is done feeding and wants to move on.
9. Baby Prefers One Breast
Your baby may begin crying because s/he wants to feed on the other breast. If your baby has or develops a strong preference for one breast, this is likely to occur.
10. Oral Thrush
If your baby is experiencing an oral thrush, it may cause your baby to pull away from the breast and cry. If your baby has oral thrush, check for a cottage-cheese like white material in his/her mouth (on the tongue or inside the cheeks).
11. Blocked Nose
If your baby has a blocked nose, it makes breathing and feeding simultaneously hard. So your baby may come off your breast crying for this reason. If your baby’s nose is blocked, hold your baby in an upright position. Make sure your baby’s chin is touching your breast and that his/her nose is free.
If your baby has a tongue-tie, your baby may not be able to gain access or attachment to your breast. This may cause your baby to slip off your breast before s/he is done and hence may cry.
13. Food Sensitivity
Food sensitivity in breastfeeding babies is unlikely but not impossible. A baby suffering from food sensitivity is generally more unsettled than a baby without food sensitivity. If your baby is food sensitive, s/he may experience tummy pain and wind, leaving your baby to cry. In such cases, consult a doctor.
14. Your Baby Is Having A Reflux
Reflux is common and can occur even in completely healthy babies. Reflux is when the content in your baby’s stomach travel up his/her esophagus and may even come out in his/her mouth. Since babies have a liquid diet, their esophagus is shorter and also they spend more time lying down, they tend to have more reflux than adults. So your baby may start crying once the milk comes up his/her esophagus after feeds.
15. Too Much Milk
If you have an oversupply of breast milk, your baby may have large volume feeds. These large volume feeds can make your baby feel unsettled and gassy. Due to this, your baby may pull away from your breast crying.
While there are several reasons why your baby may cry after a breastfeed, remember that it is not permanent. Calm your baby down, make them feel comfortable and wait for them to come back. It may take some time, 20 minutes, an hour or even a few hours but, your will come back for breastmilk. It is unusual for a baby who’s less than one year old to refuse to breastfeed.