Thursday, August 2, 2012

Boundaries & Nursing

Nursing Limits was my last update on my nursing relationship with Sasha. At that time, I was allowing Sasha to nurse for 15 minutes at bedtime and 10 minutes for naps. She has since dropped naps almost entirely. She only takes a nap when she needs one. Usually that means she falls asleep on her own.

At bedtime... I found myself fighting not to short change her time. If 15 minutes was really 13-14, I went ahead and dropped it to 10. Then that got dropped incrementally until it was 5. We also started using a set bedtime every night. I hate schedules, so I have been really amazed at how well that has worked! We started with 9 o'clock, but I soon discovered she was ready to sleep at 8 o'clock! On days when she naps, I let her stay up a little later.

It was difficult to find a balance of meeting her needs as well as my own boundaries. We stuck with 5 minutes for a while. A few times her latch hurt so I'd have her stop to re-latch. She would usually let go, then just hold my nipple in her mouth.

Now, we're not even counting minutes. She got to where she'd only nurse for about 20 seconds, then she'd switch to just pressing her open mouth against my breast. I don't even think you could call it holding the nipple. She doesn't even touch it.

I've been obsessively wanting to make it to her 3rd birthday, but wasn't sure I could stand it. Our current system looks more like this: I hold her while she has my breast available to hold in her mouth (which she does) while I sing 2 lullabies. They're short, though I don't get the same aversion feelings anymore. Then I tuck her into bed and sing 1 more lullaby while stroking her hair. She has definitely mastered going to sleep on her own, though she usually wants a drink of water at some point.

Her birthday is next month! We'll make it and then I plan to ease her off the breast entirely. I feel a bit more confidence that we'll manage it with minimal trauma. We'll discuss it and probably switch to holding and singing or maybe to reading a book. While I love the idea of bedtime reading, I feel like holding and singing is more... bonding.

There are so many different tactics and approaches to weaning (or not). Take what works for you. Try different things. My biggest advice is not to discount your own boundaries. If you hate every second of nursing, that isn't a healthy situation for you or your nursling. I have definitely survived some very unhealthy nursing sessions! Meanwhile, Spencer is still EBF at 7 months old now.

I no longer offer the breast for booboos. Come to think of it, it doesn't even occur to me anymore. She doesn't ask for Mommy Milk all day anymore and I no longer feel guilty for nursing Spencer in front of her. These are all wonderful outcomes from setting my boundaries. We must value our own comfort level. Meeting our babies' needs doesn't have to have to come at such a great cost.

Please, for World Breastfeeding Week, share with me tales of your own gentle (or not so gentle) weaning experiences.


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