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I'm tired of being a human pacifier!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
DS is 5 months old and rarely goes to sleep without sucking on my breast. If he's really tired and we're out and about he'll usually go to sleep in a sling or in the car seat, but at home when it's time for a nap or bedtime he HAS to suck on me to fall asleep. Even after night feedings. We co-sleep so I generally nurse him and then lay him down for some side-lying nursing/sucking until he's sound asleep and then unlatch him. If I try to unlatch before he's really out he *will* wake up and fuss till I let him suck again.

When he woke up in the middle of the night last night to eat I fed him and did the usual side-lie but he kept waking up when I tried to unlatch and I thought "enough is enough - he used to be able to go to sleep without sucking let's try it again." I held him, patted him, rocked him and shushed him for 45 minutes of mostly crying until he finally did fall asleep, but the whole time I felt like he was saying "I'm so tired - I WANT to go to sleep but I can't without sucking on you!"

He used to suck on my fingers but he won't anymore and he refuses pacis.

Sometimes I'm so tired I fall asleep while he's sucking and I'm pretty sure he just sucks on me for hours! I don't like that either - I feel like it will make him even more dependent on it to sleep!

Any advice? Anyone been in the same situation and did anything work for you? Will he grow out of it soon or will I be doing this for the next couple years??
post #2 of 19
My LO does the same thing, usually nurses for an hour to three hours with her eyes closed before going to sleep. When she's done she pop's off and I don't hear a peep from her until the morning. I don't really mind the nurse-a-thon although it takes a while she IS eating and I credit these long nursing periods with how long she sleeps at night and her healthy weight.

I guess I am a human pacifier, but I figure if she wants a few hours every night to cuddle, and cluster nurse with a good latch that she should have it. Meanwhile I usually stick on a movie or read a book. Frankly without this time every evening forcing me to slow down, I don't think I would make the time myself to read. I've just assumed that cluster feeding is a part of nursing a nursing relationship, one of the ways that it is different from bottle feeding.

So, I don't have any solutions for you. But I can tell you that your LO isn't unique in this sense. I guess whether or not the behavior is a problem depends on your attitude and perspective.
post #3 of 19
Oh wow, OP, you could be describing my son - in fact he was born just the day before yours! He's also nursing like a newborn, usually every 90min-2 hrs all night long... I'm so tired. So no words of wisdom, am hoping to hear some sage words in other responses myself, but hugs from someone else who feels your pain.
post #4 of 19
That was my first son and it was tough. I could sometimes sleep through it but not always. But fortunately my ds would take a paci. Have you tried different pacifiers?

If you can sleep through it I wouldn't worry to much about him becoming dependent on it. He's still little enough it would be tough to wean him from needing to suck. But when my ds was a little older (maybe 1 yr, although you could probably try earlier) we used the Pantley pull out method. It took a few weeks, but it finally worked.
post #5 of 19
It's rough mama. I can say to you "This too shall pass" and it will, but I know when you are in the middle of it that's hard to believe at times. He may be getting ready for a growth spurt, either mentally or physically.
post #6 of 19
we are trying the Pantley method here too. i am reading the No Cry Sleep Solution and found it in there. can't tell you if it works yet. but here's hoping.
post #7 of 19
OH, You are describing my LO (now 4 mo). Let me share my doubts too with hopes it may help.
In some point of our sleep routine it started going really smooth when I let him nurse to sleep (side lying)... It felt perfect, for me and for him. We were both happy. But then there is all the sleep training pp saying that you cannot let the child sleep sucking, the old school mothers (my mom) saying that you are spoiling the child and all those mothers that can just put their infant in bed by themselves and they fall asleep uneventfully. That would make me feel like I was doing something wrong and then my beautiful time nursing just got spoiled.

Then I started going all around the web doing the search "nursing to sleep"
There are thousands of other mothers and babies out there happily nursing to sleep.. just like babies need time to learn to grab, learn to walk or talk, they need to learn to sleep by themselves. This is a natural relationship. The sucking motion makes them sleep (I even read about enzimes in breast milk making them sleepy). So enjoy it. I now see this moment, as basje said, a moment for myself. Its literally hands off. I'm laying there browsing the web on my phone, he's happily having his boobie bed time... sometimes he unlatches by himself and lay back to sleep sometimes when its taking too long I unlatch and stay nipple close untill I feel it's "safe" to get up.

Your doubt is pretty normal too, sometimes i worry how he will fall asleep when others are taking care of him, if the dependence is bad for him... But hey aren't we mamals? LOs are naturally dependent on their nursing mothers. Sometimes I'm tired and all I want is to finally have some time for a shower, a snack or wash the pile of dishes but he still sucking and sucking... but he wont do that forever and then I'll probably miss it.

And by the way we are no human pacifiers... those plastic gizmos are actually trying to be nipples. Your little one is just refusing the plastic version. Each child is different. Here, I see that DS is such a happy healthy one, there can't be anything wrong in our habit of nursing to sleep.

Hang in there.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses! It really is helpful to at least know I'm not the only one dealing with this! And it is encouraging to be reminded that this is a need for him at this point in his life and I can love him by filling it for him.

DS used to have marathon nursing sessions before going to bed and I was totally fine with that. Now he's moved on to eating and then just sucking without getting the milk until he falls asleep. I don't mind this most of the time, but he's also waking every couple hours at night so I have to do it several times every night while I'm aching to sleep! And if I do let him stay latched for hours while we both sleep, I usually wake up with an ache somewhere from not being able to shift much. I guess I'll just keep doing what works and try to take baby steps towards change where we can.
post #9 of 19
nak

my dd nurses a lot. she has slept on me, yes ON ME, until a few days ago, when her bottom teeth started cutting. now, miraculously, i can lay her on her back and she will sleep for hours. she is 7+ months. hang in there..... the days are long, the years are short.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lirazel View Post
Any advice? Anyone been in the same situation and did anything work for you? Will he grow out of it soon or will I be doing this for the next couple years??
I remember that! What an annoying, almost overwhelming place to be in (I'm not looking forward to being there again with this LO). For both of my older kids, it was just a stage (which happened a few times for each kid)- usually because of teething or preparing for a new development or growth spurt. It FEELS LIKE it goes on forever and I felt like TEARING OUT MY HAIR, but then one day you realize that the kiddo is sleeping well again! Hang in there, it gets much better (and FWIW both of my kids sleep really well now in their own beds with little effort on our part).

--Mom to a 6 yo, 3 yo, and a newborn
post #11 of 19
I want to ask anyone that has ever used the phrase 'human pacifier' to think about what it means. A pacifier is a plastic device invented to mimic a woman's nipple in order to 'fool' a baby into sucking on something other than mama's nipple. It is perfectly natural for a baby to be latched on to mama's nipple for most of the day. The nipple is the original pacifier. It is difficult at times to give so much (at least it feels we are giving, and it feels overwhelming at times). But really, we are doing what is natural. We are doing what has been done since the beginning of mammals, we are feeding, comforting and protecting our infants by keeping them on our bodies and breasts like the other primate mammals do. It is natural. I think the reason it is so hard for us at times, why we feel so 'touched out' is because we were not raised this way. We were not held in arms for the first months of life almost exclusively, we were not breastfed on demand with no judgment, nestled to sleep with (or on) our parent(s). But the cycle has to end somewhere. Corporations have interfered in our parenting choices in order to create profits by encouraging separation. This is very new in the scheme of things, and it is up to us to rectify the situation. This was put forth in another thread, and I think it is wonderful to see!
http://thebabybond.com/NaturalWeaningAgeFORWEBSITE.pdf

I write this post for many, not just the OP. But OP, It will get better! For now please allow the babe what we didn't have, unrestrained access to the breast 24 hrs a day (unless you feel anger, then you should pass baby to other caregiver and have a break of course) and know that you are mending a rift created by greed (IMO- companies figured out that babies that are not held and breastfed on demand become better consumers, first of all as babies with all the 'stuff' that has to be had by not nursing full time, then by the $ generated by illnesses caused by same, then as adults the need to buy things to solve the huge feeling of separation (the 'hole' some people say they have)). Again, OP, it is perfectly natural for a baby to nurse to sleep, and they will until they are at least one (and it keeps your supply up very well to have that stimulation). My 18 mo always nursed to sleep. In the last month, she has begun to fall asleep without it a few times, all on her own. It will happen. I like a pp quote, or heck maybe it was another thread... "days are long, years are short". The future isn't here and never will be. The past does not exist, all we have is this moment. This precious moment.
post #12 of 19
well said karika- we need to pat ourselves on the back because we can do what most of our culture cannot. It does pay off in the end
post #13 of 19
Karika, thanks for the link. Very informative website. My DD is 5 months in a few days and OMG, the pressure to "feed" her is intense from my parents, and other well meaning parents. She is EBF, and co-sleeps with us, so we nurse through out the night. To the OP, my LO sounds exactly like your LO. NOW, she nurses and pulls off herself. What a wonderful development during the night. She still might nurse anywhere from 3-6x a night, but she isn't on as long, and seems to allow me to gently take my nipple out of her mouth once she is asleep much easier at this age than at 4 months. I understand about the aches. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wake up with a stiff neck, and achy back. . .so much that I was thinking I should start a thread about side nursing to see if I'm doing to correctly! Does every side nursers wake up this stiff?!?!

Hang in there!
post #14 of 19
Karika, your post is wonderful!
post #15 of 19
Some good info. You're NOT a "human pacifier" you're a mammalian mom. You're doing what mammalian moms do and have done for millions of years.

It CAN be rough no question. A few months back my ds needed to nurse ALL NIGHT LONG. arg. I swear my nipples felt soggy.... but he grew out of it. That need was met and he moved past it.

hang in there!

-Angela
post #16 of 19
I get your point Karika....but I was nursed on demand, cuddled and worn and coslept and I have now repeated that process 3 times and it drives me crazy to be sucked on endlessly. It's natural for my child to want that but there comes a point where I can establish boundaries and enforce nursing manners. It's good for my child if I am not irritated and on edge. My babies come first but I still count too. ...and so on.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by basje View Post
My LO does the same thing, usually nurses for an hour to three hours with her eyes closed before going to sleep. When she's done she pop's off and I don't hear a peep from her until the morning. I don't really mind the nurse-a-thon although it takes a while she IS eating and I credit these long nursing periods with how long she sleeps at night and her healthy weight.

I guess I am a human pacifier, but I figure if she wants a few hours every night to cuddle, and cluster nurse with a good latch that she should have it. Meanwhile I usually stick on a movie or read a book. Frankly without this time every evening forcing me to slow down, I don't think I would make the time myself to read. I've just assumed that cluster feeding is a part of nursing a nursing relationship, one of the ways that it is different from bottle feeding.

So, I don't have any solutions for you. But I can tell you that your LO isn't unique in this sense. I guess whether or not the behavior is a problem depends on your attitude and perspective.


This is exactly our situation too. DS must nurse to sleep if we are at home, sometimes it takes 15 min, sometimes it takes a few hours. If he does a marathon session, I figure he needs it in some way (nutrition/comfort) so I just let him. I read a book, watch a movie, or play games on DH's ipod touch.
post #18 of 19
My DD is eight months old and she does this too, it is natural, but yes! I get frustrated too...I just remember that it will not last long, and I will look back with happy memories of the time we spent together nursing. You are not alone!!! I too read a book or watch a movie while she is nursing..I am definitely getting a lot more reading done than I used to. She also nurses 5-6 times a night. The other night she slept all the way through, I couldn't believe it! That was definitely a fluke, but maybe a sign that she may start doing it on a regular basis?? (I hope).
post #19 of 19
Interesting that I found this thread tonight...

My DD does the same thing too! I just took over 45 mins to finally get her to sleep. After a long day of meeting her needs, I was pretty frustrated. She basically just sucked and sucked (not eating) and every time I tried to slowly take my breast away, she would stir like crazy until she found my nipple again. This goes on most nights, although some are shorter and some nights longer. It is helpful to hear, as I know, that this will pass and someday she will be a thriving little girl who sleeps well (just can't imagine her ever sleeping without my breasts right by her side).

Karika, your post really touched me! My mom once said to me "I guess nursing her to sleep is fine until she starts using you as a human pacifier". The line has always stuck in my head and has always left a bad taste in my mouth. It bothered me b/c it implies I'm doing something wrong in my nursing her to sleep and it bothered me because when I'm frustrated with her for taking so long to get to sleep and needing to suck so much, I think of that line and resent DD for 'using me as a human pacifier'. Thank you for your words, because now your post will stick in my head instead of my mom's foolish words!

I'm glad I came across this thread tonight. It has, as MDC usually does, inspired me to have a fresh outlook on my parenting choices, my LO's needs and to remember "days are long, years are short"! Have a good night, everyone! Happy Nursing!!!

-Nicole, mama to DD (11/09)
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