Nursing Strike – What To Do When Your Baby Won’t Breastfeed

For baby to have stopped suckling earlier before 6 months shows that something is not right somewhere.
Photo Credit: Michigan Chronicles/Getty Images
You are nursing a baby under 6 months and suddenly she stopped taking breast milk. You tried all you can to get her suckling again but she keeps rejecting it. The next thing you’d think of is to consider yourself lucky and start thinking of introducing solids to her. Just before you take this step, please read further…

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers worldwide that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six month of life to achieve all the essential nutrients for optimal growth, health and development.

For baby to have stopped suckling earlier before 6 months shows that something is not right somewhere. This is to say, baby has gone on “nursing strike”

Nursing strike is when your baby suddenly refuses to nurse rather than it’s a signal that is time to wean.

Why Would A Baby Go On Nursing Strike?

There are many factors that can trigger nursing strike — a baby’s sudden refusal to breast-feed for a period of time. Typically, the baby is trying to tell you that something isn’t quite right.

Nursing strike doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby is ready to wean. Nursing strikes are often short-lived and baby will resume back to nursing when you figure out the causes and resolve them as soon as possible.

Causes Of Nursing Strike You Probably Do Not Know:

1. Pain/Discomfort: Teething, thrush, cold or soreness in throat can cause pains in baby and make it difficult for her to nurse. Also pains from vaccination can cause discomfort in a certain breastfeeding position, especially lying down on one side.

2. Cold/Stuffy Nose: This can make breastfeeding uncomfortable for baby because of the difficulty in breathing well.

3. Unusual Scents: Changes in your smell due to new soap, perfumes, lotion, deodorant might cause your baby to lose interest in breastfeeding. Changes in the taste of breast milk is triggered by the food you eat, medication, your period or getting pregnant again which can trigger a breast-feeding strike.

4. Delayed Feeding/Long Separation From The Mother: Breastfeeding on schedule instead of on demand can reduce baby’s interest to breastfeed. Also, distancing yourself from baby most times can cause nursing strike.

5. Reduced Milk Supply: Supplementing with formula or always giving your baby pacifier can reduce your breast milk which in turn can discourage her to continue breastfeeding.

6. Engorged Breast: When your breast becomes engorged too often, it makes it hard for baby to lactate well. If excess milk is not hand expressed or pumped, baby may not likely to continue breastfeeding as she may find it difficult to due to the engorgement.

What’s The Way Out To Reverse Nursing Strike?

1. Skin To Skin Contact With Your Baby: This is beneficial when you let your baby feel the warmth of your bare skin by undressing both of you and then wrap bodies together with a blanket. What this therapy does is to relieve baby of any discomfort and pains that may have restrained her from breastfeeding and help her to resume.

2. Avoid Distractions During Trying To Nurse Your Baby: This is so important as baby needs maximum attention to focus during breastfeeding. It is advisable to stay in a quiet place and if possible turn off the light in your room so that your baby can concentrate during feeding.

3. Try Different Breastfeeding Positions: There are comfortable positions you can put your baby in to encourage her to suckle. Some moms testify that lying on their side with baby helps them breastfeed well but that is only if your baby is comfortable with it. Follow your instinct and know what is best for you and baby.

4. Avoid Being Stressed: When wanting to breastfeed, try not to allow stress to have its way into you so that your milk supply can increase to meet baby’s sufficient needs.

5. Avoid Unusual Scents: Have you discovered about your new scent which happened to be a turn off for baby? Check what you put on your body or on clothes you were. I want you to think back, during your pregnancy days when you were allergic to scented perfumes, soaps, deodorant. Wasn’t the feeling irritating that it made you want to throw up? That is exactly how your baby feels that could have made her distance from breastfeeding. So, avoid those scents your baby is allergic to so she can enjoy breastfeeding.

6. Keep Trying Again: Baby will re-adjust. I’m not certain as to when your baby will find her way back to suckle but it doesn’t take long. The expected estimation should be for a few days depending how much effort you put in. And if your breast gets engorged despite your baby not breastfeeding, express as much milk as you can to relieve you of pains. Also, try supplementing formula between breastfeeding trial until baby resumes back full time.

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Written by Mercy Christian

Wife, Caring Mom, Foodie, Child Care Expert & Volunteer. Devoted mom of two wonderful and lovely kids, Dominion and Olive. Lover of God and Humanity!
Lifestyle blogging became a big part of my life since I had my second child.

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