Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Growth Spurts and Nursing Strikes

on December 2, 2013

 

Exactly what is a “growth spurt”?

The term “growth spurt” (also called frequency days) describes times when babies seem to nurse non-stop for a couple of days. It is believed that this is how the baby tells the mother’s body to increase milk production. Babies usually have several “growth spurts” in the first 6 months. They often occur at 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. But they can occur any time. After about 48-72 hours of frequent nursing, a baby will return to a more regular routine of nursing, rest and playtime.

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My 6 week-old has nursed non-stop for the last two days – should I be concerned about my milk supply?

As long as your baby is still having the same number of wet and soiled diapers, there is no reason to panic. It is normal for a baby at around this age to change his nursing pattern. When a baby starts nursing non-stop for a few days it usually means that he is growing. After a few days of frequent nursing, your baby will fall into a new nursing pattern with your recently increased milk supply. We call these episodes “growth spurts” or “frequency days”.

What can I do if my baby has a nursing strike?

During the time that your baby is refusing to nurse, you will need to express your milk either by hand or by pumping, in order to maintain your milk production. Do this as frequently as your baby would normally nurse. If your baby has refused several feedings, you can offer your expressed milk in a cup. Avoiding bottles and pacifiers is recommended during this period in the hope that your baby’s sucking urges will encourage him to start nursing again.

Spending lots of time skin-to-skin with your baby can be very helpful. You can also try:

taking a warm bath together

making the breast available while baby is sleepy, especially when he is just waking up

singing to or rocking your baby while holding him skin-to-skin

nursing in a different position or location

Do not try to make your baby breastfeed; rather just hold him (skin-to-skin when possible) and let him take the lead when he is ready to try again.

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My baby is suddenly refusing to nurse. Does this mean he’s weaning?

Very unlikely. Occasionally, a baby who has been nursing well will suddenly refuse the breast for no apparent reason. This is called a nursing strike. It is very rare that a baby will wean on his own during his first year, and weaning usually happens gradually. On reviewing the situation, a cause for the nursing strike can sometimes be identified. Common causes include: an earache or stuffy nose, a scary sound that happened while breastfeeding, a different lotion or deodorant, too many bottles or pacifiers or a recent change in routine. Nursing strikes can last from 2-4 days.

By Linda Wieser, LLLC Leader  http://www.lllc.ca/faq

WABLibrary


Read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group  or  Internationally http://www.llli.org/

 

 

 

 

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