As the holidays start and visitors arrive many people find their normal “routine” goes out the window and you seem to spend time rushing around after everyone else more than usual. It’s easy with all the festivities and visitors to attend to, to find that you just don’t have as much time to sit down with your baby/child to cuddle and breastfeed as you would normally. It’s often a time when children don’t behave in the way the would do at any other time of year and older babies especially, get very distracted by all the interesting activity around them.
Most babies will breastfeed beyond a year old; if a baby suddenly stops breastfeeding before a year old it is quite likely to be a “nursing strike”. A nursing strike doesn’t mean your baby necessarily wants to stop breastfeeding but it does mean something has got in the way of, or made him want to stop breastfeeding right now. Sometimes it’s not possible to ever find out exactly what caused it, but time and patience will often solve it. It might be a sore ear, stuffy nose or something else physical that is making breastfeeding uncomfortable, or it might just be that there are so many distractions and delays in breastfeeding for a couple of days that your baby just stops asking.
So what can you do if it happens? Well, as this most often happens to babies around 9 or 10 months or so, there is no rush to compensate for the lack of breastfeeding with lots of other drinks and foods – your baby is probably quite a sturdy little thing by now and eating some solids. You can express your milk and give it to him in a cup if he wants it – expressing will also help to maintain your milk supply and prevent engorgement, blocked ducts etc. Avoid bottles and pacifiers though as these will just satisfy the urge to suck with something other than your breast. Some mother’s find that trying to feed when their baby is sleepy or drowsy works, others find feeding in the bath, while standing or rocking, a totally different position than your baby is used to, and sometimes just leave it for a day or two so there is less tension and anxiety around breastfeeding. Usually after a few days, but sometimes as long as a couple of weeks, things return to normal for no apparent reason.
Finding time out for peace and quiet with your little one can be hard though at this time of year, and can lead to frustration and worry. Over the holidays most organisations are closed so don’t forget to check out where your local La Leche League leaders are. You can also check whether there are Peer Counsellors in your area, national breastfeeding helplines and lactation consultants. There’s nothing worse than feeling you are on your own with a problem and there is no one available to listen or help… and sometimes the “help” and “advice” from visiting relatives and friends is, well, unhelpful 🙂
Check the Links on the right hand side of this page for some ideas of where to get some help over the holidays if you need it, or email me for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org.