Nursing Strike

If you’re not into the nitty gritty of breastfeeding, feel free to skip this post. It’s pretty much the run down of a lovely little breastfeeding bump in the road.

Bottom line – today was rough. Like, so rough, I’m not really looking forward to tomorrow, lest it repeat. That would be LAME.

Jemma started to wake up this morning around 6:30. She was in bed with us and rustling around and I offered her my breast, like always. Her little eyes popped open and she nursed for a few seconds and then lightly bit me. Nothing that drew blood or left a mark, but I was half asleep and let out a little yelp and pulled her close (she was clamping down and pulling away).

She cried at my reaction and turned away from nursing. I should have known my yelp would have scared her. She is pretty sensitive like that – always giving hugs and kisses and wanting to cuddle when she thinks I’m sad/mad/frustrated/lonely. She is a sweet soul and cares about others greatly.

I offered to nurse a few more times in bed before we finally got up. Each time she turned away. This has happened before and it’s usually because she is so eager and excited for the day. So many things to do, see, and play with. That’s my girl :)

We had breakfast and cleaned up downstairs. I figured she would for sure nurse before her morning nap. But … no such luck. That’s when I started to think we might have a strike on our hands.

I rocked her to sleep and thought about pumping (mama was feeling majorly full), but decided to wait and bank on her being hungry when she woke up.

I wish.

So, I pumped to take the edge off – 10 ounces in just a few minutes and we had quesadillas and apples for lunch. Other than not nursing, Jemma was acting totally normal. Still lovey dovey, reading books, practicing walking. I read this article for advice on nursing strikes and tried to keep my hopes up. I’m pretty sure my morning yelp is what started this, but she could also be teething which could be related.

Did I mention I have a cold and was already feeling exhausted and completely crummy?

We tried different nursing positions. Different locations. Different lighting. Singing songs. In the bath. You name it, I was game. And quickly filling up with milk.

Then the frustration set in. Then guilt. Why was this happening? Why do I take our breastfeeding relationship for granted most days? Why couldn’t I have kept my mouth shut when she nipped me? I made it through 40 hours of labor pain, a little nipple pinch didn’t really scar me. Would this ever end? Then I read that nursing strikes can last up to 10 days and I needed to be pumping to maintain my supply while continuing to gently nurse – or at least try to nurse.

I attempted to reason with her – a little mama/Jemma heart to heart. I prayed. I re-lived many of our breastfeeding stories – the first time, when I was working, night time snuggles. I faced the giant that I am not ready to wean. The last 12 months, now almost 13, have gone by too fast. My little baby, isn’t really little any more and she is becoming more and more independent. She needs me less. And that hurts.

Instead of crying; Instead of continuing down the road of frustration and fear that she would never nurse again. We packed up and went to the park. Our first time since I stopped working.

We paused our day.
Forgot about the dishes and messy living room.
I left behind the projects I promised so many people I would finish.
We breathed fresh air.
Tried out the slide.
Laughed.
And fell in love with the swings.

I realized that even if she never nursed again (which is very unlikely since babies gradually self-wean and usually wait until 18-24 months), I was still her mama and she was still my girl. Our relationship is going to evolve no matter what I do. Time won’t stop. I need to embrace each moment. Appreciate the small things. Stop worrying about what I can’t control.

We came home and snuggled up for a nap together. I hoped she would want to nurse to sleep or nurse when she woke up. But, no. We both woke up refreshed and I pumped again. Keeping my milk supply is not my fear – milk is Plenty. Plenty with a capital “P”.

Daddy came home and we ate the best chicken sausage lasagna. I totally made up the recipe and am so happy I made a double batch – one for dinner and one for the freezer. Jemma had some pumped milk from her sippy cup and I think it tipped off her hunger.

We read stories as a family and I got Jemma ready for bed. I hoped like crazy that she would be tired enough to nurse to sleep. AND SHE DID! I held her close, smoothed her hair, and thanked the Lord for not letting this strike go on for days.

I’m breathing a sigh of relief. I’m not cut out for stressful things like this. No matter how small it may seem. This totally caught me off guard. I almost feel like I’m mourning my baby. My baby who is growing up before my eyes and made it a whole day without nursing.

I feel worried about tomorrow, but really, what can I do? I’m choosing to relax, have some faith even if it is as small as a mustard seed, and log this away as another crazy mama experience.


You can read all my posts about our nursing strike here.

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow. I've never heard of a nursing strike before. Sounds like a tough day. I'm sure your little shriek didn't put Jemma off. I can imagine how nice it must have felt to nurse her that night. I think you are so right. We often wish our babies would just "grow up" but when they do it is the saddest thing ever.

  2. says

    i love reading this type of reflection on the mama journey. you seem so mindful of jemma's needs and just the whole process… my only thought to add is, be gentle on yourself!!! guilt never seems to help these types of situations. ;)

  3. says

    Awe, Gretchen. I feel your pain. My first was a biter and it was really hard to stifle the yelp. I had to wean her early (8 months) on account of that…she would bite, I would yelp, we both would cry…it got to the point where it wasn't enjoyable for either of us. My 2nd self weaned about 14 months…I felt very pretty similar to the way you did that day. But, you just can't beat yourself up over it and you never really know when that day will come, so you just have to be in the moment and enjoy it. You are so blessed that you got to experience this part of motherhood! Have a great weekend!

  4. Jennifer de Cupcake says

    1. you did the right thing by yelping. YOU HAVE TO TELL HER "THAT HURT!" Don't feel bad about it!2. She nursed to sleep which is great! as long as she's still getting milk sometimes some days you're in a good place with a toddler! (can you believe she's a toddler, I'm having issues with it as well- our babes are days apart)3. I'd take a nursing strike over a no-real-food strike any day… some days it's like milk is the ONLY thing she wants and my boobs just can't keep up!4. Part of being a mama is stress, but don't let it take over and don't dwell on it, you're obviously very aware of your relationship and it will develop beautifully if you let it, even if that means less nursing.Good luck mama!! and feel better too.

  5. Megan Boucher says

    Good for you keeping calm and going with the flow. How did the next day go for you? With Brendan I weaned him around 13 months mostly because thats what "they" tell you to do. I look back and wish I would have let him decide a little more :) Carter on the other hand, I barely made it to a year. He just wasn't interested. Ethan I'm not sure about…but definitely going to let him lead the way. Probably going to be my last one *sniff sniff* so thats going to be SOOO hard this time around.Hang in there! hope your weekend goes well!

  6. Jamie Scholberg says

    I'm so thankful for you sharing your BFing journey (I hate the word journey, but it seems appropriate). I got a little choked up just thinking of you thinking of weaning. Sometimes I have moments when I realize that BFing is not going to be forever with Lucy, and it makes me quite sad. My friend's son weaned early (compared to when she actually wanted to wean) because she had to tell him that he was hurting her when he nursed and it turned into a show down. Turns out she was pregnant and he wasn't biting her at all, her breasts were just sensitive and he also lost interest because I guess pregnancy can change the taste. Not to say you're pregnant; I know nursing strikes can happen. Interested to hear your update. Hope it went better. This reminds me…I have loads of baby weaning questions for you. Maybe you could do a summary timeline of how feeding has gone with Jemma over the past year? I would eat that post up (pun very much intended)!

  7. ThatMamaGretchen says

    No nursies yet. We're going on day 5 :( I'll update soon! And I'll definitely post about our timeline – great idea! ________________________________

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