Monday, May 21, 2012

Nursing Limits

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning - Your Stories

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

When Spencer was born, I continued to let Sasha nurse all she wanted, but had to set limits as far as timing. I'd been warned several times to make sure to feed the newborn first. That task was nigh impossible! Sometimes they'd nurse 1 hour apart, so then who really nursed first?

Tandem Nursing - Take IWho nurses first if you're
literally tandem nursing?

Eventually I started cutting back on her nursing sessions. And then my milk supply dwindled. I didn't make the connection at first, but someone else finally did. (Not until after I'd tried supplements, diet changes, more pumping...) So I started letting Sasha nurse pretty much all she wanted! It didn't help my milk supply like I'd hoped. I did, however, find that I just.. I just don't like nursing her.

As I mentioned in my recent series on Night Weaning, I just don't like nursing Sasha anymore. If I nurse her for more than about 10 minutes, my stomach turns. It is not a pleasant sensation. Plus, she continues to leave teeth marks, a habit she has had for at least a year now!

So... I went from Sasha waking every 2-3 hours through the night to nurse to night weaning her. Then we moved into a travel trailer. Her first night she slept on the floor near our bed. Then she slept a few nights on the futon before being transitioned to her bunk at the other end of the travel trailer for naps before finally transitioning her night sleep there as well.

First night in new bunkSasha's first night in her new bunk.

Then I really started my crack-down. I decided 15 minutes ONCE for bedtime was enough. I remembered my advice for the Night Weaning, as well. I needed to make the decision and stick with it. The first night was a battle, though not as bad as the night weaning. I kept having to tuck her back into bed over and over again. She cried and asked for different things.

In the first week, we only had a couple nights' practice at going to sleep without a nipple in her mouth. She'd skip naps and then fall asleep with less than 10 minutes of nursing. I also started limiting nap time nursing to 10 minutes. And I always advise her first. "You can have Mommy Milk for 10 minutes, and then night night." She always agrees, but she'll agree to anything for Mommy Milk! I nurse her and tuck her into bed the way she likes. If she doesn't go to sleep (for a nap, anyway), she asks if she can get up. Yes, I don't force her to take a nap.

Since then I've even shortened bedtime nursing to 10 minutes as well. Sometimes she falls asleep in half that! It all has to do with whether or not she napped and how well I time bed time. We've also finally instituted a healthy bed time routine. We brush her hair and teeth. She goes potty. That last one is very important and I've forgotten it several times!

Momma Jorje - Bedtime Checklist

She has had so many changes in her life in the last year! I feel bad about it at times, especially about all the changes she has had in just our nursing relationship. I have a lot of guilt over that anyway, though. I feel guilt for having negative feelings about nursing her. I feel guilty when I see articles about how beneficial it is for toddlers to nurse until they're ready to wean on their own. I even question whether some of her behavior might stem from having milk taken away from her. But what parent doesn't second guess themselves, right? People say not to feel guilty, but that is easier said than done.

I am leaning heavily toward weaning her completely, especially as she is asking for milk during the day less. (She also gets "Morning Milk" for just a few minutes.) Up until recently, she was still asking for milk all day long. My thoughts are that once she gets into a habit of going to sleep without milk (on those nights when she nurses, but not to sleep), then I can consider taking the next step. Right now I don't feel like I can take it away from her completely.

It breaks my heart to consider forcing her to wean on my terms rather than hers, but I know my negative feelings toward her aren't good for either of us.

How did your children wean? Do you have any regrets about the process?

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):

  • Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
  • Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened and yet equally gentle in its approach.
  • Weaning Aversion'Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced 'feeding aversion'.
  • Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma's evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
  • Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
  • Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn's super power is diminishing.
  • Reflections on Weaning - Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
  • Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for SuccessMudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
  • Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer's Daughter.
  • 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
  • Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
  • I thought about weaning... — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
  • Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
  • Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
  • Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
  • Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn't have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
  • Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
  • Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
  • Breastfeeding: If there's one thing I know for sure... — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it's time to wean?


  1. I think you will have many a mama who can identify with that guilt. I feel guilty almost every time Kieran nurses because I still have to grit my teeth through it. Hopefully that guilt will subside - think of all of the milk she's gotten!! The fact that you need to help her take steps toward weaning will help in the long run if her nursing is causing you both so much angst now. Regardless of how it happens, I am here to support you.

  2. You need to honor your feelings in this process as much as hers. I think that you have found a balance that is taking care of both of your needs, and hopefully the struggle will resolve itself. It has seemed like that part of your relationship with her has been less stressful for you lately, I hope that is true.
    And it's impossible to tell what is causing behavior changes at this age. I usually figured things out after whatever reaction Moira was having to some stressor had stopped. I figure as long as I was lovingly trying to help her move through her feelings, it was okay if I didn't really understand what was going on.

  3. It's so hard to say No to something that is so obviously important to them. But like other limits, I don't think it is bad to say no. In fact, I'm convinced it is better to cut back on nursing than to resent it, because kids always pick up on how we feel, and think there is something wrong with them. As long as we accept their feelings with compassion, and find other ways to make sure they feel loved, our weaning children do fine. Thanks for sharing your story, and for role-modeling such a loving approach to meeting both your needs.

  4. I commend your honesty! Mom's just seem to naturally carry a lot of guilt and I know myself its hard to admit when you feel a certain way when you think you shouldn't. It sounds like you have two very wonderful and lucky children :) Thanks for sharing so other mom's, like me, can realize they are not alone! PS love the little pic of your daughter in her bunk :)

  5. Guilt is part of motherhood (so I am learning). Don't forget that WHO and AAP say to nurse as long as BOTH want to continue. I think establishing boundaries is important and beneficial to Sasha.

  6. Oh mama, I hear you! I know you've been through so much lately, and so has Sasha. I always noticed how respectful you were of her needs. It seems like you are also working to be respectful of yours. I know what you mean about not liking to nurse. Frankly, if she is leaving teeth marks I put you in the "tough cookie" category because I cringe at the slightest hint of a tooth. I hope the rest of your process, however long and however it happens, goes smoothly and lovingly for you both. ~sheila

  7. My kids were both very attached to the boob (literally and figuratively), so weaning bit by bit was always initiated by me, never by them. But so long as they were ready - which I could tell because after a few days the new regime would be fine - the payback was that for the remaining times nursing I was much happier and more willing to give them what they wanted. When I could finally have my son cuddle up to me without grabbing to pull my shirt up, it was such a lovely feeling that there was no guilt at all.

  8. I hear you on the guilt issue loud and clear. I, too, felt aversion nursing my daughter who was 2 when we started tandem nursing with my newborn son. The toddler nursing is so much harder and it seems so both mentally and physically. We went through many of the same steps you did until my daughter started biting me hard at the end of each session. That was when I physically had to draw the line. I couldn't take the dread and stress of knowing each session would end in her chomping down on me. I tried everything I could think of to stop it from happening to save our nursing relationship but finally we weaned and moved to cuddles instead. I still feel guilty about weaning to this day, but she is my cuddly girl and I do my best to give her connection and reassurance in other ways. The one blessing is that I don't dread cuddles like I used to dread nursing and that can only be a good thing for our relationship. Hugs to you. You are not alone in your feelings or this journey.

  9. It was so good for me to read this post and these comments. I also had a similar experience. I LOVED nursing my son until my daughter was born and then for whatever reason (possibly my protective instincts towards her? ) I couldn't handle nursing my son anymore. For the first month of her life all he did was nurse, he stopped eating other food and i quickly became overwhelmed. It was extremely sad for me and I was deeply troubled by the new feelings I was having about nursing him. Weaning did not go as gently and smoothly as I had pictured it in my mind. As of right now he nurses before nap and bedtime only till the count of 3! Talk about GUILT and fear... fear that Im hurting some part of him by not letting him nurse when he wants. Fear that Im not modeling healthy behaviors, these feelings have so many layers. I hope he understand that she gets to nurse on demand because she is a baby and he can't because he is older but I don't know if he understands that. He will be 3 in a few months and my daughter will be 1 and the only thing I have going for me is consistency (the fact that Im consistent gives me a little comfort so at least he knows what to expect). ANyway, I appreciated your post. I think those feelings of not wanting to nurse the older nursling must be listened to because they felt so instinctual. It may be natures way of taking care of the baby? OR taking care of our own bodies? Producing milk for two is no small task. I just wish I had known that I would feel like that cause I would have done a more gradual and gentler weaning with him before she was born.

    1. It is so rough on a mother. To not only feel the physical / mental aversion, but the guilt for even feeling that! I think it is nature's way of caring for the new baby, pushing us to push the bigger kid away. I so desperately wanted to tandem and let her wean on her terms that it was heart breaking.

      We started with 10 minutes, then 5 - just before bed time. Then it was 3, then 2 minutes! Now, she is offered the breast for the amount of time it takes to sing 2 (short) lullabies. Then I tuck her in and sing 1 more. (It is often 1 lullaby repeated.) AND, now she actually just holds the nipple rather than suckling. We're really close. I'm holding out til her 3rd birthday (2 more months) before I try to wean her off the breast completely. The aversion is almost completely gone, though, since she isn't nursing. There for a bit even holding the nipple in her mouth was creeping me out!

      I seriously need to write an update post about our weaning journey!


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