Breastfeeding: Common Breastfeeding Challenges (cont.)
A nursing "strike" is when your baby has been breastfeeding well for months,
and then suddenly begins to refuse the breast. A nursing strike can mean that
your baby is trying to let you know that something is wrong. This does not
usually mean that the baby is ready to wean. Not all babies will react the same
to the different situations that can cause a nursing strike. Some babies will
continue to breastfeed without a problem. Others may just become fussy at the
breast, and others will refuse the breast entirely. Some of the major causes of
a nursing strike include:
- Mouth pain from teething, a fungal infection like thrush, or a cold sore
ear infection, which causes pain while sucking
- Pain from a certain breastfeeding
position, either from an injury on the baby's body or from soreness from an
- Being upset about a long separation from the mother or a major
change in routine
- Being distracted while breastfeeding - becoming interested in
other things around him or her
- A cold or stuffy nose that makes breathing while
- Reduced milk supply from supplementing with bottles or
overuse of a pacifier
- Responding to the mother's strong reaction if the baby has
- Being upset about hearing arguing or people talking in a harsh voice
- Reacting to stress, overstimulation, or having been
repeatedly put off when wanting to breastfeed
If your baby is on a nursing strike, it is normal to feel frustrated and
upset, especially if your baby is unhappy. It is important not to feel guilty or
think that you have done something wrong. Keep in mind that your breasts may
become uncomfortable as the milk builds up.
What you can do
- Try to express your milk on the same schedule as the baby used to breastfeed
to avoid engorgement and plugged ducts.
- Try another feeding method temporarily
to give your baby your milk, such as a cup, dropper, or spoon.
- Keep track of your baby's wet diapers and dirty diapers to make sure he
or she is getting enough milk.
- Keep offering your breast
to the baby. If the baby is frustrated, stop and try again later. You can also
try when the baby is sleeping or very sleepy.
- Try various breastfeeding
positions, with your bare skin next to your baby's bare skin.
- Focus on the baby
with all of your attention and comfort him or her with extra touching and
- Try breastfeeding while rocking and in a quiet room free of
Ask for help if your baby is having a nursing strike to ensure that your baby
gets enough milk. The doctor can check your baby's weight gain.