Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nursing Strikes: Close to Home

Having just weathered an illness induced nursing strike with Rhys, I thought now might be a good time to review strategies for negotiating with a striker.

Sometimes babies refuse the breast. Provided baby is under a year old, it is highly unlikely that a nursing strike is a true attempt at weaning. Especially if one of the following factors is also in play:

* Baby is ill. A stuffed up nose can make it difficult to nurse. A sore tummy can leave baby without much of an appetite.

* Mom has been especially busy or stressed out of late.

* Baby's routine has been disrupted (a move, new daycare provider, travel, etc.)

* Baby is teething.

Coaxing a striking baby back to the breast requires patience and dedication:

* To the extent possible, mom should shelve all extraneous obligations and focus solely on baby, recreating the newborn "babymoon" atmosphere.

* Mom should hold baby skin to skin as much as possible. Taking a bath together is a great way to get in a little extra skin to skin contact.

* Mom should wear clothing that provides the easiest possible access to the breast so that if baby shows interest, she can offer the breast with minimal fuss and unbuttoning.

* It is crucial that mom pump to empty her breasts and help maintain her milk supply. Overfull breasts can lead to painful plugged ducts and mastitis, which will only complicate matters further.

* If baby will latch but loses interest in the breast after a few seconds, it may be helpful to pump for a minute in order to stimulate the milk ejection reflex and get the flow of milk started for baby.

* It is important that mom remain calm, even nonchalant (if possible!) when offering the breast.

* Mom's pumped milk can be offered to baby in a bottle, cup or feeding syringe. If baby is over 6 months old, solid foods may be offered.

* Keep an eye on baby's diapers. Contact your doctor immediately if baby isn't peeing or is showing other signs of dehydration (dry mouth, sunken eyes, lethargy, etc.)

The face of a striker


  1. From about seven months on, Carter refused to take the boob during the day. I had to schlep my pump everywhere and give him bottles. I tried everything, but he was just too distracted by everything to look at.

  2. Wow. I really admire you for sticking to it in the face of full daytime pumping. That must have been an enormous ordeal. The thought of the pump washing alone has me cringing.