Thursday, May 19, 2011

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

I have a biter. I have waited 6 looooong months (he’s been teething since month 4!) for my baby’s mouth to sprout some pearly whites. Now, I envy the ‘late bloomers’ in his class. These days (evenings, really), I nurse in fear. When the tiny chompers first appeared, I knew I’d get bit sooner or later; obviously hoping for the latter. Our nursing sessions are further complicated because I have quite the wiggle worm! While nursing, my son will twist his body from side to side, climb up me to ‘root’ in mommy’s squishy parts, and it is not unusual that he attempts to stand WHILE nursing as well. I’ve been bit at least once per session—sometimes twice! What once was a quiet peaceful time, is not ridden with fear and anxiety. I’m unable to relax and keep my ‘unlatch’ finger ready!

I remember attending a breastfeeding support group very early on in motherhood and hearing a young mother seeking advice for deterring boob biting behavior. I remember distinctly the lactation counselor saying, “unlatch, make eye contact, and firmly say NO BITE’; and also, “try to predict when the bite is near”. So this is what I do. A few nights’ ago, he bit me, I obeyed technique, re-latched him, and my barracuda bit me again! I stayed true to technique; however, this time, it sent him into major meltdown mode that only daddy could calm. When he was in a restful state, I took over again and encouraged him to finish nursing on his way to dreamland.

I think this ‘no bite’ technique is my baby’s first introduction to boundaries. And his meltdown was his reaction to me denying him comfort.. for the first time in our mother/son relationship. It makes me sad to think that for a few short minutes, my baby actually felt hurt and betrayed by me, but that is a small price to pay in the land of nipple bites! I try to find comfort in convincing myself that like most things, this is a phase. I’ve heard that this biting behavior is very unnatural given the mechanics behind suckling; and I’m thinking that the action of nursing might physically soothe any oral discomfort my boobling might have as a result of teething. Whatever the case may be, I can’t wait for this phase to be over and I can go back to loving breastfeeding.

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