Just when I think I know what I’m doing with a baby, my five-month-old goes on a nursing strike. He’s been a great nurser since coming home from the hospital. We had a few road blocks, but with some advice from the hospital’s lactation consultant, he nurses like a pro. We’re talking about starting solids but I’ve had this gut feeling to wait until he’s six-months-old to introduce new foods. My maternal instinct reminds me that we just got good at breastfeeding. Why throw a wrench into the mix?
The last time I remember nursing Leigh without a problem was at the Wisconsin State Fair on Saturday. It was a hot day and I was concerned about the baby getting dehydrated, but he wasn’t showing signs of hunger. After walking around for a couple of hours, we headed to the family nursing area, a sectioned off space in the air-conditioned convention hall. We sat in the plush gliders and rocked while he nursed no problem in a room full of moms whose babies had a hard time focusing. It wasn’t until the next day that Leigh refused to take the boob. When I put him to my breast, he would arch his back and push away from me. At first, I thought he wasn’t hungry, but then we realized that he had to be hungry. Hours would pass and he’d still turn down the opportunity to nurse. We quickly switched our plan to a bottle of breastmilk, which he guzzled down without hesitation. Poor guy!
It’s been like that for four days now. My husband will feed the baby a bottle and I’ll pump so my body doesn’t think we’re weaning. That milk becomes his next bottle. But here’s the confusing part: Leigh nurses fine at night. He still wakes up hungry two-three times a night. In his sleepy haze, he latches fine. So he’s only consciously protesting, which doesn’t help the way I feel about the situation.
It’s heartbreaking when your baby doesn’t want to nurse from you. Seriously messes with a new mom’s mind. I can’t figure out the cause of the strike. I’ve tried holding him in all different ways. Bouncing, walking, sitting, swinging. Left side, right side. Every time he has to eat, I try to nurse him hoping that the strike will end. When he persists, we go to plan B.
As we warmed up a bottle tonight, my husband asked if I tried using the nipple shield, a trick our lactation consultant showed us in the hospital. It was worth a try and it worked! Leigh fussed for a minute, but latched, nursed for his usual duration and contently passed out in my arms while rocking in the nursery. I never imagined that was the problem.
I don’t know if the nursing strike is over, but I know that we’ll keep trying to find ways to get back on track. Like all things with a baby, life is in constant motion. Tomorrow is another day! Wish me luck.