My nursing-crazed daughter has suddenly cut way back on nursing. I'm so confused (and engorged) and I don't know exactly what to do, or whether this is just normal 6-month-old behavior and nothing to worry about (she's my first).
So, my questions are:
- Is it normal for babies to radically reduce their frequency of nursing or radically change their nursing patterns as they get older, even if they're not really eating solids? I'm so used to her nursing like a newborn...
- Is it possible for her to get more or the same milk from fewer feedings--is she just more efficient at it now?
- Is this maybe a temporary "nursing strike" (well, except she is still nursing), and should I just be trying as much as possible to encourage her to nurse?
- Do I need to worry about my milk supply?
Anyway, here's the full story:
My daughter has always been fabulously nursing crazy. Even when I went back to work at 12 weeks, she was still nursing at least 7 times in 24 hours (plus two or three bottled breast milk feedings while I was at work). Pretty much any time I would offer her the breast, she would eagerly go to town, and recently she'd often pull on my shirt or even try to nurse through my shirt to let me know she wanted to nurse (so cute!).
A week ago she got a cold with a super-stuffy nose that has lingered on and on, but as long as I used saline drops it didn't seem to affect her nursing enjoyment or frequency. Then this weekend, she suddenly cut WAY back on her nursing during the day--I'd offer her the breast when she would usually nurse or when she seemed cranky or hungry, and she'd cry and arch her back or just totally ignore the boob and refuse to open her mouth, or she'd clamp down but not actually nurse. She only nursed 2 or 3 times the entire day and I had to babywear her down for naps instead of nursing. Her sleep seems way off, too. AND she suddenly hates diaper changes and baths (which she has always loved).
- I typically nurse her down to sleep in our dark quiet bedroom starting around 8:30 p.m, and she passes out by 9:30 p.m. and we both go to sleep (we bedshare). But the last few nights she nursed like crazy (going back and forth from side to side) until 10:30 p.m. with no signs of sleepiness whatsoever. My husband and mother took turns rocking her to sleep... which she didn't do until 1 a.m.!
- She usually wakes up to nurse at 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m., goes back to sleep. Maybe at 5 or 6 she wakes up to nurse on the other side and goes back to sleep. She DID do this last night as usual.
- Then she wakes up for the day around 7:30 a.m. and I nurse her immediately, then nurse her right before leaving for work at 9 a.m. But she was still sleeping at 8 a.m. this morning, and wouldn't nurse in her sleep or when awake. I kept offering the breast until 9, but no luck--I had to leave for work (I leave my pump there since I never use it at home) super engorged this morning.
- We have started letting her play with solids every few days or so now that she's 6 months--sweet potatoes mashed with a little breast milk--but she just puts her hand in them and barely gets any in her mouth. So I doubt the issue is increased intake of solids.
- I have oversupply and I don't think she's rejecting the breast due to lack of milk--I have so much milk that I only pump twice per day at work and I get 10 oz in 10 minutes each time. I still leak and spray milk and get frequently engorged, too. Because of my oversupply she usually just feeds on one breast per feeding, except at night.
- She's got a lot going on developmentally all at once--she's started cruising holding on to the edge of the furniture, saying "Da Da" and "La La" and "Ma Ma", reaching and grabbing for everything, rolling over a lot, trying to crawl...
- I'm not worried about her not getting enough to eat--she's over 18 lbs.
- She seems to be teething a bit, but not too much more than usual.
- She has a stuffy nose.
- She has eczema, but that's nothing new.
So--is this just normal? Do I need to be working actively to get her to nurse more often?