I think it’s finally safe to say that Ben’s nursing strike is over!
I don’t think it ended because of anything that I did other than just wait it out. He’s been fighting eating for about 3 weeks now. The biggest concern during a nursing strike or even a strike from bottle feeding is dehydration/starvation. Both our pediatrician and my mom (mother of 6 and pediatric nurse) said to watch for amount of urine (are diapers as wet as often as they used to be), amount of drool, and lethargy. Presence of all three of those would be a high alert to both call the doctor and possibly head to the ER. Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with that.
During the worst of the strike, Ben would yell and arch his back every time I brought him close to me to nurse. Being more patient than your child is pretty key to getting through with your sanity. We tried giving him a bottle but since he was so congested that he couldn’t breathe, a bottle didn’t work any better than a breast did. I would offer to feed him every hour but didn’t try to push it if he rejected food; I’d just try again sooner.
I started sneaking in a feeding when he was just barely awake from naps since I knew he ate so well when he was half asleep overnight. I kept him swaddled, the lights off, curtains closed and white noise machine on. Eventually, when post-nap feedings were consistently good, I added pre-nap feedings (swaddled, lights off, curtains closed and white noise machine on). We’ve slowly been eliminating one of those environmental factors every few days and now we’re back to feeding 4 or so minutes a side every 3 hours, no swaddle, lights on, fully awake and curtains open. I’ve chosen to continue only feeding him in his bedroom because he gets distracted by people, pets, or noises very easily, which is pretty typical of a 6 month old. Apparently there are too many exciting things going on in the world to bother paying attention to eating!
I’m so, so, so glad this is over! It was super stressful knowing that he wasn’t eating enough plus going through a growth spurt at the same time. The worst has been avoided and now I have tools in my child-raising arsenal to pull out next time this happens, either with Ben or Baby #2.