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Extended breastfeeding the second time around, and sleep

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm pregnant with my second baby. My first is now 3.5yo and still breastfeeding.


My approach until I got pregnant was to give her milk whenever she asked, day or night. She was a baby and toddler who would stay latched on for very long periods of time, luxuriating. I was flexible and was happy to rest or read or whatever while she did this. Even now, she likes to nurse for long periods, especially to begin or end sleep. We never figured out a way for her to fall asleep with me unless she was nursing to sleep, so I'd stay with her while she napped. It worked okay, really, and we weren't planning on having any others, so I figured I had the time. She remained a frequent (every 2 hours, sometimes more, or less) nurser until around age 3, when I got pregnant and she easily nightweaned by me starting to sleep in another bed while she continued sleeping with my husband.


Now I'm late in pregnancy, and I am so sick of breastfeeding. The idea of starting over with another baby sounds terrible to me. (I hope post-birth hormones will fix that for me. Will they?) And meanwhile, as I'm writing, my husband is trying to get my daughter to sleep after nursing failed to do it for her but she wanted to keep bf-ing (aka chewing on my tired nipples) for eternity. She's screaming wildly wanting "more milk" and is clearly miserable. I feel terrible for making milk the center of comfort for her at bedtime, and not finding an alternative earlier. (I was always so tired at bedtime, due to all night nursing and my own sleep issues, that I was willing to breastfeed in lieu of more creative methods to teach her to fall asleep without breastfeeding.)


I remember reading Elizabeth Pantley's books and trying to use the "Pantley Pull Off" when my daughter was a baby, and then a toddler, and so on, but it never worked. She's had sleep challenges from the beginning. I definitely want to breastfeed the new baby until at least age 2 or 2.5, but I know I won't be able to share every nap with this baby--she'll have to learn to sleep without nursing through the whole nap.


Just wondering if others have found themselves in similar situations, and how they have handled extended breastfeeding with subsequent kids. Thanks for any thoughts!

post #2 of 6

How far along are you? Has your milk volume decreased and/or changed taste yet?

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm 29 weeks. I don't think she minds how the milk tastes or how much there is. She insists there is plenty, but I'm sure there's not much.

post #4 of 6

Every baby is different and it's very possible your new baby will have completely different sleep "rules". My second wouldn't actually nurse to sleep if I remember correctly but would nurse and then snuggle for a bit and then fall asleep.


I would try not to worry too much and see how it goes with the little one. You'll probably naturally respond a bit differently too, such as pulling her/him off the breast early enough that he/she doesn't get used to nursing the whole time. It's harder with the older one because it's the established practice.


Also, I am someone who has a hard time nursing toddlers because I have some kind of hormonal reaction or something where it feels really uncomfortable and I start having weird angry feelings. But when I had a new baby, I didn't have those responses with the new baby. I wasn't tandem nursing so I don't know how that would make it different, but I think it's likely you won't mind nursing the baby as much as the toddler.


It is very reasonable for you to set boundaries. I don't think I'd nurse a child throughout a nap. Your husband can comfort her so she doesn't have to deal with the disappointment alone, and she's old enough that you can discuss it with her so she understands what is happening. I don't think you should feel guilty if you're unwilling to nurse through a nap. You are dealing with it gently, and she'll adjust. Give yourself a break and be kind to yourself, and repeat to yourself that it's OK to set boundaries. Our kids will not always be happy. We should deal with that unhappiness gently, but we don't have to always give them what they want. (I'm not talking about babies here - I'd never deny a baby nursing - but it's different with a 3-year-old.)

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 


Thank you so much for your wise words. They are just what I needed to hear, and I think I may print your reply out for times when I start to feel upset about this.

post #6 of 6

I am currently tandem feeding an almost-3yo and a 4mo.


My feeding of DD1 was very much as you described - I would feed whenever she wanted for as long as she wanted. Feed to sleep for all sleeps and multiple times o/night. I night weaned at 34 weeks because I couldn't take the pain on night and just said no. Once the baby was born it was logistically difficult to feed DD1 to sleep so DH has taken over putting her to bed. She goes down easily for him but not so easily for me now on nights he is working. 


My baby is a completely different feeder and sleeper. She often doesn't feed to sleep but will feed, pull off and then snuggle up and drift off. She also wakes much less frequently o/night.


she doesn't sleep as well when I'm not beside her so I usually have her in the carrier for sleeps. Then for DD1's daytime sleep we all go to bed. DD2 will usually sleep on after I get up with DD1 but only when I've had that first hour or so next to her.


For the most part it has been easier than I expected. I feel sorry for DD2 sometimes because her sleeps are more interrupted but she seems to cope.


i also get the extreme irritation feeding a toddler that Mamazee mentioned. It started when I was pregnant and didn't go away, as I'd hoped, when DD2 was born. It is much worse if I try to feed them at the same time so I don't do that ever now. But I don't have it at all feeding DD2. I wish I had some advice but I don't. I'd love to know what to do as I really dislike feeding DD1 now but she is nowhere near ready to wean so we just battle through. Sometimes I think squeezing my breast just back from the areola helps a bit but not much.

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