One week ago my daughter abruptly refused to nurse. She had nurse twice that morning and then kept her mouth shut and turned away. I assumed she wasn’t hungry so we went about our business and left to go on some errands. We met my husband for lunch and she ate her food normally. Then we went back to the car to nurse to minimize distractions since she will not nurse in public and she refused again. By this point it had been about 4 hours since she had last nursed. Not terribly alarming but she usually does every 2 hours. We continued our errands and an hour and a half later she started getting very fussy so I though she was finally hungry and ready to nurse. But when I offered she would not latch on and turned away. Of course I had no pump with me and now I was getting worried. We headed home and once there I offered again while on the bed with the lights low in a very quiet room. That did not work either. I pumped because I was very full at this point since it had been 6 hours. I wasn’t sure if she would take the milk if she was getting sick and maybe her belly was bothering her but she greedily took the milk from a bottle and I became very confused.
Whenever I have breastfeeding questions I go straight to KellyMom.com for answers. I’ve found it to be an amazing resource and I know many mamas who have gotten advice and peace of mind from the information they post. I read articles about limiting bottle and pacifier use, so we did that. I offered my breast each time she needed to eat and then when she refused I would give her milk by cup or with a straw a bit of time later. For a few days she would still nurse over night and first thing in the morning, and I would pump during the day. Then she eventually refused to nurse at any time of day.
She has not nursed at all for 3 days now. She gets upset when I even offer. I have had to resort to giving her milk in a straw cup. At least she is happy and fed.
I, on the other hand, am devastated. After fighting so hard to establish a breastfeeding relationship I thought we really succeeded and had it down. We didn’t even get the hang of breastfeeding until she was about 5 months after we had her tongue and lip tie revised. She never weaned from the nipple shield and annoying as it was to carry around that darn thing I did it because I had to in order to breastfeed.
My breastfeeding goals started small and gradually increased in time as we continued to meet them. I finally got comfortable enough to say that I would breastfeed her until she was ready to wean. I had no idea that would be at 9 months. Though I read that no baby is ready to wean before 1 year, this week has seemed to prove otherwise and been so emotionally exhausting for me. I would love to be able to give her breastmilk until she is mostly eating solid foods. I have a huge deep freezer stash of milk to help me along which I am very thankful for. But I just am having a very difficult time dealing with this monstrous change.
I feel as though I am doing something wrong. Is it too hard for my daughter to get my milk out? Is she uncomfortable from teething pain? Does she no longer find comfort in the closeness during nursing?
Breastfeeding is part of my identity as a mother which is why I did everything in my power to make it work for us. It is important to me for both the nutritional and nurturing aspects. I love being able to sneak away to just be with my baby when she needs to eat. I love that my body is able to nourish hers. I love holding her close and laugh every time she sticks a hand or foot in my mouth.
I’ve been really upset this past week trying to deal with my feelings on this. I still offer and she still refuses. It hurts my heart as though she is rejecting me. But I still have a small glimmer of hope that she will re-latch one of these times. So, I continue to pump to keep up my supply. And I continue to hope that she will return to nursing.
Did your baby ever go on a “nursing strike”? How long did it last? What ways were you able to encourage your baby back to the breast?