The Three-Month Breastfeeding Crisis That Is Effecting Women Worldwide

And why milk supply is not the issue at hand.

three-month breastfeeding crisis
Image: Bianca Cheah

Here at Amodrn, we love talking motherhood. Some of the issues we face are challenging to talk about and ironically, for the most part, are not talked about. An issue we’ve been coming across in some blogs is better known as the Three-Month Breastfeeding Crisis. This is a period of time in which a baby starts to become fussy at the breast, mothers start to produce milk differently, and a child’s mind starts to expand. This can become increasingly difficult for mothers, as the importance of breastfeeding is crucial during the early life of an infant. With the help of mothers worldwide, we’ve outlined a guide below of signs this is happening, the reasoning behind the issue, and what you can do about it. Keep reading below if you would like to find out more!

the three-month breastfeeding crisis
Image: Eibner Saliba

Some Of The Signs

This is one of the toughest and most intense periods of time for mothers to go through. While for the most part, the first three months are unlike the complexity that reveals itself in month three. During this time, mothers start to quit or use alternative methods like formula. According to the Beyond Sleep Training Project, here are some signs.

  • The baby no longer feeds for long periods of time.

  • The mother’s breasts are soft and don’t feel full anymore.

  • The baby gets distracted for virtually everything around him.

  • Baby only seems to nurse properly when he’s either drowsy or sleeping.

  • Baby puts on less weight, which is normal.

  • Oftentimes there’s a decrease of poops

Why Is This Happening?

The methods of reasoning behind this phenomenon are extremely fascinating. There can be multiple issues that can affect why nursing is being more difficult for you and your baby. Baby Moments says that “some perinatal psychologists argue that the first separation of the baby from the mother happens as early as around 4 months. When your baby is about 2 months old, she starts seeing things clearly across the room. About a month later, your baby will start staying awake for longer stretches and use that time to take a greater interest in the world around him. Everything is so new and fascinating, that it is difficult to concentrate on nursing and look around.”
Your child is also forming new neuronal connections in their brain at this time. Distractions are new sensations for them. Becoming drawn away from the breast is very easy at this point in time.

Another talent your child starts to learn is the art of receiving milk from the breast. According to the Beyond Sleep Training Project, “by three months of age babies are expert suckers, so they no longer need to spend 20 minutes breastfeeding, they can do it in 3, 4 or 5 minutes.” Your body also stops storing milk at this time, and only produces it when a baby is sucking at the breast. This can also cause ample frustration because of the child not being able to quickly be fed.

the three-month breastfeeding crisis
Image: Laura Fuhrman

What Can You Do To Help?

The best advice that we can offer is to remember that all mothers go through this with their baby. You are not alone in this. Nursing strikes in babies are very, very common. Interestingly enough, babies do not and will not self-wean until they are two years old. Baby Moments offers the following tips to end this type of strike:

  • Try to prove your baby that the breastfeeding relationship between you two is reliable. Continue offering breasts, don’t give a bottle, and don’t supplement unless you have objective reasons. For example, you believe that your milk supply is low and that your baby is not gaining weight.
  • Be with your baby as often and as long as possible, play with her, cuddle her, and, most importantly, practice skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care. It has been shown that the physical proximity of skin-to-skin care helps the baby feel secure and calm down.
  • Try to keep calm. Your baby may copy your mood, and if you are stressed when trying to feed her, your baby will become stressed too. Don’t force, just offer to nurse. Talk to your baby; sing for her.
  • Let the baby find the most comfortable nursing position for himself. Try different breastfeeding positions. Show your baby that his comfort is important for you.
  • Many babies on nursing strike feed at night. Dream feeding is when a baby feeds during her sleep. This is one of the most successful tricks to end a nursing strike. Many distractible babies that feed poorly during the day or are on a nursing strike dream feed several times at night.
  • Monitor the baby’s weight to become sure that she gets enough breastmilk. If your baby refuses to nurse several days, or the only dream feeds at night, or has, in general, significantly reduced his nursing sessions, your milk supply may drop. It is important, therefore, to maintain your supply, for example by pumping or dream feeding, until your breastfeeding relationship becomes settled.

While you’re here, check out our baby sleep expert Chantal Murphy’s guide to why your baby cries

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