Boundaries for preschooler nursing? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 11-14-2003, 01:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi guys,

My ds in almost three, and is very verbal and is growing so smart every day. (Which I like to give some credit to the extended nursing). But as he gets older I am getting more uncomfortable with his nursing habits. He talks about my "boobs" all the time, wants to touch them all the time, etc. It is wierding me out. It is one thing to nurse a little baby, but another to have whole conversations about it with them, kwim? I know I have childhood issues interfereing with this, but the counselor I am seeing isn't supportive of me nursing so I can't talk about it with her.

I tried setting boundaries with him, but I feel like I am giving him the impression that there is something wrong with him for wanting to touch or to nurse. I feel bad, I don't want him to feel that way, but there are my feelings of heebie jeebies that I know he is picking up on as well. So, the poor kid, in his confusion, is asking to nurse all the time, which is turn, is driving me crazy, and the cycle goes on and on.

I have thought about using something concrete to set limits, like blocks. Giving him five blocks to start the day, and every time he nurses he gives me a block. Has anyone else has success with this type of thing? And for setting the booby boundaries, I have tried saying, "this is mommy's body, you need to ask to touch it, you can't grab me whenever you want." Then he says, "no, its mine. those are my boobs." So at this point I am stuck.

As an added note, I have had this problem with DH, in a different sort of way. He is very touchy feely and I am not, so I had to tell him that he needs to ask before he gives me a hug, etc. Because I was starting to recoil every time he came towards me. It is similar in that I am starting to get the same feeling from DS every time he asks to nurse. I do have a problem with people touching me, although I had thought that I overcame most of it with having a baby attached to me all day! But now as he grows older, the relationship is changing. I am so confused, anyone out there got anything for me?
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#2 of 15 Old 11-14-2003, 02:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just read through the "Anyone else sick of nursing post" and got lots of good info there. Didn't mean to be repetitive!
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#3 of 15 Old 11-14-2003, 05:22 AM
 
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I think you just need to be firm with the "This is my body and it's my choice to share it with you (or not)" thread. He may disagree with you, and that's fine. State you boundaries firmly and follow through. If he wants to fondle and you don't feel comfortable, ask him, "do you want to nurse? Lets go (area x)." Or clearly state your body. "I will not allow you to do xx. If you can't stop I will (get up and walk away, move stand up, other consequence). Would you like a big bear hug?" You can direct him to use his words rather than actions to get attention. "You want to nurse? Say xxx" He may also be bored. Or just not know other ways to connect with you.

Good luck. I can certainly relate. I often feel like my 5 yo is pushing my boundaries when she really only wants some affection. I'm working with her so that she asks/ tells me before she gets into my space. It's hard going at times, though if I can see she's not trying to make me crazy, it's easier to reach out in love and give her the affection she needs.

Laura, mama to J (15), N (12), E (9) , M (6), and our little caboose, R (3).
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#4 of 15 Old 11-14-2003, 05:43 AM
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just be clear that breastfeeding is very appropriate and healthful for a 3 yr old human.

the world weaning average is 4. which means there are some lucky 8 yr olds.

orangutans nurse alt least 5 years. (we are primate mammals, after all.)

that said, i've set plenty of boundaries, while still trying to prioritize breastfeeding for my older nurslings.

i always covered up the other breast, and put their hands where i wnated them. you might be able to change his language by simply referring to your breasts and nursing in a different way. what kind of language wd. make you more comfortable?

you can designate a nursing place. you can require him to drink a little water first, in case he's really thirsty.

you can take magnesium yourself, which will help you feel less anxious about nursing,etc. (with a full glass water) and take it at bedtime, especially if he still nurses at night.

it's tough to switch therapists---i know! but your therapist is woefully uninformed on this topic. my best advice is to quicly connect with LLL and go to a meeting. i'll bet there's a toddler meeting. you'll get support and ideas.

nursing is not sexual! you are not nursing to meet your own needs. you're not too attached to your child or trying to keep him a baby.

you can give your therapist a copy of MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER and ask him/her to read it, so you can continue your therapy.

an LLL leader can be good counsel.

you can adjust things to fit better.

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#5 of 15 Old 11-14-2003, 09:06 PM
 
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OK, this may be get me flamed big time, but...

I think there is a reason that the nursing guidelines say "as long as mutually desirable". Maybe its time to think about weaning? I know that many want to nurse as long as possible, but maybe its better to quit while its still a good relationship than quit later but have some emotional damage to repair because of it? If your child is feeling you flinch each time he tries to nurse, maybe its not such a good thing anymore. After all, you need to take care of yourself as well as your child. While I might put a higher priority on the child at age 3 months, by the time he is 3 years I think its healthy for the balance to shift a bit. Just a thought and not meaning to be unsupportive.
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#6 of 15 Old 11-14-2003, 09:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom
OK, this may be get me flamed big time, but...

I think there is a reason that the nursing guidelines say "as long as mutually desirable". Maybe its time to think about weaning? I know that many want to nurse as long as possible, but maybe its better to quit while its still a good relationship than quit later but have some emotional damage to repair because of it? If your child is feeling you flinch each time he tries to nurse, maybe its not such a good thing anymore. After all, you need to take care of yourself as well as your child. While I might put a higher priority on the child at age 3 months, by the time he is 3 years I think its healthy for the balance to shift a bit. Just a thought and not meaning to be unsupportive.
you just answered your original question here.

of course its supposed to be mutually desired. its your body, you have already given it over lovingly to pregnancy, and to nearly three yrs of nursing. you're to be commended, the majority dont make it half as long! I don't think I would want to keep on nursing beyond 3 with my dd, myself. i dont like to be touched either, and though i have worked it out, and am comfy with dd hanging off me all day, i am really ready to have my personal space back. esp. my boobs.

if its making you that uncomfortable, ease it back to just one or two nursings a day, then maybe stop. it doesnt make you a "bad mama" to wean! the damage that can be done by an unhealthy nursing relationship is pretty big. and it sounds like youre resenting him right now, and that its causing you to feel guilty, and thats so awful for you, and for him.

you could try and mend the nursing relationship, the previous posters had some great suggestions for resources on nursing older toddlers.

do what you feel in your heart is the best thing to do.


EDITED TO ADD
anyone who would flame you for saying that is a buttface.

Erin, 33, salty southern mama, sitting by the sea with my DH35, DD10, DS4, &DD2!
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#7 of 15 Old 11-15-2003, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi again,

Today was better, I relaxed a little and let him nurse when he asked and he was much more relaxed and didn't ask as often. I think part of my negativity is that in real life, I get very little support, mostly critism. I do go to LLL meetings, but at this point, fewer and fewer of my cohorts are nursing. It doesn't help that ds looks more like a four year old than a three year old. I am not comfortable nursing in public anymore, and it angers me a little that it has to be like this. It is a natural process, most of the world does it, but I am wierd for doing it here.

I have thought about weaning, but it doesn't seem right to me to end it before he is ready. To say "this is the last nurse" seems so sad, he really enjoys it and recieves so much comfort from it. I am hoping that he will wean gradually and we will have one of those, hey-he hasn't nursed for a few days, adn then weeks, things.

Thanks for your thoughts! I feel more confident today, so I don't mean to flip-flop so much. But, that is what my LLLeaguers have told me will happen. One day you can stand to do it another minute, the next you don't want it to have to end. Don't get me wrong, boy will I be happy when he does, but I hope it will be him deciding and not just me being sick of it.
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#8 of 15 Old 11-15-2003, 02:58 AM
 
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thats wonderful that you have found some peace, and feel good about your decision. you are a wonderful mama to be giving him such a precious gift

Erin, 33, salty southern mama, sitting by the sea with my DH35, DD10, DS4, &DD2!
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#9 of 15 Old 11-15-2003, 04:00 AM
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breastfeeding a new baby is a full time job, of course the balance has shifted in 3 years.

if the questioning mother is getting the message from her counselor, and perhaps others, that nursing a 3 yr.old is not normal or necessary, it's important to proclaim from the housetops and rent billboards thay say,

"nursing a 3 yr. old is 100% normal and very often necessary."

i now have a sassy mouthed 7 year old. nothing seems to work, and yet i have to keep giving a lot of energy to her attitude and communication and cooperation.

believe me, nursing her to sleep was a piece of cake, by comparison.

i think the danger of a toxic nursing relationship is mostly hogwash. there are lots of moments in parenting when the interaction is negative and parents regret actions and words. they may feel resentful toward the difficult, uncooperative child, and then later be sad that they weren't simply grateful for the miracle of a child.

i can be angry and resentful about preparing meal after meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, on and on. but my kids are still nourished by the food. and i can focus on the good things in life and not mind the constant chores, so much.

mothers of new babies often feel tied down and trapped by the constant nursing, and many people wean because of this.

mothers of nurslings of all ages feel like they need a break.

it's so important that we discuss and brainstorm ideas and solutions to improving nursing relationships regardless of the age of the nursling.

if someone is decided on weaning, this thread won't stop them. but the whole world is saying, "havn't you weaned that child yet?"
let us provide some healthy and helpful alternatives. because, after all, nursing in a 3 yr.old is normal, healthy behavior.

MAGNESIUM OXIDE FOR THE MOTHER AT BEDTIME, (with a full glass of water) will give better rest and relieve stress.

rrr
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#10 of 15 Old 11-15-2003, 04:06 PM
 
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My experience when DS was 4 and sometimes asking frequently was that if I relaxed he would slack off and ask less often. If I resisted, due to feeling touched out and hemmed in and so on, then he would actually ask More, out of the fear that his access was in danger.

It seems paradoxical, but that was what I observed at the time. What helped me to not feel so touched out was if I was able to do some things just for me, like reading or art projects, or whatever hobby fits for you.



With DD now, I do set some conditions sometimes, like that she must have brushed her teeth before the evening nursing(s).

"What will you do once you know?"
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#11 of 15 Old 11-15-2003, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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rrr- I have a question re: magnesium oxide. Is it a pill? Where do I buy it? At the health foods store? And do you know if it is safe to take while TTC? Thanks!
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#12 of 15 Old 11-16-2003, 06:12 AM
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you know, i'm doing my best to figure out what ttc is, but ......

but it doesn't matter. MAGNESIUM IS SAFE AND HELPFUL, you can find an version and amount and spacing that works for you, and you will feel better.

google magnesium, you will find lots of references, none negative.

there's a good one called "magnesium deficiency catastrophe" there's another called, "rapid recovery from depression using magnesium."

magnesium is essential to lots of body processes and the body works hard to maintain even levels of mag. in the blood. low levels cause muscle tension, cramping,etc.

if you're having a heart attack, they give you magnesium. if you go into premature labor, ditto. epsom salts are a version of magnesium, which relax the body in a tub of water. higher doses of magnesium are taken to prevent chronic headaches.

it helps asthma by relaxing the muscles of the lungs. and many other maladies.

there are different sources of magnesium and some are bound to other things like citric acid (magnesium citrate) or an amino acid (magnesium glycinate, which is said to have good absorption, but is more expensive.)

2 common versions found anywhere are magnesium carbonate, which i don't like as well, and magnesium oxide, which works fine for me. it's a soft tablet. you can break it in half. kids can chew it. it will dissolve under your tongue.

people who are very sensitive to it, sometimes end up with loose stool. i'm not saying diarrhea, because it doesn't so much upset your stomach, it just causes loose stool in some people.

you can either break tablets in half and spread them out, so you don't get too much at once, or try a different kind of magnesium. magnesium glycinate claims no change in bowel habits.

but it's unlikely that you will have this reaction, and it won't be a big deal. the benefit of better rest, etc. is worth figuring it out.

i get store brand magnesium oxide, $2.49 for 100 tablets of 250 mg.

i take 1/2 two hours before bedtime and 1 tablet with a 600 mg calcium suppplement at bedtime. always with full glass water.
when i was getting up at night, i took more, then, and it made all the difference in getting right back to sleep.

so about 500mg total, for me. you could take more, if you need it. but i would space it out throughout the day, always taking the most leading up to sleep. always with water. it's rocks after all.

let me know how it goes.

rrr
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#13 of 15 Old 11-16-2003, 06:55 AM
 
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TTC: trying to conceive
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#14 of 15 Old 11-16-2003, 11:49 PM
 
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Just adding my $0.02 to a lot of good things that have already been said. One, it does help a lot to pro-actively try to get out and do other things, so you're not sitting at home waiting to be asked (not that you're really waiting, but sometimes I have felt so overwhelmed by being touched out that I try to just rest, and paradoxically I get less rest).

Also, while I do also find that giving in to the requests more sometimes makes them come less often, sometimes what seems to help instead is making the boundaries MORE strict. For example, with tandemming I basically found no relief from the constant requests except by limiting nursing to waking and bedtime.

Finally, isn't it crazy that with a DH itchy for more love and a toddler itchy for more love that they can't just get together and LEAVE US OUT OF IT!

Sympathetically,
Nancy
mom to nurslings Emily (4) and Hazel (16 months)
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#15 of 15 Old 11-17-2003, 01:51 AM
 
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Hee hee nancg...!

I think one thing about weaning is you don't need to have it be all or nothing. It doesn't have to be "this is the last time..." I can't imagine that going well.

I've found that don't ask/ don't refuse can be nudged a bit, especially with lots of activities. With my dd, I never outright refused, ever, but when it started to really wear on me I got more active, tried distraction more often, etc. If it didn't work, fine, we nursed.

But the thing is, when we started this it really seemed like it was just her default mode. Many of the distractions DID work, and she gradually got out of the mode of thinking of nursing first if there was a lull. She still nursed often if she wanted comfort, or whatever, but I found that for example snuggling up and reading fulfilled a lot of the same "be close to mama" needs she had.

So this has all been REALLY gradual, but aside from a bumpy spot when she first realized there was NO milk (I let her get the supply back up, and gave her more time), the whole process has been pretty smooth. She's been basically weaned for a few weeks now.

I say basically because every now and then she asks to nurse, and I let her, and maybe 10% of those times there is a little milk. She's also asking for skin snuggles, though (I pull up my shirt, she pulls up hers, we rub tummies and snuggle).

So, my point is just that if you are feeling overwhelmed there are things you can do to gently direct the situation without completely laying down the law.

And I second the thing about nursing on demand with no flinching for a while, paradoxical as it may seem. Focus on proactive stuff, doing fun things outside of the house, rather than avoidance/ refusal, to begin with.

Good luck!
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