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 usually does not mean that the baby is ready to wean.

Not all babies will react the same way to the different things that can cause a nursing strike. Some babies will continue to breastfeed without a problem. Other babies may just become fussy at the breast. And other babies will refuse the breast entirely.

Some of the major causes of a nursing strike include:

  • Having mouth pain from teething, a fungal infection like thrush, or a cold sore
  • Having an ear infection, which causes pain while sucking or pressure while lying on one side
  • Feeling pain from a certain breastfeeding position, perhaps from an injury on the baby's body or from soreness from an immunization
  • Being upset about a long separation from the mother or a major change in routine
  • Being distracted while breastfeeding, such as becoming interested in other things going on around the baby
  • Having a cold or stuffy nose that makes breathing while breastfeeding difficult
  • Getting less milk from the mother after supplementing breastmilk with bottles or overuse of a pacifier
  • Responding to the mother's strong reaction if the baby has bitten her while breastfeeding
  • Being upset by hearing arguing or people talking in a harsh voice while breastfeeding
  • 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 for you to feel frustrated and upset, especially if your baby is unhappy. Be patient with your baby and keep trying to offer your breasts. You may also want to pump your breastmilk to offer during the strike and to make sure you do not get engorged.

What you can do

  • Try to express your milk as often as the baby used to breastfeed to avoid engorgement and plugged ducts.
  • Try another feeding method temporarily to give your baby your breastmilk, such as using a cup, dropper, or spoon.
  • Keep track of your baby's wet and dirty diapers to make sure he or she is getting enough milk.
  • Keep offering your breast to your baby. If your baby is frustrated, stop and try again later. You can also try offering your breast when your baby is very sleepy or is sleeping.
  • Try breastfeeding positions where your bare skin is pressed next to your baby's bare skin.
  • Focus on your baby, and comfort him or her with extra touching and cuddling.
  • Try breastfeeding while rocking your baby in a quiet room free of distractions.

source: http://www.womenshealth.gov


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