Monday, March 31, 2008

Breastfeeding Help?!

Okay, so Creighton is going to be 17 months in 3 short days and wow...that is crazy! I am still nursing her. I know that there are SOOOO many varying opinions on this topic, but I thought I'd put myself out there anyway....just to see what comes my way (I might regret this...)

I don't really have a desire to quit. I'll say that upfront. However, I will say that there are times when I wish she wasn't addicted so dependent on it. I really don't see an end in sight in her eyes. I feel as if it would completely ROCK.HER.WORLD. if I quit nursing her but certainly not because she needs it for nourishment. She needs it for emotional stability I feel. She is like white on rice when she sees me at times! I TRULY think that if I let her and produced like a cow she would nurse ALL day long and ALL night long too.

She sleeps through the night (generally) and wakes (generally) between 6-7a for a "good morning snack" and then (generally) falls back asleep till 8 or 9. This works for me. Like I said I am not wanting to quit that. I really don't even mind nursing her at nap time...not really at all...

The problem arises that when she isn't with me for nap time (ie. Mother's Day Out) she doesn't always take a bottle of breast milk. And when I was gone from her for an entire week over spring break, she did take 2-3 bottles a day (nap, nighttime, and IF she woke up at that 6-7 hour).

I used to have like some ungodly number of ounces of breast milk in our deep freezer (that we bought SOLELY for the purpose of storing my milk). **like close to 1800 ounces at one time** (insane I know) But now, I have MAYBE 4-5 bags of milk left because I had to throw most of it out because it was over a year old! That was heart breaking! Anyway, back to my story.

I don't think she needs to nurse, I just know she WANTS to. I don't mind the 2-3 times a day, but she wants to much much more than that, and so instead of weaning, I find myself either constantly saying "no, not now" and trying to refocus her attention, or just giving in because I am tired of doing the above after a million times a day. (or 10 or 20 whose counting :)?)
This is the look I get if I try the "not now"

And this is the sweet face I get to cuddle up with and see smile when I give can see it in her grin...she says "tank ewe mommy" (could you resist that sweet face?)

I guess my question is this: how do I wean her down to just 2-3 times? When should I wean her completely? How on earth do I do that? What do I say to all the people who give me crazy looks because I am still nursing a 17 month old? (only sometimes does it get to me)

And one for the fun of asking even though I know the answer...will "they" ever look the same again? Because, really, its so sad...


Becky said...

Okay - so you asked - remember that as you read comments!!!! First of all, no they will NEVER look the same without professional help!!!

On to the more serious question - you should not quit because of the faces people are giving you!!! Don't worry about all of that at all. You completely have to do what you feel most comfortable with, but some things to think about . . .

Is she nursing and giving you those faces to control her circumstances? Does she need to learn to soothe herself in some other way? Is it difficult for the people at Mother's Day Out, or anywhere else, to watch her because she is unhappy when she can't nurse? What does Jeff think? What benefit does it have? What negative effects does it have - both short term and long term?

I don't need answers to these - I'm just asking to have you think about it. I did not nurse long - Sarah was the longest, and I quit the day before her first birthday, but I didn't really like nursing, so one year was long enough. I've had friends who have nursed longer than you, and my mother nursed my youngest brother way longer than you have nursed Creighton (I was 14 and mortified when my friends came over)! It's completely a personal preference, in my opinion, but there are things to consider as far as what she is learning, which have little to do with nursing and a lot to do with what it MAY be teaching her. (I don't know if it is, just presenting potential problems.) Such as, if I whine or cry, I will get what I want. She will/is going through this with other things as well, just like every other child her age. Every child has to learn that they don't always get what they want. Every child has to learn a way to self-soothe. David still wants to run his fingers through my hair at night. I regret big time that I didn't do more to stop it when he was younger because it is harder the older he gets. And I am so impatient about it now! When he was younger it was sweet, and it would have been a lot better time to set boundaries for him because I would not have gotten short with him about it, but I didn't do it well. Now, we have problems with that regularly. It is such a habit and so important for him for soothing purposes, but I how long can I be his soother? Not much longer - let me tell you!!! It's hard because it's often MUCH easier to give in to what they want than to be firm and teach them lessons. If I let David play with my hair at night, I don't have to wake up and take him back to bed. It seems great at the time, but when I wake up in the morning, I am so exhausted because I never really slept well when he was playing with my hair!!! I pay later both because I am tired and because he is tired. The truth is, he also sleeps better when he is not in my bed pulling my hair, so sometimes I pay double because of his crankiness.

In my opinion, I think it would definitely be appropriate to at least wean her down to morning and night or something like that. That gives her boundaries but doesn't make her have to just stop cold turkey. But this is just my humble opinion - you have to do what is best for you and Creighton. I can't begin to think I know what that is. Hope this is somewhat helpful!

Love you and miss you! I have a random job interview at 9:30 in the morning with a foster care agency. Someone just called today and asked if I would come in tomorrow - kind of a friend of a friend situation. I hadn't sent my resume or anything - we will see what happens, but I am kind of excited about it.

rachel white said...

i understand your desire for advice! i am no help at all! i had grave difficult breastfeeding harrison - it was heartbreaking. i have flat nipples - who knew??!! i worked at it for as long as i could (with professional help), then pumped for as long as i could, and after 3 months my milk dried up. so sad.

if i get blessed with a second chance, i plan to seek out help from a lactation consultant before-hand to see if there is anything i can do to help.

all that to say...even though this is a bit of a "struggle" for you (trying to figure all this out), i hope you feel blessed that you are ABLE to breastfeed. : )

i liked all of becky's advice! : )

Marci H said...

I don't know that I am much help here either, but I will say that one thing I have learned through my four kiddos is that the longer I put off trying to break my kids of a habit- - -the harder it was.

I have this problem with pacies. Kayla had one until she was three, gave it up and at 3 1/2 started sucking her thumb. She didn't stop that until she was seven and ONLY because she had to have a spacer put in her mouth and she couldn't suck anymore.

So I decided to take Camryn's pacie away early- - 13 months. She did fine and didn't care much at all. It was easy.

So then I became lazy again with Clayton and he is turning FIVE in May and still sucks his pacie sometimes at night. We are working on this.

Cooper still has his pacie too and wants it ALL the time.

I am hoping to break both of them when Cooper turns three.

All this being said, I realized how much easier it was be to stop Camryn earlier rather than later.

I always said- - -stop before they can talk and ask for it. Wish I would have followed my own advice. I am so WEAK in this area.

So, I think it will probably only get harder to break her the older she gets, but if you are ok with that, then that is fine. I chose to take the lazy route and I will be paying the consequences of it.

Aubrey said...

I haven't had to wean a baby yet, but will in the near future. I have read a lot on the benefits of breastfeeding for 2 yrs. and have talked with several who did it as well. An infants immune system is not fully mature until about 2 yrs. of age. Yes it will probably be much harder to break Creighton of it, especially if she uses it for more than just nutrition, but the benefits she receives from a health & immune system are great! One individual that I spoke with breastfed her daughter until she was 2 yrs. old, solely breast milk for the 1st yr. When I asked her if she could see any benefits from it, she said she's never sick even to this day and she's 8 yrs. old now. Whether or not it's due to nursing for 2 yrs., I'm not sure, but that is what her mother believes has assisted in her good health. Our birth class instructor & doula has done the same thing and speaks highly of the benefits as well. There's a book titled Mothering Your Nursing Toddler. It talks about setting limits, and about the fact that a toddler is old enough to understand "not right now" or "when we get home" or "that's mommy's." Might be worth reading if you want to nurse her longer. This link has some helpful information.

Aubrey said...

the rest of that link is g.pdf

Maria said...

You know I have A LOT to say about this topic, but all I can tell you is what works for us and what I do to make it amazing for us (take what you will, throw the rest away advice go come). In the interest of full disclosure for the other readers/commenters, I am committed to allowing The Boy to nurse until HE decides to stop, but that does not mean that I have not set some boundaries to our nursing relationship to ensure that it stays favorable for the both of us.

1. I have set boundaries. I limit our NIP now to when he is REALLY tired or hungry (and I don't have a snack with). At home, I tell him that we can nurse in a "little bit" (unless he is injured or obviously sleepy) if I am busy. If he comes back and asks for it again, I nurse him. Otherwise not.

2. I pick him up and snuggle him. Sometimes he forgets that he wanted to "nu" because what he really wanted/needed was my attention.

3. If he does start to throw a fit when I say "not now," (or similar stall tactic) I walk away. Fortunately, he has just really gotten in to full-blown tantrums, which means by walking away, he sees it has no effect (or the opposite of his desired effect) and he stops. I do not give in to whining or tantrums.

4. I almost never offer, and he usually only asks when he is tired or just waking up. Of course, teething, boo boos, etc require exceptions for us.

5. I don't use any other supplemental comfort for him, which I suppose is good and bad. No paci... no blankie... and he does well with it. Others might need something else. Maybe she just needs your attention and the closeness that nursing provides?

6. The Boy doesn't take a bottle at all. If I give him pumped milk, he takes it in a sippy cup or regular cup. When I am not around he drinks only water though these days and is happy to do so, as I never really gave (or give or allow anyone else to give) him juice.

Tons of information is available on the Mother-to-Mother forums at . There is a special message board for nursing beyond one and on weaning (full and partial). You'd need to register, but it is free, and there is a lot of great support and advice. Search the forums for information on partial weaning.

Also-- it seems to me that you are participating primarily in self-weaning, which is natural, and she will give it up on her own-- with gentle encouragement or completely by herself. As long as you enjoy the nursing, there is no reason to force her to quit completely, and as she matures in her communication, by setting boundaries re: the nursing now, you will be able to encourage her to wean on her own without forcing the issue. Think of it kind of as how Jo on Supernanny convinces kids to send their paci to the paci fairy because they are "big" now and don't need it. They chose to give it up with gentle encouragement.

Anyway, I've carried on far too long.

Hannah E. said...

I love Becky's answer. I agree that the issue is not how long is too long to nurse, etc...(that's different for everybody!), but the issue really is about whether or not she's learning something she shouldn't be. I do not presume to know the answer to that. But I think Becky's encouragement to address those things (the questions in her third paragraph)are really important. (I'm needing to apply them to some of my own parenting challenges right now!) If nursing is really about emotional stability for Creighton, it is good to consider whether there are other ways she should be experiencing that. I lean towards thinking well-set boundaries can bring about that feeling of confidence or assurance that she needs. That ALL kids need. Not that there probably wouldn't be a difficult transition period, but if YOU decide that's it time to stop nursing her (or even if you decide it's not time to stop but to set certain limits on it), then she will grow to accept that and find stability in the new arrangement. Kids adjust. But I agree with what others have said - the longer you wait, the harder that adjustment usually is. (I, too, wish i had gotten rid of the pacies at nighttime a whole lot sooner! Getting rid of that is our next big project, and I'm dreading it!)

And this is a thought that is just beginning in my head and isn't fully thought out yet =)...but maybe you can brainstorm practical ways to ensure that you still have opportunities for quality time between just you and Creighton, so that when you do stop or decrease nursing, you will still have regular daily activities that involve the sweet time of cuddling with her that you both enjoy. Not sure exactly what those activities should be (esp. since I don't have a girl yet!) but I'm sure others would have ideas as to activities that you can reserve for special time with just you and her. She just may need to know that she can have some undivided attention from you in some other way.

That's all I got. =) I do think the Holy Spirit gets involved in things like breastfeeding, so as you're seeking what is right in your situation, He'll clue you in to what is best for your family!

Hannah E. said...

Oh, and NO NO NO, they are NEVER the same! Ever. It is sad really. Too bad for the husbands.

Dalene said...

Oh my goodness. I'm loving all of the great advice here. I would REALLY like to PERSONALLY talk to you about this, as I think if I responded, it would be a book... I am SO impressed that you are still nursing her! Like...I'm SO SO SO proud of you for that. I weaned ALL of mine before either they or I were ready... if you ask 100 moms, there will be 100 opinions on this. As far as the looks are concerned, I say just STARE AT THEIR BOOBS if they stare at you. If it's a male, cross your eyes if they're watching you.

Susiewearsthepants said...

I found your blog on another blog. I was unable to breastfeed for a couple of reasons, so I don't have any advice there. But your kids are really cute!

khowze said...

Hey...great advice here. I have to echo Becky. I think you need to evaluate your reasons for nursing and the pros/cons in terms of what works for you, Creighton and the rest of the family. If you are worried about her using it to win a power struggle than deal with that issue, but it doesn't neccesarily mean you have to stop all together...just set limits that work for both of you, just like you do with anything else. Do not worry one bit about what anyone outside of you, Jeff and Creighton thinks about it. You are her parents and you get to make the decisions. And, sadly, it's true...they are never the same and it just gets worse with each kid!