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Thread: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeeding!

  1. #1
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    Default 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeeding!

    My daughter will be 17 months old on October 18th.

    I breastfed her exclusively (for milk) until she was 13 months old. It was then that I started reducing our sessions really slowly, removing one session every two weeks or so. She started drinking milk from a straw cup with no problems to subsitute the reduction in breast milk.

    She never complained about the change or made any indications that she wanted to breastfeed in any way. If she would have, I would have breastfed her happily.

    We continued breast feeding once a day (at night before bedtime) for quite a long time with no problems. I was really happy with that relationship and had no intentions of stopping regardless of all pressure to drop these feeds.

    Then at the end of August (when she was 15 months old), when I was on vacation in Germany, she all of a sudden started screaming at me at night when I offered her the breast. She would scream and resist and if she did latch on she would immediately bite me (something she had never done before). When I put her in her crib, she would go to sleep as if nothing...

    I was really depressed that she no longer wanted to breastfeed. So I kept trying. She rejected me flat out 3 nights in a row. Then she latched on again without trouble one day.. (I was so happy) but then she started struggling again until now. I have only gotten her to latch on a couple of times in all this time and have been doing my best to pump when I can and hand express whatever drops I can get out of each breast to not completely lose my supply.

    I have to also add that she usually sleeps through the night but we started exeriencing night wake ups and she was hysterical. It was then that one night I decided to give her a bottle (she had never been a regular bottle drinker and I did not even know if she would take it). She grabbed on, sucked it down and went to sleep.

    Now she expects a bottle every night and if I offer her my breast she usually just starts crying and pushing away from me. Sometimes she latches on for about 30 seconds.. that is it.

    She drinks milk really well in pretty much any shape or form. She doesnt care if it is cold, warm, formula or cow´s milk. She eats really well and is not a picky eater.

    Here is the thing... I DON'T WANT TO STOP BREASTFEEDING!!! I am depressed about it, I have been trying to pump (hiding from my husband who thinks I am being ridiculous especially since my daughter obviously is no longer interested).. I am convinced that if I could just get my supply back up she would want me again... or maybe not...? Has she really weaned herself or is this because my supply dropped so much? I read that babies don't usually wean themselves until they are about 2 years old. Did I do something wrong?

    I feel comfort knowing that this has been a natural and slow process and that she obviously has not suffered but the one suffering now is me. Am I being ridiculous? Should I just stop trying to pump and follow my daughter's clues?

    If she were truly weaned then why is she so happy to take a bottle before bed? (the only bottle she ever gets, as I mentioned, she had pretty much never had a bottle until 15 months old).

    I cannot find any forums from moms of toddlers who want to keep breastfeeding. I only find threads about those who want to stop...

    Any advice/suggestions/comments are welcome, especially if they make me feel better..

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    This is so hard! I know I would have felt down, too, if my little ones had weaned like this. You're not alone in enjoying and seeing value in nursing a 17-month-old!

    It sounds like her refusal of the breast happened suddenly, without a gradual reduction. This is a nursing strike. The reason a nursing strike happens varies, as does the success with the child coming back to the breast. But it is worth a good try to get her to come back, since that's what you want!

    Here is some really good information: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    Some tricks that might work (you might have already tried lots of these!):
    - nursing just as she is falling asleep or just as she is waking up
    - use the bottle for a bit, then switch to your breast
    - lots of low-pressure skin-to-skin time with your baby. take a shower/bath together, or just lay in bed reading a book or playing.
    - try different positions -- lying down, standing, sitting next to her, laid-back (reclined on a bed or chair)
    - ditch the bottle and any other nipple replacements (pacifier) so that any sucking can only happen with you
    - find a new time to try nursing (she might just be out-of-sorts at night)

    Many mothers find that when their milk supply increases, their toddler is more interested in nursing, so pumping may be helpful to you.

    It sounds like your husband may not be aware of the many, many benefits that your little one will be missing out on if she doesn't return to the breast. You can maybe share some with him: http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

    A meeting of La Leche League is a great place to meet other moms nursing (or wanting to nurse) babies over a year. It can be helpful to get other tips there!

    Keep it up!

    (And in case it's helpful, there may have been some things that you could have done differently to ensure your little one nursed full-term. BUT, don't beat yourself up about it: You didn't know at the time and you were doing the best you could with the information you had. But for future reference: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/babyselfwean/#tips)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    I do think her sudden lack of interest in nursing may be related to your low supply, so pumping may be helpful. It sounds like what happened is you phased out all the feeds except the nighttime one, and then kept the bedtime feeding for a few months before she started rejecting it. Most likely your supply diminished a lot once you cut out all the other feeds. Some moms will continue to make milk for a few weeks or months with just one feeding per day but at some point you are going to lose your supply if you are nursing that infrequently. Losing supply often leads to weaning, as the toddler becomes frustrated, which sounds like it is what is happening here. If you do want to get your daughter back to nursing, I suggest pumping relatively frequently--minimum of 3-4x per day--to try to rebuild some supply. Also realize you probably can't keep feeding just one time a day indefinitely...usually once you get down to one feeding per day, you are very close to complete weaning. It's unusual to keep nursing only once or twice a day for a long period of time, usually doing that is a transition to complete weaning. So, if you do want to get your toddler back to breast, you may need to nurse more than just once or twice per day. (My son is 23 months and I couldn't even tell you how many times a day he nurses--probably at least 5-6).

    Don't judge or blame yourself for cutting the feeds, that isn't going to help. You were doing the best you knew how at the time, you didn't mean to cause her to wean. Just take steps now to increase your supply again, offer frequently, and I bet she will come back to nursing happily again.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    I agree, it sounds more like a strike than weaning. You are certainly not harming her in any way by continuing to offer. Look into the back-to-breast techniques in the kelly mom article as well as the other tips from PPs. Sometimes strikes take a while to resolve - hang in there!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    Hello Everyone,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I think I failed to mention that I work fulltime so I had to start weaning as I had taken out special permission to have a one hour break daily so that I could breast feed her every mid day until she was 13 months old. It was then that I eliminated the break at work and I started weaning out sessions. I weaned out sessions on purpose, as it was necessary to get on with my normal schedule. However, I really enjoyed the night feeding and wanted to keep it up. We continued with it for like 2 months with no problems but then the nursing strike. As a result, my supply went way down. I tried to pump and pump but it was useless because I would offer her the breast at every opportunity I could and she would immediately shake her head "NO, no no" and push away from me.

    Despite this, I have been carrying around my hand pump and have been trying to keep my supply at least alive as I have serious anxiety about losing this relationship... I have a hard time letting go.

    My left breast is nearly empty, I can barely anything out but I keep trying... My right side has some squirts, maybe 3-5 mL (barely anything). I have gotten her to latch on a couple of times in the last few days, mainly she just did it to be soothed and even fell asleep. I offered her the left side (to stimulate!) but she immediately bit me and left a horrible mark, OUCH!!!

    I have to kind of "closet pump" because my husband thinks it is ridiculous to keep trying, she will be 1.5 years old next month! It is useless to show him all the positive effects of breastfeeding, he "knows" but she is already over 1 year, so generally the majority of benefits are diminished.

    I can't pump 5 times a day as mentioned and even if I can get a "decent" supply back I cant breast feed her really more than once or twice a day max (if she will have me!). I work a 9-5 job, so it is just too hard.

    I don't think it is correct to say that "I didn't know any better" as I did, I consciously weaned her down to one feeding a day fully aware that this would diminish my supply slowly, but I was hoping the night time feeds would last... and they did.. until she rejected me 3 days straight.

    Anyways, for now I am trying to pump as much as I can (even though I get very very little...) and I keep hoping I can get her to come back to me for at least a while.. if not, I guess it is time for mommy to realize that this phase of our lives has passed... Gotta learn to let go... "wean me gently my baby... wean me gently!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*k1mb3rly21 View Post
    I have gotten her to latch on a couple of times in the last few days, mainly she just did it to be soothed and even fell asleep.
    This is nursing, mama. If continuing your nursing relationship means a little bit of nursing on the right side at bedtime, so be it. Nutritionally you can substitute the fat, calcium and protein of breastmilk with other foods (most easily other dairy). I don't think you need to pump many times a day. And if the left side dries up and she'll only nurse from the right, that's fine too. There are plenty of mothers of toddlers and older children nursing off their dominant side! I would suggest keep offering as you are, do a bit of pumping if you can (especially on nights when she refuses altogether) and enjoy the nursing relationship such as it is.

    Have you told your husband how important this is to you?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    He knows it is important to me but he does not understand. That is why I "closet pump" (I run off to bed before him and try to pump a bit before going to sleep). I live in Spain and most mothers stop breastfeeding around 4 months old. Getting to one year old is already quite a merit here and people do no understand why on earth you would want to continue past the age of one. Initially my idea was to quit breastfeeding after she turned one, which is why I started weaning.. but then when the time came around I just realized that I am not ready. I think Sandra (my daughter) is ready, but I am not! It is weird to me how nostalgic I get when I see other mothers just quitting breastfeeding cold turkey and so happy to find their new freedom. I just keep feeling anxious like I am going to lose my beautiful baby and our awesome relationship.. I just don't want to let go of my baby yet.

    Thanks for the comment about not worrying so much if one side dries up, that does make me feel a lot better! I am going to keep that in mind because I have been focusing all of my pumping on the almost dry side, maybe I would do better to focus on the other side until I can get a decent amount.

    THANKS!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    Yeah, it's weird to me how people see breastfeeding as this burden to shoulder that they can't wait to get rid of. Maybe it's because the hardest time is usually at the beginning, to they don't get to the part where it's easy and natural.

    I think it makes sense to pump the "good" side, especially if time is limited. Hope you are able to continue!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    Hello everyone I wanted to give you an update!
    Sandra is turned 1.5 years old on the 18th of November and is now actively breastfeeding every morning and every night YEA!!!!

    One day she just latched on, and despite the low supply she kept suckling. I guess it was just a really long strike that she went on! I guess it is important to just keep trying.

    I just wanted to keep up the relationship, as I still give her bottles in the morning at night as well as breastfeeding. The important thing for me is that she gets the immunity that I may offer her and that we just have some time to hang out with eachother, giggle with eachother and just slow down and look into eachother's eyes

    No more pumping and, for the record, she takes both sides so I think my supply has come back on my non-active side.

    THANKS!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 16 month old weaned...? HELP! I want to keep breastfeedi

    That's wonderful! Thanks for the update! It's always great to hear happy endings, and be reminded that strikes CAN be overcome! Happy nursing!

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