This is when you and your baby have been breastfeeding for a while, but now your baby is getting fussy at the breast or refusing the breast all together. FRUSTRATION would be a normal emotion at this point! It is important to know that this “strike” does not necessarily mean that your baby is ready to wean, but it could be your baby is trying to tell you something.
Reasons Your Baby may go on Strike & How to Cope
Your baby may not want to breastfeed due to pain. Possibilities include mouth pain “from teething, a fungal infection like thrush, or a cold sore” (Womenshealth.gov). An ear infection can also cause an infant to have pain while sucking. Keep in mind breastfed babies are less likely to have ear infections than formula fed babies, but it still is possible! (La Leche League International) Recent vaccination may also cause pain at the injection site making your baby uncomfortable in a particular breastfeeding position.
Consult with your pediatrician if you believe your baby is sick. Try switching breastfeeding positions to help ease any pain.
Your baby may be getting frustrated that he or she is not getting the right amount of milk (see Over Production of Milk Supply and Too Little Milk Supply).
If your baby is congested, it will make breathing while breastfeeding more difficult. (Womenshealth.gov) Use a nasal aspirator or bulb syringe to clear your baby’s nares.
Babies are highly sensitive to their family’s emotions and to their surroundings. Your baby may choose not to eat if they are over stimulated or stressed. Try to calm your own emotions by taking a few deep breaths. If you are still feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or tense, you may need to put your baby in a safe place such as the crib and step away for a few minutes to cool yourself.
To decrease stimulation for the baby while breastfeeding, try feeding in a quiet location and dimming the lights. Skin to skin (kangaroo care) is also a good idea to help calm your baby.
What should I do if my baby is still on strike from breastfeeding?
– Track your baby’s wet and dirty diapers to make sure your baby is staying hydrated and getting enough substance. See “How Do I know My Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk?”
– Keep offering your breast to the baby every three hours, even if you need to wake the baby.
– To avoid engorgement or plugged ducts, express your breast milk at the same time your baby would normally feed. You may feed your baby the expressed milk using a “cup, dropper, or spoon” (women’shealth.gov) these techniques are advised over bottles for exclusive breastfed babies.