Follow Tmuffin:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Diary of a Nursing Strike - A Conclusion (Hopefully)

What NOT to do when your baby is going through a nursing strike

Well, I think Baby T's nursing strike is ending. At least I hope so. The past few days have been a little bit iffy and a little bit promising.

With a little help from my friends, and the information about nursing strikes on, I was able to keep my cool and coax Baby T back to the boob. Here are some of the tricks that worked for me:

Do not starve your baby into nursing
Oops. I am guilty of this. Since he doesn't really eat solids yet, and I didn't want him to get accustomed to drinking from the bottle over me, and I thought "when he is hungry, he will eat." Apparently, when he is hungry, he will turn into an irritable little monster and refuse all offers of food, nurturing, singing or kisses. Which will make mommy even more frustrated.

Don't continue trying to get baby to take the breast after major frustration (either mom's or baby's) sets in
Oops. I am guilty of this. I knew I wasn't supposed to continue, but there were a couple of nights when, after apparently starving my baby, I thought, "he HAS to be hungry. Come on--NURSE already!!" and tried jamming my boob into his mouth. It appears that this is not the most effective approach.

Kellymom says: Sometimes it can be helpful to offer a little supplement at the beginning of a feeding; this can take the edge off baby's hunger so he has more patience to work on the breastfeeding. If you've been working on latching and hunger is getting in baby's way, go quickly to whatever alternative feeding you're using. If you're both totally frustrated, give a whole feed, but if you think your baby is up for it (and you are too), only offer enough supplement to calm him and go back to working on breastfeeding.
Oops. I am guilty of not doing this. Sometimes I would have Baby T eat some solids before nursing, but he never eats much solid food anyway. Going back to the hungry thing, I always figured if he was hungry enough, he would nurse, so I didn't offer a supplement before nursing. However, when we would get totally frustrated, I would leave his nursery in a huff, hand him to Big T, and say, "just give him a bottle." At which time he would not take the bottle or eat anything because by then he would be too upset.

Maintain your milk supply when the baby is not nursing
Yay! I did this. Usually after handing Baby T to Big T and saying "just give him a bottle," I would say--add pissy, dissapointed attitude--"I have to pump." The day I forgot to bring my double electric pump home from work sucked, and my forearms got a workout from using 2 hand pumps at the same time. If your baby is having nursing issues, make sure you have your electric pump with you at all times.

Your goal is to coax baby to the breast. Do not attempt to force your baby to breastfeed. Avoid pressuring baby to nurse. Offer in an ultra-casual way and pretend you don't mind if he refuses.
Yeah. Oops--but only for the first 2 days or so. We got a lot better at this. During Baby T's nursing strike, he also became quite adept at giving high fives, so after he would pop off the breast and get a little fussy, the routine would go as follows:
Mom: Pretend sneeze (this is pretty much a guaranteed tension breaker)
Baby T: laugh
Mom: Pretend cough
Baby T: giggle
Mom: *Puts out hand* High five!
Baby T: laughs while hitting my hand over and over again.
Note: This only worked for a few days. After that, he became privy to the intention behind my games, and would only calm down if we got up out of the nursing chair. So off we would go.

"Wear," carry, hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible
All RIGHT!! Two points. We did this too. A lot. For some reason, my active and squirmy baby always calms down when I wear him on my chest in the wrap. We had a lot of babywearing sessions during the strike.

Lots of skin-to-skin contact
This was hard to do since it's winter and our electric bill went up $100 last month, so we're trying not to keep it too warm in the house. But when I wore him in the wrap, I would try to keep him skin-to-skin with me.

Drip expressed breastmilk (if you have it) or formula onto the tip of the nipple as you're latching (use an eyedropper or a bottle). You can continue this while you're breastfeeding
This was my go-to method for a while. But deep in the throes of the strike, even this didn't work. I would suggest it as a very effective instant fix, though. I used a medicine dropper that came with one of his gripe waters to drip milk down my breast and into his mouth while his mouth waited under my nipple. Instant latch! I would also squirt milk into the corner of his mouth if he was about to get fussy in between letdowns.

This involves getting into a warm tub with baby, and placing baby on mom's tummy in the bath, and just stroking and talking quietly to baby. Baby may eventually work himself up to the breasts, where he will suckle. This is a nice idea, but you try getting into a bathtub with a slippery 8 month old little worm who is trying to pull himself up on the edge of the tub and continually splashing you with water. However, maybe this explains why he nursed so readily after his swimming lesson last week.

Try different nursing positions, or try nursing while moving
I did notice that Baby T was trying to rearrange himself across my chest, and on his tummy, a lot while nursing. I tried to put him in this position to begin with. I tried feeding him while walking around, just pulling up and offering the breast. One thing that did work was, after calming him down by bouncing on the exercise ball and holding him in a cradle position, he started sucking on my shirt. I offered him the breast while still bouncing, and he was all for it.

 Monday night he nursed all night. He was up every 2 hours, and wouldn't unlatch. So I pulled him into bed with me, and he nursed for hours on end. Once  he was up for the day, he was a little more hesitant. He would want to nurse every hour or so, but just for a few minutes at a time. When I put him down for his first morning nap, he pulled the old "freak out on the boob." Chill relaxed mommy said, "Ok, I guess you're done eating for now" and wrapped him up in his swaddle blanket on the floor. Well... he still seemed hungry. So I kneeled over him and offered the boob. He took it right away and nursed for another 5-10 minutes. When I told Big T about my success with a new position, he said, "Like an udder?" Yup. Like an udder. Once he took the breast that way, I was able to move into a side-lying position.

We tried the udder position again tonight. I got a giggle out of him, and then he latched on. I think I'm onto something!

This morning, he was acting hungry and sucking away on my shoulder, but refused to nurse in his bedroom. So we moved to my bedroom, waving to Big T along the way, and he had no problems when laying next to me on my big bed.

In conclusion
The hardest part of this experience was keeping my cool. Let's face it, that is the hardest part of every situation for me. This has been a good lesson. Parenting in general is a good lesson. Let's hope this makes me a better person. (Just as long as you keep nursing, Baby T).


Helen Lloyd said... Best Blogger Tips

I've only just come across these posts after following your blog for a while, and just wanted to say thank you! My little 8mo treasure isn't quite in full-on strike at the moment but we are struggling and so much of what you describe rings true, so it's a huge relief to hear you got through it and pick up some tips.

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm sorry that she seems on the verge of a nursing strike, but I'm so glad you picked up some tips! Thinking that those days might have been the end of our nursing relationship was so emotional for me! But I knew I didn't want it to end, and keeping positive (and staying calm) really helped.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...