Your baby could pull away from your nipple while breastfeeding because of many reasons. However, you shouldn’t get worried or discouraged when this happens. As long as your baby’s steadily gaining weight and seems to be happy at the end of each feeding, they’re probably getting enough milk.
Below, I will discuss some of the most common reasons why babies make a fuss while nursing. I will also teach you how to manage a breastfeeding strike.
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Why Does My Baby Pull Away While Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can be beneficial for the mother and her newborn baby. However, it can be frustrating at times, especially if your baby makes a fuss. If you’re wondering why your baby does this, check out the following reasons and address the issue accordingly.
Decreased Breast Milk Supply
If your baby makes a fuss while breastfeeding, maybe your supply is lowered. Supplementing with baby formula or using a pacifier frequently might decrease your supply.
New and Unusual Scents or Tastes
A change of smell because of a new soap, lotion, deodorant, or perfume might cause breastfed babies to lose interest in nursing. Also, changes in the taste of milk caused by diet, medication, period, or getting pregnant again can cause a nursing strike in many babies.
A stuffy nose or cold can make it harder for your baby to breathe during breastfeeding. In addition, overstimulation, stress, distraction, delayed feedings, long separation from you, and a strong reaction from you to being bitten during nursing might cause fussiness and difficulty breastfeeding as well.
Pain or Discomfort Causes Baby Fussing
A cold sore, thrush, or teething can cause mouth pain during nursing. Ear infections can also cause pain when lying on one side. Soreness or some injury from vaccination is another reason that might cause discomfort in some nursing positions.
Too Slow Milk Flow
If your milk is flowing very slowly, your newborn can get annoyed by the lack of milk and pull off your nipple, hoping that there will be more milk when they latch back on. In this case, I suggest that you massage your breasts to try to increase your flow of milk. Breast compressions can also help you get more milk.
Many babies, especially young ones, will typically fall asleep instead of pulling away when they don’t get enough milk. Therefore, if your baby’s a couple of weeks old, low milk supply isn’t the reason for them pulling away.
Too Fast Milk Flow
If your breast milk is flowing too quickly, your little one can get overwhelmed and pull away to rest. They’re getting too much milk, or your milk flow is too strong! You can easily determine this if milk seems to squirt or spray whenever your baby pulls away from your nipple.
In this case, hold your baby upright instead of lying down and lean yourself back, so their throat is higher than your breast. This way, they will be able to manage the flow much better. You can also try switching them to your other breast to see if the milk flow is slower there.
Bad Latch Results in Fussy Nursing Behavior
Your baby’s mouth should be placed properly on your nipple to draw breast milk into their mouth. And if this latch isn’t correct, a fast letdown occurs.
You can help your baby latch properly by opening their mouth with one finger and placing your nipple into their mouth while you pull them closer to you. Your baby’s lips should be in a pout instead of drawn back over their gums.
They can also have their nose pushed too tightly against your skin. In this case, push down on your breast near their nose to give them more air. That way, they will breathe better while nursing, and you won’t have to deal with a frustrated baby.
They Don’t Like Evening Feedings
If your baby makes a fuss while nursing in the evening, they might hate night feedings. Many newborns tend to pull off and fuss at the breast at night, so you have nothing to worry about. Furthermore, reflux, as well as tongue-tie, can also result in newborns being fussy at the breast.
Some newborns experience gum discomfort with sucking, so teething can also cause fussy behavior. You can determine if this is the issue if your baby starts nursing but then pulls off and cries and doesn’t want to breastfeed anymore. In this case, you can do certain things to help your baby.
They Prefer One Side
Sometimes newborns will refuse one breast if it’s slower, too strong, or the milk supply is slightly lower. Your baby may prefer one breast over the other because it’s higher in milk supply or has a faster/slower flow.
Allergy or Food Sensitivity
If your baby has allergies or food sensitivities, they can display fussy behavior. Usually, when there’s a sensitivity to something in their mom’s diet, a baby will come to the breast hungry, but when they taste or smell something in the breast milk that will cause them GI issues, they pull off, shake their head, etc.
This isn’t a common situation. However, if this is the issue, you will probably determine other symptoms like vomiting, spitting up, diarrhea, colic, rash, runny nose, persistent congestion, or excessive gas.
They’re Just Full!
If this is the case (which usually is), you have nothing to worry about! As babies start to get full, they can pull away to decide that they would like some more milk after all. If this is the case, it should only happen toward the end of a feeding, after your baby’s been breastfeeding for about 15 minutes.
If you notice this, just let your baby decide what to do! The only thing you can do is help them latch back onto your breast to determine if they keep on eating. If they pull away for a second time and look happy and calm, they’re done eating.
How to Manage A Breastfeeding Strike
A breastfeeding strike can be uncomfortable for both the mom and her baby. You can feel rejected and annoyed by your fussy baby.
However, you shouldn’t feel sad or guilty because it’s not your fault at all. And luckily, there’s something you can do about it! Here’s how to manage a breastfeeding strike:
- Keep trying – Just stop and try again later.
- Change positions – If they’re is congested, it might help to suction their nose before feedings.
- Handle distractions properly – Try breastfeeding in a quiet place without distractions.
- Cuddle your little one – Skin-to-skin contact is very important, especially in the first few weeks.
- Handle biting issues – If they bite you while breastfeeding, don’t freak out. Instead, just slip your finger into their mouth to quickly break the suction.
- Monitor changes in your daily routine – If you’re taking any new medications, changing your diet, or applying a new perfume or lotion, your baby can be upset about it.
If a nursing strike lasts more than a couple of days, your little one has fewer damp diapers than normal, or you’re just worried about their difficulty nursing, contact your baby’s doctor.
Why Does My Baby Unlatch to Look at Me?
When your baby’s unlatching just to look at you, it’s the cutest thing ever! However, it can also be quite annoying when you have work to do or want a quicker nursing session.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a problem. Maybe your baby needs to burp. Or they’re full. A stronger flow can initiate burping.
Why Does My Baby Keep Latching and Unlatching?
In the beginning, your baby’s still learning to control their suck-swallow pattern. And once the flow starts, some newborns have a hard time keeping up with the fast pace. And they can get overwhelmed, which results in them pulling away.
Other causes include reflux, which can also cause fussiness, pain, and unsettling behavior. And if you’re full, the pressure in your breast can make matters worse.
However, reverse pressure softening can help. You can also lean back to decrease your flow.
Furthermore, if they’re resting on your body or chest in a more upright position instead of under your breast, they can control the quicker flow a lot better.
Learning your baby’s behavior and paying close attention when they’re feeding can help you determine why they might be latching on and off constantly. Some do it to start the flow. And you can help by expressing some milk before nursing.
Many things can cause a breastfeeding strike.
Usually, your baby’s trying to tell you that something isn’t right. However, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s typically something normal such as fullness, pain or discomfort, slower/faster flow, etc. Just try to determine the cause and address it accordingly.
Most breastfeeding strikes aren’t long. They’re short-lived. And if it’s going on for more than a couple of days and you’re worried, ask your baby’s doctor for advice.
Share your breastfeeding tips and experiences below!