Nursing strikes are very common. They are sometimes triggered by a traumatic event, but can also occur for no apparent reason at all. It may seem like baby is trying to wean himself, but it is very unusual for a baby to wean on his own before age one. A clue that baby isn’t trying to wean himself is that he will seem unhappy during the strike, may briefly take the breast, but then begin fussing and refuse again. You may not be able to identify the cause of the strike, but here are some possibilities:
- Sudden traumatic event – the most common of these is mom yelling when baby bites her while nursing, which is a common, and understandable, occurrence.
- Stress in the home
- Illness such as ear infection or sever nasal congestion
- Visitors in the home
- Big changes in the living environment
Here are a few things you can do to get through and encourage baby to begin nursing again:
- Try “sneaking” the breast in during the night, or nap time when baby starts to stir, but isn’t fully awake yet.
- Spend a lot a skin-to-skin time with baby without specifically trying to offer the breast.
- Try to nurse baby in an unusual situation, such as walking around or other moving situation.
- Try a variety of positions.
You may need to pump your breasts to relieve engorgement during the strike. Baby may take this pumped milk from a cup or bottle.
Strikes usually last 2 to 4 days, and almost never result in permanent weaning.