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Thread: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

  1. #1
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    Default Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Hello!

    I am so grateful to be able to ask questions of this smart group of mamas.

    My daughter is 10 months old. We EBF until 7 months when I started very slowly introducing solids. Frankly I was surprised I made it that far considering weekly plugged ducts and other issues that made BF-ing really painful for the first 4-5 months.

    Basically, from day one my baby uses the breast for food (not comfort) and if milk is not readily available, she gives up. She never "cues" hunger and is SO easily distracted that we can't nurse anywhere but home, in bed. So nursing for us has been very limiting rather than liberating. But I've stuck it out. My daughter had serious surgery at 4 months old and I credit breast milk for helping her stay free of infections, etc.

    Because it seems to be up to me to offer rather than be asked, I offer the breast every 3-4 hours. She will not nurse unless I am slightly "full" which, at 10 months, is a sensation I hardly feel anymore. So I have concerns about supply too. But sometimes she just won't nurse, even if it's been 5 hours. I try and try but since we have to nurse at home there are many times when I can't keep trying and we need to get on with our day. So I will end up pumping (while stressed and rushed) and give her what I pump in a straw cup. The whole process takes HOURS and I wish there was a way to break this cycle. Do I need to boost supply to keep her interested? Should I just see how long she goes on her own before she will nurse?

    Everyone (family, friends, pedi) are telling me she's "weaning" but in my heart I don't think she is. I just think we are out of sync. I really want to make this work. I am teary and stressed about it every day because I just don't know what to do.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Gigi,
    Your LO sounds a lot like mine. She is also 10 months, nurses for food and not comfort and the last2 months we have been struggling. When your LO won't nurse how does she respond? Mine will latch, and latch, and latch tons of times but only stay on for 10 seconds then pull off crying it of frustration that she isn't getting milk. Just curious if yours is similar.

    Our IBLC thinks its related to a tongue and lip tie, but I am more convinced it is behavioral and she just has no patience for the process of breastfeeding. She gets bottles while I work and a couple of weeks ago we started paced bottle feeding. She fusses just like at the breast, and unfortunately it hasn't gotten any better yet.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Just because your baby is extra distractible right now, that doesn't mean that you need to accept that and allow distractability to turn into self-weaning. Sometimes a mom has no choice in the matter- I know a few of babies who have self-weaned before a year. But don't let what other people have to say about weaning dictate what you do, in terms of offering.

    Have you tried taking your LO into a dark, quiet, low-distraction environment when it's around the time to nurse? Sometimes the world is just too interesting for a baby to focus on nursing, or even to remember that she is hungry. A nursing necklace might be useful, too, since it would give your Lo something to play with while she's waiting for the letdown to start.

    Is your LO getting a lot of bottles/sippies? Sometimes when a baby has easy alternatives for nursing- especially one she can carry around with her while she's exploring all the interesting things in her environment- that allows her to forgo nursing more easily. Maybe stick to a open cup for a while, and see if that changes her enthusiasm for nursing?
    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!"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    kadiebug12 - She's not frustrated as much as totally uninterested. It's as if I'm forcing her to nurse which feels so wrong. She does pop on and off a lot but doesn't cry, just turns her head.

    mommal - Yes, we nurse in a dim room, lights off, blinds closed, same room every time. This means I don't ever leave the house for more than a couple hours which is very limiting.

    How do I know for sure whether or not she's weaning?

    How many times should I offer before resorting to pumping? I can't believe how long she can hold out. Wouldn't she get hungry or thirsty eventually?

    I am worried that all this distractibility and disinterest has caused a dip in my supply which makes her even less interested, and the cycle continues.
    (To answer your other question, she's getting sippy cups only as a last resort when we've had multiple failed nursing attempts - maybe 5-6 times a week. She was never bottle fed but figured out the straw a couple months ago.)

    I am not ready to wean and I don't believe she truly is either since when I'm fullest (and she's hungriest) she's happy to get her milk from the breast.
    Should I attempt to increase my supply to entice her? Pumping does not seem to be boosting it. If anything, it seems I haven't made enough milk to interest her in time for her next feeding if I've been pumping.

    I am so sad about all this. I am trying really, really, hard to tune out all the people telling me she's weaning but it's difficult when she seems so uninterested in nursing.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Hi gigi, and welcome to the forum.

    Although many babies DO stop nursing prior to 12 months, is that truly natural weaning? In almost every case, I would suggest no, it is not. Because in most cases an infant truly needs the nutrients of breasmilk until a year, even well past a year. So it just does not make sense, from a biological standpoint, that a baby would totally wean so early. (On their own.)

    Nursing strikes, on the other hand, are fairly common and some can last for quite some time.

    Other reasons for "early onset weaning" are the use (or overuse) of bottles, pacifiers, (this is called "triple nipple syndrome" , sleep training or feeding schedules....in other words, baby is not encouraged to nurse frequently or to comfort nurse.

    Then, once in a while, you get a case where mom really is doing everything to encourage baby to nurse and baby just stops. Kadiebug has been going through that, it's terribly frustrating.

    Since this issue began, have you seen an IBCLC to have breastfeeding assessed?

    Have you tried various "instant reward" techniques for encouraging nursing?

    How about an at the breast supplementer (Lactation aid?)

    Nipple shield?

    I see nothing wrong with the idea of increasing your supply to encourage nursing. If pumping alone is not doing the trick, there are many galactagogues you can consider, from simple foods like oatmeal and some other grains, to herbs, to medication. It may work and it may not-If it works, and baby nurses more, great. If it does not work, you will have plenty of milk for your baby to take via bottle or sippy or whatever, into toddlerhood. This is healthy and good for your child so that is pretty much a win win. But maybe I am missing something- What is your hesitancy about trying to increase your production?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Hi lllmeg -

    I had chronic plugged ducts every week for the first 5-6 months of nursing. My daughter was due for major surgery and her weight gain was a primary concern so I literally lived on the couch, pumping, nursing, taping breast supplementers to the plugged side so she would nurse from it, etc. After the plugs cleared there was always a supply drop due to the trauma so I took fenugreek, ate oatmeal, more milk plus, and kept pumping. After awhile my freezer was so full I started donating milk. Then it occurred to me that I might be OVER producing and as soon as I stopped pumping so much, the duct issue got better (one side still produces about half the volume of the other but overall she was getting enough).

    Then, when my baby was about 8 months and getting "practice" solids (finger food) my cycle started up again and my supply tanked. I stopped feeling any fullness, letdown, etc. and my pumping output decreased. She also seemed less interested in nursing. At first I thought it was that she didn't like the taste of my milk when I was ovulating. Then I thought it was teething. But it just seems to be happening all the time now, without a pattern.

    So, the short answer, I'm a little afraid of over-producing because I don't want to get plugged ducts again. But I also know she's a happy camper with a full breast. I know floppy breasts still have milk in them but she's not buying it!

    The IBCLC I saw many times when she was a newborn told me she's just distracted. If that's the case, that's fine, but I can't keep this up all day long without my body thinking she's weaning, even if she's not.

    I am already eating steel cuts oats for breakfast, staying hydrated, rested, etc.

    Oh, and, this is a baby who has never had a pacifier, very few bottles, is not sleep trained, co-sleeps with me most of the night, has access to me all day long, etc.

    It's so worrisome to not know what's going on. How do I know if she's thirsty or hungry if she can't tell me?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    How do I know if she's thirsty or hungry if she can't tell me?
    Is your baby showing any signs of dehydration or not gaining? Also, she had/has health issues which you do not specify-could they in any way impact your baby's appetite or ability to nurse?

    I understand about the plugs, and what may have happened here is that when you went from overproduction to underproduction, baby was less able to nurse effectively. So this is why you might want to consider seeing an IBCLC again, to see if there is some physical barrier to your baby being able to suckle effectively unless milk is flowing super strong. Maybe see a different IBCLC who is experienced with older babies.

    I get the concern about the plugs, but at this point, it is unlikely anything you take is going to increase your production like mad over night. As long as you keep an eye out for engorgement and keep removing the milk from your breasts frequently and effectively, you should be able to avoid plugs as you try some ideas for increasing production. Kellymom.com has some good info on galactagogues as does the book Making More Milk

    Yes I understood you had not been doing bottles etc. I mean I figured. I always try to put that info in when these kind of questions arise because so often when we DO see early onset weaning, triple nipple syndrome or the like is a possible cause. Then moms are told weaning this early is normal because so many babies are basically encouraged to wean early.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*gigi2961 View Post
    Hi lllmeg -

    I had chronic plugged ducts every week for the first 5-6 months of nursing. My daughter was due for major surgery and her weight gain was a primary concern so I literally lived on the couch, pumping, nursing, taping breast supplementers to the plugged side so she would nurse from it, etc. After the plugs cleared there was always a supply drop due to the trauma so I took fenugreek, ate oatmeal, more milk plus, and kept pumping. After awhile my freezer was so full I started donating milk. Then it occurred to me that I might be OVER producing and as soon as I stopped pumping so much, the duct issue got better (one side still produces about half the volume of the other but overall she was getting enough).

    Then, when my baby was about 8 months and getting "practice" solids (finger food) my cycle started up again and my supply tanked. I stopped feeling any fullness, letdown, etc. and my pumping output decreased. She also seemed less interested in nursing. At first I thought it was that she didn't like the taste of my milk when I was ovulating. Then I thought it was teething. But it just seems to be happening all the time now, without a pattern.

    So, the short answer, I'm a little afraid of over-producing because I don't want to get plugged ducts again. But I also know she's a happy camper with a full breast. I know floppy breasts still have milk in them but she's not buying it!

    The IBCLC I saw many times when she was a newborn told me she's just distracted. If that's the case, that's fine, but I can't keep this up all day long without my body thinking she's weaning, even if she's not.

    I am already eating steel cuts oats for breakfast, staying hydrated, rested, etc.

    Oh, and, this is a baby who has never had a pacifier, very few bottles, is not sleep trained, co-sleeps with me most of the night, has access to me all day long, etc.

    It's so worrisome to not know what's going on. How do I know if she's thirsty or hungry if she can't tell me?
    I feel like we have a similar story. The only thing that has really been constant for us is night time nursing. My baby doesn't eat dinner, either, because she's so exhausted she just wants me. Other than that (nursing about 5 times and sometimes 7 times from like 6pm-6am), the days are just a mess. Or at least I think they are, she must think it's fine because she is happy. Never had a pacifier, never once had a bottle. She is 8 months.

    It doesn't sound to me like your baby would wean. I think she is interested in the world, but think about this. Because you avoided and did not have to use artificial nipples and formula, your baby knows that the only option is your breasts or now solids. She is incapable of rejecting what she needs, in my opinion, because she can't deny her bodily needs. I think that takes mental effort which babies lack, and even children as well. If she needs milk, and you're the only option, and she's gaining fine, happy, etc. then she will come to you to get it. That's what I'm choosing to believe with my baby even though it seems to me like she should be nursing more or less. She's the only one who knows how much to eat.

    If the IBCLC told you a newborn was distracted, that does not sound right to me. I think older babies are distracted, a newborn would refuse for other reasons. Oversupply would be a definite refusal reason, which sounds like you had a bad case of. It *might* cause permanent refusal if it never went away?? But floppy breasts sound like your supply is regulated. When did this happen? That in itself might cause a strike until she gets used to the slow flow.

    I had very bad oversupply that didn't go away until after 5 months. Then I was able to nurse baby to sleep for naps and bed easily. I guess that would qualify as comfort nursing. How does your baby go to sleep? Sorry if I missed that part!

    My baby just started crawling and furniture surfing, at 8 months! Like she just turned 8 months. So, nap nursing has become difficult but if she's tired enough she will.
    Last edited by @llli*karrieperry; August 16th, 2013 at 07:23 AM.
    and Mama to two little girls

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*gigi2961 View Post
    How do I know for sure whether or not she's weaning?
    Such a tough question. I think the answer is that you don't know whether or not your child is on a nursing strike/nursing slowdown or has actually self-weaned until she hasn't nursed at all in weeks and weeks, and ignores you every time you offer.

    It doesn't sound like you're there yet!
    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!"

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nursing Strike v. Weaning at 10 months?

    karrieperry - Do you pump during the day if your baby is refusing to nurse? How do you protect your supply when she's just nursing at night (I'm sorry that is happening; you must be so tired!)

    mommal - Is nursing slowdown something that is ok to let happen? i.e. are you saying that would be a natural part of her getting older whereas a nursing strike is something I need to work on? Why would she slow down if she's not getting liquids from other sources?

    lllmeg - She had a major surgery for a spinal cord anomaly at 4 months old. I pumped 30 oz./day bedside in the PICU and "dangled" over her bed to comfort nurse her. Once we got home, she went back to nursing. I stopped pumping so much without the pressure of the surgery and my supply seemed to regulate such that I stopped getting so many plugged ducts. She seemed to have no problem extracting milk even with a less full breast because her weight gain was steady. But then around 8 months everything changed. I think she's still gaining (based on her 9 month check-up), more slowly now but I know that's normal. She wets about 4 diapers a day. Not soaking. She has energy, seems content enough. In fact, she seems content even when she hasn't nursed for 6 hours! I think that's why this causes so much anxiety. I actually have nightmares about her suddenly wasting away and I didn't realize it was it happening.

    What's most confusing to me is how many times I should try, how long I should let it go on, before resorting to pumping and trying to feed her via cup. Yesterday, for example, she nursed at 4:30am, a little at 8:30am and then refused at noon. She had part of a peach for breakfast so it wasn't like she was full of solids. I tried again and again until about 1:30pm when I started worrying that I should pump. So I pumped about 4 oz. and gave it to her. Then at 5pm I tried again, and she was not interested. I tried a few times until 6:30pm when I pumped again and got about 3.5oz, which I gave to her. Should I not pump and just hold out a little longer if it happens again today? Will my supply come back up if she starts nursing again?

    This has been so hard on my relationship with her and my relationship with others. No one understands why I can't just throw her in the car and go on a family outing for the day. She's 10 months old and I have never left the house for more than a few hours. I was really hoping things would get easier as she got older, and if they do, I'm happy to nurse her forever, but I need to figure this out soon.

    Thanks again for the advice. I don't have anyone else to turn to right now.

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