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Thread: over a month of on-and-off nursing strike(s)

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    51

    Default over a month of on-and-off nursing strike(s)

    I'm really sorry for the length but am wondering if anyone can relate, or help me to stick it out for one more day, or encourage me about moving onto pumping exclusively. I know it will be a royal pain in the ass, but it's got to be less stressful than this.

    My baby is five months old. Great weight gain (she is nearly triple her birth weight and she was full term!). I have done a lot of reading, and some talking with different lactation consultants/LLL leaders, and after following all their advice I feel that maybe this is just the perfect storm of teething discomfort, negative associations due to OS/OALD since the beginning, bottle preference from when she was supplemented the first couple weeks, an obsession with thumb-sucking, and now a history of traumatic (non-)feedings where she arches away and screams if I offer the breast.

    Since about three months she has been drooling, chewing on everything, and from time to time running a low-grade fever, so I assume this is teething. Combined with that she has been completely opposed to nursing while awake due to distractibility---she wants to crane her head around and look at everything, even when nothing is happening, and gets inconsolably angry when she can't do this and eat at the same time. I have been feeding her while half-asleep or asleep most days for over a month now. It is incredibly disheartening to have her so violently refuse to nurse whenever I offer throughout the day (which is frequently). When she refuses she doesn't merely turn her head away or fuss. She arches her whole body very forcefully, either to look back behind her at whatever fascinating scenery our house provides, or becomes angry and starts crying. She also does this in side-lying position, usually crying and refusing to turn towards me. There is no way to coax her back when she does this without hurting her, because she is resisting so strongly, and all my other techniques for keeping her attention OR calming her (singing, bouncing, walking, shushing, dark room with white noise, etc.) have lost their effectiveness. I have tried giving up and waiting until she gets hungry enough, but beyond the 3-hour point she becomes hysterical and it's not any easier to feed her.

    Judging by how poorly she has responded the past few days to ANY attempts at feeding (quiet, darkened room, all the rest of the typical distractibility and teething advice), I feel like maybe she is too far gone, and I should quit torturing her trying to coax her back. I work part-time from home and pumping exclusively seems like the next best option, though I wanted to continue breastfeeding for at least a year. I've been telling myself it's just a phase and to keep trying for so long.

    From what I read I was hopeful that she would begin waking at night to make up for the lack of good daytime sessions. I already dreamfeed her twice after her bedtime (at 7; so I "wake" her to feed, albeit briefly, at 9 and 11 or 12). I'm quite sure that the thumb-sucking habit is to "blame" for her continued sound sleeping, even though we co-sleep (same room)---i.e., when she wakes up at night, she has learned to self-soothe instead of cry out for nursing like I'm told most babies do. (As an aside, please do not judge me and think I have ever left my baby to cry it out, so that she learned this habit to replace nursing---it started around 10 weeks when oversupply was still in full swing and she seemed to need something to suck on after incredibly brief nursing sessions, when her tummy was full but she still had the urge to suck.) So the bottom line is that night nursing is not making up for the daytime distractibility. I suppose I *could* start setting my alarm at night to do more dream feedings. But is that going to lead to a habit of only eating at night, if she ever does decide to come back to the breast?

    Maybe I just need perspective, but this all seems kind of extreme, and has been going on for SO long (off and on, but as I mentioned, all my methods of dealing with it before are no longer working). I'm seriously worried about my supply and thinking I should just move onto pumping. She takes a bottle fine. I would so appreciate some reassurance/advice here. Thanks.
    Last edited by @llli*tejana; January 15th, 2013 at 11:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    38

    Default Re: over a month of on-and-off nursing strike(s)

    Has an IBCLC checked for a lip or tongue tie? We had lots of breast resistance until we got ours treated. My LO's posterior tongue tie was not visually obvious to me but responded to treatment with a laser and now he doesn't arch violently away and scream like he used to...I suppose the restriction from the frenulum made it painful for my LO to lift his tongue high enough while nursing. That's just one possibility for ya.
    DS born 7/03/2012 Posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie lasered at 5 1/2 months. Nursing is going great now!

  3. #3

    Default Re: over a month of on-and-off nursing strike(s)

    Does your daughter take a pacifier or does she just suck her thumb? I had a similar issue with my son at the same age, and I was at my wits end. The LC that came to my house for an in-home visit, actually said that if her tips didn't work within a few days, to consider weaning because it was like torture for my son, and not enjoyable at all for me! I felt like a failure and that there was something wrong with me as a mother since I could not soothe my son with breastfeeding! Anyways, her tips were 1) more skin-to-skin contact, so I literally cuddled topless with my son for an hour or two each day 2) to nurse when he is asleep/drowsy (which you already are) and 3) to lay him on his side while he is sucking on the pacifier and to remove the pacifier and slip my nipple in so that he 'wouldn't notice'. This was a life saver for our breastfeeding. The pacifier actually worked. I no longer have to use it, as a matter of fact he no longer even takes it... We had a good couple of months after that, and now we are having problems/issues again :-( Never ending, I tell ya!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: over a month of on-and-off nursing strike(s)

    My DD is almost 5 months, and she does something similar, and has done for a while. She went through a phase about a month ago when she would only nurse laying down in a dark room. She's over that now, but does the arching away and yelling thing. I too have had luck with using a paci and doing the switch out. I've also stood her (with support) on the couch in front of me while I sit and nursed her while she stands up.

    My LO doesn't always do these things, but when she does, it drives me crazy! It sounds like yours does it constantly, and so I think it's awesome that you've stuck through this. Just take it one day at a time. You can do this!

  5. #5
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    Sep 2012
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    Default Re: over a month of on-and-off nursing strike(s)

    Ugh, I kept meaning to come back and update and look where the time has gone...update below.

    squirmama, thanks for the suggestion. I saw three different IBCLCs in the first week and none of them said anything about tongue-tie, so I don't think that's going on here.
    Christilou, I definitely sympathize with those feelings. She doesn't take a pacifier at all---just loves her thumb. I've tried sidelying, swapping thumb out for the nipple before she realizes it, but after a couple of times she caught on and it no longer works. How are things going for you now? I hope much better!
    carm3, thanks for the encouragement/sympathy. Nursing with her sitting up has worked a couple of times when it seemed like distraction was the main problem.

    So the big discovery after I wrote this post was that LO has cow's milk protein intolerance. I had been *mostly* off dairy for a while when I wrote that first post, and gradually saw her reflux dwindle to basically nothing. After about a month of that I thought maybe she had just outgrown the reflux and my diet was irrelevant. After two days of going back to eating normally, I realized that her "normal" poops were very foul-smelling diarrhea, which came back along with a rash (which I thought was diaper rash, but looked up pictures and found it was a classic allergic rash), and most notably the reflux was back in full force, along with the arching away/refusing to eat when hungry.

    Up until about a week ago, my return to a *strictly* dairy-free diet made an enormous difference in her reflux--like it was gone--and her nursing behavior was definitely much better. Unfortunately now the reflux seems to be coming back a little bit, maybe because of the teething? Everyone blames everything on teething, from congestion (which she had BAD a couple weeks ago) to reflux, so I figure maybe that's the cause, as I haven't changed my diet. Anyway, we are also back to nursing strike-ish behavior being the norm. The difference now is that she is waking up at night a lot more to nurse, so I have less concern about my supply, and I know I can *usually* nurse her just after she falls asleep for her naps. Now that she is down to 2 naps, that isn't nearly enough feedings during the day, though. It's definitely sad and frustrating not to be able to comfort her with nursing, but she is getting what she needs to grow and be a happy baby otherwise, so I am thankful.

    So there's an update on how this has been semi-resolved! Baby is 6 months and I have been pumping at least once daily in a half-hearted attempt to make sure my supply doesn't take a hit on the really bad days...so she gets a bottle sometimes. She refuses a bottle much less frequently than she refuses to nurse, so some days it's necessary for my sanity.
    Last edited by @llli*tejana; March 7th, 2013 at 10:51 AM.

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