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Thread: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

  1. #1
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    Default DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    Hi ladies, I've gotten a lot of helpful advice here over the years and now I'm back again

    My DS turned 2 a couple of weeks ago, and DH has made it clear to me that he's only 'tolerating' me nursing at this point, he doesn't really support it any more. He thinks it's 'ridiculous' that we still nurse as much as we do (4-7 times a day) but won't push active weaning until DS turns 3. I pointed out that one of DS's friends just weaned last week (mother led weaning, I think--same age as DS) and DH says to me, 'you're telling me that to make me see that nursing is still normal at his age, but what it says to me is that kids his age are starting to wean'. :/ not the reaction I was hoping for. I wanted to point out that I'm pretty sure this was mother-led weaning and not child-led, which would be my preference for DS, but I didn't.

    I'm figuring some of you have probably dealt with a similar reaction from your partner at some point, and I'm wondering how you dealt with it. Is there anything I can do to make DH see that nursing is still beneficial at this point? I'm not ready to actively wean and neither is DS I've started cutting some sessions and putting some limits on when we nurse and I have mixed feelings about that. I'm happy not to nurse 6 times in the morning while I'm trying to get in the shower and get ready for work, but it doesn't feel good having to say 'no' to DS over and over. He doesn't seem overly upset when I say 'no'--sometimes he even giggles, like he wasn't serious asking--but he does keep asking, over and over. We're down to 4-5 daytime sessions now (plus 0-2 overnight) and I'm not feeling good about cutting it any further despite DH's feelings.

    I don't want him to feel that his input as a father doesn't count, but ultimately I feel this affects DS and I much more than it does him. I also think DH might miss nursing once it's gone--no more easy way to soothe DS at night or put him to sleep, and once DS is nightweaned I fully expect DH to share the nightwaking, which he doesn't really do now. He was up with DS once for a few hours last Saturday night and is still complaining how tired he is, four days later Never mind I've been doing this every night for 2+ years...Anyway, I don't think he'll deal well with sharing night waking.

    How do I protect our nursing relationship, without causing discord with DH and while still respecting his input as a father? He is a really great father (and husband!), very hands on with DS and very loving, and I don't want him to feel his say doesn't count, but I also don't want to wean before we're ready, or cut back further on nursing right now.
    Last edited by @llli*joshuas.mommy; November 20th, 2013 at 02:29 PM.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    Congrats on two years of nursing - that's wonderful!

    I haven't been in your situation - my DH sees nursing as between me and LO, which is fine with me! - but I guess I'm wondering whether you've had your DH articulate exactly WHY he is so opposed to DS nursing at this point? Perhaps if he makes it clear exactly what it is that bothers him it will be easier to come to an agreement?

    Ultimately I think that your nursing relationship IS between you and DS. Of course I understand that you want DH to be on board, too - and I think that's really important. But maybe it's hard for him to see it from your point of view, or your son's, in terms of what this nursing relationship means to both of you?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    Hi bfwmom, thanks for the support. As far as WHY nursing bothers DH, I don't know if he's bothered so much by the fact that we're still nursing, as by the fact that (from his point of view) we're still nursing "so much". I think if it were once or twice a day he might be on board with that. 4-5 times, he doesn't understand. My concerns about cutting down to 1-2x per day are 1)I see that as a brief prelude to full weaning, since my milk supply would likely drop a lot and DS might be less interested and 2)I don't think DS is ready. All of our current 4-5 nursing sessions are still really important to him, and in fact I already have to say "no" a lot more than I say "yes" when he asks to nurse, even the way things are now. I don't like saying "no" all the time. We just dropped down to 5-ish sessions a week or so ago so it hasn't been long. Up until then, I'd say it was 8-10 times per day, and it still would be if DS had his way, but that was annoying to DH and wearing on me mentally (preventing me from getting other things done) so I think 5-ish daytime sessions is good for now.

    As far as why nursing bothers DH:
    1)I think he finds it embarassing and "weird", especially around other people. Pretty much all of my family thinks it's high time that I weaned DS. They were fully in support of me nursing him for a year but their support went away shortly after that. DH is very sensitive to what other people think so I think those messages from our other family are bothering him. Plus, like most people in our culture, he just sees toddler nursing as "weird".

    2)I think he thinks DS needs to be more "grown up" by now and shouldn't "need" to nurse at his age. He thinks DS should be relating to me more in other ways and much less in that way. (Heck, sometimes I feel like nursing is all DS wants from me, too).

    3)Sometimes nursing is inconvenient or gets in the way, e.g. he is trying to get us all out of the house for an outing and DS wants to nurse, or it's bedtime and DH wants to get DS into his pajamas but he's latched on. I think these times--that nursing gets in the way of something else DH wants to do--are the ones that bother DH the most. The rest of the time he's kind of 'meh' about the whole thing.

    4)I think he's a little bit jealous of the close relationship DS and I have and how bonded he is to me, how many cuddles I get, the enthusiastic greeting I get the moment I walk through the door, etc. DH and DS have a great relationship, and DS loves his Daddy, but there's no denying that when DS is hurt, sick, or tired he only wants Mama. He seems to want Mama for cuddles and comfort, and Dada for play, largely. He does cuddle with DH but not nearly as much. I suspect DH is jealous of this though he'd never admit it. Personally, I'm not sure how much of this difference in DS's attachment to us is due to nursing vs. other factors but I think DH relates it to nursing.

    5)He seems to think DS would be more likely to sleep better if he were weaned. He uses the fact that we're still nursing as a reason why I need to be the one to get up at night with him, even though I've been willing to nightwean for a little while now.

    Anyway, I know this is long, but if anyone has any more thoughts/comments on how I can address these concerns, I'd appreciate it.
    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: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    I agree with you, if you've just dropped down to 4-5 times per day, going down to 1-2 seems like it may hasten weaning and I think is too extreme of a decrease. But I think that for a lot of the other things, there are ways of meeting DH halfway that wouldn't necessarily have a big impact on your overall nursing relationship. For example, if he is worried about other people's opinions, how do you feel about doing less nursing in public? I know for me personally as my LO has gotten older I feel less comfortable with nursing when out and about - at a party with friends is okay, but I don't really want to nurse in public if we're at the mall or something like that. I mean, I feel like in an ideal world I would feel perfectly comfortable doing so, and nobody around me would even notice, but given the realities of our culture and the fact that most people think nursing a toddler is weird, I feel like limiting nursing in front of the general public is an okay compromise to make (though I also admire those who continue nursing their toddlers in public!). In your case, maybe that would extend to not nursing in front of family members - although I suppose it depends on how much time you spend with them and whether that's practical. Similarly, as you're getting ready to leave might be another time to put a limit on nursing if that drives your DH crazy.

    I don't think the loving mama thing is due to nursing. As far as I can tell formula-fed babies and toddlers are similarly attached to their mothers. It's just biology. And that basic need of young children for their mothers is WHY nursing is still really important to them. It's a physical manifestation of that connection. It's purely a cultural/societal (but not biological) construct that a 2 year old should be independent of his mother. How can he possibly be? He is still so dependent on his parents to have his basic needs met! Anyway, I know you know that - but maybe DH hasn't thought about it in that way. And from my personal experience with my kids, their attachment to daddy definitely increased with age. My oldest is equally happy with either of us, and my three-year-old actually often prefers DH. I don't think weaning will make DS more attached to his dad. What will make him more attached is to continue spending time with him.

    If you're interested in nightweaning, then I think that takes away the rationale for weaning to make him sleep better - in any case it's doubtful that weaning in and of itself would make him sleep better. But in the case of nighttime awakenings he seems to want it both ways - that you don't have your nursing tool at your disposal, but that you are still the one to deal with the night awakenings!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    I have to wonder if your husband has an unrealistic understanding of the socio-emotional needs and normal developmental timeline of 2-year-olds, and that in turn is colouring his view of nursing. It seems like a lot of fathers have an ambitious view of what a 2-year-old is capable of. They envision a child who can go out for long excursions, who can engage in a more reciprocal relationship, and who look up to the father. The reality is, 2-year-olds are very much babies in their needs, and it's unfair to impose a more aggressive timeline for toughening up.

    From your post, it sounds like you have more contact with your son and his age-mates than your husband, so you're more attuned to his needs.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    Thank you both for your input I really value the ability to get advice from other nursing moms, especially from moms who have also nursed toddlers. Bfwmomof3, we already don't nurse in public or in front of other family members (except my mom who is ok with it). I can see how you got that impression from my OP, but what I meant by 'around family members' is just that I still nurse DS when they are visiting; I just take him into another room for privacy. So they are aware it is going on, and how often, and it's clear they aren't really comfortable with it. E.g. I get suggestions from them to cut it down to once or twice a day, to remove the nursing chair from the nursery, my MIL comments on how draining nursing is and 'it must be making you tired' and how traumatic it will be for DS to wean (in her opinion it would have been less traumatic if done earlier--my opinion is it doesn't NEED to be traumatic at all if I let DS decide the timeline). My dad comments that 'you're going to wean that kid sometime--at least, I hope you are'. That kind of thing. Nobody has been too terribly pushy about it and so far I've smiled and ignored their comments or just flat-out said that it's my choice and I appreciate them respecting my decision. But it is still awkward any time they're visiting us or we're visiting them, which is quite a bit, just because they are aware of any time we go off to nurse and I know how they feel. I tend to limit nursing more when family is around for those reasons, but that seems like it's hard and confusing for DS.

    I think you are right that I can be more respectful of the times DH doesn't want me to nurse without it throwing too much of a wrench into DS' and my nursing relationship. DH would probably appreciate the effort to meet him halfway.

    I think you are both right that our society in general has unrealistic expectations of toddlers, and that my DH does also. DS is so verbal and so smart it's easy for DH to forget how little he still is. The kid can add and subtract a little (only 1+1, 1+2, 3-2, 3-1, etc.) and I didn't teach him! He picked it up on his own. But he is still barely 2 with the same emotional needs of any 2 year old. I do think DH expects more self-control and patience and other grown-up behavior than is realistic. Maybe reading a book on child development and talking to him about it (he's not likely to read it himself) would help. He tends to respond better to info from a neutral authority as opposed to me telling him what to do (surprise, surprise). Anyway you two have given me some stuff to think about. Thanks :-)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    I think that's a great idea. It sounds like a lot of the issues are around what is "normal" and expectations. So a reality check in that direction might be really helpful. I can imagine how the family situation is stressful. I wonder whether part of what they are picking up on is DH's own ambivalence? As in, if he were more on board, maybe his parents would be too. But at the end of the day, I think it's too exhausting to change everyone's opinion - the important thing is to get DH on board and continue doing what you're doing - smile, nod, makw it clear it's your choice, and keeping doing what's best for your DS.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    I'm so sorry your DH is being so ridiculous about nursing. Like all things related to parenting, it's best when mom and dad are on the same page!

    In your shoes, I would challenge some of your DH's assumptions about breastfeeding a toddler. WHY does he think it's weird? WHY does he care what other people think about how much and whether you nurse? WHY does he think that your child would magically become a different person if you weaned him? The book on child development would really help here. And maybe have him read the AAP's policy statement on breastfeeding? The relevant bit here would be the part about how "there is no evidence of psychological or developmental harm" when breastfeeding continues to age 3 or longer. (I wish they would rephrase that to incorporate the excellent evidence for benefit, but hey, sometimes you play the cards you're dealt.)

    I would also try to meet him halfway on some things, like nursing being inconvenient when someone is trying to get out of the house, and nursing interfering with daddy's ability to have one-on-one cuddle time with his kid. Maybe think about a ban on nursing when someone needs to get in the car and go, or having dad and son have some one-on-one time where you and your breasts aren't available for distraction.

    So they are aware it is going on, and how often, and it's clear they aren't really comfortable with it. E.g. I get suggestions from them to cut it down to once or twice a day, to remove the nursing chair from the nursery, my MIL comments on how draining nursing is and 'it must be making you tired' and how traumatic it will be for DS to wean (in her opinion it would have been less traumatic if done earlier--my opinion is it doesn't NEED to be traumatic at all if I let DS decide the timeline). My dad comments that 'you're going to wean that kid sometime--at least, I hope you are'. That kind of thing. Nobody has been too terribly pushy about it and so far I've smiled and ignored their comments or just flat-out said that it's my choice and I appreciate them respecting my decision
    Honestly, I think you're being too kind. Your family is being pushy, and in your shoes I'd want to push back. The next time someone makes one of those passive-aggressive comments about nursing (e.g. "It must be making you tired" or "You could always move the nursing chair into the hallway"), or one of the not-so-passive ones (e.g. "Weaning will be traumatic" or "I hope you're going to wean soon!") look them right in the eye and say something like "Nursing is between me and my kid, not me and my kid and you. I do not want to hear any more comments on it. Period."
    Last edited by @llli*mommal; November 21st, 2013 at 01:18 PM.
    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: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    I'd suggest you turn it around and ask him what he hopes to achieve by weaning. Does he think it will make the baby "grow up"? Time makes children grow up. What does he propose will happen in place of nursing, when it's used now? When he wakes during the night? When his molars are coming in? When he falls and hurts himself? When he's vomiting and can't keep food down? When he's exposed to colds and flu's now that the weather is colder (stress of weaning plus losing your immunity supplements from nursing)? When he's sick in general, nursing is often the only thing that helps to make them feel better. When colds last LONGER due to lack of nursing (trust me on this one)? What is he going to use in place of that?

    I often find that men focus on the things that are bothering them, but they don't look at the full impact of their actions. Weaning will have you loose the most powerful parenting tool you have right now. And if he makes you give that up - he's going to have to have a contingency plan of what you BOTH will do in place of it. It's all on you right now. Weaning makes Daddy have to step up his game 200%. Not only taking on more roles as a Dad, but more roles from Mom because she'll have lost one of her key "go to" solutions. Is he ready for that?

    His suggesting weaning because of HIS FEELINGS ignores: your feelings, your baby's feelings, your baby's developmental needs, your baby's health and the relationship between you and your baby. Why his one issue should out weigh these five issues is beyond me.

    Lastly (and certainly not least), he's ignoring the impact on your relationship. Yes, he may feel that your continuing to nurse is affecting your relationship. However he's ignoring the fact that his attempting to undermine your efforts, dedication and strong feelings will also impact your relationship. It's pretty obvious that from what you've written here that you resent what he's doing / saying. There's no return from this. Once your baby is fully weaned, you won't get it back. That resentment can resonate in a marriage for years to come.

    Time to take the blinders off of him and realize the full impact of what he's asking of you.

    As for extended family members? "It's none of your business." turn and walk away. Don't explain. They'll just see it as an opening to continue to try to change your mind. One sentence. Clear and to the point. Walk away. This conversation is over.
    Mommy to our DD1 early bird (34 weeks, 2 days, 7lbs, 14oz)! Oct. 2nd, 2008 Emergency C-Section, Frank Breech, HEALTHY Girl!
    Weaned @ 17 months
    Our DD2 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 12oz) Aug. 10th, 2010 Our Successful VBAC, growing like a bad weed!
    Weaned @ 15 months
    Our DD3 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 6oz) Feb. 16th, 2012 Our 2nd VBAC and lightening speedy birth!

    Loving being a Mom of 3, 40 months apart!!
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: DS is 2--DH becoming less supportive of nursing

    Thanks for the well written response Amy's mom. I had dh read it as he's been making his own comments about our 2.5 yo nursing. I haven't been able to see past the hurt and frustration to clearly line up My thoughts to truly talk to him so hopefully this helps.

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