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Thread: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Cleveland, Ohio
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    Post Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    I have a 6 month old who stopped nursing during the day at around 5 months but continued to nurse at night and first thing in the morning. During the day he received bottles of pumped breastmilk. I attributed the refusal to nurse during the day to his being so active and distracted by everything around him and figured he would settle down soon and go back to nursing. Over a week ago he came down with a bad cold and since then has refused to breastfeed at all, even during the night. We have been giving him bottles when he won't breastfeed, which I'm afraid has made the problem worse.

    Since he stopped BF during the day I started getting plugged ducts that are very painful and last for days until I can get him to nurse and unplug them. I started taking Lecithin which has helped decrease the plugs but now that he has completely refused the breast the plugs are worse because the pump just doesn't unplug them well. I struggled with my milk supply in the first few months and pumped a lot to stimulate production. I HATE the pump but breastfeeding is so important to me that even when my son started sleeping through the night I would wake up to pump and keep my supply.

    After researching online I spent the last 2 days trying to break his strike by feeding only with a cup, spending lots of skin to skin time, and offering the breast often. Today I broke down and gave him a bottle because he was so hysterical and hungry. (He'd only had a couple ounces of milk from the cup in 48 hrs). My son has never been that into "sucking", never took a pacifier and eating has always been just business. We actually struggled with is weight quite a bit until he started refusing the breast last month and he started with bottles during the day. He seems to eat much more that way and seems happier. We also started solids a few weeks ago and he seems to love feeding himself and mealtime.

    I had hopes of breastfeeding past a year but if I have to exclusively pump I just don't know how long I can keep it up. I feel tied to our home and rejected by my baby, who kicks and screams and scratches whenever I offer him the breast. I want what's best for him and I just don't know if I should give up and resign myself to pumping or keep fighting him all the time. I don't want our relationship to be defined by struggle! Does anyone out there have any advice? Been through anything like this? Help!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    Oh mama, that must be so hard!

    I know a lot of people say that babies don't self-wean before 12 months, but I don't buy it, since I personally know 2 kids who self-weaned at 9 and 10 months. Both their moms did EVERYTHING they could to get their LOs back to the breast, but the kids wouldn't have it, so the moms finished out the year with the pump. Which makes hem total heroes in my book- I did a lot of pumping in the early days with my first kid, and it got old fast. Always being chained to the pump, needing to choose between caring for the baby and pumping, having to plan my day and especially my outings around pump breaks- ugh!

    I think at this point, we can't tell you what you should do. You certainly do NOT want to be fighting your baby, and facing the rejection. But on the other hand, if you could get the baby back to the breast maybe things would ultimately be easier on you... Maybe just try to offer the breast in as low-stress, low confrontation manner as possible? If the baby takes it, great. If not, okay- go and pump.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Utah
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    I am so sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. This might not work for you, but it's worth a shot. When I was having difficulties nursing my son, someone suggested taking a relaxing bath with him and dimming the lights so that both of us were in full relax mode and try then.

    Also, you can use your pumped milk in food to help him get the nutrition he needs from your milk. Shredded wheat cereal is great for just sucking up tons of milk! Let is sit and soak and soften and then put it on your sons tray. They are a great size for little ones to grip and SO easy to prepare and clean up. My son absolutely loves them! Stay away from the "frosted" kind, they have lots of added sugar little ones don't need.

    I wish I had more advice on the plugged ducts! Perhaps if you pumped more often they wouldn't have a chance to form?
    Nursling: Kevin (March 2012)

  4. #4
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    Jan 2013
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    iowa
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    You said he was sick when he started to totally refuse, any chance of an ear infection?

  5. #5
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    Feb 2013
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    Cleveland, Ohio
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    Post Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    Thank you so much for answering and for the support! Over the last few days I've thought a lot about my dilemma and started to accept our current situation. Since I stopped trying so hard to get my LO to nurse, things have settled back down and we're starting to laugh again and have fun. Yesterday he rolled over while we were playing on the floor and I sensed he was interested so I offered my breast and he latched for a minute or so. I was so nervous it seemed like it took forever to get a letdown. Once I did letdown, he nursed for just a couple seconds before turning away and started to play again. I was so happy and gained an enormous amount of hope, but he hasn't taken it since even though I'm offering it every couple of hours, even at night.

    I read about the bath idea online and I've tried it a couple times but bath time might be my son's favorite time of day. He plays pretty hard when he hits the water (loves swimming lessons these days too) so I'm not sure I can settle him down enough to focus on nursing. He's been taking bottles of pumped milk, sleeping well, and been pretty cheerful so I don't think he has an ear infection. We had his 6 month appointment a couple days after his cold/fever started and his ears were fine then, but we're going back this week for his vaccinations and I'll have them check again just to be sure. Love the shredded wheat idea and I'll file it away for when he's doing finger foods. Also, I bought a nipple shield today thinking I would try that and see if it makes a difference. Although, I think he likes the instant gratification and freedom of bottles, rather than the rubber nipple.

    I can't tell you enough how much your kind words meant to me during such a difficult time! I'm pumping as I type this and my plan for now is to stick it out for as long as I can to keep him on breast milk. I'm still hoping we'll have a breakthrough in the future and I would certainly appreciate any other advice or wisdom you have to offer!

  6. #6
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    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    Hi laurenelli44, my LO went through a brief nursing strike a couple months ago when she had a cold. I completely panicked. Then I read through all the kelly mom info about getting baby back to breast - you may have read through it already, but if not here's the link: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/.
    One thing that struck me about your post is that feeling of being nervous about whether the baby will take the breast or not - that is exactly how I felt! But one thing the kelly mom guidelines talk about is being really relaxed and casual when offering. So I basically had to psych myself into being relaxed and casual, even though that was the exact OPPOSITE of how I was feeling, but once I was actually able to feel that way, LO got back on and we went back to business as usual. Anyway, just a thought. Hope he gets back to nursing soon!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    bump

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    Here's an update on the nursing situation:

    It's been over a week now since my LO latched and nursed and I'm not having any luck with offering the breast. I've tried every recommendation I've gotten and everything I've seen online. He's eating like a champ from the bottle and still enjoying his solids, but he just has no interest in the breast. I've haven't tried again to break the strike by removing bottles since the last attempt was so traumatic. We saw our pediatrician again last week and he was clear of any ear infections or health problems, although his top tooth is visible through the gum now so I'm sure that makes him uncomfortable. The doctor believes though that we had a sort of "perfect storm" that led to the strike. The combination of a bad cold, teething, stress, his age and distraction all hit at once. In general, I'm feeling better about our situation and our new normal. My son was never much of a cuddler and one of his issues with the breast, I think, was that he hated being held close. That was part of my heartbreak with letting go of breastfeeding because it was the only time I could successfully hold him close. However, since I cut back on trying to hard, he has been much more affectionate and both my husband and I are really enjoying him. I've continued to pump so he's receiving expressed breastmilk and my plan for now is to continue my "affair" with the pump for at least a year. Since we've had a week of relative calm and we all seem to be at peace, I think I'm going to start offering the breast more today and see if he might be more interested. Thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    Thanks for the update. If anything, I'm glad you're feeling more at peace with the situation. Babies definately need happy Mamas! I just wanted to chime in and say my babies sound similar to yours - I had the same issues. And because I work full-time, the bottles and daytime separation was just another contributing factor. But like you, I've accepted that this is just how it is. Especially with DS - he wasn't very "snuggly." DD is more snuggly so I've been able to "dreamfeed" (nurse her in her sleep) her for longer (she's almost 11 months now) - but during the day - it's all bottles! We're still breastfeeding Moms - because we feed our babies with breast milk. Period!
    Blessed with DS - born 9/2/09 - nursed/pumped for 12 months
    Blessed with DD - born 3/27/12 my dreamfeeder

    903 ounces donated.
    http://www.wakemed.org/landing.cfm?id=135

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Nursing-strike or self-weaning?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*worknpump View Post
    We're still breastfeeding Moms - because we feed our babies with breast milk. Period!
    Absolutely true!

    I think your plan sounds great, and I'm glad to hear that you are all at peace with it.

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