DH differs in opinon re: sustained nursing - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if you can offer some studies or articles or if this is just a release of a very tense situation at my home.
My husband feels that my daughter will have some type of damage if she continue to nurse.
He has stated repeatedly that a child should not have a memories of nursing.
I am a strong advocate for nursing and had a very difficult time during her infancy but with support from friends and even my husband, we surpassed the hurdles and I proudly continue to nurse my 2 year old and hope to do so for as long as we both feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, my husband doesn't and is getting a snippier and snippier about it.
In the past, I would cite an article on the benefits and he was fine. However, now that we've passed the 'WHO's guidelines of 2 years of age', he's becoming more and more antsy and uncomfortable with our nursing.
TG nurses mainly in the evening during bedtime but if I am home during her nap, she will request a nursing session.
She will also request a nursing session on occasion just before dinner.
How do I address my husband's statements and comments regarding damaging a child, be understanding of his comfort levels yet hold true to my desire to offer nursing as long as possible?
Thanks for letting me vent.


Proud mom of an inquisitive, breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping 9 month old boy and a talkative curious 4 year old girl.


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#2 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 12:52 AM
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sorry. I can't offer advice, just say that I am sharing this same issue. I am tandem nursing my 28 month old and my 7 week old. DD1 is having a hard time sharing the milk and DH thinks it is time to cut her off. Luckily, it is my body and he can say what he likes, but isn't the one who can make the decision. Good luck mama and do what you think is best.

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#3 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 01:07 AM
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I am so sorry you are both going through this! My eldest DD is 4 now and still nursing. She is a fiercely independant gal yet healthily attached to me. She nurses once or so a day. I think it is so that she can have me to herself

I have found that nursing has been a HUGE bridge between her and her sister (almost 3 years her junior). It is something they have in common and DD1 often tries to teach her sister about nursing (and has since she was born).

I am 100% certain that nursing her this long, or longer, will not damage her. I hope that she WILL remember breastfeeding and that it will add to her life experiences.

This is a great article by Kathy Dettwyler called A Natural Age of Weaning.

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#4 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 01:55 AM
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#5 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 01:55 AM
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Put the burden of proof on him. Tell him to find some proffesional opinion that nursing a 2 year old will cause damage from reputable sources, like a clinical study of some kind.

Mama to L (7) and A (born 7/15 by VBAC)
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#6 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 03:14 AM
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Medical statement from AAFP:
As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years.
There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to mother or child.
more here:

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#7 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 09:30 PM
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What is sustained nursing?

~Katie~ married to J, mom to DD- A 13 yrs ,DS- L 7yrs , and my little nursling DD2- R 5yrs.


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#8 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Katie T View Post
What is sustained nursing?
I understand it to be nursing beyond the cultural age of weaning. So in the US I would say nursing longer than 1 or 2 years.

It is often wound up with Child-led weaning where the child decides on the weaning time table, not the mother.

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#9 of 17 Old 10-24-2010, 11:30 PM
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Anecdotal but I go to church with a family who's daughter was breastfed til she was 5. Her parents are really awesome people and as far as I can tell, the girl is not damaged, certainly not by breastfeeding. She is actually a really kind and intelligent girl. I think she is maybe.. 14? She is great with all the younger kids and speaks well with the adults. Her brother was recently home from college and although I don't know how long he was nursed for (it only came up about the daughter) he is a really great guy too who is definitely going places.

Sure, it is just one family and plenty of dynamics are at play... but there are definitely no nursing issues so far as I can tell.
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#10 of 17 Old 10-25-2010, 04:54 AM
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just wanted to give you that. i know i need one too! LOL.
i am having this issue with my (D)H and my DD is ... 11 months old. he started saying that our nursing relationship could be 'damaging' to her since she was around ... 4 months old.

we are nearing divorce over this and other issues as new parents and have started seeking professional help. a huge problem for me is he is from a culture where breastfeeding is promoted until baby is 4 or 6 months old, not longer. we currently live in this culture, and her pediatrician, and now two different marriage counselors have all told me i need to have already night-weaned.

this has become a power struggle for my husband, and he seems unable to follow my lead as mother on this decision. i stopped trying to convince him of anything months ago, now i just try as hard as i can to lay low and not to engage in the power struggle. it is hard though, and i often feel resentful that for most of my daughter's life i have been severely stressed out by his 'issues'. sadly, most of the time i spend breastfeeding her i am going over and over again in my head our latest fight about breastfeeding.

i know that wasn't really helpful for you, but sometimes just knowing that someone else is going through a similar trial can make it seem a little bit less stressful. and one thing that has really helped me is talking to my sister and girlfriends from home who know us both and could encourage me that i'm doing what's best. so keep seeking the support you need here and wherever you can find it.

i'm sending you strength.
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#11 of 17 Old 10-30-2010, 10:06 PM
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im so sorry to all you moms have issues about nursing, im 20 years old with a new almost 12 week old dd and nursing and will nurse her until she is ready to wean no matter her age.

i myself nursed until i was 8.5 years old and totally healthy i believe...hehe

now i will say it was probably easier as my mom was divorced and so it was never an issue with her having any negative feedback from my dad, as i got older it was something that was private between me and her and a wonderful bond i will always remember, i think that its great for a child to be able to remember nursing and see nothing wrong with it. there are many haters and people that will disagree and attack with their thoughts and that is fine, everyone should have the right to decide what is best for them and their own child without others telling them they are wrong...my boyfriend is in the army for the next 4-8 years so i wont have to deal with him trying to tell me how long our baby should nurse so again i feel so bad for the moms out there that have unsupportive husbands or boyfriends on something that is so sweet and wonderful.

i can see this from both a childs standpoint and now as a mom myself nursing...

so please any moms out there please feel free to message me if you need support or help i would be glad to answer any questions.

take care,

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#12 of 17 Old 11-04-2010, 06:35 PM
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I'm sorry Very occassionally, DH would bring the subject up, and once or twice even harrassed me about it ('you have to stop nursing him!!' he demanded). After DS turned 2, he tried blaming behavioral issues on BF.

Have you read How Weaning Happens? It is published by LLL. It has lots of stories submitted by moms which may or may not be of interest to you, but in between they also give good information about extended BF'ing and how to deal with people/relatives who give you a hard time about it.

DS happily nursed until just recently, and he is 4yo it can be done.

Ask your DH what specifically type of damage he thinks will happen. I do believe the book talks about studies that show children are MORE independent/kind/etc when allowed to BF as long as possible and gradually wean.

There are also health benefits to the mother, for each year you BF, the less chance you have of getting certain cancers. 2-3 years old is also still a great time to BF, because if your child starts to get picky about eating, you will know they are still getting great nutrition from your BMilk. There is also no harm in using BF to calm a child. Maybe your DH doesn't know that?

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#13 of 17 Old 11-04-2010, 08:14 PM
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Actually the WHO recommendation is for breastfeeding to continue "up to two years or beyond" (bolding mine). http://www.who.int/child_adolescent_.../en/index.html

I think, if it were me, I would be asking my husband to provide research which suggests that BF beyond 2 years is harmful. He is entitled to his opinion but, in this case, his opinion has no basis in fact. The onus of proof is on him IMO.

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#14 of 17 Old 02-03-2011, 02:45 PM
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In psychology and psychiatry, there is not one single case study where an individual was harmed by nursing into childhood. There is not one single person, in all the gazillions of people who've been damaged by all sorts of things, who has sought mental health help because they were traumatized by memories of breastfeeding.


But personally, I think a lack of support from your partner may signify deeper problems in the relationship. It seems like he is trying to bully you, which is never ok in a relationship. It also sounds like he doesn't trust you to make the best decisions about your child's welfare. These kinds of issues make me think he feels superior to you. He needs to knock that off!

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#15 of 17 Old 02-04-2011, 08:13 PM
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I'm so sorry you're struggling with this.  It's hard to meet your child's needs in the way you know to be best when your spouse isn't supportive.  While I in theory like the idea of placing the burden of proof on your husband, I wonder if that's really going to help.  It seems more of a communication issue and a difference in parenting beliefs/styles.  Have you tried to talk to your husband about this when you are both calm and receptive, using good communication skills and active listening (if you don't know what this means, books such as "Nonviolent Communication" and "How to Talk So Kids WIll Listen" are good resources - the second is not just for kids, it works with husbands too :-).  There will be many instances over the years where your beliefs on childrearing and parenting differ.  It's so important to be able to talk issues out, come to agreement or at least a point where you can agree to disagree.  I'd make sure your husband has really heard your ideas about this - that it is incredibly important to you and your daughter, that you believe that this is the best for her and for you, that you have read a lot about it and believe your decision is supported by research.  But it's also important for your husband to feel heard - he's uncomfortable with breastfeeding an older child, he wants to protect his child, he's worried about her. 


You might find out that he's getting flack from a friend or co-worker, or from his parents & is taking that out on you.  Perhaps he really doesn't understand how important this is to you, and doesn't realize how his comments are hurting.  Perhaps he has no experience with "normal" breastfeeding, has never really seen or known anyone who has breastfed, and just doesn't realize that many children nurse beyond infancy.


If you find you cannot discuss this with him productively, you might want to get help from a couple's counselor, pastor, communication skills expert in talking about this issue. 


It might also help to spend more time with other families who are parenting in this way.  Does he have "dad" friends?  You might want to cultivate friendships with others who believe in things like full-term nursing, gentle discipline, and the like so he can see that others are raising their children in similar ways.  Even better if he can be around older children and teens raised in this way (he'll probably be pretty impressed, especially if he can compare with older kids raised in less gentle ways).  You might also try strewing books and magazines that discuss the science and psychology behind attachment parenting, positive discipline, extended breastfeeding around the house for him to hopefully pick up and read.  The back of the toilet is a great place to stack some magazines. 

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#16 of 17 Old 02-07-2011, 10:43 AM
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I'm sorry.  It is hard.  My DH has issues with nursing beyond 1-2yo.  DS did end up weaning just after he turned 3, and I do think that my DH's comments and attitude motivated DS to wean.  DH'd say things like "you're getting to be a big boy and big boys don't nurse".  UGH.  Anyway, FWIW, until DS did wean I just generally didn't nurse around DH whenever it could be avoided (especially once DS was over 2).  I didn't lie to DH about the nursing, but since he wasn't comfortable with it I didn't make him watch either.


After my kids were 1, I just told my DH he needed to let it go and not worry about it/let it affect him.  It worked until about 2yo.  After 2, I set up more boundaries that generally meant my DH didn't have to be there while we nursed, so it wouldn't bother him on a daily basis.  That got us through another year, anyway.





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#17 of 17 Old 02-08-2011, 11:55 AM
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I'm in a similar boat.  DD2 is 2.5 and still is an avid nurser.  We've been night weaning recently - it is going ok-ish.  She still nurses a lot during the day.  DH has started making comments about how it is time for her to stop nursing.  She's a big girl now, etc etc etc. 


I nursed DD1 to 2.5.  She self-weaned during my pg but began nursing again after the baby arrived.  I think the last time she really nursed on a regular basis she was four.  So DH is no stranger to all this!! 


The other day he was making comments about it and I said "hey, I thought you were supportive of this" and he told me yes, he is supportive, supportive of me and my need to have my body back, be able to rest, stop being hungry all the time etc. 


I don't know if it helped him see my point of view but I told him how it has been nice as a way to reconnect with DD2 after a busy day.  I pointed out all the times our older daughter has been sick but DD2 hasn't caught it.  I told him it IS helping me rest because if she was getting sick all the time I'd never get to sit down.  :-)


I wish I had actual advice, but wanted you to know that I think it is common with long-term nursers to have a partner who just doesn't get it... even if they seemed to just a few short months ago!!

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