A nursing strike is when your baby refuses to feed, for what seems like no reason. A nursing strike can last between 3-5 days, or even carry on longer in more severe cases. The most important thing to remember is that a nursing strike does not mean that your baby is ready to wean off of milk. It is their way of letting you know that something is wrong.
There a many different reasons why your baby might go on a nursing strike. They might be teething or experiencing pain in their mouth, they could be suffering from a throat or ear infection, have a stuffy nose, you may have a reduced milk supply, there might be a change in the taste of your milk (this could be due to medication or hormones from pregnancy or your period), it could be from a significant disruption in their schedule or you may smell a different way because of a change of toiletries.
Nursing strikes can be scary for moms. You worry that there is something more serious causing the strike, and at the same time you stress that your baby isn’t getting enough milk. During a nursing strike you will have to pump to ensure there is milk available for your baby. You can feed your expressed milk to your baby with a sippy cup, a bottle or whatever works. Pumping during a nursing strike also ensures that you don’t land up with any blocked ducts and that you keep your milk supply up. If you aren’t used to pumping, make sure that you are kind to your nipples and use a pump cushion from BeauGen. It will help your breasts adjust to the pumping and won’t leave them cracked and sore.
The best thing to do when your baby goes on a nursing strike is to remain calm and be patient. Be gentle and caring with your baby. Here are a few ways to deal with a nursing strike:
- Visit a doctor if you suspect your baby is sick, or if you can’t find the cause of the hunger strike after a few days.
- Change your feeding positions. Try a new way to hold your baby when feeding, they might be uncomfortable.
- Rock your baby while they nurse or walk around, the motion might soothe them into feeding again.
- Try and nurse your baby while they are sleeping. They are more likely to nurse while asleep.
- Have skin to skin time with your baby. Your baby might ease into the comfort and skin to skin is really great with promoting nursing, for both mom and baby.
- Avoid distractions. Between 6-9 months, babies start noticing their environments more. This can cause them to become distracted when feeding, so try and find a quiet, calm place to feed.
Nursing strikes can be worrying, but they are very normal. You just need to pay attention to your baby and try and find out what the cause of the nursing strike is. Pump during missed feeds and make sure your baby has enough milk. The nursing strike will be over soon and you will both be back to a normal feeding schedule.