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We’re guessing you’re here because your baby abruptly stopped feeding? Now, before you start blaming yourself or go about changing your baby’s feeding method, listen up, mommies: this is most likely just a nursing strike!
A nursing strike is when a baby – who has been nursing well for weeks or months – suddenly refuses to breastfeed. Babies who go on a nursing strike are usually 3 months or older, and they often appear fussy or unhappy, in addition to refusing to latch or feed.
Mommy Tip 1: Nursing strikes are sometimes confused with self-weaning; however, this is extremely unlikely as babies rarely self-wean before the age of two, and even then, they only do so gradually rather than abruptly.
Okay, so here’s the big question that’s probably at the back of your mind: what causes your little one to stop feeding?
Well, truth be told, nursing strikes can happen for no apparent reason at times. However, you’d be relieved to know that, most of the time, that isn’t the case as healthcare experts have identified various reasons for nursing strikes over the years – the most common of which are as follows:
- Common cold
- Illness or pain that affects the ears and mouth
- Sensed that the mother is stressed, angry, or distracted while nursing
- Frightened from a previous bad or loud reaction by the mother while nursing
- Changes in nursing patterns
- Changes in the taste of breastmilk
- Let-down reflex is too slow or too fast
- Inadequate or excessive supply of breastmilk
- Smells differently than before (perhaps a result of using a different personal care product)
- Overstimulating environment
It’s important to remember, mommies, that most of these naturally occurring causes cannot be avoided or prevented. However, it is best to be aware of them early on so that when they do occur, you will be able to recognise them immediately and respond appropriately.
While a nursing strike may come about abruptly, it usually only lasts a few days. Regardless, we understand how stressful or upsetting a nursing strike can be, especially for a new mother who only wants the best for her baby. So, here are 10 tips for ending a nursing strike!
TIP #1: Check your baby for any injuries
One of the most common reasons for a nursing strike is babies being in some type of pain or discomfort, so try checking your baby for any injuries or illnesses. If you want to be absolutely certain, you could always take your little one to his or her paediatrician.
TIP #2: Increase skin-to-skin contact
One of the many advantages of skin-to-skin contact is that it is said to end a nursing strike as it helps create a soothing and relaxed environment similar to the womb. So, whenever possible, place your baby’s bare torso against your bare chest for at least 1 – 2 hours a day.
TIP #3: Try different breastfeeding positions
Your baby may be more willing to breastfeed if you try a new breastfeeding position. So, mommies, go ahead and try out a new position or two! If those you know don’t work, here are other breastfeeding positions you can try:
+ Cradle hold
+ Cross-cradle hold
+ Rugby ball hold
+ Double rugby ball hold
+ “Koala” hold
TIP #4: Move around instead of being sedentary
Babies are known to enjoy rhythm and movement. So, you can try things like patting your baby’s back or bottom, swaying, or rocking your little one for about five minutes before you nurse. Or, you could wear a baby sling or carrier and walk around your house while you nurse.
TIP #5: Reduce the use of pacifiers or bottles
All infants have a natural need to suck, which you could use to help end your little one’s nursing strike. To successfully do so, you’d need to get your baby to satisfy his or her needs only at your breasts. So, if possible, keep the pacifiers and bottles to a minimum.
TIP #6: Minimize distractions in the environment
Babies can easily be overstimulated by excessive noise or activity in their surroundings, so providing a warm and soothing environment for your baby is a good way to encourage him or her to breastfeed again. The best setting, according to most mothers, is a quiet, dimly lit room.
TIP #7: Take a relaxing bath together
Sharing a nice, warm bath with your baby can not only be relaxing for both of you, but it can also aid in breastfeeding. According to medical experts, warm water can help with a nursing mother’s let-down reflex.
TIP #8: Play some calming music
Music, like a bath, can be soothing to both mother and baby. So, go ahead and play your relaxing Spotify or YouTube playlist, but instead of just listening, be sure to hum or sing along cheerfully and encourage your baby to nurse.
TIP #9: Lose the new scent
Babies can recognise their mothers’ smell from birth, which means that if you smell different, chances are your baby will not feed off of you. So, if you recently changed something that makes you smell different, like a perfume or deodorant, try going without it for a day or two.
TIP #10: Try new methods to boost milk supply
While breastmilk production is more of a supply and demand process, and most mothers do normally produce enough, there are a few things you can do to ensure your breastmilk supply is adequate, if not optimal.
+ Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
+ Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
+ Get an adequate amount of sleep
+ Incorporate galactagogues into your diet
Mommy Tip 2: Galactagogues such as ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, and green papaya are widely believed to increase a mother’s breastmilk supply, which is why they can be found on almost any Chinese lactation food menu.
Like we mentioned earlier, most nursing strikes last only a few days, and with a little sleuthing, coaxing, or encouragement, your baby will most likely go back to feeding like before!
However, mommies, if your baby still won’t breastfeed even after you’ve tried all of the above tips as well as other feeding options such as bottles or sippy cups, or if you notice other concerning signs, consult your baby’s paediatrician right away.
ReLacto: Lactation and Recovery Food
We know that obtaining proper meals that meet all of your nutritional needs, whether for breastfeeding or postpartum recovery, can be somewhat difficult, which is why we’re here to assist!
At ReLacto, all the dishes in our lactation meal plan are packed with some of the best lactation-boosting ingredients to help new mothers have the best breastfeeding experience possible. But that’s not all!
Our in-house dietitian also carefully curates all our meals to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need to not only breastfeed well but also promote your postpartum recovery. So, if you’d like to try our breastfeeding food package, you can do so here, or if you’d like to first peruse our dietitian-guided lactation meal plan, click here!