Nursing Strike

Breast Refusal
Baby Wont Breastfeed! 

Does your baby refuse to breastfeed?

With a nursing strike, a mother might feel rejected, guilty and very distressed.

This can happen during any time in any breastfeeding relationship. The baby might suck for a few minutes and then push away crying and refusing to continue breastfeeding. Your baby might not want to suck at all, even though he/she seems hungry.

Try Dr Harvey's Cuddle cure to calm your baby. Watch the video here. 

Some babies are just very fussy during breastfeeding, stopping a few times, but continuing this way until satisfied. Some babies may be distracted, or restless and might even be fussy after feedings too.

Take a deep breath and remember that this time will be worth it in a few months from now. (Hopefully sooner than that)

Relaxing will help your milk flow more efficiently. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it would be best to stop trying for now and then try again later, when you are feeling calmer. Get some help with your baby, so that you can take a break.

Always make sure that your baby drinks enough, even if you need to feed him/her donor breast milk or formula. If you do need to supplement, it's best to use a supplementary nursing aid

A baby refusing to eat at all "total nursing strike" should be taken to the doctor, so that he/she can be tested for several things, including ear and throat infections or tongue tie.

How do I Know if Baby is Getting in Enough Milk During a Nursing Strike?

1. Your baby should breast-feed at least six times per 24 hours.

2. Amount of wet and dirty diapers according to age group.

3. Weight gain, according to age group

Refusal to breast feed or a breastfeeding strike will usually only last a day or two.

Reasons for Breastfeeding Refusal 

Nursing strike Causes

teething toy, teething baby, baby teething picture
  • The mother has a low milk supply.
  • Pregnancy can change the taste of breast milk, resulting in a baby nursing strike. Read more about breastfeeding while pregnant.
  • If the mother smells different than usual, baby might also pull away. Maybe if you decide to use a different perfume. 
  • The mother has used some new substance or strong tasting cream on her breasts.
  • A Mastitis infection can also change the taste of your breast milk.
  • Oral contraceptives can give your milk a different taste.
  • Unusually long separations from the mother can cause a breast feeding strike.

So What Can I Do to get Baby Back Onto the Breast?

baby massage, massage baby
family on the bed, family with baby, happy family, mom dad and baby
  • Co-sleeping can also help your baby relax while breastfeeding. 
  • Pump or hand express before nursing, to relieve a harsh milk flow. This can also be helpful to those mothers with slow let down reflex problems, as the pumping can get the milk flowing before the baby nurses. 
  • Do not give your baby an artificial bottle, but rather use alternative feeding methods.
  • Do not force your baby onto your breast, wait… be patient. Forcing your baby to breastfeed can make things worse.
  • Using an SNS (lact aid) can help, if the mother's milk supply is low.
  • Using a nipple shield can help, if the mother is struggling with nipple issues. 

One-sided Nursing Refusal

Reasons, why a baby only wants to drink from one specific breast:

  • He/she attaches easier to that specific breast.
  • That breast makes more breast milk.
  • Let down reflex on that breast is more comfortable for the baby.
  • Pain or infection on one side of a baby’s body may cause pain when breastfeeding on one side.

What to Do if Baby won’t Nurse from One Side?

  • Try different breastfeeding positions.
  • Express breast milk from the breast that was not emptied, this will keep up your milk supply up, on that side, so that you can store the breast milk for a later stage and also to prevent engorgement.

Read more here about breast preference.

Calming Baby for Breastfeeding During a Nursing Strike

burping baby, small baby
  • Burp your baby as often as possible.
  • With a nursing strike, it always helps to breastfeed your baby with skin to skin contact.
  • Massage your baby before a breastfeeding session. 
  • Keep baby upright while breastfeeding.
  • Walk and breastfeed (maybe use a breastfeeding sling ).
  • Swaddle your baby.

If your baby won’t breastfeed and is not drinking enough, you need to get to a lactation consultant.

Other pages on “breastfeeding problems" in connection with baby nursing strike

- Reverse cycling - When baby starts breastfeeding more at night

Burt's Bees Baby Bee 100% Natural Nourishing Baby Oil for Massage  

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