If the title is foreign to you…welcome to the club. Have you ever heard of a nursing strike? I hadn’t…until a few weeks ago. Here’s what happened: Caleb suddenly refused to nurse. Refused. We’re talking about a baby who wanted to nurse all night long and needed to nurse to sleep. He quit. I had planned on weaning Caleb soon but I didn’t expect him to make that decision for me. In fact, I was a little sad.
I thought Caleb suddenly decided he was “over” nursing. After doing further research I realized Caleb went on a “nursing strike”. Most babies do this when they are teething, in pain, going through a developmental milestone, or when they bite their mother and receive a bad reaction. Ding ding ding. Caleb was biting me like crazy when he nursed and a few times it hurt so bad that I yelled “ow!” and startled him (most of the time before that he laughed). The day after a particular painful nip (literally)- he stopped nursing. I was heartbroken that he more than likely quit because I scared him. I felt like a bad mother.
After three days of not nursing or pumping- I decided that I would quit nursing cold turkey. Everything I read said to never quit cold turkey because of engorgement, plugged ducts, depression etc. Holy shit. This must be what it feels like to be kicked in the testicles! Listen, I’ve had plugged ducts TWICE, I’ve been engorged beyond relief, but nothing, and I mean nothing felt as bad as my breasts felt after not nursing for 3 days. My breasts were so engorged they were swollen into my arm pits and up to my collarbone (a mild exaggeration, mild). In fact, a co-worker saw me and exclaimed “put those things away!” I thought I had hidden them well under my scarf…
That night I decided to pump. Here’s why: I leaked! In the 12 months I have nursed Caleb I have NEVER EVER leaked! Ever. I know it is normal but it wasn’t for me! So for about a week, I pumped every other night. I only pumped enough to get relief. After one week of pumping every other night I didn’t need to pump anymore because I had no engorgement or soreness…except in my heart. A few days after that Caleb started tugging at my shirt. He wanted to nurse. Apparently most nursing strikes only last a few days and then they want to nurse again- that’s what happened with Caleb, only his lasted a week. I wouldn’t let him nurse. He didn’t cry or act upset but I still felt bad because I felt like I was withholding something from him and that made me really sad.
Here is where weaning cold turkey and mood swings comes into play. I was sort of an emotional mess. I read about it but I didn’t think it would happen to me. I noticed my temper was short and I was over emotional. One night Caleb wouldn’t let me change his poopy diaper and as I did he crawled off and got his leg in the poop. This happens a lot for us and normally I just say “eww!” or hold him still. I got so upset with him. When I talked to Manfriend about it that night he said maybe I was just grumpy and tired. I didn’t realize then that I was having mood swings or that things weren’t normal but I got all weepy over mildly sad things. I was moody and grumpy and really, really tired. Thankfully, it only last about a week and a half. I was foolish to think weaning that quickly wouldn’t affect me. Lesson learned.
Update: It’s been almost three weeks now and my breasts aren’t sore at all. I can actually run now. (Yeah, they hurt so bad I couldn’t even get a sports bra on. Even standing in the shower hurt- so running was out of the picture). No leaking or soreness. My mood is so much better but because I don’t have the same personal time I use to have with Caleb I just want to snuggle him all of the time. Seriously, sometimes I want to wake him up to snuggle. Caleb has adjusted perfectly. Though, he still touches my chest and neck when I give him a bottle so that has stayed the same.
You can read more about nursing strikes and breastfeeding at kellymom. This site is wonderful for breastfeeding.