I've posted in the breastfeeding infancy and beyond forum and searched the internet and many popular sites including LLL and not having much luck, I'm hoping you can help or offer advice. My daughter is 20 months old and always ahs been a more avid nurser than most of my friends' children. she also has major difficulties sleeping and has had reflux which flares up now and then. we are getting tests done for these issues. she hasn't always nursed to sleep, in fact most of ehr life it's been walking/bouncing/rocking but at some point before tha or after she wants to nurse and we do. I was fairly committed to nursing her through my pregnancy and possibly tandem nursing but I just don't feel I can do it anymore... She has actually gone from biting very hard (on purpose) to now chewing on my nipples *every* time she nurses. I can't always catch it right away because she is teething and it is uncomfortable anyway...but I have teeth marks for at least 15 minutes after every nursing session now and no amount of unlatching her "no chewing, gentle with mommy." helps, she even recites to me solemnly "no chewing, it hurts!" but she won't stop. I'm actually wondering if with no milk as feedback and eye teeth coming in this bad habit has become what she thinks is nursing. I feel very resentful and have put my own needs and feelings aside for a long, long time, because she is very high needs, will not easily go with anyone else for sleep, and often woke every 1/2 hour to nurse. (we were moving much of this pregnancy)
I want to know, how can I wean her compassionately? Is it ok to wean her? I feel so guilty and terrible and don't really want to but i hate nursing now. We have cut back drastically over the last two months to just before sleep, maybe once in the morning and possibly once at night...but i can't even do that now. We share a bed currently and her father sleeps in another room since our move because he was working logn hours and would wake her up when he came in and left, and because we only have a double bed. I am considering moving her into the single bed next to the double, with her father beside her instead of me...but this is another huge transition for a child who sleeps pressed up against me....today she didn't nap and screamed for 45 minutes while i consoled and held and rubbed her and she asked for milk..i just can't do it anymore. it makes me hate my child! Help please. she is a very active, hard to settle, smart, intense and sensitive little girl....i want ehr to feel safe and not traumatized
I'm so sorry you are having this challenge. Some others find nursing during pregnancy just plain uncomfortable in itself, and as you know, milk production usually reduces and sometimes stops. Some, of course, are just wonderfully successful at nursing throughout pregnancy and tandem beyond. From the stories I hear, it sounds a little bit to me as though weaning during pregnancy is a little bit natural? This statement is in no way intended to encourage anyone to do so -- just to give permission to those who don't make it. I wonder though, before blenders, bottles, jarred babyfood, and social and multitude other interferences in prolonged, on-cue nursing, whether infertility of lactation didn't generally last longer... causing babies to typically be more spaced out…
OK, I'm getting SO off-track. The first thing to try is to stick her thumb or finger in there alongside your nipple as she nurses. If she chews or bites, it'll be on her own finger too. If you can't get her to go along with that, at least keeping your own finger in there will save some nipple trauma, and if you don't enjoy her behavior, you can quickly break the seal. This stage will likely pass, and it's possible that you will again enjoy nursing her, especially as pregnancy hormones dissolve away into maternal hormones again. Sometimes a weaned baby returns to the breast with mother's blessings after the birth of the next baby. This can help a little with sibling jealousy issues. I'm totally just putting ideas out there for you -- not suggesting any certain rule for you to follow.
She's old enough to understand what you tell her very well, especially things you tell her repeatedly and explain in varied ways using imagery she can understand. I know you're doing this already, as she is parroting you, but this can carry on to weaning as well. If she is wanting to nurse, and you are not, you can explain to her all the things that you feel, and then go ahead and cry together, holding each other tightly. You can look into the Elizabeth Pantley method and the Jay Gordon method if you're' looking for a more structured weaning process, or just more ideas. Mostly I believe in sharing feelings, following one’s own instincts, and giving oneself permission to be firm and consistent, while still compassionate.
Linda F. Palmer, DC
"The Baby Bond"