Nursing Strike?

Jennifer - posted on 05/03/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )




Feedings have become challenging lately. Since around Easter he has stopped at least once during most feedings to cry. If we're in the rocking chair, he braces his feet and shoves away from the breast. If we're on the couch, he just turns his head and arches away - crying. Generally standing him up does nothing to soothe the tears but after a few moments he will go back to nursing. This morning though, it took nearly 20 minutes to get him to nurse again. He just screamed and screamed. It got to the point that even just sitting down with him would set him off. He did finally nurse again after his dad got him settled down, but now I'm worried.

The problem does not appear to be gas. He had his check up yesterday so I assume he's clear of ear infections, etc. that would make feeding painful. I asked his doctor about it while we were there, but he said that in the absence of other problems (weight loss, absolute refusal to feed, stool changes) that he didn't have any suggestions. How about you other breastfeeding moms. Any ideas/solutions?


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Shannon - posted on 05/04/2009




I wish I could help but recently my son has been doing it too. Almost exactly what your son has been doing.

Chelsea - posted on 05/04/2009




Well that happened to my son as well, when he turned 4 months and it seems that he is more active and more distracted, so I feed him in a dark quiet room, which helped fix it.

Jennifer - posted on 05/04/2009




Thank you for your comments/stories! I'm paying more attention to when/how this is happening. We're in the middle of another session now. It seems like the worst feeding of the day is the first "awake for good" feeding. He does fine during his 5/6 am "sleep feeding" but the next one is the worst of the day. Today I opted not to push it so we're not having the intense crying but he still hasn't eaten. I'm hoping when he's truly hungry we'll fight past whatever this is.

I think it may have something to do with the milk slow down. He pulled off once or twice while he was nursing well, got sprayed in the face and went happily back to eating. When he pulled off fussing and refused to try again, there was no spray so I'm guessing the flow had slowed a bit. I tried doing the compression thing but since he wasn't willing to try again that didn't help this time. I'll practice with it though.

Ariane - posted on 05/03/2009




i had the same thing where one day he was refusing. i was in tears about it as he was beside himself and ususally the boob is a wonder-cure! turns out he was overtired from a couple of weeks of bad sleeping (went through three month growth spurt and up all night, only catnapping through the day). instead of pushing things with the feed i worked on getting him to sleep. when he woke we tried feeding again and he took it.

when they are too overtired and feed it acts as putting them to sleep and they fight it. if you can get them in a rested state even a cat nap of a jiggle then your bub might be more receptive to taking it.

when my son had a dummy i used that to calm him them quickly put him on the boob.

good luck and don't give up - you are doing a wonderful job.

Allison - posted on 05/03/2009




It's possible that he gets frustrated once your milk slows down, as he prefers the faster flow that happens at the beginning of the nursing session. You could try breast compressions to see if that helps.

[deleted account]

From your profile, it looks like your son is about 4 months old.

At about 5 months, my son had a screaming fit so horrendous once that I called the urgent care. While waiting for a reply, I gave him Tylenol, and then put him in the car. After about 5 minutes in the car, he fell asleep. By the time we got to the urgent care, he was (of course!) perfectly fine. He had started his screaming and crying during the feed that was right before his bedtime. I later realized that I think he was actually just really, really overtired. There could have been some teething pain too, but he specifically did NOT want the breast, which is pretty odd for him.

Now, at 8 months, he's going through a phase of arching away from me while nursing. Sometimes he pushes away too, as well as twisting. The only time he'll do a really settled feed is during his dream-feed in the middle of the night. I remember my daughter doing the same thing. No idea why they do it, but it seems normal. It seems a little like he doesn't have much control of his twisting and arching... like his physical imperative is to be moving, even though he wants to be settled down and nursing. This reminds me of when babies are younger and don't have very good control of their hands... they simply cannot keep from bringing their hands up over their faces and, after a while, when they get tired, this is really frustrating for them because they can't STOP doing it!

At your son's age, there are a number of factors that could be at play. It could be intermittent teething pain, even well before the tooth emerges, but it sounds like he's doing this during EVERY feed, which makes it a little dubious. At around four - six months post-partum, the mother's body gets a lot more efficient at making milk and stops having an over-abundant supply at the ready. Thus, your breasts could go down a size or two and seem less "full" when you nurse, but it's just that your body is producing the milk on demand more efficiently. I think the speed of the let down gets affected, though. His behaviour could be frustration about the speed of your let-down, which changes as the baby ages.

Finally, babies' peripheral vision develops as they age and it seems to get much better between 3-5 months. This is why, if you've had a baby that previously was great at going right back to sleep in the middle of the night, he may suddenly have difficulty. This also leads to LOTS of distraction while nursing, which is pretty frustrating for both parties! I've found wearing a necklace with something for my son to grab onto helps --- it keeps his attention.

Anyway, it sounds like you're doing the right stuff - sticking with it, trying methods of soothing... When my son gets upset, I've found that, at a certain point I just have to do a "reset" with him, which means to STOP switching from one method of soothing to another and just give him a few minutes to cry. I learned this on a flight with my daughter who'd missed her naptime window. No amount of soothing or distraction helped to settle her... she hollered through 2 hours and 40 minutes of a 3 hour flight... Only when we cast up our hands in exasperation did she settle down a sleep for the last 20 minutes of the flight. We soothed neighboring tensions by offering to buy everyone nearby a drink. No one took us up on the offer, but the gesture was clearly appreciated.

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