First of all, what is a nursing strike?? It’s simply when your baby refuses to nurse….this happens just out of the blue. A baby may refuse to nurse for a number of reasons; ear infection, a cold, stress, teething, etc.
A nursing strike isn’t weaning. When a baby weans, they will gradually quit nursing. A strike happens quickly and only lasts a few days. For us, it lasted 4 days….4 loooooonnnggg days.
When SJ decided not to nurse, due to a cold, I was DEVASTATED. I thought it was something wrong with me. He had never refused me before…he was my booby baby and then he hated the sight of them!
I was confused and terribly sad so I went to one of my doula groups and asked what was going on. Someone said, “it’s a nursing strike”. I had never heard of one before.
What was I supposed to do? How long would it last? What if he never nursed again? I wasn’t nearly ready for our nursing journey to end.
Does this sound like you right now?? Even if it doesn’t, just keep on reading, you may experience this. Although, I never went through this with my first.
So, the whole reason your here…. how in the world do you survive a nursing strike?
First off, just know this won’t last forever and your baby WILL EAT when he/she is hungry.
I know, I know. This is easier said than done. Trust me, I KNOW! I was probably the least patient mama waiting on SJ to nurse again. I mean I loved nursing him. But I had to be patient. I had to constantly remind myself that this wouldn’t last forever.
Offer the breast at every feeding and then some
Even if your baby refuses, offer it anyway. Eventually your baby will take it when they’re ready. Your babe is more likely to end the strike and nurse when he/she is most comfortable. So try at bedtime and even in the bathtub.
You’ll definitely want to keep up your supply so after you attempt to nurse baby, pump. Make sure you pump as often as your baby would be eating!
A lot of people worry about nipple confusion but we’ve never had a problem. Through nursing shields, pacifiers, and bottle feeding, my boys have never gotten confused. If you’re concerned about nipple confusion and would rather not bottle feed, then spoon feed or fill a straw with breastmilk and give it to him/her that way. You can even put breastmilk in a syringe and feed your baby! There are numerous ways to give your little love expressed milk.
This goes back to when I said to nurse when baby is most comfortable. Go into a quiet room and nurse so baby doesn’t get as distracted. Keep him/her focused on the task at hand.
Skin to skin
Remember when your baby was a newborn and everyone was drilling skin to skin to you? Go back to the basics. If at all possible, get skin to skin with your baby as often as possible. Reconnect with your baby again. Spend a lot of time just lounging in bed, skin to skin, with baby!
I’m not going to lie and say a nursing strike won’t drain you mentally, because it likely will, but I can tell you that this is temporary. I PROMISE if you just keep offering, your baby will eventually nurse again. Just keep on keeping on, Mama!