Sometimes when our baby is nursing, he begins to cough, and we observe that he chokes. If that happens occasionally, in principle we should not worry. But there are times when it happens in each and every feeding, making them very distressing for the mother and baby. What to do if the baby chokes on milk from the breast or bottle, if he is nursing or if he spits up? What can prevent the baby from choking when nursing?
Most of the time, the cause is in the immaturity of the baby: at the beginning it can be difficult to coordinate sucking with swallowing; but there are other causes. What should we do when the baby chokes when sucking?
What are the main causes of a baby choking when breastfeeding?
- Short frenulum or limited mobility
The baby's tongue plays a key role in breastfeeding, any factor that alters its mobility can alter lactation. Most often, a short and stiff frenulum makes the tongue not move normally, and this can promote, among other things (mastitis, painful sucking, gas in the baby, snapping, etc.) a choking of the baby during feeding.
- Too strong milk flow
This is that the milk comes out with too much force or quantity through the ducts, and the baby is not able to handle it. The baby chokes, both from the irritation of the jet of milk in the back of the mouth; as from an excessive amount of milk.
- Gastroesophageal reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux is the return of gastric contents to the mouth, if it occurs while the baby is nursing, it can cause coughing or choking. Most often, it happens after feeding, that content of milk that returns to the mouth can do it in the form of vomit or regurgitation, and if the baby is too horizontal, it can choke.
The Red Cross nurse and trainer, Jeanette Álvarez, explains to us in this video, the step by step of how to help a baby in case of choking.
Depending on the cause, we will act in one way or another:
- See a midwife or lactation consultant for a assessment of the feed, and an examination of your baby's mouth. Many times, when the problem is the frenulum, a simple cut is enough to free the tongue and allow it to move correctly.
- Do a manual extraction before taking, to avoid ejection being too strong at first.
- Place your baby in the ventral position to suckle
Lie down and place your baby on top, in such a way that he looks for a spontaneous latch. You can support his head with the heel of your hand, to help him a little. In this way, the jet will have more difficulty hitting the bell, which is what causes you to cough.
- The wheelie position also works well:
- Take the gas out after taking it.
- Do not lie down in a horizontal position after taking it, in case you have reflux or you suspect it.
However The general recommendations, before choking, regardless of the cause, are:
- Keep calm, separate your little one from the chest and place him in an upright position, allowing him to continue coughing (coughing is the best mechanism to solve choking).
- Generally it is solved easily, and the baby returns to normal breathing, latching on again; but if he does not, CPR maneuvers should be started.
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