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Thread: Shorter and shorter nursings

  1. #1
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    Aug 2013
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    Default Shorter and shorter nursings

    Hi mamas -

    I posted on here a couple months ago about my daughter's disinterest in nursing and my concern that she was weaning. It's been two months and we're still hobbling along. And I mean hobbling! I am again an anxious mess.

    One piece of advice the savvy ladies on here gave me two months ago was to RELAX, that our nursing relationship was merely changing. So I stopped freaking out every time she didn't want to feed, stopped reaching for the pump to replace feedings, etc. And now I wonder if I shouldn't have relaxed SO much...

    My daughter is now 1 year old and she's nursing for 2-3 minutes about 5 times a day. Is that enough??? It's all I can get from her.

    Sometimes before nap or bed she'll comfort nurse for longer but it really feels like she's just using me as a pacifier and not actually drinking anything. Eventually I will just take her off when my back/neck starts to hurt.

    I think there is NO WAY she's extracting 16-20 oz or so for the day. But since I am technically still nursing her I have not offered other milks, formula or any sort of supplement. She's not very interested in solids either, taking some breakfast but basically tasting lunch and dinner and then throwing it on the floor.

    Help, mamas!

    I have a baby who has been so hard to nurse from Day 1 due to disinterest and subtle or nonexistent cues and my problem with plugged ducts I feel like I won't know when she IS weaning and I will be depriving her of much-needed liquids and nutrition. This is a very uncomfortable feeling as a mama, as you all know.

    I could start doing pre and post nursing weight checks as with a newborn... it just seems so crazy. I thought this would be getting easier...

    Thanks in advance for your hard won advice!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    Hi mama,
    how has your LO's weight gain been? If weight gain is on track, then she is getting enough. Calorie needs actually decrease at around this time, as baby is not growing as rapidly as she did early on. The key is simply to continue to offer the breast frequently and let her decide whether she wants it or not. Also, to the extent that you can keep yourself comfortable during her comfort nursing, I think you do want to encourage nursing at that time, both to maintain supply and nurture the breastfeeding relationship. A 1 year old is still often in the distractible phase of nursing where it's too exciting during the day to nurse much, so the best nursing may occur at bedtime, naptime or overnight. So you want to maximize those opportunities.

    Also, since she is 1 now, you can try to really encourage solids. Are you letting her self-feed? Offering a variety of foods, letting her eat "on the go" (ie, not forcing her to be strapped down in a high chair or booster), making food fun (shapes, patterns) are ways to encourage solids intake.

    In theory, nursing 3-5 times per day should be enough "dairy" for a toddler. If you are concerned it's not enough, you can offer animal milk (cow's, goat's) and/or cheese or yogurt (read the labels to avoid sugar).

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    Hi bfwmomof3,

    Thanks for replying.

    It seems she has gained about 1 lb. over the last month, give or take a few ounces based on time of day for weigh-in.
    She actually gained more than that, but she has lost a little in the past couple weeks.

    I feel like if I offer animal milk, she's going to wean. She's just never been that into nursing to begin with.
    Obviously I don't want to force her to nurse (that's not even possible) but I want to make sure I'm not confusing weaning with a temporary nursing strike/disinterest and do things that prompt early weaning. Does that make sense?

    I succumbed to weighing her this morning before and after a short feed and she took about 2 or 2.5 oz. So if I only get her to nurse 4-5 time, she could potentially be getting as little as 8-10 oz. a day. Is that enough?

    I'm offering some water today (it's hot here) so I don't know if her diaper output is going to be any real indication of whether she's getting enough milk.

    I keep offering things like cheese and yogurt... She's just not very into solids right now. She was at first, but we've been in a bit of a slump for awhile now.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    Very normal for a child to lose a lot of interest in solids at around a year- as the PP said, caloric needs tend to go down a bit around that time as growth slows down. Also, toddler pickiness tends to kick in at around a year, which earns that most toddlers start to focus on favorite foods and ignore their less favored items. Result: more food on floor.

    The guidelines for dairy intake vary by who you're talking to. I would speak to your doc and see what he/she recommends. But I've seen a recommendation that suggests about 2 cups of "dairy" per day- and I think that 2 cups is 16 fluid oz. 8-10 oz per day is probably at least half of what your baby needs, so if she eats some cheese or yogurt in addition to what she gets when nursing, you're probably right where you should be.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    My pediatrician is not very BF-friendly, especially after 1 year. They want me to push solids, solids, solids.

    Lunch and dinner today went uneaten. On the floor immediately. For breakfast she had 4 raspberries and about 5 Tbl. oatmeal.

    She nursed 5 times all day, very briefly. And refused the right side almost every time (the slower side).

    She totally refused to nurse before bed. Wouldn't even latch.

    Is this it? Are we done? Should I just offer her cow's milk?

    I have no support IRL. Everyone has been telling me to wean for months and I've tuned them out. But now I really don't know what to do.

    I'm so worried.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    Mama, there are definitely plenty of toddlers out there whose parents insist that they live on air. And also lots of toddlers who are not particularly interested in solids at a year, and don't get interested until well into their second year.

    In what way do you see that you are done? She nursed 5 times... maybe briefly but she's still nursing, right? Also, I don't think cow's milk is an either/or situation. For my older two kids, when I pump weaned at a year, I introduced cow's milk, which they drank while I was at work, and continued nursing when we were together. If it would make you feel better to give her a cup of cow's milk, I don't think that will hasten weaning any more than any other non-breastmilk food would. My youngest was not interested in cow's milk initially, but now she does drink it at times - but she is still nursing too.

    But it sounds like maybe the biggest issue is just not having support. Of course you are welcome to come on here for support. But if you would like support IRL, is there a LLL meeting you could go to near where you live?

    That's frustrating that your pediatrician is not supportive, but not uncommon. In the U.S. only about 25% of babies are still breastfeeding at all at a year. So for most pediatricians, the majority of their patients are formula-fed. And most people want to cut out the formula at age one because it's expensive, so there's a big push to transition over to solids. So your pediatrician is likely giving advice that suits the majority of his or her patients, but may not be appropriate for you. I don't know where you live, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least a year, and then for as long thereafter as mother and baby desire, and the WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. So do you think you could say that you are committed to continuing breastfeeding, as recommended by the AAP (if you are in the U.S., if not you can look up local recommendations) and the WHO, and ask about how much milk/dairy intake he would recommend for your child?

    There's a myth that's propagated that babies don't take to solids because they're getting "too much" breastmilk, and if baby was weaned, baby would be more interested in solids. Well, breastfeeding is what saves the baby who is not that interested in solids! Which in my experience just has to do with the way baby is wired and nothing to do with being breastfed. My three babies were all exclusively breastfed, the first had no interest in solids until well into the second year, and other two were a lot more enthusiastic about solids.

    Anyway, try not to let all these weaning messages get to you. 1 year olds are still meant to get breastmilk. The whole weaning at a year thing I think comes from 1) the AAP recommendations to breastfeed for at least a year, which somehow got contorted into "you should stop at a year" though like I said, the next statement is to continue for as long as mom and baby want; 2) the fact that people stop giving formula at a year.

    You're doing great mama. Keep at it!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    to all the above.

    Just continue to patiently offer, mama, and don't let yourself get stressed or hurt if baby refuses. The sort of behavior you're seeing is really normal for toddlers- their nursing and solid food intake sometimes slumps, and then sometimes they go through spurts and they're eating everything in sight and nursing like newborns.

    One thing that happens when a breast goes unused for a while is that the milk gets salty. If your baby is mostly refusing the right, taste issues could be coming into play- she latches on and thinks, "Oh, salty", so the next time you offer the right she thinks "No, I don't want that salty milk" and refuses. If that's happening, you might want to pump the right from time to time, and see of that restores the taste and your baby's willingness to nurse.

    I'm sorry this is so difficult, mama! You're doing wonderfully well by continuing to nurse.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    I thought that offering any liquid - especially other milk - does indeed hasten weaning. No?

    Their thirst is quenched and, if they've had milk, they've gotten that sweet protein hit... so if they do nurse, it might be more a comfort thing and not really empty the breast, thus leading to a supply drop. Please tell me if I have this wrong.

    I am home with her all day so if she doesn't nurse, I usually don't offer solids or anything else and wait awhile before trying again because I'm too worried she'll skip a feeding and my supply will drop even more.

    Also, if I was to offer her another milk, wouldn't I have to pump to replace the feeding? Or, for that matter, if she is in a nursing slump, if I don't pump, will my supply rebound when she does?


    Again, this is not a baby who has ever offered me strong cues about wanting to nurse (only NOT wanting to nurse) so it makes it VERY confusing for me.

    I really feel like I'll have no idea when she's weaning because it's felt that way for the entire first year of her life! So I think that's where a lot of my worry comes from.

    Thanks, mamas. My area does not host LLLI meetings anymore so this forum is invaluable to me.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Shorter and shorter nursings

    So this is how I think of it. Weaning is a process that begins the first time your baby has anything other than breastmilk - ie with that first sip of water or that first taste of solids. And under natural circumstances it continues very gradually until baby replaces all her nutritional and fluid needs with solids and water (or other drinks) and stops nursing. Of course, there is more to nursing than nutrition - ie comfort and bonding - so many children will continue to nurse even when they do not need to do so from a strictly nutritional perspective. But, the point is, the weaning process has already begun when your LO started taking in solids, although again, very very slowly. And as the weaning process continues, and baby takes in more of her calories from solids, she will drink less milk, and your supply will drop in parallel. The one year point is where breastmilk STARTS to lose its primacy as baby's primary form of nutrition. Up until a year it really is the bulk of baby's nutrition. After a year, solids slowly take over. And that rate varies with different babies. It sounds like at this point she's not doing much solids. Which is fine, because you're still nursing her as often as she is willing to! But it's also okay to have breastmilk take on a more complementary role at this point. Meaning, it's fine to encourage solids. I put animal milk in the same category as solids. So yes, you are correct that as you offer other forms of nutrition, baby may nurse less. But that does not mean she will completely wean. Eventually she will get to a point where she may be nursing only a couple times a day, and eventually she will stop. I also think that since you have misgivings about the animal milk, there's no reason to give it - I am definitely not trying to say you SHOULD give it, only that you can if you like. If you are nursing five times a day that should be enough. Perhaps you can encourage other solids instead.

    The fact that she is not giving you cues to nurse - actually I don't think it's uncommon for a one-year-old to behave like that. She may have no need to cue because she is happy with how frequently you are offering to nurse! I agree that five times a day may be less than usual for a one-year-old, but remember this is all a continuum. Some babies will nurse more, some less. If baby is gaining weight appropriately, it's enough. And, baby may go through ups and downs. In a month she may surprise you by "nursing like a newborn" - that frequently is the case with young toddlers. And yes, if that happens, your supply will respond appropriately by making more milk! Without your needing to pump in the meantime.

    I would suggest - if you can, let go of the worry that she might be weaning. It's pretty unusual, though not unheard of, for a one-year-old to wean. Keep doing what you are doing. Offer to nurse frequently. Let her comfort nurse as much as you are able. Encourage physical contact with baby, whether by wearing baby or holding her or snuggling with her. If you do those things, then you are encouraging nursing and discouraging weaning.

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