If your baby refuses to breastfeed, it can come as quite a shock. You may feel bewildered, upset, and even rejected.
But try not to worry. When babies go on breastfeeding strike, it usually only lasts for a day or two, though it may be longer. It's just your baby's way of telling you that something's not quite right.
Why do babies sometimes refuse to breastfeed?
Reasons why your baby may not want to breastfeed include:
- She finds it difficult to latch on properly and can't get a good enough mouthful of breast to feed. She may refuse your breast out of frustration. Your midwife or health visitor will be able to advise you, or ask to see a breastfeeding specialist.
- Her mouth is painful, perhaps because she has a cold sore, or an infection such as thrush.
- Her cold, or a stuffy nose, makes it hard for her to breathe while breastfeeding.
- She has an ear infection, which makes breastfeeding painful when she lies on her infected ear.
- She is teething.
- Your milk supply has reduced, perhaps because you have been giving your baby formula feeds as well.
- Your baby is easily distracted by noise or interruptions while she is breastfeeding.
- There's been a big disruption in your baby's routine, such as if you have recently moved house or returned to work.
There are other, less common reasons for a breastfeeding strike:
- Your baby doesn't like the taste or smell of a cream or perfumed product you've put on or near your breasts.
- There's been a change in the taste of your milk, possibly caused by a sensitivity to certain foods, or the return of your periods.
- You have an inflammation in your breast, or mastitis, which can make your milk taste salty in the affected breast. Keep expressing your milk. As your mastitis gets better, the saltiness will go.