Experiences with unweaning an older sibling upon the birth of a new baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 04-27-2009, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm having lots of very conflicting feelings about this. DD will turn 3 in August and I am due with #2 in August. I posted DD's weaning story here back in December. As far as I was concerned, she weaned herself. She slowly cut back from a few times a day to just at bed time, to only every other day or so, and eventually went 3 weeks without asking to nurse and when she asked again she'd lost her latch.

I was ttc and she had reached the 2 year milestone I considered my minimum. From there I just wanted to continue as long as it felt right for both of us. I was hoping for CLW, but also very ready to be pregnant and had considered trying out weaning in the next several months as it was. So, I didn't discourage her from slowing down. I conceived within days of her last nursing session.

However, I was very sad about her weaning. I went through a period of sadness or depression that even the very long awaited positive pregnancy test didn't pull me out of. It felt too quick to me. I wasn't ready. DD seemed fine. She didn't start having temper tantrums or other issues. Getting her to sleep at night didn't get any harder.

Since then, DD has continued to ask to nurse more or less at random. I generally tell her sure and let her try (sometimes if it's really inconvenient I'll say no). Her latch seems to be improving! I've found her studying pictures of herself nursing as well as nursing babies in magazines (we have Mothering and New Beginnings all over the house). She's almost got a decent latch again.

Lately she's been asking to nurse more and more often (and honestly I've been telling her sure more and more often). When she asks to nurse she latches on to one side, declares it empty, and tries the other side, almost immediately declaring it empty as well. She's certainly right, my milk is definitely gone right now, but she's also not suckling long enough to produce a let down.

However, she's been talking in detail about plans to tandem nurse. Initially she was just saying that after the baby is born mommy's milks will fill up with milk again for the baby ... and for me. Sometimes she even left out the and for me part. I had explained early on that I would have milk again for the baby after she was born. Lately she's been much more specific. She recently told me that she would nurse on "this milk" and the baby would nurse on "this milk" and then the baby would cry because she wouldn't want my DD to nurse with her. When asked what she would do then, DD said "I'll play while Lyra nurses" She's told me several similar stories (not usually including it upsetting the baby) over the last month or so.

At this point, I almost feel like I need to decide NOW if I'm going to tandem, and prepare her if I'm not. It goes completely against my instincts at the moment to tell her no. However, I know having a new baby could really complicate all of this. I've read the recent articles on this topic in both Mothering and New Beginnings, and I've read at least this part of Adventures in Tandem Nursing.

Her latch is better, but not perfect, will I be able to handle re-teaching a 3 year old to latch at the same time as dealing with new baby nursing issues?

What if she wants to nurse every time I nurse the baby?

I'm worried about me in this. Will I be able to handle all of the physical and emotional drains? Will I feel negatively towards my sweet toddler when she wants to nurse? Will I be able to balance everyone's needs?

I'm also worried about my DH. Not about having his support - he's been nothing but supportive about it all. However, I know tandeming will be an additional drain on me at a time when I'm already quite drained. He's the one who picks up the slack. He does a wonderful job. He leaves for work between 6 and 7am and doesn't get home until about 7pm. Then he fixes dinner, plays with DD, cleans up, helps with bedtime, etc. I'm confident this routine will continue while I sit on the couch nursing a newborn through the evening. He doesn't get much rest, and he's very drained. I'm not sure adding another drain on me will be fair to him.

Can you share your own unweaning stories with me? Does anyone have any advice?

SAHM to flower.gif DD1 8/06 , loveeyes.gif DD2 8/09 , and bfinfant.gifDD3 9/12  married to geek.gif 6/99.  We homeschool.gif, cd.gif, homebirth.jpg, familybed2.gif, and lots of wash.gif and dishes.gif.

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#2 of 10 Old 04-27-2009, 10:37 PM
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No advice - just support - I'm nursing a 3.25 year old while 31 weeks - I thought he was done but my milk picked back up and it's just easier to nurse him for naps and sometimes at bedtime than it is to miss a nap and have a cranky kid (I take him to work w/me....teaching preschool)..........it hurts like heck the first few minutes but then it's not so bad.....I figure he may need the comfort after the baby comes and can nurse when baby is done or to relieve engorgement - heck I may beg him to have a little - and he'll probably tell me he's too big now!

For me - it's whatever keeps things going smoothly and since he still seems to need it - that's fine (and easier for me).

still learning
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#3 of 10 Old 04-27-2009, 10:46 PM
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Now granted, my tandem nursers were only 14 months apart, but DS3 unweaned when DD was born and they went on to nurse together for a year and DD continued after that for almost another year after her brother weaned for the second and final time. For me it really helped DS3 transition to having his little sister around because it allowed him to have plenty of time with me getting good snuggles and attention and now that they are 2 and 3 they are very close and affectionate with each other. I did not have any trouble with DS3's latch despite the fact that he was getting bottles daily when I couldn't nurse him during my pregnancy. It really helped with the engorgement in those first couple of months too.
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#4 of 10 Old 05-01-2009, 09:58 PM
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well, i don't have any experience with unweaning, but i do have tandem experience!

DS was 23 months when DD1 was born, and he nursed great throughout the whole PG, despite not having much milk at the end. once my milk came in after DD though, he was thrilled, and nursed like a newborn for several weeks. it eventually slowed down, and he weaned himself about 5 months later.

tandem'ing was both the best and the worst idea, lol. i do really feel like it eased his transition to being the big brother, reassuring him that he was still special/loved, especially since the new baby was getting so. much. attention!! but it is a drain, there were days that i felt like all i did was nurse. they had such different latches (DS's being much harder/stronger than newborn DD's), that i found it really irritating to nurse them both at the same time... so i'd nurse them one after the other, after the other, after the other... etc.

that being said, i am very glad that i did it. i have no regrets.

if your DD's latch is improving and she's interested, it's worth giving it a try!

Momma to K ('01), E ('03) and A ('07)

Proud Gestational Surrogate to N (15/01/15)
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#5 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 02:42 AM
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My ds unweaned at 4yo. Granted, he was only weaned for about 2 months, but he was miserable!

I had been tandem nursing him and his little sister for 8 months, and then I had had enough, and weaned him, but he hated it and cried and cried, and I realized that it wasn't worth forcing him.

He nursed again until he was 5yo and then I weaned him again. Very easy the second time ("honey, I really need to be done nursing now." "OK, Mama.")

It's up to you, it's fine if you decide you can handle it, and it's fine if you decide not to.

The only regret I have was that after 6.5 years of continual nursing including 22 months of tandem nursing I was DONE DONE and weaned my dd at 3yo. She was ok with it, but I still feel a little bad, because it was very much initiated by me.
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#6 of 10 Old 05-10-2009, 04:11 PM
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I don't have any experience with "unweaning," per se, but I think a lot of what you're thinking through right now is pretty normal with regard to tandem nursing. It's a sort of scary prospect--or it was for me, anyway--to go from nursing one child to nursing two. My two are ~21 months apart, and I remember wondering whether it would be harder on my son to feel like he was "sharing" the comfort and intimacy of nursing with his new sibling, or to feel like it wasn't his anymore. In the beginning of that pregnancy, I sort of decided to just let it happen a day at a time, and to continue to do what felt right for us both, with regard to him nursing. He nursed through the pregnancy, and I've been tandem-nursing him with his little sister for 2.5 years now. Fast forward to ~his fourth birthday, and I found myself in the same situation, in a lot of ways. I'm pregnant again--due in August as well--and wondering, Well...now what? Do I just nurse all three? He's nursing pretty infrequently these days--probably once or twice a week--but he's older and wiser than he was when I was expecting his *first* little sibling; he tells me, "I'm not nursing that much now because there isn't much milk, but when the baby comes I'm going to nurse again." I decided to take the same approach during this pregnancy as I did during the last--to just take this a day at a time and see where it leads us. From all indications right now, my oldest will still be nursing in August when the baby is born (I haven't mentioned my daughter, who is 2.5, but she will certainly still be nursing in August--she doesn't show any signs that she's ready to wean). And, despite the fact that I'm not really sure how that will "work," practically speaking, and despite the fact that I occasionally wonder if I would have been doing him a favor to have sort of sealed the metaphorical deal while he was down to nursing as infrequently as once every week or two, I'm trusting my instinct, which is to continue to let him have the lead in this process. After nearly 4.5 years of doing just that, it would be hard to do anything else.

All of that said, I know that my (very positive) experience of tandem nursing is not *everyone's* experience. I know several people who found tandem nursing to be very difficult, physically or emotionally, and chose not to sustain it for very long. My personal commitment to CLW is *not* a commitment to any sort of martyrdom, and if I didn't feel like it was right for us (and for me), I wouldn't do it. I don't hold any judgement whatsoever for someone who decides it's not best for her or her children.

Good luck as you make this decision--I'm confident that, either way, your children will be just fine; you obviously care very much about their well-being.
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#7 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 07:47 PM
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Bumping for more input...my ds has been weaned for about 6 months (he's 3.5) and baby is due in April.

Zoe, mama to one "rough and tough" dude (8/02/06) and one new sweet pie (4/11/10)
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#8 of 10 Old 02-18-2010, 11:54 AM
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My toddler self-weaned during my pregnancy with DD2. It was awesome. (She was quite the boob-monkey... I welcomed the break.)
That was at about 6 months into the pregnancy.
At about 2 weeks post-partum (and age 2 1/2 years) she figured out latching again.

On one hand, it was nice having that "comfort tool" again. On the other hand, I did feel like we missed out on the natural progression of developing manners and boundaries. Eventually, her nursing was actually leading to MORE tantrums and issues than not-nursing, and I was at a complete loss as to how to salvage things, so I did decide to wean her (her 3rd birthday). (She had had her own special "milky time" separate from when the baby nursed.) That was almost four months ago and for the most part it's been okay. She's still pretty sad about not being able to have milkies anymore. And does still ask why she can't. It does tug at my heartstrings, but I really really needed to be done. (Or, I really really really needed a solution to re-establishing boundaries to facilitate it being a mutually agreeable arrangement... but I wasn't able to find/figure one out.)

So that's my advice... if you do decide to unwean... try to guess as to what kind of manners/boundaries you'll want, and also consider your re-weaning approach should you determine after the fact that it's not working.
And remember... nothing's permanent... you can always change your mind (goes both ways!)
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#9 of 10 Old 02-19-2010, 02:24 AM
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no unweaning story (sorry - you haven't gotten any of those yet), but i am nursing an almost 4 year old and a new baby (now 5 months old).

agree that it's sometimes "squeemish" to nurse both at the same time. (not always, though.)

i put limits on my BO (big one), and no limits on the LO.

BO still does pretty well. she always gets to nurse to sleep at night, and usually several or more (sometimes many more) times during the day.

we've had conversations in which i've told her that a lot of moms tell older babies "no more" nursing. and that i'm not going to say that, that she can nurse as long as she likes.

that made her very happy! she has since told me that she is never going to stop nursing. that she will still be nursing when she is all growed up, and when she has babies of her own that she is nursing, that she will still drink my milk. cute!, huh.

so, in short, i'd let her do it if i were you. sounds like you want to let her do it. and she wants to do it. work with her on her latch. if it hurts, tell her so. tell her to be gentle.

one of the best things about an older nursling is how they help bring in the milk when the newborn comes. and they can understand how the milk is all the newborn gets to eat, and that he can't survive without it, whereas they eat bananas and grapes, and beans, and yogurt (list everything they just ate), etc.

good luck and have fun!

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#10 of 10 Old 02-19-2010, 02:37 AM
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I weaned DD right before getting pg with DS, just before she was 3. I felt bad about it, but we were passing thrush back and forth and I used that as my excuse to wean and she took it in stride.

Then, after DS was born she (then 3.5)asked to nurse again, and I let her. I intended to unwean her if that was what she wanted. She would giggle and try to nurse. However, she wasn't able to figure out the latching thing anymore, and would give up after 20 seconds or so. I think mostly she was just testing to see if I would let her or not, and she was satisfied after realizing that the answer was yes.

She attempted to nurse maybe a dozen times after DS was born, then 'pretend-nursed' several times, and then seemed to forget about it, and that was that. I'm glad I let her have the opportunity at least. In DD's case, I think she mostly just wanted the reassurance that the option was there.

ETA: I just remembered that she also asked to drink expressed milk from a cup when DS was a few days old. She told me that it tasted good, but then after I left the room, she confessed to DH that she didn't much like the taste anymore, but didn't want to hurt my feelings. Funny girl.

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Ignorance is strength.”
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