Challenges Part 2
While it may not be the only reason, sometimes something in YOUR diet is causing the baby to not tolerate your breastmilk as well as expected. This can lead to excessive gassiness, fussiness, poor weight gain, mucous and even blood in stools with more severe cases. This is a great article with symptoms by Le Leche League. If your baby has these symptoms it does not mean you have to stop nursing your baby (although in rare cases this may be true) but it does mean your diet will need to change. There are many examples of elimination diets out there but you can find the one I recommend here.
The long and the short of it is you eliminate all but basics for several days or until the baby is asymptomatic and then, just as when starting solids, you slowly reintroduce things one by one until you find the culprit. It works well if done correctly and its a miserable first few days. [I know by experience because my Lil Bit is intolerant of tomatoes and still to this day has a miserable gut for several days when she manages to digest one.]
(My own breastmilk-mustached little one)
Every breastfeeding infant is different and therefore every experience nursing can be different as well. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had a mom come into my office in tears having difficulty breastfeeding, even those with babies 2, 3 or 6! Nursing strikes happen but the child and course of said strike will determine the length of the strike and the method for getting through it.
Most infant strikes are due to one of three things:
- Age (developmental stage)
- Personality (busy-bee or curious baby versus laid-back)
- Health status (teething, upper respiratory infections or head cold)
Teething and colds can cause nasal congestion (stuffy nose) making it more difficult for babies to latch therefore time and saline with bulb syringe nasal suctioning before feedings may help. Age is a factor for those easily distracted as they begin to explore the world around them more and more. Finding places free from distractions will be helpful with this particular situation. Depending on your child’s age the nursing strike with older infants may be more of self-lead weaning. Personality as cause for nursing strike generally speaks for itself. Some children are far too precocious and independent to nurse as long as others.
So far we’ve addressed the who, what, how but not the when. As in, when do I stop nursing? To this I respond to my patients: how long do you want to nurse? My job is to help mommies meet their goals. The recommendations generally point to at least 6 months for optimal nutrition and up to 1 year of age with supplemental foods added.
If your infant is still small (under 6 months) switch out his least favorite nursing feeds first (generally this tends to be not just after waking, prior to nap or bedtime) with a bottle of expressed breast milk or formula appropriate for age (follow your primary care provider’s recommendations). Another thing I tell moms to do is to have a support person (dad, partner, grandparent) give the non-breastfeeds, slowly weaning for both baby and mom’s safety. Don’t invest in several of one bottle but rather buy a few different types in order to save you some grief as your infant may not take to a certain brand/shape.
Once your child is older they can use a soft-tipped sippy cup in lieu of a bottle. Most infants are generally going to less and less feedings of their own accord by this time. If you are truly struggling it may not be a bad idea to discuss your case one-on-one with your lactation consult or primary care provider as they know you and your infant better than this blog post.
I hope you have found some comfort or instruction in this short guide. I more than welcome any other future suggestions and would love to hear your stories, triumphs and tribulations with breastfeeding. Please feel free to comment below.
Everyone knows we face many challenges as we go through our journey breastfeeding our babies. To keep this short I will address a few of the more common challenges that I have encountered both myself and in practice