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Then there was that time when I named my baby “unconquerable.”
Ok, so that’s not her actual name, but that’s what her name means, and that was very intentional on my part—women are powerful, and I knew she was a strong one even before she was born.
All well and good until she decided to stop breastfeeding at nine months. She was mad at me for going on a trip, and when I got back she would have nothing to do with nursing. What ensued was an epic battle of wills, especially considering the contestants were a fully grown and capable mother-woman and a tiny, fiercely determined infant...and then the infant almost won. Talk about unconquerable. I might have brought that battle on myself.
But she didn’t win- I did. And I want to share my tricks for any of you who might be going through a similar struggle. You are not alone, momma, and victory is possible. While you’re in it, they're a few things you'll need to do.
1. Keep your supply up. It’s super hard to do, but so necessary for baby to continue to be interested in breastfeeding once you do get her back to breast.
2. Don’t force it. Even in moments of weakness and frustration. Trying to force baby to latch will actually have to opposite effect and can cause a more severe nipple aversion. Stay calm and cool. Let it roll. (This is much easier said then done. Feel free to scream into your pillow. Crying is also allowed.)
3. Make sure baby stays hydrated. Best option is to use your expressed milk, but switch to formula or other liquids during the strike if needed to keep baby healthy.
4. No other nipples. Don’t let her have the sucking satisfaction from anything else. Use a dropper for an infant or sippy cup for older baby, but no nipples besides yours.
5. Use a nursing supplementer. You may need a nursing supplementer if low milk supply is the cause of the strike. (Or if you just want to keep nursing and you don’t have enough supply)
6. Make sure babe is hungry but not overly so. Too much hunger = hangry (hunger-induced angry). There is no working with a hangry babe. Too little hunger and all the efforts you make are in vain. Timing is mostly everything. You’ll find this to be true in the tips found in this post as well.
7. Be the winner. I once heard of a competition where people had to kiss a car, and whomever kissed the car longest won the car. These people were there for daaays. For a car. Peeing in buckets and all manner of crazy so that they’d be the winner. Honestly, think of this as a competition—whomever has the stronger longer will, will win. One of you will bend. Decide that it won’t be you. Nursing strikes can be long- up to two weeks, maybe even longer. As long as your baby is healthy, gaining weight, continuining to pee and poop sufficiently and well, continue to follow all of these tips as well as everything in this post, and be in it to win it.
8. Get help. While it’s important to keep up your resolve, having a pro-breastfeeding coach on your side- say, a La Leche League counselor orlactation consultant- can help you know your strategy and figure out the best course of action moving forward, and if-or when- to call it quits.
9. Don’t neglect you. Working with a baby on strike can be seriously demoralizing. Get other women around you who can encourage and offer emotional support. Check out this post for more.
Godspeed, warrior momma. May the force be with you.