Friday, July 13, 2012

Nursing Strike

Since an anonymous commenter requested it - here's a brief run down on Rhys' 2 months + of nursing strike. 

It all started when we flew to Colorado for a friend's wedding when Rhys was 3 months old.  That morning, Rhys had several pretty extreme bowel movements.  I was grateful, at the time, thinking it meant we wouldn't have to deal with changing poopy diapers in an airport or on the plane.  Wrong.

Rhys was rocking some serious dire-rear.  The whole trip.  In point of fact, he rocked some nasty dire-rear for upwards of two months.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  He nursed just fine on the plane.  But as soon as we landed in Denver he refused to eat.  I tried everything.  EVERYTHING.  I broke out the girls in the middle of a rent-a-car joint at the airport with no nursing cover because I was so desperate to get him to eat.  No dice.  Over the course of several days it became obvious - dude would only nurse while sleeping.  If he even caught sight of my breasts while awake, he would start screaming like he was being murdered.  It was awful.  And bizarre.  And I was losing it because here we were at 8,000 feet, and he was surely going to get dehydrated.  I groped his fontanelle obsessively.  It was ridiculous.

A very long story short, I became accustomed to feeding him non-stop through every nap and sleep cycle, (at times literally using breast massage and compression to squeeze milk into him while he slept).  I brought him to his doctor three times for the problem, plus the dire rear, and every time they told me it was "probably just a stage" and "he's not losing weight, so we're not concerned."  I tried to tell them that the only reason he wasn't losing weight was because I was basically force-feeding him while he slept, but they pooh-pooh'd me.  I suggested that maybe the Zantac he was on for reflux was no longer efficacious, and that we should try switching him to a different dose or medicine.  The doctor said, "well that was always an iffy diagnosis."  And, because I am a total sucker for authority figures and very bad at being the squeaky wheel, I didn't push the issue. 

Two months of this and all of a sudden he started to lose weight.  And then, I kid you not, the doctor actually said to me "he's lost some weight here...why do you think that is?"  I have never, in my entire life, wanted to punch someone more.  And I grew up with Sean as a younger brother.  So that's saying something.  (Sorry Sean, but you've seen the family vacation videos.  You know you were obnoxious as hell.)

Anyway after that visit they referred me to a GI doctor who switched him from Zantac to Prevacid. 

And within two days Rhys' diarrhea had cleared up and he was nursing again during the day, wide awake.  So.  From now on I follow my gut no matter what.  Because obviously pediatricians are asshats.  Or at least, mine are.

But moving on.  That was certainly the worst nursing strike he's had, but he's had little, weird ones here and there - especially regarding sides.  Sometimes he doesn't want to nurse on one side or the other.  And this probably has to do with teething, or something along those lines...but with a little ingenuity you can work through this.

Step 1. Relax.  You will do no good if you're freaking out, and your nerves might interfere with your let down.  Chill.  It's going to be okay.

Step 2.  Try some new nursing positions.  Just like in any relationship, stuff can get stale if you're always doing the same old thing day in and day out.  When Rhys would refuse a specific side, I'd try side-lying nursing, and flip him upside down.  (So his feet were up by my head).  That way, he was basically in the same position he would be in if he were nursing on the side he WASN'T refusing.  This very frequently worked.

Step 3.  Take a bath and take the pressure off.  Lots of naked, skin to skin, one on one time often helps. 

Step 4.  Try walking around and nursing.

Step 5.  If it seems like your Squeak is mostly just distracted by everything that's going on around him and that's interfering with the nursing, try nursing in the closest thing you can find to a sensory deprivation chamber.  Rhys is still the King of distraction, so now even though he no longer fears the boob, we still have to nurse in his room, with the lights out the shades drawn the doors closed and NO ONE ELSE IN THERE.  Otherwise he plays Psycho-Gopher, bobbing off the boob and turning to look at whatever just made that sound/moved/or dared to breathe in the same room as him.

These are just a few of the things I've done with Rhys.  For a really comprehensive list of notions, check out, or the La Leche League.  I also highly recommend the book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding."  It's got an agenda, and it pushes it pretty hardcore, but it got me through a whole host of issues while the Squeak and I figured out the whole breastfeeding thing.

And Rhys and I are still going strong, at almost 13 months, so that's saying something!

Anonymous - If you're having any trouble breastfeeding, please feel free to email me!  I'm not a lactation consultant but I'd be happy to listen.


Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

But he looks SOOOOO innocent ;-)

Kristina said...

Nessa, just wanted to say I have followed your newf blog since we first considered the breed for our fourth dog. It was lucky for me I discovered you have this wonderful blog about pregnancy and parenthood about halfway through my first pregnancy. I borrowed most of my birth plan from yours and was really helped by your experience when Harry went through his growth spurt at 6 weeks. Your posts are always funny and insightful and i just wanted to thank you for both blogs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Over the past few weeks I have put some of your advice into practice and found it invaluable. In his first few months, my baby just couldn't get enough of the breast - but lately he has become increasingly distractable. Nursing him in a quiet, dark room (with the television OFF) has worked wonders, as have some of your other tips.

I'm sure I'm not the only one, out here in the ether, following your blog, benefiting from your advice, and sending lots of positive energy right back at you.