The breastfeeding strike is a situation in which the baby or child rejects the breast, which usually occurs suddenly and unexpectedly. That is to say, a baby who, from one day to the next. For whatever reason, does not want to take a breast.
This situation can be very distressing for the mother if she does not want a weaning. And in addition, it can generate a great feeling of guilt, wondering: Will I have done something wrong? They may also think that their baby rejects them and they do not want more breasts. And breastfeeding has already come to an end.
However, natural and spontaneous weaning before one year of life is very rare. Since milk is the main food of the baby during that time, and physiologically we are made to be breastfed.
For these reasons, when this situation of breastfeeding strike occurs we must discard a series of things that can act as a trigger, which I will talk about next.
Common reasons for breastfeeding strike
The rejection of the chest can be by:
Illness or discomfort of the child
- Pain: For example, the exit of the teeth, discomfort in the mouth or tongue, ear pain, pain in the neck … In that case it could do with some analgesic, as well as postural changes. There are times, especially if the discomfort is on one side of the body. Which can reject the chest in a certain position and not in another. The pose of a horse or rugby can come well.
- Snot or nasal congestion: The baby has hard time breathing, so when suckling from the chest it is overwhelmed and quickly removed. For this it is convenient to do nasal washes before taking. In addition, the postures to support vertically help them breathe better.
- Interferences with pacifiers or bottle nipples: The suckling at the breast and the bottle are different and can cause confusion teat-nipple. There are babies that do not affect them, others that just reject the breast with a bottle. And others is that they reject it progressively.
- Ankyloglossia or tied tongue: When a sublingual pendulum is limiting and the baby has difficulty sucking the breast.
Other reasons for breast rejection
- Distractions: After 3 months your nervous system has matured so that you can see ‘beyond the chest’. This can cause them to be easily distracted by the environment.
- Fear: If the baby has had a stressful situation associated with breastfeeding, such as a scream, either from the mother or from other people in the environment.
- Important changes in your life: Separation of the mother, beginning of the nursery, moving.
- Abrupt start of complementary feeding: Again it is important to remember that milk should be the main food during the first year of life. If we give priority to complementary feeding it may be that little by little the baby ends up rejecting the breast and breaking up early.
Changes in the mother
Certain changes in the mother can affect the taste of the milk or cause rejection in the baby:
- Hormonal: pregnancy, ovulation, menstruation, initiation of oral contraceptives.
- Change of flavor of milk: food, medications, obstructions, mastitis.
- Smell: change of gel, shampoo, deodorant, perfume.
Rejection of a single chest
However, when the rejection is unilateral, when only rejecting a breast, we must take into account other aspects. It is important to differentiate between the facts that a baby has a preference for a breast always that suddenly begins to reject one of them. In the first case it is usual since the breasts are not symmetrical. And in addition women tend to put them more in one breast than in another depending on our abilities. And all this causes one of the two to produce more, which also favors that this preference be perpetuated. In the second case, we must rule out the postural and painful topic and also assess:
- Obstruction or mastitis: There are changes in the taste of milk and decreased milk production that can make a baby have preference for one breast before the other.
- Breast cancer: This is not usual, but it is true that a unilateral rejection of the chest requires discarding it by performing some imaging test.
What to do in a breastfeeding strike case?
First of all, a medical assessment of the baby to rule out painful causes. If disease is ruled out, try to identify the possible cause among those mentioned above.
Meanwhile, if you want to continue breastfeeding, you can follow these recommendations:
- Do not force: It is important not to force the baby to take the breast. That is to say, if he approaches his chest and cries, do not insist, because in that way what we will do is create an anguishing situation for both.
- Change the position: Try the vertical positions in which the baby is not supported on any of its sides. It usually works if there is a pain associated with liberality.
- Offer your breast when you sleep: Many times when you are asleep or half asleep is a good time to catch your chest. Zoom in gently, without waking her up. If you do not do co-sleeping, it may be a good idea to sleep with her. So that her chest is close during sleep and to help her to hold on.
- Quiet environment, no noise or lights: In babies who are very distracted or disturbed may be good to go to another room, which is quiet and uninterrupted. Turn off the lights, be in skin-to-skin contact and wait.
- Do not make him go hungry: Do not think that because he is hungry he will want to take his chest. If you already take other foods, keep doing it. Also offer your milk in a container other than a bottle.
- Extra net milk: In a manner manually or pump. On the one hand to avoid mastitis or obstructions. And on the other to maintain milk production. Because if there is no suction, your body will understand that there is no baby to breastfeed and progressively you will produce less milk. And that will not help the baby to hold the breast again.
- Movement and / or swing: Breastfeeding the baby standing in motion or in a rocking chair, sometimes helps them relax. And at that moment, they catch the breast.
- Bring the baby back from the breast: We should try to get the baby to associate the breast with something pleasant and positive. As I said before, without forcing. This is very important contact, skin to skin and feeling protected. Take advantage of this situation to spend more time with your baby. Take off the top of the clothes and leave it with the diaper. And just spend time together. If he wants to, he will want to take a breast. It also comes in handy to take a bath. One relaxing, quiet, and enjoying the moment. If you do not hold on to your chest, at least you have enjoyed that moment together.
The majority of breastfeeding strikes are resolved in a few days or a week, but it is true that in others a weaning may result. Sometimes, none of the above works and the baby does not hold on to the breast again. In those cases, it will be necessary to decide whether to continue extracting the milk and offer it deferred, or to stop doing it.
In any case, if it is a weaning not wanted by us. And unexpected, we may feel sad, empty, guilty or even angry. These feelings are normal when you lose something, when you go through a duel. Seek support in your environment, in your partner or in a breastfeeding support group. It may be good for you to share those feelings with other women who have experienced the same thing you did.
Because there are times when things do not come as a wait, and in those moments it is much more bearable if we have a tribe that supports and supports us.