Millie did a very strange thing the other day.
She went on strike.
Strangely, she refused to feed. Flat-out just stopped. But she only stopped feeding from me. She still took a bottle, ate solids and had sips of cooled, boiled water.
Millie is almost 8 months old and until starting solids has been exclusively breastfed without incident.
She took to me well despite being prem and her sucking reflex was there from the day she emerged. We’ve been lucky. No hassles. I got over the initial breastfeeding nerves (who else struggled with the transition from only your partner seeing your boobs to every nurse, doctor, family member and friend copping an eyeful in those first days in hospital??) and persistence paid off. She’s happy, sleeps well and grows steadily.
But the strike really put me in a spin.
What is wrong with her? What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t she like me? What have I done to make this happen?
Every time I held her in her feeding position in the crook of my arm, she arched her back, turned her head and screamed.
This lasted the best part of two days.
She was crying, so I did too.
Blubbering, I phoned the lovely volunteers on the other end of the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline. It was suggested I try walking while feeding (she wouldn’t have a bar of it), feeding in the bath (don’t have one) or singing to her while feeding (poor kid, she was already upset). Anything to distract her somewhat.
It’s so hard when they can’t tell you why they are upset. I pulled out the dog-eared copy of Baby Love and the book said nursing strikes can happen for any number of reasons. Illness, teething, fright, weaning. It can last hours, days, weeks…or be permanent. The thought it could all be over made me all the more teary.
I’m aware she will be weaned eventually. That’s fine. BUT NOT YET. I’M NOT READY. It’s our thing. It’s cuddle time. It’s our bond. It’s me being her mum and doing what I think is best for my precious baby.
Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the day when I don’t have to wear a bra to bed, buy breast pads or use a breast pump. But in the scheme of our lives, feeding my baby will only happen for such a short amount of time.
I expressed and fed Millie from a bottle while she was on strike. Luckily she slowly came back around (with the help of a dose of baby Panadol…teeth?) and wanted to breastfeed but it took patience and persistence.
She might do it again and that might be it.
But if she does I’ll be less shocked, more prepared and OK with it – if still a little weepy.
Has your baby been on nursing strike? How did it make you feel? How did you get through it? Please share your comments below