In just two days my little Olivia will be nine months old. With more than eight months of breastfeeding, two weeks of finger feeding (oh that was fun), two months with a nipple shield, and a week of exclusive pumping behind us, I hate to see it end like this. I'm hoping she's just on a nursing strike...dare I say "teething?" I feel like teeth are the answer to everything these days. She's cranky - teething. She's waking up at night - teething. She won't nurse - teething. She prefers dog toys, to her own - teething. You get the point. (By the way, she is still all gums!)
I've been doing a lot of reading on this and it seems that around this age many nursing strikes are blamed on teething...but I'm not sure if that's my little girl's problem or not. Here's how it started: for about two months now (since she started 3 solid meals a day) she's only been nursing 4 times a day, typically 6:30 am, 11 am, 3-3:30pm, 7pm. I would also pump at 10pm just to get a little extra milk in the freezer. Then about two weeks ago she all the sudden refused to nurse at 7pm. I thought it was possibly because she had just eaten dinner around 5:30 and perhaps she wasn't hungry. I pumped and offered her that milk and she took it right away. For a week this went on; all the while she was nursing fine the other three times during the day. Then I went away for a week without her and her grandparents gave her bottles of breastmilk the entire week. I returned and she went back to her old routine, still refusing the 7pm nursing. Then I figured out every time I nurse her during the day, with the exception of the last feeding, it's immediately after she wakes up. That's when I realized she's probably tired at the end of the day and she doesn't feel like working for the milk. So last night I decided, I'm not going to force her to eat. The last thing I want is to force-feed my daughter. I skipped it altogether and didn't even offer her a bottle. She slept until 6am. At that time she woke up, nursed like a mad woman and then went back to sleep until 8:40!!!! I then tried to get back into our routine of nursing at 11 and 3 but she refused both times. I should point out that since she slept so late this morning her schedule was thrown off and 11 and 3 are usually when she wakes up from naps, but today it was when she was about to go down for her naps.
I realize this all sound very confusing, but it is a confusing matter. While I like breastfeeding and want my daughter to have the benefits of breastmilk as long as she can, I am not so dedicated that I will exclusively pump and give her expressed breastmilk for the long term. For me, breastfeeding has a convenience factor along with all the other benefits.
So is this a nursing strike or is this a sleepy baby? Is this a baby who's eating too much solids or a baby who is just too curious about the world to spend 10 minutes breastfeeding?
I guess I'll just chalk it up to...just another challenge of newmamahood. And in the meantime, I'll ask the pediatrician what he thinks when we go for our 5th visit in 3 weeks tomorrow.