When Your Baby Won’t Breastfeed

You were happy that your baby is breastfeeding well. While other mommies were complaining about their nursing struggles, you were beaming with joy over how easy it has been for you. But now suddenly your baby has refused to feed from your breast. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, don’t worry as there are several reasons for your baby to go on a breastfeeding strike. Here we discuss the different causes for a breastfeeding strike and how you can manage to breastfeed again.

Why Your Baby Is Refusing To Feed

There might be several reasons for a breastfeeding strike. Refusing to breastfeed can happen suddenly or gradually over a period of time. If you are wondering what is causing your baby to go on this strike, here are the possible causes for it (1):

Illness: If your baby is suffering from a cold or blocked nose, it can be difficult for him/her to breathe during nursing.

Change of taste or scent: Babies may react to unusual taste or scent in breastmilk. Changes in taste or scent can be triggered by the food you eat, new soap, lotion, perfume or deodorant.

Pain or discomfort: If your baby is dealing with any sort of pain or discomfort, it is natural to refuse to feed. Pain and discomfort can be caused by teething, thrush, cold sore, or even an ear infection.

Distraction or stress: Your baby might become fussy and refuse your milk due to several factors such as overstimulation, delay in feedings or if you have taken a long gap from nursing. It could also be the result of a strong reaction from you to being bitten during a feed. And in other cases, your baby might be simply too distracted to feed.

Low milk supply: If you are supplementing with formula milk or if you have reduced the number of feedings, it might affect your milk supply as well.

If your baby is refusing to feed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to wean. Breastfeeding strikes can happen due to a number of reasons and are usually short-lived.

How You Can Manage A Breastfeeding Strike

It can be uncomfortable and frustrating when your baby suddenly refuses your milk. You might feel rejected and even guilty of not being able to feed your little one. Being patient and understanding the cause for it will help you manage your baby’s breastfeeding strike. And you will eventually be able to continue feeding your baby.

1) Change Positions

Try different breastfeeding positions to see if your baby is feeding better. Breastfeeding in an upright position is helpful when your baby is feeling congested.

2) Address The Baby Issues

Is your baby suffering from a cold or blocked nose? Is he/she having an ear infection or teething pain? Make sure you eliminate these possibilities and address the issue if any to continue breastfeeding. For teething pain, rubbing the baby’s gums with a damp washcloth will provide relief.

3) Avoid Any Distractions

Breastfeed in a quiet dark room so that your baby isn’t distracted by anything or anyone. Or take the opposite approach by facing the baby towards the activity. Do what works best for your baby.

4) Provide Skin-To-Skin Contact

Try breastfeeding without your top on. Skin-to-skin contact can help improve your chances of breastfeeding.

5) Evaluate Change In Routine

Any changes that you made in your diet or if you’ve used a different lotion or fragrant soap could upset your baby. And if you are stressed or under any new medications, that could also have an impact on breastfeeding. So, evaluate those changes and talk to your doctor about any medications that you are taking.

Keep trying and be patient. Remember that it’s not your fault and with some help and evaluations, you can help your baby get back to breastfeeding like before. And if you find that your milk supply is reducing, you can try pumping in between feedings or expressing milk by hand. If there’s no luck or you are concerned about your baby’s health, please make sure to consult a doctor.

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