Sorry if this sounds scattered, I'm running on no sleep:) I'm really hoping someone has some advice or a solution for me. I'll try to include all the info I think might be relevant.
My DS2 is 8.5 months old. He has absolutely refused to nurse since last Friday AM, so for the past 7 days. I'll offer and he'll just turn away or push off of me and will get fussy if I persist. If I offer a bottle of expressed milk he will down it as if he's starving. He was on an exclusive breastmilk (breastfed and pumped bottles while I'm at work) diet until we introduced solids right before he turned 8 months.
I breastfed DS1 until he was 15 months and my milk dried up due to pregnancy so I am familiar with how babies become more distractable as they become mobile, teeth, start solids etc. But I think the longest strike DS1 ever went on was 2 days and usually I could still get him to nurse during the night or if he was sleeping. DS2 WILL NOT NURSE. Its been a week since he's latched on whatsoever. I've tried different positions, different places, different times, the bathtub, skin to skin, making sure he's hungry, starting with a bottle, in the dark, in the middle of the night, you name it. When he wakes in the night (he was previously nursing every 1-4 hours during the night) he gets more and more agitated if I try to feed him but will take a bottle of pumped milk or even water just fine!
We use primarily Avent bottles with a #1 nipple so I don't think the problem is he prefers the faster flow of a bottle.
I'm not sure if its related but he also has hives (for about the same amount of time as he's been on strike) which is making him very uncomfortable especially at night. He wakes up trying to scratch the back of his neck and cries and I can tell he's in pain. His ped. thinks its probably food related even though we havent really given him any reactionary foods. I've been giving him homeopathic remedies, benedryl when he's in exceptional pain (usually in the middle of the night), washing his skin, coconut oil, and I'm picking up some Caladryl lotion today. She hasn't actually seen him (he has an appointment on Monday) but I sent her pictures and we had a phone consult and she gave me some suggestions to get us through the weekend. They mostly appear and bother him during the night so he is mostly happy and oblivious to them during the day.
One of the biggest reasons this is stressing me out is my supply is starting to drop and we're running out of milk. With DS1 I had an over supply and had a 1000 ounce freezer stash by this point. With DS2 I've never has as good of a supply, probably because I'm busier (him and DS1 are only 18 mo apart) and I just don't have the extra time to pump. I currently have around 10 bags of 4-5 ounces frozen and the past three days I've had to pull 1-2 bags from the freezer to keep up with his demand. I work full time and have never had a problem with not responding to the pump so I don't think that's the problem. I bought new flanges for my PIS (is that what the little yellow/white parts on the Medela are called?) just in case, and have also tried my Hygeia EnJoye. No improvement. Whereas before I'd always get at least 4-6 ounces per session, its more like 2-4 now and 4 is a rarity. Except for the first morning pump where I get 5-6.
We started BLW 3 weeks ago and he eats what seems to me a LOT of solids. DS1 liked to taste everything (started BLW at 8 mo), but didn't really eat a lot till around 10 or 11 months. I always nurse/bottlefeed DS2 before offering solids, then he will eat everything I put on his tray and cry for more. He can eat what seems 1 cup worth of chicken/turkey/broccoli/sweet potato/bananas/apple whatever I offer at a time. I made a few purees thinking maybe he wouldn't eat as much and he will happily eat the equivilant of 2 jars at a time.
He's not really ready to go the whole night without eating, but I'm having a really hard time getting up to pump! Its killing me and the last 2 days I've skipped it, and just pumped right before bed at 10 or 11 (giving him that bottle then water if he finishes it when he wakes up during the night), then again when I get up at about 5:30 or 6am. If I'm at work I pump again around 10 and 2, then in the evening at 5:30, and 7:30 then before bed. So about 6 times per day. The past few days I've added in one more session at work around noon but I dont get more than an ounce. If I'm not at work I try to just pump every 3 hours. The first 4 days of the strike I was at home.
I've been taking fenugreek (about ten 610gm pills/day) and Motherlove more milk two (left over from when I was pregnant) as well as trying to drink lots of water, get enough calories etc. I've never used formula but I'm thinking maybe it would be better to start supplementing now until waiting until I completely run out of frozen milk (which will happen in the next 5-7 days if things continue as they have been).
Currently he's drinking about 5-6 four ounce bottles a day and I know he'd drink more if it was available.
Sorry for the novel. I'd like some advice/feedback/hope on:
What is the longest you've ever had a babe completely refuse the breast?
Do you think I should start supplementing with a bottle of formula/day?
Should I try to decrease his solids, maybe replacing some of them with formula? He's currently eating 3 meals a day and probably 1-2 snacks.
Do you think the strike could be related to the hives?
Edit: Maybe I should try a nipple shield? I don't have one but could buy one. He'll let me feed him a bottle while snuggled against my chest so maybe he'd go for the shield? Just brainstorming. Especially with the hives going on I REALLY need breastfeeding to work so that I can comfort him back to sleep.
I don't have any help or wisdom other than to suggest Kellymom, which is a breasfeeding site that I love. But I wanted to offer you a HUGE hug!! How stressful, mama.
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There are also other links at the bottom of the page for more reading.
I used the tips there along with in person help from an LC to go from EPing to EBFing at 10 weeks. I know a nursing strike is different but the idea is similar: charm baby back to the breast. You've tried a lot of great approaches but maybe a review of the tips, a fresh start and the time elapsed might help.
I think the hives probably are related to the strike. The one nursing strike my DD did go on around 4.5 months was about 72 hours but totally coincided with teething and a major heat wave - she was uncomfortable. If you continue having trouble with breast refusal, I'd consult an experienced LC with a good reputation. Mine had lots of tips and tricks and was wonderful to work with. I also think your idea of trying a nipple shield is a good one but I would DEFINITELY see an LC to learn how to put them on properly and which size will work for you. My LC advised me to only get medela brand because the others are too thick and can inhibit stimulation and milk flow. She also told me that most women would need the largest size (26 mm I believe). I just kept offering the breast at each feeding but only for a few seconds. If she rejected it, I immediately gave the bottle so she wouldn't be frustrated at the breast. The most important thing is to not have a struggle at the breast so baby doesn't develop an aversion. DD rejected the breast at 2pm one day but took it at 5 pm and it was like the strike never happened. I hope you have a similar outcome soon.
PS: the Avent newborn nipple is a good start but make sure baby gets paced bottle feeding with it. The feed should last at least 15 minutes to mimic the flow at the breast more closely. A strong 8 month old can guzzle 4oz in two minutes even through a newborn bottle nipple. It may also help to cut his bottles back and give smaller bottles more often to mimic nursing. There may be a bottle preference at work in the shadows.
Well, we are now on day 13 of completely refusing the breast. We had an appointment with his naturopath pediatrician who gave us some more things to try for the hives. At this point they are only bothering him in the night and we dno't really feel like they are the cause of his strike, just a coincidence. We also had an appointment with a wonderful IBCLC and unfortunately she didn't really help either. I had literally tried every one of her suggestions. She worked with us for an hour. She did say it looked like he had a top tooth or two coming in that seemed to be causing him discomfort, but it wasn't normal for a baby to COMPLETELY refuse the breast for so long at such a young age.
At this point I'm not thinking he'll ever nurse again. The one good piece of news is my supply is back up. After a week of taking fenugreek, blessed thistle, oatmeal, brewer's yeast, beer, lots of liquids, more milk tincture and lactation teas I started my period which seems to have been the culprit. So now I'm back to pumping every 4 hours around the clock which is slightly more manageable. I'm replacing one BM bottle a day with formula (which I've never had to use before) so that I can freeze one bag of BM a day and build back up a little bit of a freezer stash since we got down to just 3 bags left.
Does anyone have any personal knowledge of a baby that went back to breastfeeding after being on strike for so long?
I just feel so defeated.
Sending support and hugs your way! I don't have personal experience with nursing strikes because I had to EP, but I think the resources you are trying are great and I recall a thread in this forum where a mama was posting about a long nursing strike and then her baby when back to nursing. I'll try to find it. In terms of your supply, it's great news that it went back up and that pumping is going better right now; I'm glad you have one less thing to worry about.
Edited to add: Here are a few threads I found that might be of help and encouragement:
OP - just wondering if you have any follow up on this situation. My 9 mo is on strike as well, has been 10 days of him screaming and arching his back when I even sit down with him or reach for my bra clip. Hoping for some insight =)
Hi! Well, ours didn't end up being a happy ending after all. He never went back to nursing. We had appointments with his pediatrician, midwife, chiropractor, 2 IBCLC's.... never figured it out. I ended up pumping exclusively. Have you tried nursing him in his sleep or in the bathtub with the lights dim? Lots have people seem to have luck with that. Sorry you're going through this, I know how stressful and sad it is:*(
Thank you for the reply. I have been trying to get over my sadness about it and resolve to continue pumping until he is a year if he doesn't go back to breast. I hate pumping while he climbs around in my lap watching...just doesn't make sense. I have yet to kindof wake him up with the breast, but maybe tonite...he is just such a bad sleeper I hate waking him and pissing him off!