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A Nursing Strike

Jamie Hupfer
Deering NH USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2008, p. 22

I have been a La Leche League Leader for almost three years and, in that time, have helped several mothers with nursing strike issues. Though I had never experienced a nursing strike myself, I always gave mothers the suggestions I found in our LLL resources, as well as encouragement, adding that a nursing strike would not go on forever.

But then it was my turn for a nursing strike. My eight-month-old daughter, Zoe, came down with roseola (a mild infection that typically causes several days of fever, followed by a rash) and just wanted to suckle all day for comfort. My left breast has a stronger let-down than the right. When she latched on she caused a let-down almost immediately. Milk sprayed everywhere and she started wailing. That was it! Every time I tried to put her on the left breast she cried and kicked and screamed.

I took a deep breath, trying to recall all those suggestions that I would give to other moms: keep offering the breast, don't force a feeding, let the milk drain out to prevent engorgement, express to avoid engorgement, and the nursing strike won't last.

This went on all day: panicking, then taking a deep breath and doing all the things I listed. I couldn't help getting discouraged. My breast hurt, my baby was in hysterics at the sight of my left breast, though this had comforted her so well in the past.

Throughout the night when she would stir to nurse, I would place her on the offending side. She would wake instantly and cry for the other side. Once I switched sides she went peacefully back to sleep. By morning I was engorged and miserable. It was time to pump. Both of my children are or have been exclusively breastfed. I was grateful I still had the hand pump that the hospital gave me.

I sat Zoe in her chair with a teething cookie and Xander (who is almost four) sat down with his breakfast and I started to pump. Xander was quite fascinated by this let me tell you! In about five minutes I had expressed over four ounces of my milk. Though still a little sore I felt much better.

And Zoe started to nurse again on the left side later that afternoon.

So though it was a tough 24 hours, it didn't by any means last forever and I did have a good laugh at how lopsided I looked for an entire day!

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