Nursing Strikes – Baby Won’t Breastfeed

    When a mother decides to breastfeed, there are a number of issues and complications that must be considered and dealt with in order to have a successful experience. At one point or another, it is common for a baby to refuse to be breastfed. There are a variety of reasons as to why this could be happening and it is important to diagnose the cause so you can understand how to correct the behavior. Below you will find an outline of issues that can arise during certain periods of the breastfeeding process and how to help end your baby's strike.

    Refusal from the First Nursing
    Babies who refuse to nurse from the start may be suffering pain as a result of a birth injury. Sometimes a baby may cry when being held near the breast as a result of this pain being intensified by being held. Some babies may have breathing issues and cannot coordinate the ability to suck, swallow and breathe simultaneously. If your baby was removed via suction and refuses to breastfeed, it is possible that the child has developed a resistance, or oral aversion, to anything being placed in the mouth.

    It is extremely important to both feed the baby and to stimulate milk production. Maintain your milk supply by using a pump when the baby is refusing and providing the milk to the baby in a different form. Examples of alternative feeding include syringe feeding and finger feeding, both of which trick the baby into sucking on a finger while receiving the milk supply through a syringe or straw-like tube. While engaging in all of these activities, continue to offer the breast to the baby first and foremost; if he or she refuses, then engage in the alternative feeding process. You do not want to associate negative connotations to the breast by attempting to force the baby to breastfeed.

    Refusal After Learning How To Breastfeed
    Some babies will refuse the breast weeks or even months after learning how to properly breastfeed. Sometimes, there can be a change in the taste of the milk due to diet change or a specific medicine. Other topical substances, such as lotion, spray-on deodorant or lanolin products may cause a baby displeasure and lead to refusal of the breast. A sore mouth caused by teething or thrush can also lead to a hunger strike. Sometimes illnesses can be the culprit, as a sore throat, ear infection or breathing difficulties will temporarily lead a baby to refuse breastfeeding. Reduced milk flow can also lead a baby to drop the breast as he or she is not getting enough milk to satisfy their hunger; this is why it is so important to always maintain milk production even when the baby is refusing.

    Optional feeding methods for older babies include cup feeding and again, finger feeding. Cup feeding works by placing the milk into a smooth rimmed, shallow dish or cup. By placing the dish or cup at the lips of the baby, the baby is able to sip the milk. There are cups that are specifically designed for this purpose. In many ways, it resembles feeding an animal but do not be put off by this method; it is important to introduce nutrients into the baby and this way prevents nipple confusion by avoiding the nipple entirely, until you can wean the baby back onto the breast.