Nursing at night is kind of becoming a huge problem. It kind of seems that instead of nursing lulling him to sleep, he's resisting sleep and keeping himself awake playing all kinds of nursey games. Sometimes he's rough, and sometimes he just nurses FOREVER, like over an hour, and sometimes he gets all possessive and particular, like he wants me to lie on my back, then he wants me to lie on my side, and then he climbs all over me doing gymnastics and changing nursing positions at lightening fast speed.
At times I get irritated by the length and the games and I tell him I'm done. He cries and I feel awful, but really sometimes he's so rough my nipples get sore. I get resentful after being a plaything for over an hour in the dark.
I guess I want to ask is are these behaviors normal? By refusing to nurse after a certain time am I initiating weaning? How have you all dealt with these feelings?
That being said, I wonder if there's something else going on as well. Is he getting ready to give up his afternoon nap, or has it gradually drifted so late that he's not tired at bedtime? How does he sleep once he's fallen to sleep - other sleep disturbances? It might not be nursing per se, but something else keeping him from settling at night.
If you don't want him to nurse until he's 4, then he won't. You can gently guide him toward weaning at whatever pace seems appropriate for the two of you. And he's a LONG way from 4 - many children seem like they'll never stop on their own, then wean quite quickly. If it gets to the point that you're ready for weaning to happen, these boards are a great place to get support and ideas. And nursing a 4 year old is a LOT easier than nursing a 2 year old
DD and DS are 11 & DD is 4 Our car is a bike!
Sharing our with 3, 2 & 4
Nursing is a relationship, and it's important that both people in a relationship are getting their needs met. If you're feeling resentful and unhappy, then it's time for something to change. It's perfectly acceptable for you to set limits, and expect them to be followed. You're modeling good skills that your son will need his whole life, about how we treat others and how everyone deserves to have their needs met.
It didn't happen all at once, but when I got to certain points I set limits - only in our house, only in the morning, no more nursing for naps etc. And each time I set the limit, I felt like I was able to continue a bit longer. Until 4.5 and then I felt like we were done. It was down to only in the morning I think. We picked a time on a camping trip so she would remember her "last session" in the tent. I also set strict rules on "no twiddling" and "10 more sucks and then the nonnies, and mommy and you will go to sleep."
Have you watched any other mama mammals nurse their older young? Believe me, it's not all access all the time. Sometimes it's a swift kick in the head or even running away. All perfectly normal and a sign that something should change.
And, to add, DS is a similar age. He will do nursing gymnastics to stay awake, if I let him. We're at a point where, if I have to tell him 3 times to hold still while nursing, we stop nursing.
When DH puts DS to bed, he does the same gymnastics, rolls about over the bed, lifts DH's eyelids, jumps around. DH just ignores him (listens to his ipod and pretends to sleep), and after 10-20 minutes, DS settles down and goes to sleep. I just can't ignore as easily because, (1) my nipples are sometimes involved; (2) I'm not as physically strong as DH and have (much!) less fat, so having DS do gymnastics over me HURTS; and (3) I don't have an ipod. So, I have a shorter limit on the bedtime gymnastics, and I will hold/rock/sing instead.
When DS gets to be too much for either of us, we pass him off. Usually the change of energy to the next parent is enough to settle him and he goes to sleep.
DS, 10/07. Allergies: peanut, egg, wheat. We've added dairy back in. And taken it back out again. It causes sandpaper skin with itchy patches and thrashing during sleep. Due w/ #2 late April, 2012.
I have been lucky so far in that, as my patience with night nursing has waned, DD has just naturally cut back. She is 95% night weaned now at 34 months (she wakes up still! but she doesn't ask to nurse), and I did nothing to get us to this point. She's only nursing 1-2 times a day, and has gone over 24 hours lately without nursing.
I will say that the teeth all being in made a huge difference.
Set the limits you need to set--you're doing great!
Nursing is a relationship and it is important that both parties are getting their needs met. As a child grows, s/he can stand more limits. Allowing a child to practice generosity and respecting the needs of others is a wonderful and important lesson. It can be done gently and doesn't take away from CLW at all.
I had a tough time w/ my DD. I was ready for her to wean loooooooong before she was ready. I wasn't always patient w/ her, but I learned a lot about being patient from the experience. She genuinely needed me and I'm glad I didn't force her to wean. She nursed until 5. Certainly, I wouldn't choose that for myself ever. LOL. However, taking it day-by-day and giving myself permission to feel my feelings helped. Talking to my DD about my needs and setting reasonable limits helped too. Each child is different and has a different nursing timetable (my second child weaned at 3.5). Respecting that can be difficult, but choosing CLW gives you a framework from which to work.
I'd encourage you to pick the biggest issues and address them gently one at a time. Having a new sibling can be difficult, especially for a higher need child. It can be bumpy for a loooong time (speaking from experience). Continuing to nurse can really help smooth out those bumps though. For me, it was really, really worth the challenges. Definitely explain the behaviours that make it uncomfortable for yout to nurse. Explain what you need: "I need you to be still while you nurse. Flipping around hurts my breasts," for example. Night-weaning can be very challenging, IME. That might be best left for last unless it's a huge issue. Pruning down some of the other issues may give you enough relief and the situation may resolve itself.
I know I tend to have a short fuse when I am tired or sleep-deprived, and this would be a non-starter for me. I think it's reasonable for you to set limits, move towards night-weaning (he can drink water if he's thirsty, and maybe you have to sleep in another room for awhile) so you can ALL get a good night's sleep.
I also agree that CLW does not equal an older child nursing on demand with no limits. IMO limit setting can be an important part of CLW. Instead of weaning, a mother may choose to set limits that work for her to keep the nursing relationship something she can live with, so that it can keep going until the child decides to stop.
and 3 , in our happy secular
I have set some limits on where and when I will nurse, especially away from home (I no longer nurse in restaurants or in the playground in March), and I plan to increase the places I don't nurse (at Grandparents house is next - we'll all appreciate that, I think). To be honest, although I believe in CLW, I really thought that by 3 he would nurse at bedtime and maybe again in the morning - I had no idea that he would want to nurse 10-15 times a day.
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