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Guest Post by Taylor of Mama Java
Today it’s all about nursing strikes.
With a strike, a baby will stop nursing suddenly and may have difficulty latching.
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I gave him pain relief in case of teething, but it didn’t solve the problem. He wasn’t sick, and ear infections were ruled out, so the problem was elsewhere.
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I made sure to drink Mother’s Milk Tea and rest when possible.
We offered the breastmilk in bottles and droppers, but sadly, it only made Ben angrier. He adamantly refused a bottle of formula. I was pumping in an attempt to maintain my milk supply, but my body has never really been able to produce much with a pump, and didn’t do well under that level of stress.
By day 6, I was exhausted, frustrated, and in tears.
My milk supply was beginning to decrease. He was crying and hungry. I even started to think that maybe he didn’t like me anymore.
That night was the end of my rope, so to speak. After a heart-to-heart with my husband (who was a real trooper through all of it) I decided that if my son kept refusing to nurse, I would quit.
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At bedtime that night, I thought I would try one last time to nurse him. We set up a bed in my craft room, turned all the lights off, closed the door, and I tucked him in the bed with me, skin-to-skin.
I considered it my chance to bid farewell to our nursing relationship. So imagine my surprise when he nursed all night!
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According to La Leche League and Kellymom.com, there are many factors.
- Medical reasons: ear infections, teething, congestion, sore throat, or another illness can contribute to a nursing strike. Solving these can remedy the problem.
- Unusual separation from the mother: A baby forced to seek nutrition from a source other than the breast may be unwilling to go back to nursing at the breast again.
- Major milestone: some think that nursing strikes occur right before a major milestone, like crawling or walking.
- Milk change: A baby can taste a change in the milk and this can deter them from nursing. If the mother is pregnant, the milk changes in preparation for a new baby, and the nursing baby may not like the change.
- Excessive pacifier use, bottle nipples, or other soothers
- Distractions: Once they become aware of their surroundings, a baby is easily distracted while eating. Sometimes babies will even refuse to nurse because the mother changed deodorants or perfume and smells “different.”
- Stress: Babies can sense the tension and stress we feel, and in turn it affects their mood as well. If they are overstimulated, they may have a hard time winding down to nurse.
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Keep your focus positive and support the mother in making informed and healthy decisions. Above all, offer a listening ear. There are plenty of doubts and questions swirling around that sometimes just need to be released. In fact, it’s a big stress reliever.
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Alison @ Alison's List
Ah, yes, the breastfeeding strike. We went through this 3 weeks ago, and I agree that it’s unbelievably stressful. It encourages me that it took a while for you to get completely back on track. I’m getting more and more comments from well-meaning, respectful, gentle family members and care-givers who wonder if the baby’s getting enough milk. These people are not out to undermine me in any way, and I can’t help wondering if they’re onto something. I’ve done all the “right” things, but I’m beginning to think it might be worth supplementing with homemade formula to see if it helps the baby. Of course, I realize that supplementing is often the beginning of the end of breastfeeding. There’s no easy answer. I just want to say a big THANK YOU for acknowledging how hard breastfeeding can be. Even though I absolutely believe it’s the best choice, it’s not all sunshine and roses.
Alison @ Alison's List
P.S. I followed KellyMom’s advice to the nursing strike, and it was so helpful. I had been afraid to give expressed milk for fear the baby wouldn’t want to nurse anymore, ever. (He went on strike after I was gone for 24 hours for the first time.) In our case, consistently offering the breast without forcing, while freely giving expressed milk in bottles for a few days did the trick. (I know KellyMom prefers other methods to bottles, but I was also suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, and it was the best we could do.) He started back with nursing at night only, and then immediately upon waking from naps, and then sometimes throughout the day. I took MotherLove herbs and pumped a lot to try to maintain my supply. It was very, very difficult, and I’m still giving him additional pumped milk at night before bed because my supply hasn’t re-established itself. But he’s back at the breast full time! Whether or not we’ll have to supplement long term remains to be seen, but I’m doing my best. I want to make it to one year, and we’re 7.5 months into it. I’m just so thankful for information about nursing strikes. I got it through the Facebook KellyMom support group. My MIL went through something similar with her second baby and assumed that it was weaning. This information just wasn’t available to her.
I am so thankful for the support we have today!
I agree–it can be so hard! Kudos to you for sticking with it!! 🙂