You and your baby are enjoying a fairly happy breastfeeding relationship, when suddenly one day, she refuses to nurse. When you sit down to get her in position, she starts crying and protesting, refusing to latch. As soon as you stop trying to get her to breastfeed, she settles down. You know she’s hungry…so what’s going on?
It could be a nursing strike. The reasons behind this bizarre phenomenon are often a mystery, though many moms feel that it’s connected to an emotional incident that occurred the last time they breastfed. For example, if your baby is teething and bites your nipple, and you scream “ouch!”, your baby’s feelings may get hurt, and she’ll go on strike. Or perhaps your toddler was about to jump off the coffee table and you yelled “NO!” while you were breastfeeding, and your nursing baby was terrified. It could also be related to your baby having an ear infection or stuffy nose or being uncomfortable in the breastfeeding position for some reason.
Whatever the reasons, here you are. Your baby is hungry, and you need to feed her, and she refuses. Getting over a breastfeeding strike is entirely possible and does not mean your breastfeeding journey needs to end. Follow these tips to get back in the good graces of your little one when she’s gone on a breastfeeding strike.
5 Quick Tips to Get Through a Breastfeeding Strike
1. Use a breast pump to relieve any engorgement you’re experience and to keep up your supply.
2. Depending on how long the strike goes, try not to give the baby a bottle or pacifier. If she’s old enough, feed her solids and water from a sippy cup instead. Definitely don’t starve or thirst her, but hold out for as long as you can so she knows if she wants milk, she’s going to have to nurse.
3. Give her some space, but also let her know how much you love her! Cuddle with her, do skin-to-skin time and make her laugh. Try to get her to forget that she’s upset with you.
4. If you suspect the problem is a medical one, get her to the doctor and on some medication, if appropriate.
5. When the baby is distracted or sleepy, try breastfeeding her again. If she won’t nurse while you’re sitting down, try standing up. Switch up your routine.
Although a breastfeeding strike can be stressful, do your best to stay calm and patient. This, too, shall pass, and soon you and your little one will be bonding while breastfeeding once again.
About Katie Stansberry
Katie Stansberry is a work-from-home mom of two sweet girls and the creator of Breastfeeding Bliss. After struggling at the beginning of her breastfeeding journey, she wanted to create a happy place where breastfeeding moms could find practical tips, positive inspiration, and the newest and best breastfeeding products. On her "Back to Bliss" breastfeeding blog, she shares her personal stories and tips for making breastfeeding an easier and more enjoyable experience.