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want(ed) to CLW but i am LOSING my mind!!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
since the birth of my son (27 months) and even before i had always thought that we would CLW. but recently he has become so demanding it is driving me absolutely crazy!! he has always been a voracious nurser and this was/is fine with me but the night nursing are out of control! if he sleeps with us, which he has always done, he nurses ALL. NIGHT. LONG. while climbing all over me and continually switching sides and twiddling my other nipple which totally makes my skin crawl. my quality of sleep is declining and i continually wake up with back pain that lingers most of the day. if he sleeps in another bed, which we tried recently to see if the distance between us would help him sleep more soundly, he wakes up 3+ times a night to nurse.
i thought night weaning would be a good solution to these issues, but so far it hasn't been going too well. last night was so rough i finally gave up, brought him into our bed, nursed him for another HOUR until he finally fell asleep and i was exhausted and in tears and. i don't have night time support, DH works nights and weekends often.
i hate to say it, but i feel like my ds owns me and this is making me sort of resentful. i am so tired of the demands both day and night, that i kind of want to end our nursing relationship, even though i know if i do we will both be very sad and i would be very disappointed in myself!

please help, i am at the end of my rope!!!
post #2 of 22

Sorry no advice, my friend is in a similar situation with her 3.5 year old. Hope others have some insight or advice.
post #3 of 22
Hugs mama!!

Sounds to me like you would like to continue nursing him, just not have it be so on demand and not so 24/7. I get that! And yes, your quality of sleep and personal space are important, and as much as we want to give everything to our children, we do need to maintain self preservation in the process. I think you can do both, and also think it might be good for him to learn that you need personal boundaries too.

Everyone parents differently, not saying this will solve the problem you are having, but it helped me with night weaning my daughter in preparation for the arrival of our second. She was also having tooth decay which may have been related to constant exposure to milk on her teeth.

First, your situation sounds very much the same as I had going on with dd before I changed things.

I helped solve the problem by changing the routine. At bedtime, we did the normal routine, but instead of nursing her lying down and letting her fall asleep that way, I nursed her sitting up, before brushing teeth. Night feeds I gradually made shorter. When possible, I'd let her latch and then she'd fall asleep and I'd unlatch her within a minute or less. Eventually I told her that that storytime milk was the last milk until breakfast. Milks had to get some sleep too. Being consistent with this, it took some time for her to accept, but it completely worked. It took a few weeks though, because I let it take that long. I was seeing progress each week so I knew I was going in the right direction for our family's needs. It was a gentle approach and it worked.

Eventually, she accepted that milk was for daytime and nightime was for sleeping.

I did my best to structure daytime feeds too. Nursing was for specific times like wake up and naps and for special comfort times. But not an all you can eat buffet.

As with all things parenting, this might or might not help you! But it helped me, and we're still nursing at 29 months...though currently with tandem nursing challenges!
post #4 of 22
mamak has some great suggests. Remember that nursing is not an "all or nothing" type of thing. I would suggest continuing to nurse during certain parts of the day, maybe not during the night?
post #5 of 22
We've been going through the same thing recently with ds (22 months...) and I've decided to try out Dr. Gordon's plan for 'night-weaning'. I use the term loosely b/c basically, you're just closing up shop for the same 7 hours every night. He does not encourage total weaning, but does offer the guideline to alter sleep habits for those of us that are officially at the end of our rope. I also like that he clearly discloses at the beginning that this plan is not for any children under a year of age. I don't want to quit nursing completely, but I'm at the point where I DREAD bed time. Hugs mama
post #6 of 22
My DS would also nurse FOREVER at night and at about the age of your LO I started slowly bringing him to the potty/letting him pee on a little potty and remarkably this cut WAY DOWN on his nighttime nursing. He was out of daytime diapers at the time but was still wearing them at night and he was partially waking (just as we adults do) when he had to pee. So I found that as soon as he peed he would fall back asleep so much quicker - sometimes without even nursing.

This may not work with your LO but I am always surprised at how often nighttime elimination needs are not considered as possible reasons for night waking. It was/is definitely the reason my DS wakes and at this point he wakes maybe 2-3x a night and he pees anywhere between 1-3x a night. This may sound like a lot but its soooo much easier than the nonstop nursing and I feel that he is less likely to be a bedwetter.

...something to consider if you haven't already
post #7 of 22
I would second the thought to explore the need to pee at night as a reason for prolonged nighttime nursing - that and a wet diaper are the two things likely to cause all night nursing sessions here.

Another idea to explore - is he getting enough food during the day? My ds went through a time just before his 4th birthday when the world was just too interesting to take time to eat - but he made up for that lack of food by nursing all night. I started to bribe him to eat - with foods that were marginally healthy, but also had more sugar than maybe they should have. Ice cream (made with cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla) was a favorite go to food - served with homemade pumpkin pie made it that much better in my book - we got all the food groups in that way. I sometimes felt bad about giving in to his whims about what foods I could tempt him to eat - but it was that or go crazy nursing at night, so we went with it. And once he got in the habit of eating again (he had gotten out of the habit without my realizing it) it was easier to start reintroducing a more varied diet and now I would say he eats a fairly well rounded diet again.
post #8 of 22

Trying to be Patient

I am in a similar situation with a toddler who still expects "Mommy milk" at bedtimes and will nurse through the night if I let her. I think we need to work more on potty training and get more consistent with that. I sense that using the potty and graduating to only drinking from a cup will somehow go together.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
my ds has potty learned, except at night, though he does sometimes wake up dry. maybe taking him potty when he wakes would help, but i worry that it would make him more awake. worth a try for sure.
post #10 of 22
just wanted to say and thank you for starting this thread! the nipple tweaking and dry nursing at night is the EXACT reason why i came on here tonight. expecting #2 in the spring.

some great suggestions, thank you everybody!
post #11 of 22
My son is 30 months and I could've written your post almost exactly, except for the twiddling. I have a firm no twiddling rule. "If you're going to twiddle, I'll have to put nahs away. It really doesn't feel good for mama."

Really, it makes me feel better to know that someone else is going through the same thing. I wonder if it's something with the age? Getting ready to learn a new skill? Great ideas with night pottying. DS will wake up and sort of half cry and seem very out of it. If I suggest potty, he will go and go back to sleep. I'll have to try this during his big nursing stretch in the mornings.

I read the LLL book How Weaning Happens, thinking I'd get tips and strength to night wean him, but I've decided not it. It's just so important to him. Sometimes, I'll bring a sippy of water or soy milk with to bed and offer him that. Sometimes it helps.

Last night, I actually talked to him about it while he was asleep. I'd forgotten about that idea and it seemed to go well. He did nurse less last night than usual.

Hugs to you. It's tough, I know. I keep reminding myself that this will get better. It won't go on forever and I will be so glad we stuck it out.

Oh I forgot about this. In my sleep talk to him last night, I told him he could nurse as much as he wanted during the day, so we could sleep at night. Maybe try upping his day nurses?
post #12 of 22
Originally Posted by medaroge View Post
mamak has some great suggests. Remember that nursing is not an "all or nothing" type of thing. I would suggest continuing to nurse during certain parts of the day, maybe not during the night?
And you can nurse for shorter increments of time. My 32mo gets to nurse for 20 seconds sometimes if he seems like he really needs it. He then says goodbye to the teta and gives it a kiss, which somehow seems to help him deal with having the limit.

The other thing that's helped us is that if I set a limit, I have to be ABSOLUTELY firm on it. Being in any way inconsistent seems to just distress and confuse him more.

mama. I know it's hard. You deserve to feel like the boss of your own body!
post #13 of 22
For the twiddling I taught my son :flat hand". He was allowed to lay his palm on my nipple and I would hol his hand flat while he nursed. He hated it at first but adjusted. Later he would do :flat hand: even after he weaned to help him sleep.
post #14 of 22

I feel your pain!!

I also could have written this post!! I have let my daughter take the lead with breastfeeding since birth and she is sleeping less and less and less. At 22 months she can not fall asleep without nursing unless she is in the car. She needs to nurse to settle herself at each change in sleep cycle (both for naps and nights) so she wakes every 45 mintues to an hour and yells "I need milk!"
I feel totally misled by the breastfeeding and attachment parenting guidelines that say babies will gain confidence and stop nursing when they are ready if you let them lead the process. I am exhausted and her needs have grown with age instead of diminishing.
She used to be much more easy going about sleep and woke up only 2X a night to nurse until she was 12 -15 months. She also took a pacifier and bottle when she was younger but now staunchly refuses both. She eats well and only nurses during the day to sleep, so I don't think she is getting much nutrition from my milk anymore.
I will try the routine changes some of you suggested - but as of now she will not fall asleep without my nipple in her mouth. We've tried the "Pantley" method, and some advice from Dr. Sears. She fights and cries when her Dad goes to her instead of me, and we'll have a few days victory, but it always falls back into sleeping at Mom's breast all night. (She starts nights in a toddler bed in our room and goes back and forth from our bed most of the night. She does not have her own room.)
What do you all think? Do we need to be more consistent with her Dad taking over nightime care? How many nights before we can consider the pattern broken? Should I wean her all together, and if so, should I take a weekend away and let her Dad figure this out? Do we have to reorganize so she has her own room?
I am at my wits end! I don't want to undo any of the good I've tried to do as an attachment parent, but I need some sleep!
post #15 of 22
That is a hard situation. I'd start by looking at what is waking her up/making her uncomfortable, so that she comes out of the sleep cycle so often. As mentioned earlier, the need to pee can be one, even if you are not potty training yet (my 1 yr old wakes much more when he needs to pee, sometimes we will just get up until he wets his diaper and then go back to bed).

Other thoughts though - given that she used to sleep better. Why is she coming fully out of the sleep cycle? Given the way you say she is waking up - is she in pain or scared? What need is the nighttime nursing filling, besides helping her sleep?

Is she teething (2 yr molars?)

Has there been something traumatic in her life? The loss of a friend, pet, seeing someone important less often than she would like? An addition to the family, move, change in parent's job situation, or other stress to her life or yours (is she picking up on your fear or stress)? A scare or hurt that seemed major to her even if not to you? Older children in the family or neighborhood who are not kind to her from her perspective? This can be a hard one to track down, but can contribute to a neediness in young children that can manifest in different ways. If so you may want to consider telling healing stories - actually, coming up with a healing story may be worth trying even if there hasn't been trauma. The book "Healing Stories for Challenging Behavior" might be worth reading - I checked it out of the library this summer and thought it was well worth the read.

One final thought - answering the questions I asked here is worth trying to do not only because it can help you address and hopefully change the reason she is waking fully, but also it can help you understand and give different perspective on waking up with her. Something I try to keep in mind when going though times when nursing is really rough is that I have chosen to be my child's primary comfort object, and really, I do want them to be more attached to me than to a blanket or other object, even when it would be much easier if it was different. Children do grow out of nursing eventually, but it can take a lot longer than we anticipate.
post #16 of 22
I haven't read the whole thread, so I apologize if this has already been suggested. I read "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" when DS was around 2-ish and it gave me confidence and ideas for setting limits for his nursing that would help me to continue to enjoy the nursing relationship, but be gentle and respectful towards him. I highly recommend this resource.

I used a similar approach as mamak. I let him know that "milk goes night night". It was hard for a few nights and he was definitely sad about it and cried. But rather than giving him, I let him know that I was there and I was sorry he was sad and cuddled him. After a few nights he got the point and started sleeping much better at night - and so did I!
post #17 of 22
Some wonderful suggestions here. I entered this space because I - FEEL - DONE. DD is 28 months. Though DD truly adores her brother, her regression came in the form of need for diapers, bottles and increased nursing. I don't know anything about weaning and suppose it is time to pick up "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" and "How Weaning Happens" in order to make some decisions because she is waking in the night 2-3x, screaming until she nurses, waking her brother....and none of us are sleeping as a result. I had every intention of CLW-ing so I am, once again, surprised by the place in which I find myself.

In my situation, however, I do think her increased waking and need to nurse may be related to her potty-training (alternating between pull-ups and diapers at night). I'm going to try bringing her to the potty upon waking tonight.....could it be the same for you?

Other suggestions for good support in form of written material?
post #18 of 22
Originally Posted by LizzieRed View Post
At 22 months she can not fall asleep without nursing unless she is in the car. She needs to nurse to settle herself at each change in sleep cycle (both for naps and nights) so she wakes every 45 minutes to an hour and yells "I need milk!" <snip>
She used to be much more easy going about sleep and woke up only 2X a night to nurse until she was 12 -15 months.
One other thought that occurred to me as I thought about this more is to wonder if you are dealing with food allergies. Again, with the thought that if she is waking that violently, it means something is wrong. Food allergies could be another reason she is not feeling right and wakes up in a panic. They also can lead to excess peeing at night which again could contribute to night waking.
post #19 of 22
Wow. I am so glad to hear that other moms have that problem as well. I thought only my son was like that. He just started being like this though. He is 3 years old and before he used to just drink and go to sleep. He always drank a lot and often, but he did not constantly change boobs and play with my nipple with his hands all the time. Now he does. He also crawls all over me at night and he drinks and drinks, always switching boobs and yes, he plays with my other nipple, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. The nursing would not be the problem, but the switching and the playing with the fingers.... Plus as soon as he does let go I also have to nurse my 2 months old baby. And most of the time I am nursing them both at the same time, because he is always drinking and she wants a lot of milk as well.......

I will try the advice I have heard here. I am worried though, because he does not go to sleep without nursing. I have tried. He only falls asleep with the nippe in his mouth . We really have tried and that boy went 3 nights without sleep.

Wish me luck! I certainly wish you luck!
post #20 of 22
This is such a great (and neccessary) thread. We are SO, SO going through this. Part of it is my fault for not being consistant- sometimes I decide I should just say yes to any need for her to nurse (she is 2) and other times I'm so exhausted and it's with such frequency (like, every ten minutes!) that I say to myself, "I 'SHOULD' be able to say no!!" and she just gets hysterical when I do, to the point that after such a long time of crying and begging and really seeming truly, honestly upset- I give in. It's awful.

But I think there's a lot of truth to some of the ideas mentioned above. I am sure that DD doesn't always get enough to eat during the day, with her never-stop-moving thing. And I know she makes up with it through nursing, day AND night. Daytime nursing doesn't bother me, it's just that I need to sleep, ya know?

I also think something BOTHERS her and wakes her up. Often she wakes up grimacing and crying, and this has been since she was smaller. I've wondered if she has bad dreams, or stomach pain.. I've wondered if I should take her to a chiro. I think I'll look into it maybe being a wet diaper.

We have a strict no-twidling or pinching policy- I just can't deal with that. But she is REALLY into switching sides. "Udder side-udder side!" lol ... that I just try to encourage her to be reasonable with. I understand her wanting to do both sides, but after two or three switches, we need to stick with one boobie.

Sheesh, I am so glad there is a place I can say these things at and not be called crazy or weird.
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