Nothing about breastfeeding is easy in the beginning, but just when you think you’ve got it down to a science, your little one suddenly stops nursing! If your baby is younger than two years old, this is most likely not the beginning of a natural weaning process.
You are most likely dealing with the dreaded nursing strike!
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What Is A Nursing Strike?
According to la leche League, nursing strikes typically come on suddenly and are temporary. When your baby stops nursing because of a strike, this is usually temporary and resolves within two to four days. This can seem like an eternity if you are a nursing full-time.
Why Did My Baby Suddenly Stop Nursing?
Nursing strikes can happen for several reasons including:
- Developmental Leaps
- Teething or illness in Baby
- Recent change to nursing habits (returned to work, went out of town, changes to schedule)
- You are pregnant
- You are taking hormonal birth control or an antibiotic or medication that you were not taking previously.
From personal experience, both of my babies have suddenly stopped nursing at some point before they were even a year old. In both cases, I strongly believe that it was due to getting new teeth and having sore and painful gums. In many cases, mothers may incorrectly assume that a nursing strike means baby is ready to be done nursing, but in reality, most babies self-wean between two and four years old.
This assumption can cause big problems if you have a young baby that is still primarily reliant on breastmilk. In this case, you need to take action to make sure you keep your supply up during the nursing strike, which almost always less than a week.
How to Get Through a Nursing Strike
Nursing strikes can be super upsetting and stressful for both mom and baby, but there several things you can do to get through it and the most important one is to STAY CALM! Babies are intuitive and they can feel our stress. If they can sense our stress or frustration, they will react to it.
Don’t Force It
Forcing the issue can make matters worse. It’s much better to act like its no big deal. Offer, but don’t get frustrated.
Consider The Enviornment
If it’s too loud or too quiet or too dark or too light or too calm or too active, a fussy baby might take issue. For my kids, a dark quiet room with no distraction and white noise was also a big help. We love this white noise machine under $20 on Amazon and use it every night.
It can be a little tricky to start, but trying to feed baby while walking around with them in an Ergobaby or Lillebaby carrier can help break the strike.
Try Gripe Water (This Saved Us!)
Sometimes giving a little bit of gripe water in a syringe and then transitioning over to nursing can get a baby to nurse well during a strike.
You may need to do this a few times, but remember, when baby suddenly stops nursing, it is almost temporary and the name of the game is staying calm and waiting it out.
Should I Pump if My Baby Suddenly Stops Nursing?
In the meantime, it’s important to keep pumping to keep up supply, especially if you have a young baby who is not taking solid food yet. Check here for tips on how to get your milk supply up during a nursing strike.
Whatever you do, do not give up! A nursing strike is temporary and when baby suddenly stops nursing, it’s important to consider that things will most likely get back to normal in just a few days. Just stay calm and wait for it to pass.