Sometimes it's cute when baby's squeak or "talk" when they breastfeed. However, there's an anomaly called "stridor" that isn't cute at all. When your baby is making this not-so-common noise, it is time to see the doctor, for sure.
A stridor is a high pitched, wheezy sound a baby will make when feeding. It almost sounds like the baby is playing the kazoo while feeding. This sound is accompanied by fast or labored breaths. It seems to be worse when babies lay on their backs or feed in a more supine position. Stridor is caused by the epiglottis (the flap that covers larynx when you're eating so that food or liquid does not end up in the lungs) is loose and flaps over while the baby is feeding. Swallowing is a great struggle as the baby is trying to avoid getting milk into its lungs. It can also cause the baby to swallow great amounts of air into the pharynx which leads to the esophagus and then the stomach causing gas discomfort, as well!
Therefore, the baby with stridor tends to be a fussy feeder. Secondary symptoms can be reflux or projectile vomiting. Another secondary symptom can be a baby who tends to snack all day long rather than complete his/her feedings in one sitting. This baby never just gets down to the business of eating because it hurts to continue to feed and not be able to breathe. This baby feeds just as poorly at breast or on bottle, and likes to feed on his/her belly in order to clear the airway. When bottle feeding, a flow controlled bottle like The Haberman Feeder by Medela, is recommended. The worst of the secondary symptoms, however, can be upper respiratory tract infections due to the possibility of aspiration. This is why it is so important to have this condition diagnosed as soon as possible.
Luckily, as mentioned before, this is not very common, but you have to know to look for it if your baby has it. Oftentimes, it is missed by the pediatrician, initially, because the doctor is usually not observing the baby while he/she feeds. It is most often discovered because of one of the secondary symptoms. I have only seen a stridor about fifteen times in my career, but every time, the poor baby has been very uncomfortable while feeding. I have placed the baby in the biological nursing position and the stridor resolved itself for the feed. (Please refer to the post I had about laid back breastfeeding for this positioning.)
Stridor tends to resolve itself around the 6 month mark, but in some cases it needs to be fixed surgically :( If you suspect your baby has a stridor, please see your pediatrician or an ENT to have the condition checked out. Good luck and keep on keeping on!
Until next time, so long.