Scratching, pinching, slapping, hair pulling, biting. My nurslings have done it all. Those little hands, desperately trying to find comfort, manifest into pain for their host.
Bunny would pinch – my chest, the tops of my arms, even my neck or face. Then, as we desperately tried to encourage her to sleep without nursing, those tiny fingers would seek out the skin in my elbow joint or wrist and flex it until it was raw. Then they would grab again, digging nails deeper into my skin, taking sinews, tendons and bones with them. The pain was hideous, but she would not sleep without this comfort behaviour!
With Bear, it has been hair pulling, with some slapping, pinching and lots of scratching. But always the hair. She wraps it around her fingers until it’s knotted and then pulls, yanks even. And my god, it hurts! Sometimes, she’s more gentle and just fiddles with it, but she holds onto it for dear life. Before I get any smart comments suggesting I tie my hair back, I’ve tried it. I end up looking like a scarecrow, with scratches on my face where her frustrated hands have found solace. It doesn’t work.
I could cut my hair short, but having spent a good few years growing it, that seems rather extreme. So I grin and bear it. Another breastfeeding secret I discovered too late. I wish I’d bought a nursing necklace right at the start, but I didn’t and now the habit is formed there’s no diverting those fingers once their seek and torture mission has begun!
Bunny doesn’t pinch anymore, so I remain hopeful that Bear too will outgrow this behaviour. At least before she’s pulled the last few hairs out anyway!
What do your babies do for comfort; do you mind? How do you distract them if you can?