Ewan is 9 1/2 months now and has two bottom teeth. He's working on the top ones. I haven't seen them yet, but I sure have felt them as he chomps down on my nipple!
He only bites down when the milk let down has slowed or stopped, so I can usually try to watch for it before it happens. Also, it tends to happen if the milk has stopped coming, but he still wants more.
We regularly do "switch-back" nursing. This is where he nursing on both breasts but then goes back to the first one to get a third let down and drift off to sleep. Recently, he will bite down while trying to trigger the third let down. Maybe he gets impatient? I'm not sure.
The really annoying part is that he doesn't seem to understand that it hurts me. He thinks it's a game sometimes and smiles and laughs. I have yelped before, but that just makes him cry. That's not the outcome I want, because I don't want him to have any negative associations with nursing.
What I do when it happens:
Dr Sears' The Baby Book recommends pressing the baby's face into your breast when he or she bites down. This is uncomfortable for the baby and forces him or her to open the mouth to breathe, so the jaw opens.
I have been doing this and it seems to work to get him to let go. Unfortunately, it does not seem to make him stop biting. After I get him to let go, I put the breast away and sometimes set him upright to signal the end of the feeding. I usually say something like, "That hurts mommy. Don't do that. Don't bite." Usually, he realizes that he wasn't done and wants to get back on. I'll offer the breast again, but if he bites, I put it away again and say again, "That hurts mommy. Don't bite."
Recently, I've tried two things to get him to begin nursing (and not biting) again.
1) If I'm sure he's having teething discomfort I will put some Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Gel on his gums and wait a minute to offer again. If that doesn't work by itself, then I try #2.
2) Switch to a pacifier. He likes pacifiers. We let him have one in the car and I've used them to help him fall asleep. If he won't stop biting but needs to go to sleep, I'll give him the pacifier for a few minutes then switch back to the breast after he has forgotten about biting and is more drowsy.
I'm committed to breastfeeding, so unless this gets really bad, I'm not altering the way I feed him. I am keeping a supply of pumped milk in the fridge just incase he needs to have some milk, but won't stop biting the breast.
I'm hoping that this is a phase that will pass. I'm open to suggestions from anyone who has them! Please post comments below.