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Thread: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    28

    Question Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    Hi,

    I am nursing my 2-year-old and have been having confused feelings about continuing to nurse her. My story is somewhat complicated but here goes. Erika had a severe allergy to dairy products right from when we introduced solids at 6 mths old, and up until recently her only milk was breastmilk and we avoided any dairy products in her diet (her dr thought the allergy was to the casein part of cow's milk). Now, she has a bit of formula milk in a cup when her older brother drinks it before bed and in the mornings, mostly because she wants it. She has been handling it well, it is a low-lactose milk, with only some casein in it. She still breastfeeds when she's tired/sleepy and also to fall asleep and often through the night, although her night breastfeeds are getting less frequent. She is pretty close to me and when tired/sleepy/distressed, she clings onto the neck of my t-shirt or to my skin (I have been trying to re-direct her little fingers to the neck of my t-shirt because this is the less painful and more acceptable option).

    Lately, when I nurse her or when she clings on, I feel resentful. I feel tired and think that I have given her so much for so long and maybe it is time to cut down. I had bad breastfeeding agitation (feeling annoyed, irritable and just going mad) when I nursed my older one through my pregnancy with Erika, yet these feelings I have now are not the same. I feel like cutting down breastfeeds (eventually, weaning her off the breast, maybe in some months) yet I see that she needs this, mostly on an emotional level. Also, of course, since she's 2, breastfeeding is my one way to cope with her spirited little tantrums and when she's upset her by own emotions.

    So although I know that breastfeeding is the best thing for her, I've always wanted to let her nurse for as long as she wants to and I'm sold on all the good things about breastfeeding, I feel like slowly weaning her. I'm confused by my own thoughts. I nursed my first one up until he turned 2, so nursing up til this age is unknown territory for me.

    I know this might be related to my own needs being unmet eg interacting, a life outside the home etc. yet this has always been so and I have tried to do all this while looking after the kids (am a stay-at-home mom). I guess I'm just confused. Can anyone out there help? Any thoughts that might help? Anita

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    257

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    I think it's perfectly normal for you to be feeling that way and if you are ready to slowly wean her you should feel comfortable doing that. Do you have anyone to help you? I remember when my daughter was only nursing early in the morning (she was 23 months), one day she woke up and didn't ask to nurse so we just went with it. My DH started getting up with her. There were a few rocky moments but she did fine. I honestly don't remember much about it so it wasn't too traumatic!! She is also the most independent girl I have ever met so the extended nursing certainly did not affect her ability to be independent but we did go with her cues to help her wean. Maybe you could try to watch her signs; sometimes we initiate behaviors out of habit. If she doesn't ask to nurse or seems to able to be distracted, maybe you could slowly start cutting out nursings this way. Do you have a partner for support? That person could help you slowly change some routines that include him instead of you. Just some thoughts.....I'm sure others are much more experienced but you definitely found the right place to get advice and help!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    18,063

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    hey if you feal like its time to wean start slowly weaning. Get rid of the least needed feedings 1st.
    My dd had her 3rd birthday in June. She is still asking sometimes during the day but she knows that she only gets to nurse before bed and when she gets up in the morning. Sometimes she will come in during the night and nurse. letting her cry isn't something that I can do. My hubby needs his sleep
    he has to get up at 4am to go to work and I have older kids that need thier sleep too.
    some weaning approaches take more effort, and are more stressfull on mom and baby then just nursing.
    Do you know a lll leader, Some groups have toddler meetings were you could get some weaning advice from moms who have been there done that.
    Sometimes a change in routine can help, I can tell my 3 year old that she knows mi mi's are just for in bed and she is fine with that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Charleston SC
    Posts
    2,601

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    La Leche League does not rec amend any type of sleep training or baby training. That being said, it is totally normal for you to be feeling the way that you are feeling and also for your toddler to be doing what she is doing. You are a great mom to still be nursing her and to have given so much of yourself to her for 2 years! I totally agree that you can start to set healthy boundaries for nursing. Giving her that cup in the am is a great start. Maybe you could offer her the cup and also rock her at nap times etc... Ideally you would want for the child to wean herself but I think that it is totally normal to start setting some boundaries. Can your husband step in and maybe give some cuddles etc? She may not like it but crying/fussing in the arms of a loving parent is better than alone. Some babies never sleep through the night, just like you and I they may wake for many reasons, hungry, cold/hot, heard a noise etc. When she wakes maybe you could "play asleep", many moms also say that mommy is sleeping, daddy is sleeping and the milkies are asleep also. La Leche league says that a child's need to be with their mom is as great as her need for food, please do not think that her clinging to you is a sign of something unhealthy. Have you thought about a play group or a book club, story time at the library etc.. These would all be great ways to meet other moms. I find myself going a bit "nutty" also when I am stuck in side with ds. Please keep us posted! All the best!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    I completely agree with Brittan. You're obviously a great Mom who is very devoted to your child. I myself was a very clingy child, and still to this day as an adult I can clearly recall the strong sense of comfort I got from being cuddled by my Mom. That said, I was only nursed until 16 months, so by two years the physical comforting took different forms. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gently weaning your child now. I suggest going to www.askdrsears.com - the site is full of very helpful, attachment parenting friendly, gentle advice.

    Your dd is only two, it's totally normal for her to be clingy, and it's totally normal for you to be ready to change some things. Change doesn't have to mean changing your parenting style, though. You don't need to adopt a less sensitive approach to get the same desired results. In fact, by continuing to respond to your child's cues (though in a different way) you will have a more independent, and more emotionally secure child. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding also has a great chapter on gently weaning. Letting your dd cry will make her either cling more (we all want what we're pushed away from) or withdraw. Perhaps both, at different times. This can all lead to a form of baby depression (see Dr. Sear's "the Baby Book").

    BFing, as in all other things, requires parenting. You parent the nursing. It's your body, and you say when you're done. As our LLL group always says, "just because your an attachment parent doesn't mean you let your child walk all over you". It's okay to say no. Just go about it in a positive way so she doesn't feel like she's losing out.

    Good for you for being such a devoted Mom.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    1,168

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    Hi Anita, and welcome! My hat is off to you for nursing two children for at least 2 years, including through a pregnancy. This is all too rare, and your kids are lucky!

    My son nursed until just past his 4th birthday. Like you, I was strongly committed to child-led weaning. Also like you, his nursing behaviors and our nursing relationship sometimes drove me NUTS.

    What I often found helpful was to make a small change in the parameters of our nursing. I found it very liberating to realize that I could set and enforce some rules with the expectation that my 2yo son could and would adapt. I think if a child is old enough to begin learning manners, taking turns, etc., then it is not unreasonable to expect the child to apply those skills to momma and nursing as well. And very often, I found that making just a small change worked wonders on my own attitude, so that setting a limit actually enabled me to continue nursing for a while longer. It's not all-or-nothing, nurse on demand or wean altogether.

    Another strategy that sometimes helped me through these difficult periods was to put a renewed focus on meeting my own important needs through the day. When I had more rest, better food, more social activities, and some time to myself, I was better able to meet my son's needs. Not surprisingly, I find that this is just as true now that he is weaned.

    Having said all of this ... if you feel ready to wean, or to take some steps in that direction, then that is also okay. Nursing -- especially past the baby's first year -- is a personal thing, and nobody outside of you and your daughter has any right to say how long you should nurse. You are the expert on your daughter and also, obviously, on your own life.

    --Rebecca

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    1,198

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    Hi Anita, You've already gotten some great feedback here, so I just want to echo the wonderful suggestions from Brittan, Rebecca and Lily's Mom. You are doing a wonderful job and absolutely, it's wearing and frustrating at times to be the momma of a 2-year old! I couldn't agree more with the setting boundaries and small changes concepts - especially if you think these things would work gently with the temperament and nature of your child. Goodness knows there are endless strategies out there for getting through these phases, but the bottom line is that we each have to find what works for US and for OUR child. We all know people for whom variations on CIO have worked, but for many children and parents, that's just not appropriate. Go with your gut. At age two, your DD is learning so many things and growing in so many ways - and all this independence, as you know, can be overwhelming for someone who is still basically a young person/older baby! The clinginess comes from that, most likely - and will pass as more confidence develops. Your gentling her through this stage in loving, but boundary-ladden, ways can only help. The trick is finding the balance that lets you not feel like you are going to go mad in the process.

    I empathize. DS is 15+ months and we are having flare-ups of "only mommy" fairly regularly. We have been fortunate, though, in that he more or less self-lead the giving up of day-time nursing (except for before naps when I'm home) but is still oh-so-happy with pre-bedtime and 2x during the night nursing. We try letting DH go settle him during the night (so I do recommend that technique) instead and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I can tell w/in the first minute of his sounds whether it's going to work or not and if it's not, we don't push it. Little steps; we extend the margin a bit ever few weeks. We'll get there - when he's ready....hopefully sooner rather than later , but his long-term security, I'm hoping, will grow from this.

    Trust your instincts. You have clearly done so well with that thus far and I applaud you for everything you are doing and have done for your kids. Come back here and vent/get support any time you are hitting that edge....

    good luck!
    -linda

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    Hi! I could've written your exact post myself. My DD is allergic to milk as well, though we didn't find out til earlier this year (it's not severe). I have such a love-hate relationship with still bf'ing her (she turned 2 in march). I decided awhile back that I would go with child-led weaning........I guess I just thought it would have at least started by now!

    She'll still nurse 10 times a day if I'll let her. I try to do a lot of substituting, distraction, etc. What really annoys me is the comfort nursing or boredom nursing or get-mommy's-attention nursing. Anytime I try to do anything & take my focus off of her she hangs on me & wants to nurse. Drives me nuts. And she won't go to sleep without nursing, even though she goes to daycare (I'm a teacher so we're home on break now) where she lies down on a little cot & goes to sleep! That drives me crazy too, especially when she takes forever & wants to get up & down & do acrobatics!

    I have to say - please disregard the first reply you got to this post - no doubt she had good intentions but as we know, nursing a 7 month old is NOTHING like nursing a toddler!!!

    I've been thinking of coming up w/some nursing rules I can live with - maybe even only when we're going to sleep. My problem is that I'm too lazy! It's just so much easier to let her nurse! lol

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    Thanks, you all, for all the encouragement and also the tips for what worked for you. I have done some thinking and some talking (and agonising) with my husband and you know, the first thing is, our parenting style has never been to let the kids 'cry-it-out'. We all sleep together as a family so breastfeeding at night has been fine for me (it's great to be able to 'plug' baby in and go back to sleep) and my daughter has on her own reduced her nightfeeding, so no worries there. I've kind of decided to let her take the lead in this, mostly because I think she is initiating her own weaning in a gradual way. She drank a cup of milk with her older brother before bedtime and also nursed a bit before falling asleep so I think we'll do a bit of each as she wants it. During the day, I'm ok to breastfeed when she wants to. I guess I realize it's easier to just not worry.
    The feeling resentful part, I think that probably comes from me feeling like my needs are unmet? And also just being tired, in an emotional sort of way. Yes, it is so hard, isn't it? I do need to find my own balance, giving to my kids, and yet looking after my own needs. I spend time with the local LLL group so I get good support there and also friends (most of whom don't bf) yet it's still hard.
    I'm still unsure if I actually want to wean Erika completely because I realise I'm so dependant on bf as a way to soothe and comfort her. I have no help, husband works a lot and it's my way of coping (I actually get to stop and catch my breath while I nurse her!) and if I weaned I would still be her mom and her emotional needs would still be there, I would just have given up one of the best ways I know to soothe her. Yes, thanks for the suggestions with setting some limits, that worked well for my older one when nursing through pregnancy. Anita

  10. #10

    Default Re: Mixed feelings about breastfeeding

    Anita, it sounds like you are working things out in your head, making a plan and that gives you some control back. I think you have been given some great ideas. I want to suggest a book that really helped me through some tough toddler nursing times, "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" published by LLLI. Maybe your LLL Group has it in the group library or there may be a copy in your local public library. Or, like me, you may want to have one on hand to refer back to when needed.

    When I would think about weaning, I would ask myself how weaning would change the situation I was in. Would it "fix" something? Maybe I just needed to change the situation, not the breastfeeding relationship. I think that weaning can be "child-led" but remember that breastfeeding involved two people. You can start teaching your child manners by teaching her to be respectful of your space while she is nursing. One thing I have told many moms is "Never make the decision to wean when you are having a bad day." I say that because we often feel like weaning may be the easiest thing to do and hope that it will change our feelings about what is going on in life. It sounds like you do have some unmet needs related to feeling isolated and it is good that you have recognized that. At this time of year, it often helped me just to get the children out of the house and go to a park or the children's zoo or the pool - anyplace that I didn't have to look at the four walls of my house! Someplace that I was likely to run into other moms, even if they were strangers!

    You sound like a great mom. I agree with you that breastfeeding is a great way to calm your toddler when she and you are feeling frazzled. I have found that to be one of the best parts of nursing a toddler.

    Sara

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