When your baby stops breastfeeding out of the blue, she’s on a nursing strike. It often comes on suddenly, usually with a baby that will randomly refuse your breast and become extremely agitated by your offering. It’s often very hard to figure out why your baby is on a nursing strike. It could be many things from ear infections to teething. Thankfully, breastfeeding strikes don’t last long. Here’s what you can do about it when they happen.
1. Comfort your baby
You might not be able to figure out what is bothering your baby, but you can provide comfort for him. Hold him and if you can, have skin-to-skin contact with him. Don’t force him to feed. He may choose to nurse during the cuddles but let it him choose it.
2. Let it go
When your baby decides to go on a nursing strike, that will leave you with very full and very uncomfortable breasts. You’ll need to express that milk somehow before you burst. Use your pump to help keep your milk supply up and to store that milk for future use. It’s also important to let that milk out to keep your milk ducts from clogging up.
3. Try a bottle
Your baby won’t eat when he’s hungry during a nursing strike. You’ll need to get him to drink your milk in any way possible. Bottles are usually a good go-to, but you can try cups and spoon-feeding too.
4. Eating while sleeping
One of the best ways to conquer a breastfeeding strike is to give your baby your breast while he’s sound asleep. Sucking is natural for babies and his natural instincts will likely take over in his sleep. He will latch on and nurse even while sleeping. For example, if he’s on strike because he’s in pain, once he falls asleep he’s comfortable and that makes him able to breastfeed once again.
5. Getting well
Breastfeeding strikes can come on because of stuffy noses or illnesses. If your baby seems to be stuffy or feeling unwell, try a humidifier to help him clear up. You can also use the steam from your bathroom shower to relieve him.
6. Seek help
If nothing seems to be improving things, you can seek the guidance of a lactation specialist. They will help guide you through this difficult time. You can also contact La Leche League, an international non-profit breastfeeding advocacy group, which has plenty of information to help you.
Most importantly, remember that this won’t last forever. Your baby will go back to nursing when he’s ready. Keep these tips in mind so that when it happens, you’ll know exactly what to do.