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Thread: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help needed!

  1. #1

    Unhappy Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help needed!

    My LO is 10 weeks old and is growing well. I've had lots of milk and an OALD since the beginning. Baby has been fussing at the breast on and off but always had also a good suck and peaceful moments. Now, since a few days she seems constantly hungry and unhappy but as soon as I try to latch her on she starts crying like crazy. I sooth her and try again. After several tries she finally quiets enough to latch and drinks very fast and nervous. Sometimes she pulls back after only one or two minutes and keeps pulling on and off seeming unhappy and not full yet. Sometimes it helps to burp her, some times to hold her upright for a while and then try again, sometimes nothing at all seems to help...
    This starts to drive me crazy as it takes a lot of patients and energy to get her to nurse and to get her to sleep. I suspect that she has gas or painful reflux resulting from my high supply. I have reduced it some with block feeding which seemed to help but the let-down is still very intense. Sometimes she manages it well and feeds right through it, sometimes it seems to really bother her a lot. I just can't figure out what makes it good one time versus the other really hard and bothersome times...
    WHY IS BREASTFEEDING SUCH AN ISSUE FOR MANY OF US?! Shouldn't it be the most natural thing? I thought I had it all right: natural un-medicated birth, co-sleeping, lots of carrying and holding... and still? It really gets to my sometimes!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    I am having almost the same exact problem - my DD is 8 weeks old, very healthy weight, and breast feeding was going great at first. For the last few weeks she began getting extremely fussy after about 4 minutes at the breast. She would refuse eating after that point and scream bloody murder. Sometimes burping her helped, sometimes switching breasts helped, sometimes nothing helped. Tonight she flat out refused to nurse. She was definitely hungry but everytime I placed her near my breast she SCREAMED. Finally, I just pumped and bottle-fed her, which she was grateful to take and ate very peacefully. Any tips/suggestions would be very much appreciated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    Hi to you both and welcome!

    This is very young for a classic nursing strike. Those tend to happen somewhere north of 6 months. However, the ideas for bringing a baby back to the breast are largely the same whatever the issue is, and you can adjust as needed for babies age. This kellymom article is the best source of ideas I know of. Remember it may take trying something several times before it "works." http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    here are my thoughts on possible reasons for this behavior.
    Baby cannot extract milk well and so they get frustrated (true slow letdown, latch issues, or low production would probably be evident in baby having slow gain, super long nursing sessions, etc. But often milk flow gets "slower" over time and it takes some babies a little while to adjust to this. Also, in some cases, block nursing leads to a "too much lower" milk production and consequently, a too slow flow.)
    OR the flow is so fast, it is more than baby can handle.
    OR baby is becoming used to taking a bottle or pacifier rather than nursing for all food and comfort. This is the dreaded "nipple" confusion, "Flow" confusion, and/or "bottle confusion" you may have heard about.
    OR baby is being fed on a schedule or with some imposed time lapse between sessions, rather than allowed/encouraged to nurse as frequently as baby likes
    OR there is some temporary thing going on- baby is sick, has a stuffy nose, body aches, teething, has a headache or earache etc.
    Of course combinations of the above may occur.


    Some other thoughts:
    For fast flow, what seems to help in many cases is to nurse in a leaning back position with baby more on top of mom, and/or a sidelying nursing position, and to nurse very frequently. If it is very severe, hand expressing a little milk prior to latching or taking baby off once letdown starts, catching the first rush in a cloth, then re-latching can help.

    In its severest forms, reflux can cause nursing refusal in some cases. But more typically, breastmilk is soothing so baby so baby with reflux wishes to nurse more. If steps taken to help baby handle the fast flow do not help, and you continue to suspect reflux, you might discuss that with babies doctor. Kellymom has a good article on reflux as well.

    If letdown is very fast and/or baby is getting very good at nursing, feedings can sometimes become very short and still be enough for baby providing baby nurses frequently.

    If your baby is clearly hungry and will not calm down to nurse, a bottle with a little bit of milk in it prior to offering to nurse baby can be a good idea. This is one of the "instant reward" ideas you will see in the above kellymom article.
    But when using bottles, be careful to avoid the pitfalls that may cause them to create more issues. Use paced bottle feeding (see article linked below for this important bottle giving technique) and keep the amount in bottles no more than the small size of a normal nursing session which would be between 1-4 ounces for an infant over 6 weeks of age.

    bottle feeding breastfed baby: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/f...ottle-feeding/

    tips for fast letdown : http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supp.../fast-letdown/

    Other ideas for when baby is fussy or refusing to nurse, including help for slow letdown: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/chil...-while-nursing

    Some babies just nurse wonky for a while and no cause is ever clear. A baby is getting enough milk if they continue to gain weight normally.

    Sometimes the issue is something to do with baby's ability to nurse normally. Even if baby nursed and gained fine initially, sometimes problems with breastfeeding do not become evident until later. If these issues with your babies being unable or unwilling to nurse do not resolve with your own efforts in a short amount of time, it might be a good idea to see a board certified lactation consultant to make sure all is well with latch and babies ability to transfer milk.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; August 10th, 2014 at 08:53 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. DD is able to nurse fine (without the screaming and refusal) over night and also in the early morning feedings. The extreme fussiness and refusal begin in the afternoon and go into the evenings. I made an appointment with a lactation consultant to rule out some of the other issues that you noted, in case this is just a case of evening fussiness. I'll update if things change.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    The extreme fussiness and refusal begin in the afternoon and go into the evenings
    is baby fussy or crying or difficult to console in general at this time? If so, that could indicate colic, which I know is not a very helpful idea as there is not much to be done in that case aside from riding it out and comforting baby as best you can. MOmmal has a helpful list of colic ideas.

    milk production tends to be 'lowest' at this time of day, as well. Many moms feel "empty" at this time of day and many babies cluster nurse and behave 'fussily' when nursing at this time of day. But generally this is a normal facet of breastfeeding & does not mean baby is not getting plenty of milk overall.

    Yes please let the forum know how things go!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    Thank you too for all the resources. After reading some on kellymom I think I need to try being more relaxed about it. When she is crying but won't take the breast I'll try not to insist too much and wait till later. I'm afraid that otherwise she will really develop a breast aversion.
    In my case too late afternoon and evenings are hardest while nights are just fine. But in general she is hard to feed anytime during the day when she gets tired.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    It could also be a passing phase. My baby has had that so many times before the 6month mark. He would just nurse for a few seconds and pop off - and no, he was NOT an efficient eater at that time so he wasn't getting an ounce a minute or more! The only way I could deal with it was to just pretend I didn't care (when in reality oh did I care) and offer later. Even a few sucks throughout an entire day is ok. My baby once refused to nurse for an entire 24 hours. Seriously. And he wasn't old enough for solids. He wouldn't take a bottle of anything either. I just picked him up to nurse every hour and he'd give a few sucks before realizing he wasn't supposed to be nursing now and he was fine (I took him to the dr because I was so scared he'd get dehydrated). After 24 hours he finally took some EMB from a spoon, and then he'd nurse every hour for real. In his case, the strike happened because he wasn't feeling well and we think he had a stomach virus without the diarrhea and vomiting, which my dr. said was going around at the time (asymptomatic stomach bug).

    Mom to Samuel J.
    born 7lb. 10 oz. and 22" tall
    on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    My LO is doing a similar thing, and it's throughout the day. I think I may have mild OALD and it bothers him sometimes, most often when he's tired, it seems. He'll scream with his mouth open but then pulls his head back and won't close his mouth to latch. It makes me feel so bad for him because he acts like I'm torturing him to nurse. Even if I try again later he'll do the same thing. But he'll usually latch on eventually and be fine. Sometimes he'll pop on and off and start it all again, though! We've had so many nursing issues I suspect I'm in for a nursing strike at some point, but I really hope not. I wish I had answers, but a pacifier has helped a bit to calm him down. We actually introduced one BECAUSE of this behavior, because he was too frantic without something to calm him, and rocking and other things don't always work.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*filmmommy View Post
    We've had so many nursing issues I suspect I'm in for a nursing strike at some point, but I really hope not. I wish I had answers, but a pacifier has helped a bit to calm him down. We actually introduced one BECAUSE of this behavior, because he was too frantic without something to calm him, and rocking and other things don't always work.
    Don't feel that because you had challenges with brestfeeding you will automatically suffer through strikes. We had lots of issues too with latching and tongue-tie that had to get corrected, tons of plugged ducts and more. And still, we only had one nursing strike and that's because of an illness. So don't worry.

    I also found a paci to help. Whenever he refused to nurse, I can trick him with the paci and then pop my boob in while he wasn't paying attention.

    Mom to Samuel J.
    born 7lb. 10 oz. and 22" tall
    on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Nursing strike - getting frustrated and tired, help need

    @Filmmommy. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one experiencing this. Yes I feel the same sometimes as if I'm torturing her or something. Some days are better then others and I try to look at the bright side: Maybe the crying and fussing is the downside of being a very active and attentive baby who is learning a lot? Also it helps to focus on staying relaxed myself. I think it helps my LO to calm down when I stay as calm as possible although it definitely isn't easy. I've started to not trying to nurse her once she cries at the breast but to carry her in a sling or sooth her otherwise and to try nursing later.
    About the pacifier: I've been reluctant to give one, has it helped you a whole lot?

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