This experience is distressing for mothers, who feel rejected and confused. Family members and friends may tell them that the baby is just ready to be weaned, but young babies seldom self-wean. More than likely, the baby is on a nursing strike. Nursing strikes can last from a few hours to over a week. They are most likely to occur if the environmental stress coincides with a cold or virus, the baby is teething, or the baby has an earache. Occasionally they occur after a mother has yelled when the baby has bitten her nipple.
Thankfully, once a mother realizes her baby is on strike, she can take measures to help restore the breastfeeding relationship. It may become necessary to pump the breasts to protect the milk supply until the baby settles back into nursing. In the meantime, the best trick to reverse a nursing strike is to nurse the baby when he or she is sleepy or asleep. In a drowsy state, many babies will breastfeed just fine. Some moms find that nursing while standing up, lying down, or in the tub distracts the baby long enough for a successful latch attempt. A quiet feeding environment, dim lights, reduced noise, and more skin-to-skin contact will help relax and reassure the baby. A nursing strike is always an indication that the baby is feeling overwhelmed.
A Word About Alcohol
Scientists have good information about the transfer of alcohol into breast milk. We know that too much exposure to alcohol in mothers' milk is a bad thing for babies; however, occasional, moderate intake has not been shown to be harmful. What constitutes reasonable, moderate intake? An average size woman could occasionally consume a beer, a glass of wine, or a mixed drink and continue to breastfeed normally. If she consumes more alcohol than this, she should wait several hours before nursing again. If her breasts become full in the meantime, a woman can express the milk and discard it.
Becoming intoxicated is risky because it impairs the ability to respond appropriately to the infant. Parents who plan a party at which there will be lots of drinking should plan to have a sober babysitter care for the baby.