I recently posted about how to tell the difference between weaning and a nursing strike; now I would like to talk about what to do if your baby is refusing to breastfeed. If your baby abruptly stops breastfeeding, chances are that you have a nursing strike on your hands(true weaning is usually very gradual). Nursing strikes happen for a variety of reasons and can be extremely frustrating and disheartening. One important thing to remember is that it is not your fault and with time you can get your baby back to breastfeeding. Use some of the following tips to help coax your baby back to the breast:
- Nurse while sleepy – Try offering to breastfeed your baby when he is calm and sleepy. Reflexes often take over when a baby is sleepy; try nursing your baby when they have just woken up or even while they are still asleep!
- Nurse in different positions – some babies may nurse in some positions and not others. Try nursing while standing up, in a sling, while dancing, or while laying down. I made it through a nursing strike when my son was 4 months old by only nursing laying down when he was asleep.
- Skin-to-skin contact – spend as much time skin-to-skin with your baby as possible. Lay in bed without your top and with your baby wearing nothing but a diaper; take baths with your baby.
- Wear baby in a sling – wear your baby in a sling during the day; this has many benefits and it allows you to quickly recognize when your baby might be ready to nurse.
- Sleep with your baby- keep your baby close to you at night, preferably skin-to-skin.
Remember to keep your baby fed and to not pressure him to nurse. If your baby is not nursing at all you will need to supplement with expressed breast milk; consider using a cup or an eye dropper as bottles can cause nipple confusion (which could be the original cause of the nursing strike). Contact a La Leche League Leader or a Lactation Consultant if you suspect that there is a physical reason behind the nursing strike.