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Thread: Handling requests to nurse in public

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    The preschool teachers and other parents might surprise you. The teachers almost certainly will- trust me, if they have been in the preschool teacher biz for very long, they have very likely seen nursing toddlers! And they have also seen a lot of behaviors that will make toddler nursing seem tame by comparison. I've been involved with my kids' preschool for almost 6 years now, and in that time we've had biters, punchers, potty-mouths, revenge pee-ers (there was this one kid who went and peed all over the restroom, and sometimes in the classroom, when he felt thwarted), screamers, lickers, temper tantrum throwers, all-day criers... Just the other day I saw this absolutely angelic 4.5 year-old stick her fingers right up her butt and then sniff them with evident delight. And these are all absolutely lovely, adorable, typically developing children. My point being that at age 2-4, all children are "special needs", and if you've worked in a preschool for more than a minute you're probably pretty sanguine about it, and you're unlikely to see any child as "overly dependent" or whatever just because he nurses and gets stressed in unfamiliar, anxiety-producing situations.
    I wish this were true. I would have expected preschool teachers to understand, too. But when my DH told the teacher that DS still nursed and that's what he was crying for, she just said in this kind of clipped, short voice, "Well, I can't compete with that, so I'm not even going to try" and walked off. Now, maybe this was her idea of a joke? But DH and I both felt embarrassed and like she thought it was weird that I'm still breastfeeding DS. I think that reaction from her was actually what prompted the weaning comment from DH...he needed to make it clear to everyone in the room that HE thought DS should be weaned, that he is the "normal" one.

    Anyway, we are otherwise in love with this preschool, and DS seems to particularly love this teacher and she's very warm towards him. Sits him in her lap a lot, very good at comforting him when he doesn't want us to leave, that sort of thing. I feel like overall the whole school is very much philosophically aligned with me. Very responsive to the children, don't force the separation between children and parents, let the kids take their time getting comfortable in the new environment, mediating disputes between the children and teaching about feelings instead of doing time-out, etc. So what I'm trying to say is, finding a different preschool doesn't seem necessary. I just wish this teacher and her co-teacher were more understanding/supportive about toddler nursing, but (surprisingly) it doesn't seem they are. Unless maybe I misinterpreted her comment and it was intended as a joke. Who knows.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Man, if he were my DH I'd probably kick him in the tush. Manipulating your wife into weaning- into doing anything!- by embarrassing her is not good husbanding.

    A lot of moms have this experience: they go in to see the pediatrician and the doc makes it clear that he/she isn't a big supporter of breastfeeding or co-sleeping or nighttime feeding. In that situation, I am in favor of sticking with the doctor if he/she is a good diagnostician and has a generally good practice. Because that's what is most important, right? The other stuff- validation of your parenting choices- you can get elsewhere. Here for example. So, IMO, the same goes for the preschool. You want the teachers to be responsive, for them to have a gentle approach to separation anxiety and discipline. What they think about breastfeeding is not that important in the grand scheme of things, and certainly not worth switching schools over. You can always go into the closet- if no-one sees you nurse, they will eventually assume that you weaned. That's what a lot of moms do around people who can't be counted on to be supportive.
    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!"

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Aarg. Yes, I am about ready to murder DH. He told me today that he is SURE the reason that DS is having trouble separating from me at preschool and is more dependent on me than on him (DH) is because I'm still nursing him. I said, no, it's because I'm the Mommy. That made him mad. He told me he's not feeling sorry for me that DS is having trouble letting go of me at preschool because I "created this situation and brought it on myself" by nursing so long and "he shouldn't be nursing anymore". Basically he thinks I have created a dependent child by nursing too long and that he'll be more independent once he's weaned. I want to say, what, you want me to take our precious DS who is having trouble adjusting to preschool, and is stressed already, you want me to take this child and wean him all of a sudden? Take away the thing that comforts him most, all of a sudden? Because it bruises your ego that he's more attached to me than to you? Are you out of your freaking mind???

    Last night, too, he got his feelings hurt because DS was more interested in nursing than cuddling with Daddy. I think he felt left out. Then he made a couple critical comments to me about "you have your boobs out more often than you don't" and "it's a novelty to see you with your top on".

    Really really mad right now. I love DH and he's not usually so unreasonable. He was my biggest supporter of nursing up until around 18 months, but now...

    My inclination is to basically ignore these comments from him as far as possible and just keep nursing my son. Is that what you all would do? I don't think I'm going to be able to convince him it's a good thing we're still nursing, so basically the less we talk about it, the better. At some point I might have to go to partial weaning and cut down to 3 feeds/day to pacify DH. It makes me sad that this would curtail our nursing relationship, but there's a limit to how much conflict I can take. It's better for DS to have happily married parents than to be nursing as much as he wants at age 2+. On the other hand, I'd like to handle our nursing on my son's and my terms...I don't want to end up resenting DH over the way this ends. I don't want to completely wean yet and I'm not going to, no matter how much of a fit DH throws about it. Partial weaning might be the compromise position, even though I'd rather not and DS will protest if I try to limit his access
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*joshuas.mommy View Post
    My inclination is to basically ignore these comments from him as far as possible and just keep nursing my son. Is that what you all would do?
    Yes, that is what I would do! I think if you wean or even modify your response to your son only because of what your DH wants you will probably end up resenting him and it will remain as something always between you.

    My husband told me in the beginning that he really couldn't imagine our daughter (14 months) nursing at age 3, but then he immediately said it wasn't really any of his business. And it's really not. If your husband doesn't like it, why can't he just leave the room? Is he aware that nursing well into late toddler hood and even preschool years is biologically normal? Or do you think he just feels left out? My poor DH feels left out constantly, because unlike our older child who was 100% bottle fed and preferred him, our now 14 month old is very much attached to me and 90% of the time still just wants mama. The other 10%, if she's not sick or teething, she'll let Dad put her to bed, etc.

    What happened at 18 months when you said your DH wasn't so fond of nursing anymore? Did he just have an age in mind for when weaning should happen and it didn't line up with what was really happening?

    It sounds like your DH really does feel left out. And jealous. And rightly so, because mama is usually the #1 for a nursling, BUT it doesn't mean that he can't find ways to connect with your son that are unique and special. I wish with all my heart that I could nurse my 3.5 year old, because popping out a boob to solve a problem or reconnect with an angry/upset child is infinitely easier than using words to communicate. Believe me, so. much. easier. I have to work so much harder to connect with my daughter who was never nursed than I do to connect with my nursing child. So for that reason alone, I'd say do not give up that connection if you aren't ready.

    And another thing, I do understand that sometimes it's easy to think children are older than they really are, especially verbally advanced children. I am guilty of that all the time with my 3 year old. She has just now really started to grasp the meaning of "tomorrow" and "yesterday", and she is extremely smart and verbally advanced. So, your son does not seem too old to be nursing.
    and Mama to two little girls

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    I have been following this thread because I am a little concerned that I may find myself in a similar family dynamic in a year or two. I just want to bring up a segment from the womanly art book that really stuck with me... Somewhere in the book, there's a story about a mother whose DH and entire family pressures her to wean her toddler. And she finally gives in to them, and then finds herself thinking, where are the "congratulations"? All the people that gave her such a ration of $#;! Are still not positive or supportive (big surprise). I really tried to remember that while I was being pressured to pump-wean at work. Now I am done pump weaning, and no one seems to have noticed. .

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    One thing I learned here is that when it comes to dealing with criticism, it helps to know your audience and pitch your experience accordingly. If your breastfeeding-hating Aunt Betty asks how your baby is sleeping, you say "Great, thanks for asking!" even if your baby is up a dozen times a night. Telling her the unvarnished truth is like inviting her to say "Well of course he sleeps poorly- you need to wean him!" If your husband is sure that nursing is responsible for the separation anxiety at preschool, you spin the experience just a bit. "DS did so much better today! You should have seen him run into the classroom and get involved with the toys." You don't need to mention that he really got anxious when you tried to leave, or if you do, you can minimize that as well. "He got clingy when I tried to leave, but I think it was less than last time."

    Another thing that might really help is to get your DH to do some more independent parenting. Leave the house for an hour or two. Head to the gym, do some grocery shopping. Or you stay home and have your DH take your LO somewhere, all by himself. That might foster an easier relationship between father and son. You (and your breasts) won't be there to swoop in and save the day, and your DH will be forced to step up his parenting game. Right now it's easy for him to blame breastfeeding for whatever deficiencies he sees in his relationship with his child- but it's quite possible that the deficiencies are there because he has never bothered to bring his parenting A-game. He's fallen back on your unmatchable skills, and now he resents you for it. Like a teenager who expects his mommy to fold his underpants, but nevertheless gets resentful that he isn't being treated as a fully independent person.

    You're already moving towards weaning. You're going to get down to fewer feeds per day, even if you do nothing to advance the process, because kids just naturally lose interest as time goes on. In the interim, ignore, spin, and have daddy step up a little more. Hopefully that will diminish the stress in your relationship, and allow you all to move forward in a more harmonious way.
    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!"

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*joshuas.mommy View Post
    Thank you all for your feedback. I appreciate it. We went to DS' first real day of preschool yesterday and fortunately we got through the day without any tantrums for nu-nu. Phew! You have all raised some good points. I do agree that this is largely a problem of a conflict between cultural expectations, and DS' needs/my way of parenting. That said, I just don't have it in me anymore to take on the entire culture in addition to my husband and family and push back against it all as a champion of toddler nursing-in-public. I can take the flack about nursing a lot around DH's parents, but nursing in preschool and other truly public places is just not okay with me at this stage of the game. Of course DS' needs are number 1, but my needs and feelings about our nursing are important too, and I'm just not comfortable with it in public anymore. I really do worry what his preschool teachers and the other parents will think of me, but also what they'll think of DS. I don't want them seeing him as overly dependent, babyish, having emotional problems, etc. I don't want them seeing me as the wacko mom who is incapable of cutting the cord. I don't think it's good for our peer group to perceive us this way. It may not be fair, but that's how they are going to perceive us if they see us nursing at this age. We are just meeting these people, and I'm hoping to make friends with some of the other moms, so I really don't want to be perceived this way. The preschool is also attached to the temple we just joined (we're reform Jewish) so it's my religious community as well, and I really don't need the negative judgement from people I'm just meeting and trying to befriend. So, I've explained to DS that nursing is only going to happen at home now, and I've been reinforcing that message at random times. If he doesn't expect to be nursed, we won't have a problem. As an absolute last resort in an injury or melt-down situation, I could quietly whisk him away to the bathroom and nurse there, but I'm not letting DS know that that's a possibility.

    Alphawoman--where do you live that nursing 2 or 3 year olds is so common? Lucky lady! I wish it was like that here, but it just isn't (Western US).

    I have spoken to DH and let him know that it was really hurtful and embarrassing that he made that comment about weaning in front of everyone, and that I think weaning is a private subject to be discussed between the two of us. He halfheartedly apologized, but made a point that if he's asked about DS nursing he's not going to keep it a secret. His attitude is "if you don't think you're doing anything wrong why are you so embarrassed about it?". I told him, because I'm aware it's pretty unusual to still be nursing at this age. I think it's healthy, it's normal, but it isn't common, and I'm aware of how it may be perceived.
    Where are you exactly? I live in northern ca and while I did try to taper off nursing in public at around age two, I breastfed him shamelessly at Preschool WHENEVER he needed it until he was 3.5 years old. Because needing to feel close to me in THAT space felt important. In terms of he did need to be allowed to feel good about this very important thing in his life. And to be able to talk to his friends about it if/when it came up. Without shame. I was one of maybe 3 parents that was still nursing at that age of 3.5 (there was PLENTY of people still nursing at 2.) Out of about 40. So what? What do you think is going to happen? Do you think they are going to think you are a terrible parent because you still nurse your two year old? I think your perception is waaay off base. Especially here. I feel like there is a TON of extended nursing going on in CA and you aren't helping your self or your situation by acting like you are the odd one out. I am not saying that you have to take on the whole world and NIP defiantly just to make a loud proud point. But if you act like it's shameful or embarrassing rather than acting matter of fact about it, you are just exacerbating the situations that you perceive where they do exist. As in if you act matter of fact less people think twice about doing anything other than respecting your parenting choices. If you act embarrassed or ashamed and they DO think it's surprising, that affect their paradigm negatively. Because I look guilty when I have my hand in the cookie jar, I am probably being busted doing something I KNOW/Think I am not supposed to do. I am not opposed to setting limits with a 2 year old. But not because of how other people view your nursing relationship with your child. Because it sounds to me that your child really NEEDED it the 1st day. And that's really normal in an a new and anxious setting to want that comfort. And why on earth deny THAT to an anxious toddler because someone might be surprised that it's still happening? So to me while I would certainly work on limits, I would still weigh a two year olds very real need to quell anxiety in a new situation, and that will often be in public, over a stranger side eying me comforting the child I have the relationship with.
    Last edited by @llli*djs.mom; February 1st, 2014 at 04:37 AM.

    Way too lazy for formula

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Also you say that at 23 months you would have taken him in the corner and nursed him. And now 4months later you expect him to cope. He he made such huge developmental leaps these last 4months that you think it's really that huge of a difference? And where was your cut off on this? Was it the minute he turned two? Because am trying to think about my son and cognitively I think right at 24 he DID have a language explosion. So he and I were definitely able to communicate more verbally....but I don't think by 27 months he could just suck it up and take a back pat or a hug INSTEAD of nursing in a situation where he needed it. I absolutely think that you are in a time that is about balancing his needs with yours. In terms of comfort level, boundaries AND even nursing manners! I just remember anxiety nursing(done basically at his father's parents house and preschool) and I felt it was on par with getting hurt at the playground. In terms of he was NOT allowed to just stop playing at the play ground and nurse. But he fell off the slide he could. He would go to his grandparents and SHE specifically made him nervous. And making him comfortable in that space just always seemed more important than making her comfortable with our nursing relationship. I don't think I could even be bothered to go into another room to avoid her sarcasm until he was 3.

    Way too lazy for formula

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    DJ's mom, I'm not sure exactly where my cut-off was for nursing in public. We haven't nursed in public with any frequency since he was about 18-20 months, and usually he doesn't ask. My cut-off wasn't arbitrary, based on age, it has to do with my perception of my son's needs and abilities. I think he is old enough to be able to accept limits, now. Although you are right that if I wasn't worried about the perception of other parents, and if I weren't already getting a tremendous amount of push-back from my husband, I probably would have taken him somewhere to nurse that first day, because he really did seem to need it I don't feel great about having turned him down that day, but I was still able to comfort him and get him distracted, and while he's mentioned nu-nu at preschool a few times since then he hasn't been as insistent about it.

    I'm in LA. I really honestly don't know a single person who has nursed past one year, at the absolute most. Most of the women I personally know have weaned by 6-9 months, if they nursed at all. I suppose it's possible some of the other preschoolers in his room are still nursing, but none of their moms have said anything about it. I thought it was really quite unusual to still be nursing at age 2, statistically speaking. I think you're lucky there were other nursing toddlers/preschoolers in your cohort. I also don't know if you saw my post about the rather judgemental comment his preschool teacher made with regard to me still nursing...so I don't think there's a lot of support there. And there absolutely isn't any support from my husband, who is unhappy I'm still nursing at all and who would've been absolutely mortified and outraged if I'd whipped a boob out in the middle of class to nurse DS. I can't even imagine the fallout from doing that. So while I appreciate the points you are making, and I agree it would be ideal to be able to use nursing to comfort DS in new situations, I have to weigh my particular set of circumstances and I just don't think it's possible for me at this point. I am going to continue to nurse DS as needed around the in-laws, which is another situation where I get flack, but a situation where I'm more able to take it. That's the best I can do, for now, to keep peace in my home while still continuing my nursing relationship with DS. I think maybe you don't know how much pressure I'm under from DH to just wean already. I'm already pushing back against that by continuing nursing more or less on demand at home, except for specific times (e.g. we don't nurse at the dinner table because it drives DH batty). That's the best I can do, right now. As I said above, I think it's more important at this point for DS to have happily married parents than to be able to nurse wherever, whenever he wants. So this is my concession to DH.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Handling requests to nurse in public

    Those last two replies were a bit harsh! It's between a mom and a child when they are going to nurse, and it's disheartening to feel like no matter what you do, you'll have someone condemning your choice. Nursing is a relationship and a tool, but not something with universal rules and requirements. For me nursing is one tool in the comforting toolbox, as I'm sure it is for most moms, and while the other tools may not be as fail-safe, kids are very resilient and learn to accept nurturing in other ways. May they still prefer nursing? Sure. May they still ask? Sure. But will they adapt and be OK with other loving alternatives? Yes.

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