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5 month nursing strike and weight gain issues

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I am so frustrated that I am ready to throw in the towel. I probably would have already if my DS would take a bottle of formula. He has been on a semi-nursing strike since he was 4 months old. He would scream at the breast and arch his back, and with lots of tears and patience I managed to continue BFing him by nursing him while he's drowsy, in a quiet dark room, lots of cuddling, and all the other tricks I've seen. It's never been easy or rewarding but I continued because I believed it was best for my child.


Now he is 9 months old and has been eating solid food for 2 months, and he has completely lost interest in nursing, no matter what I do. He gets downright pissed when I offer. The only time I've been able to nurse is in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning and maybe once before one of his naps. He is not getting nearly the amount of milk he needs because he greatly prefers solid food. Since his 6 month visit his weight gain has slowed dramatically. I looked at the WHO charts for breastfed babies of all ethnicities. His curve is still flatter than what it should be. At 9 months, he is barely 16 lbs. I have been walking around the house topless and I;ve showered with him. But I cannot get him to nurse well. When he doesn't scream he'll latch on for literally 10 seconds or so and then go off and do something else.


His pediatrician and my DH are encouraging me to push formula since he should have mostly formula or breastmilk for the next 3 months. He hates formula, though--we've tried several different brands, in sippy cups, bottles, and regular cups. Honestly, I've only given it a halfhearted try--maybe 3 or 4 times total. I've tried to withold solids and I felt cruel because he just cried so hard out of hunger, but still wouldn't nurse.


Right now I am pumping to try and keep up my supply in the hopes that I can get him back to the breast, but I cannot pump nearly enough for him--maybe 3 or 4 oz a day. It has been so, so challenging because I do not believe breastfeeding has helped our bond. He really never seemed to like nursing--it was something that needed to be done so that he could move onto better things. I feel so frustrated and rejected. Breastfeeding has been so hard, so thankless, and to top it all off it has not provided enough nourishment my little boy.


I tried cosleeping, but he greatly prefers his own sleeping space. I cut out pumped milk in bottles a month ago. He doesn't like to cuddle or be held or worn anymore and I'm out of ideas and at the end of my rope. I don't know what I'm looking for...sympathy, tips I haven't thought of, encouragement? I don't know what to do to get milk or formula into this kid and I'm afraid I'm going to get a FTT dx at his next checkup. I read all about the beautiful nursing relationships on this board and I'm so envious. I envisioned continuing well into toddlerhood, but now I don't even know if we can make it to the 1 year mark.


Formula is really not the direction I want to go (even if he did like the stuff) but I don't know if I have a choice.

post #2 of 5

Here are more first thoughts.


Your son sounds a lot like mine was at that age.  I had a lactation consultant come over because I was so concerned.  She was very helpful and assured me that it's okay to give him more food, and what he is doing is very normal for many kids.  All babies are different.  If he wants food give him food. There's nothing wrong with that. I think I was giving a meal of food about 4 times a day at that point... of meat, starchy veggie, non starchy veggie, and fruit.  At this point, milk really doesn't need to be most of his calories.  Add high calorie foods like meat, and add things like coconut oil, or whatever healthy foods he likes.  That should really help with the weight gain.  Breastfeeding here and there like you've been doing is just fine.  It's SO good for him.  Many women don't have a magical breastfeeding relationship.  I think we get the idea that everyone else has this blissful time with it, but it's just not true, and can make others feel like they're doing something wrong.  ...but for many, it's just one of those things we do as a parent because we know it's best for them. It can be really hard and thankless sometimes, but it doesn't last forever.  


My son was like that too, not a snuggler or co-sleeper.  So busy and curious and easily distracted.  I could ONLY ever feed him in dim quite room and half of the time he didn't want it.  I think at about 11 months he just didn't even want to breastfeed anymore so I just started giving him breastmilk in a bottle and lots of good homemade food.


There is no need for formula.  Pediatricians are so quick to push it.  There is nothing magical in formula that your baby needs that he can't get from food.  It's just cows milk. (with some things done to it, yes I know that)  It can cause all sort of digestive problems, not too mention it's pretty expensive, and doesn't even taste good.  What he can't get from cows milk is all of the amazing immunity benefits that last for a good portion of their lives!  It's amazing what we're learning about breastmilk these days.


Everything is going to be okay.  You are doing great job.  


If you still feel like throwing in the towel, I would encourage you to see a lactation consultant first.  



Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about any of that.  I'd love to help!

post #3 of 5

Also, I just wanted to add that I would not consider it a nursing strike, but just that he's been changing developmentally since that time.  ...and lot of it is just personality.  Some kids are not comfort nurses.  They're just all business about it.


I think taking a good deep breath is in order.  Relaxing is great for milk production.  


Overall I would say, give more food (up the protein and fat), know that you really are doing a great thing and really are providing so much nourishment just by continuing to breastfeed, breath, meanwhile work on things to improve milk production, and just make sure to nurse during the times that he usually likes it. 

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

I just discovered that he loves egg yolks mashed with breastmilk this morning! That's good.


I know I sound freaked out, but it's just so emotionally draining to have a baby who hates nursing. I don't know why it feels so personal. Everyone here says that babies rarely self-wean before 18 months, but is that really true? Isn't he self-weaning if he simply has no interest in nursing and hasn't for months? He's not going to magically jump back on the boob is he?


I am still to pump and attempt nurse for naps and nighttime until he's a year. The last few days I've had better luck nursing him down for naps, so we're at a total of 3 or 4 nursing sessions a day. Two of them only last for about a minute after the letdown but they are supposed to be super efficient by now, right?

post #5 of 5

It sounds like your baby may have tactile issues. It isn't normal for a baby to not want to be held or to not want to be nursed. Some other clues are his nursing behavior, refusing bottles, that he wants his own sleeping space and that he is not gaining weight and is on his way to failure to thrive. I had a baby with tactile issues (they have other names for it now) 24 years ago. I have some tactile issues myself so I can understand. Your baby may feel holding and breastfeeding as pain. It may get worse around 12 months and he may refuse to eat because food feels like pain in his mouth. If he doesn't get the diagnosis of having tactile issues the doctors may think you are starving him. They may want to hospitalize him and force feed or put feeding tubes in.


Occupational therapists can treat tactile issues. Once my son got the right diagnosis we were able to get him eating in a few days. He had more problems with food than nursing. He still has issues with foods. He doesn't drink soda or eat food with texture like onions in sauces. His clothes have to be soft and tag free. His blankets and sheets have to be super soft. He is sensitive to room temperature.


I hope this is what is "wrong" with your baby since it is so easy to treat.

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