Tips to Survive a Nursing Strike

Nursing Strike

The Dreaded Nursing Strike

I have been fortunate to have experienced only one nursing strike with my son. It was a painful and frightening few days, but we made it through. My son had barely started solids when it happened. Suddenly, he wouldn’t nurse, and he refused to eat or drink anything else. He didn’t seem sick, but I ran to the doctor after 48 hours because he was getting dehydrated.

It turned out my son was refusing to nurse, drink milk from a bottle, or swallow just about anything, because he had tonsillitis. We started him on antibiotics as well as a painkiller, and slowly he returned to nursing. 

Nursing StrikeWhat Exactly is a Nursing Strike?

A nursing strike is when a breastfed baby/ child suddenly refuses the breast. It can be confused with self-weaning, but since it typically happens quite suddenly you can often tell the difference. While natural weaning typically occurs over a period of weeks or months, with a gradual reduction in amount of breastfeeding, a nursing strike is very abrupt.

In the case of my son’s nursing strike, he didn’t ask to breastfeed for several hours, and when I offered the breast he refused. At first, this didn’t seem to extraordinary, but as the day wore on and he also refused to eat or drink anything else, while continuing to refuse to breastfeed, I grew worried.

In our case, my son slowly came back to the breast as the pain of his tonsillitis receded. I am sharing my tips on getting through a nursing strike below, based on both my experience and what I heard from friends when I was researching what to do with my son who wouldn’t breastfeed. 

Tips to Survive a Nursing Strike

  1. Check for a cause – such as illness or ear infection. While many nursing strikes are completely inexplicable, they can also can be due to factors such as pain from an illness, teething or, emotional upset after a new experience. During my son’s nursing strike he wasn’t displaying signs of illness, but when we saw the pediatrician I learned he was refusing to nurse due to tonsillitis. Once the tonsillitis was treated, he slowly resumed breastfeeding. 
  2. Encourage breastfeeding through skin-to-skin contact. A lactation consultant once told me that skin-to-skin can work like a “reset button” if your baby is upset. I practiced skin-to-skin a lot through the newborn and infant stage, but then stopped. It can work wonders with older babies, as well, though, and helped my son resume nursing when he was sick.
  3. Pump or hand express to keep up supply (and relieve engorgement). Nursing strikes usually last only a few days, but it is useful to express some milk to avoid the pain of engorgement or possible clogged ducts. Of course, it will also help maintain your supply, and you can offer the expressed milk to your child.
  4. Offer expressed milk in a cup or bottle. Especially if a younger baby (whose diet is primarily breastmilk) is refusing the breast, you can offer the expressed milk in a cup or bottle. 
  5. Begin a feed with a cup/ bottle, then try switching to the breast. Your child may be more willing to nurse directly if they have already had a bit of milk. Offering expressed milk first might whet their appetite, so to speak, so they are willing to try drinking more milk by breastfeeding directly.
  6. Experiment with breastfeeding in different positions than usual. There are a variety of comfortable breastfeeding positions to experiment with. You can also try nursing in a carrier – this worked well for me when my son was in an easily distracted phase because it helped him to focus. You can also do skin-to-skin easily in a carrier. During my son’s nursing strike, we used the carrier a lot.
  7.  Offer the breast while baby is very drowsy or nearly asleep. This has also worked well for me. Both when my son was refusing to nurse and also during a distractible phase, he was willing to nurse if I offered him my breast just before or after a nap, or at bedtime. In particular at the height of his nursing striked, this was the only way I could get him to breastfeed!
  8. Be persistent. If you are ready to wean, then you can take the nursing strike as a solution. However, if you feel you and your child should continue your breastfeeding relationship, be persistent in the face of the nursing strike. They typically last only 3-5 days, but even a longer nursing strike can be overcome if you keep offering to breastfeed and experiment with some of the ideas above.

Other Resources

When my son refused to nurse, I searched online for advice and saw our pediatrician over dehydration worries. Kellymom of course had great information, I also found these stories inspiring. 

Have you experienced a nursing strike? How did you overcome it? Share your experience in the comments!

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Breastfeeding Struggles? Where to Find Support…

Breastfeeding Support

Struggling to Breastfeed?

If you’re a new mom struggling to breastfeed, rest assured, you’re not alone! Breastfeeding is really hard for a lot of new moms. Latch issues, pain, a baby who doesn’t seem to nurse enough, a baby who seems to nurse too much, constant night waking, the list of challenges goes on.

I struggled a lot to breastfeed and wanted to quit many times. I was lucky to have a supportive husband, but it was the information I found online, groups like La Leche League, and the support of lactation consultants are what really helped me to keep going.

breastfeeding supportIt’s Easy to Find Support!

The good news is, there are tons of resources for women struggling to breastfeed. Online or in person, free or paid services, there is something for everyone who needs a little help. I’ve grouped resources below by type so you can find the breastfeeding support you need.

My list below is by no means exhaustive – it’s wonderful that there are so many resources for breastfeeding moms that I couldn’t list them all here. If you are looking for help in your area, just do a quick google search for breastfeeding support in your town or state – you’ll be surprised by the help you find!

Where to Find Breastfeeding Support

breastfeeding help

Breastfeeding  Message Boards/ Online Forums

There is a big variety of online forums / message boards about breastfeeding. The forums are really reassuring because you will see that many other moms have the same struggles or questions about breastfeeding. Two of the biggest forums are from What to Expect and the Bump. I suggest joining at least one!

What to Expect Breastfeeding Forum – This discussion board is filled with useful questions and answers from other moms. It is easy and free to join to post your own questions, and you can browse questions and answers as a non-member. You can also access the group on the What to Expect app, which I found myself doing a lot!

The Bump Breastfeeding Message Board – Similar to the What to Expect forum, this message board is filled with breastfeeding questions and answers. Again, you can browse without joining or go through the free signup to post your own questions.

Breastfeeding Peer Support

There is a huge variety of breastfeeding support groups – too many to list here! La Leche League is the most famous – it is global organization with a mission to help mothers breastfeed. There are local chapters that hold regular meetings where you can find help from the La Leche League leaders and meet other breastfeeding moms. Check their site for information on local chapters. A quick google search can also help you find other support networks in your area.

Certified Lactation Consultants

Lactation Consultants are registered counselors who have completed extensive study and training in breastfeeding. I worked with two lactation consultants when my son was young. They also provided invaluable support and answers to all my questions and doubts (e.g., is my getting enough milk, etc.)

You can find a lactation consultant by asking around at your hospital, checking with your doctor or pediatrician, or check this directory.

Breastfeeding-Specific Websites

There is a lot of breastfeeding information online, but some can be misleading. I highly recommend the following sites because they provide reliable and unbiased information about breastfeeding.

Kelly Mom – A site dedicated to providing evidence based support for breastfeeding, run by a Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Ask Dr. Sears – A healthcare resource for parents, this link is for the breastfeeding page.

La Leche League – Online breastfeeding support from the renowned global support group

Nancy Mohrbacher – A Board Certified Lactation Consultant with great resources, especially videos to assist with latching.

The International Lactation Consultant Association – Information on lactation consultants as well as breastfeeding resources

I Hope These Resources Help You

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it is a good place to start when you are looking for breastfeeding support. Is there a resource you think should be listed here or have you had a great experience seeking help with breastfeeding? Share in the comments below!

You may be interested in these breastfeeding tips and lactation recipes:

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111 Benefits of Breastfeeding

benefits of breastfeeding

benefits of breastfeeding

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Benefits of Breastfeeding from MomLovesBest

This week, we’re featuring an amazing infographic created by Jenny at MomLovesBest. This is the ultimate breastfeeding resource – 111 benefits of breastfeeding! Look no further for motivation to breastfeed and answers to any question you might have about breastfeeding your baby.

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111 Benefits of Breastfeeding and Why We Need to Know Them

It should be simple, right? But for something that is so natural, breastfeeding throws one curveball after another to new moms. Just when you think you may be getting the hang of it, a new problem or challenge presents itself.

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Because breastfeeding isn’t as simple or straightforward as we would expect it to be, moms like us need help and encouragement for when we feel like giving up. If you have moments when you feel like buying a can of formula and calling it a day, it helps to remember why you chose to breastfeed in the first place.

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MomLovesBest.com has created a breastfeeding resource that highlights 111 benefits of breastfeeding. On rough days when your nipples feel like they might actually be on fire, this material can be enough to keep you moving forward toward your goal of exclusively breastfeeding your baby.

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When you feel like giving up, you’ll be able to remind yourself of all the wonderful health benefits breastfeeding offers both you and your child. You’ll be reducing cancer risks for both of you, and safeguarding your hearts. As a new mom, the only time you want to worry about your heart is when you wonder how it can possibly contain all the love you feel when you look at your newborn baby.

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In addition to health benefits, you’ll learn how breastfeeding impacts every aspect of your life — from finances to even the health of your planet. Just knowing these benefits might strengthen your commitment to breastfeeding. And sometimes a little extra motivation is all you need to reach your goals.

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About Jenny from MomLovesBest

Jenny is just another Mom trying to do her Best. She loves organizing things into lists and helping others find what they are looking for. When she’s not using her powers to find her kids missing socks, you can find her blogging on everything from breastfeeding advocacy to actionable parenting tips at MomLovesBest.com
  
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 See more breastfeeding infographics here:

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Four Great Breastfeeding Positions

breastfeeding positions

breastfeeding positionsFour great breastfeeding positions, suitable for newborns and beyond.

These breastfeeding positions allow you to breastfeed comfortably. Lying down and laid back in particular are great so a mom can rest as well while nursing her baby.

Cradle Hold: Your baby’s will be on his or her side, facing your chest. His or her head will rest on your arm, and your forearm will gently support your baby’s back. A pillow is helpful, especially with smaller babies, but not a necessity.

Lying Down: Mother and baby lie down together, facing each other. This is a very restful position and can even allow mom to doze or sleep while nursing her child, so it is a particularly useful position at night (remember safe co-sleeping considerations if you will sleep with your baby).

Football Hold: An excellent alternative to the cradle hold if your baby has trouble latching, or if you had a c-section because it positions your baby away from the incision. In the football hold, the baby’s torso is tucked under your arm with his legs pointing behind you. Pillows can help bring his mouth up to the correct height to latch comfortably for a feed.

Laid Back: The laid back breastfeeding position is also referred to as Biological Nurturing. The mother lays back against pillows so she is slightly inclined. Her baby will lay against her chest. Gravity holds the baby in place so mom and baby can relax. This is a good position if you have an overactive letdown or a baby who is prone to reflux after feeding because it gives them better control over the flow of your breast milk.

What worked for you?

I hope this overview helps you find a breastfeeding position that is comfortable for you and your child. Which position is your favorite? Mine is lying down! Share your experiences or questions in the comments below.

Looking for breastfeeding tips and support? This might help!

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Lactation Granola Recipe

lactation granola

Lactation Granola

I’ve had a few requests to share a lactation granola recipe, based on the popularity of my lactation granola bars. I’ve always loved making granola, but it wasn’t something I made specifically for lactation. So, I bought a ton of oats and got to experimenting in the kitchen!

My standard recipes were pretty lactation-friendly, with galactagogues like the oats, flaxseed meal, nuts, and wheat germ. I had not tried Brewer’s Yeast in granola before, though, so I set out to make granola that would pack a big milk-supply-boosting punch.

Lactation granola recipe

Experiment with ‘Mix-ins’

It took a few tries, but once I got the basic recipe down, I had fun trying different mix-ins for variety. I used mini chocolate chips in one batch and I can only say WOW. After three days of snacking I found the whole batch was gone. My milk supply was great… but not sure I needed to eat that much chocolate in just 3 days.

Below is my favorite combo that is also fairly healthy and wallet-friendly. Truth be told, pecans in granola are my absolute favorite. But pecans are more expensive than other nuts so I can’t justify eating them all the time! I’ll also note here that I really recommend using rolled oats (not instant) – this will get you the most satisfying crunch, as well as the best lactation-boosting benefit. (Disclosure: this recipe contains affiliate links.)

Lactation Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

3 cups rolled oatslactation granola recipe
1/2 cup chopped or slivered raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp Brewer’s Yeast
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup honey (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 cup vegetable or coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups of raisins (or dried fruit of choice)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, flaxseed meal, brewer’s yeast and salt in a large bowl
  3. Combine honey, oil and vanilla in a small bowl, heat if needed to liquefy the mixture
  4. Pour honey mixture over oat & nut mixture and stir well until everything is evenly coated
  5. Spread mixture on a large baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. When the granola is golden brown, remove from oven and stir in dried fruit
  7. Cool completely before storing

Lactation Granola recipe

Don’t Be Afraid to Change it Up

The recipe above is my go-to, but like I mentioned above, you can experiment with all kinds of mix-ins. Some examples… I like adding a few tablespoons of chia seeds for extra crunch. Sometimes I use maple syrup instead of honey for a different overall flavor. Of course, you can try different nuts… pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts – they’re all tasty in granola.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, or it inspires you to make your own version of lactation granola. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Not sure where to find Brewer’s Yeast? Click the image to buy!

Check out my other popular lactation recipes:

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