CLW and Boundaries - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 03-19-2012, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just curious to get some perspectives and thoughts on this...

 

I want DS to nurse until he's ready to be done with mamma's milk.  To me, this is CLW.  However, we are currently night-weaning (mainly because DS, 20 months, and I both were not sleeping very well from about 4am on, when he'd come into our bed for the rest of the night and want to nurse literally non-stop and I was getting very, very sleep deprived) so he is not having milk "whenever he wants".  I suppose that this is a form of "weaning" although I'm happy to give him milk whenever he asks during the day...All this got me thinking about "weaning" vs CLW and about nursing toddlers and preschoolers and how it is different than with an infant...

 

I guess I am wondering if this is still CLW, or if we are "weaning"? Another way of putting it is to ask how other moms who are following a CLW path balance their needs and those of their nurslings while still doing CLW?  I want to meet DS's needs but I don't want to be a martyr to give him everything he wants all the time, KWIM?  At the same time, I want to protect our nursing relationship.

 

I'm looking for advice but just also curious about other's perspectives.


N, wife to my goofball K partners.gif and mamma to my EC grad D (July 2010) and my new little love S (May 2013).  Exploring the uncharted territory of tandem nursing with my two boys.

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#2 of 23 Old 03-20-2012, 01:14 PM
 
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Wow this sounds like my boat, though my DD is nearly 3yo. I have just begun night-weaning her (I need sleep now!) and so far it does not feel like weaning because she still seeks her usual daytime connection. On the other hand, at 3 years, if she weaned herself it'd be okay with me.

 

I've settled on this: I am setting a gentle, firm boundary which she will need to know how to do in her own life. My approach has been one of total encouragement and empowerment that she can do this, and we are a team, and that it's part of the fun of becoming a "big girl," a term she chooses. Absolutely no pushing her away or shaming her for wanting it. Affirm that she wants it, and that I need sleep too.

Does she get mad? Yes. And then I let her be mad too, no squelching that either, hold her through it.

 

One difference: because we bed-share, we cuddle back to sleep.

 

And then, every child and mom pair is different! But I think child-led anything is about listening to and affirming their needs and feelings, even if they're not getting their way, because then we're tuned in to them. When I'm paying attention to my girl's needs it is much clearer how to balance them with mine, instead of when we ping-pong off each other in a battle of wills! And sleep helps with that too.....

 

 

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#3 of 23 Old 03-21-2012, 09:38 AM
 
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Well, at least with my DS, there have been times where I've just had to say no. It's hard for me to imagine nursing without setting SOME boundaries.

To me, CLW has meant that in the early months, I nursed as often as he wanted, and in the later months I might occasionally try to distract him or ask him to wait. It meant that because he didn't start eating solids at all until 14mos (and no substantial amount until 2 yrs), I nursed much more frequently than most nurse their toddlers, often 20-30+ times a day. But there were still times I might ask him to wait. It meant that when he was 2 years old & started eating well & suddenly started sleeping through most of the night, I worked on night-weaning. I waited 'til he showed me he was able & ready to do it. We ramped up daytime nursing, he nursed many times an hour after we night-weaned. It meant that eventually, I started limiting nursing sessions if I was feeling discomfort or pain (related or not related to nursing). When he said he was all done nursing right after his 3rd birthday, I talked about it with him, let him know he could change his mind, but supported & encouraged him in his desire to be 'all done'. It meant that when he DID change his mind, I continued to allow him to nurse on request MOST of the time, but there were still some times I said 'no' for whatever reason. It meant that when he started waking up 2 hours early asking to nurse, I told him he needed to wait 'til wake up time.

He is a little over age 3 and now nurses for a few seconds once every 1-3 days. I consider him to be weaning, my milk has mostly dried up, and I suspect in a few weeks he'll stop asking altogether -- but I'm OK with it if he continues to latch on briefly for many more months (though, OW, it hurts without milk in there!!) I do consider what we've done to be mostly CLW, or at the very least, "mutual weaning" -- perhaps purely child-led would never ever say no or set any limits, but really, I'm not after a label. CLW gave me a goal, a method, a way of thinking about it, but whether or not someone else thinks I did CLW is really not important to me. We did what worked for us... and I encourage you to do the same!

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#4 of 23 Old 03-21-2012, 10:25 AM
 
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I signed on this morning looking for advice on this very topic, nstewart. My 22 month old still nurses just about every hour at night, and every few hours during the day. I'm ok with the daytime nursing, and he's pretty good about waiting if I'm busy or we're out and about, but he gets immediately hysterical if he can't nurse at night. I'm definitely feeling the effects of 22 months without a solid night's sleep! I would love for my son to nurse as long as he needs--during the day!--but I'm desperate to find a way to cut out the night nursing. 

 

I  think it's totally reasonable to put some boundaries on nursing, especially as kids reach the toddler years. We're helping our son learn about boundaries in all aspects of his life right now (no hitting the cat, being gentle with friends, treats only after healthy food, etc.), so it makes sense that there would be certain boundaries around nursing as well. That being said, I have no idea how to set boundaries gently, when there's such an extreme reaction to them. I really believe in CLW and I want weaning to be natural process, but at the same time, I'm getting desperate for some sleep! I believe our whole family would function better if we weren't up 6-8 times per night. But I don't want it to be a traumatic process either--and my son's reaction to the few times I've tried to limit night nursing have been really upsetting--for all of us!

 

No advice here...just commiseration!


~may all beings be free from suffering~
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#5 of 23 Old 04-27-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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I'm wondering about this, too! Looking for someone to tell me it's "OK" to night wean. And then tell me exactly how to do it so that I can sleep and not be screamed at and hit by my beautiful, otherwise happy and sweet little "not happy" baby! ;)

No advice, but it does help to know we're not alone in this struggle to find balance between our needs!

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#6 of 23 Old 05-14-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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I fully believe nursing is a Relationship.  And in any relationship, both people's needs matter.  So setting limits respectfully and firmly is totally fine in my opinion.  I'm still nursing a strong (strong) 5 year old girl, and we have lots and lots of limits, but the final decision to be "done" is probably going to be hers.


Mama to Nell (11/15/06) and Maggie (10/9/10) . AFTER 2.5 YEARS, I AM AN AUNTIE!!! joy.gifHOORAY TEAR78 and welcome Anika and Brand New Baby Boy!!!!  Circumcision: the more you know, the worse it is; please leave the decision up to your son!

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#7 of 23 Old 05-14-2012, 08:30 PM
 
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I have a couple of suggestions that might make nights easier:

 

1.  Helping your child go pee in the toilet/potty at the first waking.  I learned about EC when my DS1 was 10 months old and was kicking me and nursing all night long.  Once I starting taking off his diaper and letting him pee at his first wake-up, he would nurse back to sleep and stay asleep for a much longer block of time.  That totally saved my sanity.  My DS2 is now three and wakes around 3 or 4 a.m. to pee.  Sometimes he wants to nurse back to sleep, but it's pretty quick, so it's do-able.  Often I can just put him back in bed and tell him to go back to sleep until it's light outside, when he knows he can have his morning milk.

 

2.  I didn't try to night-wean DS2 at all until recently (since he was generally waking only once), but around the time he turned three, my job was really demanding and I just needed more sleep.  I started talking to him during the evening about how he would get milk at bedtime and then again in the morning, but that I would appreciate it if he would let me sleep during the night.  I explained that it makes me tired to give him milk in the middle of the night, so I would prefer not to.  I said that if he really needed it, he could have milk, but it would be nice for me if he would wait until morning.  Every once in a while he tells me that he really needs it in the middle of the night, but usually, he goes right back to sleep after going pee.  He then wakes up in the morning all smiles, excited to have his milk.  Sometimes if I know I am going to have to leave really early for work (like 5 or 6 a.m.), I will give him his "morning milk" when he wakes up at 3 or 4 a.m., so he doesn't miss out on a nursing opportunity for the day.  I always explain why I'm deviating from the usual practice - because I won't be there in the morning when he wakes up, so I want to make sure he gets his milk.


Mom to DS1 : 11/2004 and DS2 12/2008; happy to have discovered ECing, co-sleeping, and tandem nursing during our journey together

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#8 of 23 Old 05-14-2012, 08:56 PM
 
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I agree - it is a relationship.  And I don't think that having boundaries makes it "not" CLW.  Honestly, it's not that easy to wean a kid who doesn't want to wean.  I have tons of limits on my DD's nursing because that's the way it has to be - otherwise I could not nurse her and she would get no milk.   And I do want her to have milk because it is important to her. So, she is now at the age (almost 3) that we were recently able to re-negotiate those limits together, and it's awesome.  She asked to change up the way we were doing things.  She said she wanted to have milk after meals instead of what we were doing, which was a little more haphazard.  We agreed together that milks are only after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  My stipulation to agreeing was that if she hit, kicked, or screamed at me when I said "no" at times outside of our agreed nursing times, that she was allowed to be upset, but I would move her away from me because I'm not into being kicked and hit or screamed at.  I actually haven't had to do that at all yet.  But at the same time, I'm totally faithful to our agreement, and if the time comes to nurse and she doesn't ask me, I make sure to offer her the opportunity.

 

Having boundaries has not magically caused my kid to stop nursing.  I hope that doesn't sound too blunt!  But I remember wondering if using a pacifier at six months would cause her to wean at a younger age.  Doesn't.  :)  I began nightweaning around 15 months, it took probably six months to complete, because we went in fits and starts.  I eventually resorted to sleeping on the couch while daddy handled the night wakings.  Once she got used to getting back to sleep with company but without nursing, I could sleep in bed again.  

 

Earlier this year, I decided to try to wean DD, because I felt I couldn't do it anymore and it was just stressing us both out.... and she didn't nurse for two weeks, but in the end here she is, happily having milk three times a day, and I feel totally at ease with doing that.  It's interesting because we both seem to be the most at ease with nursing now.  I think we have found our balance.  She doesn't seem to feel deprived at all (and when I was still kind of going "on cue" but saying no some of the time, when I just couldn't do it, she was hugely stressed and upset), and I don't feel overwhelmed.  It's really so cute.  She will snuggle in to nurse and then after a while I will tell her I am done.  Then she will unlatch... sometimes I do have to unhook her, but there is no crying, no struggle, and then we often just cuddle, which is something that we've never done before. 

 

I think what was so important for us with the boundaries was switching from "on cue" to something she could predict and tie to a certain rhythm,so that it's not like I was just the gatekeeper of the milk.  Instead, she knows what times of day are milk times, and which are not.  I honestly don't know how I would have implemented that with a 20 month old, but I don't think she would have been ready at that point.  It had to go slowly like this, for us, you know?


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#9 of 23 Old 05-14-2012, 10:25 PM
 
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Wow Cyclamen, your daughter sounds a LOT like mine!  (as does your nursing relationship, except our times are first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and my daughter is 5, so if she forgets to ask, I don't offer!)


Mama to Nell (11/15/06) and Maggie (10/9/10) . AFTER 2.5 YEARS, I AM AN AUNTIE!!! joy.gifHOORAY TEAR78 and welcome Anika and Brand New Baby Boy!!!!  Circumcision: the more you know, the worse it is; please leave the decision up to your son!

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#10 of 23 Old 05-16-2012, 01:36 PM
 
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I definately fall further to an extreme definition of what Child Led Weaning *is*.  That said, I think the breastfeeding relationship can (and should) contain compromise especially as the child gets older.

 

I think of it like this--- child led weaning can be an *ideal.*  But that doesn't mean that breastfeeding that is not CLW is not a great thing.  Like if in your mind you thought it would be great to run a marathon.  And so you had a schedule and a goal and then, part of the way through, you realized--- this just doesn't work for me.  I think I'd be happy just doing a half-marathon.  And you are running more than you did before, but you're just not going to run a marathon.  It is GREAT that you ran a half-marathon.  You're probably healthier and happier and it's wonderful.  But it's not a marathon.  There is a definition of what a marathon is and you didn't do it.   I see CLW the same way.  You can know in your mind a definion for CLW and decide *for you* that some version of Respectful mother-led weaning is really a better choice.

 

*For me*, night weaning doesn't really fit in CLW.  I nursed DD until she was over 4 (or over 5 depending on your defintion of "nursing", lol) but because I partially night weaned her at 25 months I just don't consider her to have CLW.  I think I permanently altered her natural nursing timetable with the limits I impossed on her while I was pregnant with DS and then while tandem nursing.  I would have liked to been closer to my CLW ideal, but I did what I felt was best  (at the time).

 

With DS I was pretty darn close to CLW.  He night weaned on his own in his 5th year.  I put limits on him, but they were never a complete removal of a nursing time/place/etc but a temporary fix for the situation at hand.  And, of course, statistically I just don't believe he would have nursed much longer than he did no matter *what* limits I had put on him.

 

Personally, I get looser with my definition as the child ages.  As the intense need decreases, it seems fair to balance it more against the desires of the mom. 

 

Mostly, though, if you define your weaning as child-led or child-respectful or mother-led or whatever, I think you should just feel confident in the decisions you made!


 

 

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#11 of 23 Old 05-16-2012, 05:20 PM
 
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Wow Cyclamen, your daughter sounds a LOT like mine!  (as does your nursing relationship, except our times are first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and my daughter is 5, so if she forgets to ask, I don't offer!)


You know, I think I remember posting a panicky new mom thread years ago, and was much encouraged to hear several moms, including from you, that having a paci did not in any way discourage the booby love.  :)   I think it might have been you (?) who advised to pick a different name for milk than "BOOOBIEES I WANT BOOBIES!" so my daughter just tells me she wants milk.  HA.

 

Funny how things turn out, isn't it?


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#12 of 23 Old 05-16-2012, 11:25 PM
 
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You know, I think I remember posting a panicky new mom thread years ago, and was much encouraged to hear several moms, including from you, that having a paci did not in any way discourage the booby love.  :)   I think it might have been you (?) who advised to pick a different name for milk than "BOOOBIEES I WANT BOOBIES!" so my daughter just tells me she wants milk.  HA.

 

Funny how things turn out, isn't it?

 

HA HA HA!  That probably WAS me!  And yes, I hope you managed to discourage public screaming of the "boobie" variety.  :)  My second dd calls it "BIWK!"  (Milk)...much better to be screamed in a public place!  BIWK! I WANT BIWK!  So much better :)   What did your dd end up with as a frantic nursing scream?  winky.gif 

 

And yes...very ironic that we are both still here with our paci'd daughters!  MY dd finally gave up her binky at just over 4 years old (OOOoooooh, that was hard for her) after the second time her dentist told her it was affecting her teeth.  I told her she could use her binkies to "buy" a toy, and she took me up on it.  The next few weeks were SO HARD, but she was very proud of herself, and she still feels proud of buying that toy with her hard work.

 

And we are now, at 5.5 years old, kind of going through a "mother encouraged" weaning.  Or something.  I asked her "do you think you'll be ready to stop nursing when you're 6? And for the first time ever in response to such a question, she said "yes."  Who knows what that means, but I let her know that when she was ready, we'd make sure we had other ways of feeling close (reading, snuggling, playing games) and that we could make sure to set aside time for those each day.  She also just lost her first tooth, and I told her that it was one of her "milk teeth" and that it was a sign of getting older and being closer to being done nursing.  And I told her that when she's ready to be done we'll have a celebration of the time that she spent nursing (she asked if we could have cupcakes and I said yes...I think she's picturing a party--I was picturing a mom/daughter retreat of some sort, we'll see what ends up happening).  The next morning, she didn't ask to nurse (well, she said "Mom, can I please nur...can I cuddle?"...yes, we have moved on from "I want boobie!" thank goodness!), but now she has nursed several mornings since then.  I've been asking her "are you sure you want to?" when she asks to nurse (although, if she answers "yes," then we nurse with no judgement).

 

And I have been feeling good about it--like it's fine with her, and she's fine with letting it go.  BUT now after reading Tiredx2's post, I'm questioning this decision to be a bit pushy.  If you have time tiredx2, I'd love to hear some of the reasons that you think full CLW (according to your definition) is more beneficial at this age.  I guess there are still some really sweet tandem nursing moments (rare, but there), but most of the time she nurses in the morning and I either sleep through it or "make it through," or she nurses at night, and I'm wishing it were over.  It doesn't feel bonding or snuggly to me at all, but it's not driving me crazy either.  I'm sure it does feel snuggly/bonding to her though, and I guess that's the point.  I'm just wondering if there isn't another way to get that closeness that's just as good as nursing at this point.

 

Thoughts?


Mama to Nell (11/15/06) and Maggie (10/9/10) . AFTER 2.5 YEARS, I AM AN AUNTIE!!! joy.gifHOORAY TEAR78 and welcome Anika and Brand New Baby Boy!!!!  Circumcision: the more you know, the worse it is; please leave the decision up to your son!

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#13 of 23 Old 05-17-2012, 10:14 AM
 
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Just wanted to say thanks for all the posts - dealing with similar conflicts regarding boundary setting. While my son did decide to mostly stop night nursing on his own around 22 months (still wakes up once sometimes and occasionally more but often not at all now) I feel that it may have been better to have actually night weaned him as he woke up every 1 - 2 hours until he was 20 months, then cut back to just a couple times and finally almost not at all at night. I feel that the level of frustration, sleep depriovation and depression that I got to becuase of the night waking went too far. I am still recovering even though I generally get a decent nights sleep in. I think we do need to listen to our own needs as mothers and everyone handles sleep deprivation differently but I think it is important not to let it go too far. As to how to night wean I can't say. I tried and gave up a few different times because I don't like letting my son cry. Though I never tried this I also think that there is a big difference between crying alone and crying with somone trying to comfort - such as dad.

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#14 of 23 Old 05-17-2012, 08:48 PM
 
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And I have been feeling good about it--like it's fine with her, and she's fine with letting it go.  BUT now after reading Tiredx2's post, I'm questioning this decision to be a bit pushy.  If you have time tiredx2, I'd love to hear some of the reasons that you think full CLW (according to your definition) is more beneficial at this age.  I guess there are still some really sweet tandem nursing moments (rare, but there), but most of the time she nurses in the morning and I either sleep through it or "make it through," or she nurses at night, and I'm wishing it were over.  It doesn't feel bonding or snuggly to me at all, but it's not driving me crazy either.  I'm sure it does feel snuggly/bonding to her though, and I guess that's the point.  I'm just wondering if there isn't another way to get that closeness that's just as good as nursing at this point.

 

Thoughts?

 

I think I need to clarify.  Let's say you had decided you were going to run every morning from 7-8 am. And you did it.  Then one day your friend called and said, "Hey, can we get breakfast tomorrow morning at 7?"  Now, if you went to breakfast you would no longer be meeting your goal.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that you *shouldn't* go to breakfast (and maybe it would even be a greater good to give up that goal in this position).  But the point is *you would not be meeting that goal.* 

 

In much the same way, you can have CLW as an ideal, but sometimes life interferes and that just isn't what happens, kwim?  To me, I keep a very strict definition of what CLW "is" and realize that most people will deviate from it in one way or another.  I figure if you aim for CLW, even if what you end up with is not quite that, you're probably going to have had a great nursing relationship with your child and hopefully feel really good about it.

 

And I think as a child gets older there gets to be more and more space for negotiations within that CLW scenario.  Some children really fear change, so they may need more "encouragment" to let go of nursing.  I know with my DD we came to a point where it probably would have been *better* for me to just say, "Nope. You are done nursing" because her conflicting feelings towards nursing were causing her a lot of upset (she could not longer effectively nurse, but still *wanted* to nurse so she ended up frustrated a lot of the time--- of course, I at least partially blame that on my impossed restrictions).

 

That said, I had a really positive weaning with DS.  He weaned when he was almost 5.75 (I know he was weaned by the end of that month, but don't know exactly when it happened).  That gave me a *very* positive view of CLW because he was so very proud of himself.  I realized we hadn't been nursing for a little while and asked him about it and he was so proud to say, "I'm weaned."

 

That said, I am *very* removed from it at this point, so my perspective is probably pretty skewed (my little guy is 10 YEARS old).


 

 

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#15 of 23 Old 05-17-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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And we are now, at 5.5 years old, kind of going through a "mother encouraged" weaning.  Or something.  I asked her "do you think you'll be ready to stop nursing when you're 6? And for the first time ever in response to such a question, she said "yes."  Who knows what that means, but I let her know that when she was ready, we'd make sure we had other ways of feeling close (reading, snuggling, playing games) and that we could make sure to set aside time for those each day.  She also just lost her first tooth, and I told her that it was one of her "milk teeth" and that it was a sign of getting older and being closer to being done nursing.  And I told her that when she's ready to be done we'll have a celebration of the time that she spent nursing (she asked if we could have cupcakes and I said yes...I think she's picturing a party--I was picturing a mom/daughter retreat of some sort, we'll see what ends up happening).  The next morning, she didn't ask to nurse (well, she said "Mom, can I please nur...can I cuddle?"...yes, we have moved on from "I want boobie!" thank goodness!), but now she has nursed several mornings since then.  I've been asking her "are you sure you want to?" when she asks to nurse (although, if she answers "yes," then we nurse with no judgement).

 

This is a reallly great example of give and take in a nursing relationship, IMO.  Also, how the negotiations change over time--- you can simply expect and older child to be more understanding---and of course more verbal--- than a younger child.  I also talked with my kids about the fact they would wean at some time, when they thought that would happen, etc... It's funny that your DD lost a tooth before weaning--- I always laughed over what people would generally consider "milestones for weaning" (when a child can walk, talk, has teeth) and what my kids could do before they weaned (both were readers, could swim, DS could ride a bike without training wheels).  It looks like you might make permanent teeth (my kids were late teethers so DS had his baby teeth for almost another 1.5 years after weaning).

 

In reality, we can only try our best--- and you sound like you are definately doing that.  If you meet some mythical ideal for CLW or not, you can rest assured you have given your DD a real gift.

 

DS needs homework help!


 

 

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#16 of 23 Old 05-17-2012, 09:39 PM
 
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In reality, we can only try our best--- and you sound like you are definately doing that.  If you meet some mythical ideal for CLW or not, you can rest assured you have given your DD a real gift.

 

 

I've been following this thread with a lot of interest.  One thing that is difficult for me to figure out is this... what do others find useful about the strict CLW ideal?  TiredX2, you seem to have a pretty graceful perspective.  I think, for me, I have trouble with ideals, because I struggle with perfectionism.  For me, having a strict definition of an ideal tends to hinder me more than it helps.  I realize that many people are not like this and are able to hold ideals and still have healthy ways of striving to meet them.  For us, if I had held strictly to the idea that I shouldn't impose outside restrictions on my daughter's nursing, we would have to have been done long ago.  But by letting go of the "ideal" - because I do need to reject a lot of the measuring sticks I'd love to pick up - I've come closer to letting her have more total choice about when she weans.

 

The CLW tag, I think, is most important to me as a tool to connect  with other moms who are on a similar path.

 

Maybe I'm just wondering how useful idealism is in parenting, you know?  I'm not trying to be contentious at all, but genuinely wondering.  What do other moms find useful about having a strict definition of what constitutes CLW? (How does one strive healthily toward an ideal?)

 

(edited for clarity)


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#17 of 23 Old 05-18-2012, 06:18 AM
 
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Cyclamen, I'm with you in that a very strict definition of CLW does more harm than good for me... and probably others too, I'm sure we're not the only perfectionists out there! innocent.gif

I do agree that imposing lots of limits doesn't necessarily meet the definition of CLW, but I don't think this is something other people can decide for you. I think there are some things that might be clearly not CLW -- like the obvious, weaning a 6-month old, using bribes/punishment, having a goal to wean by age X, etc. But I think there is a whole range of limits that fall into a grey area and may or may not be CLW depending on the child and on how they are implemented.

Even in the strictest sense of CLW, there must be some limits in place. I don't know that it would be humanly possible to nurse without limits -- perhaps no nipple-twiddling, or asking kiddo to wait 2 minutes while you finish going to the bathroom. How far you take those limits is up to you, but I don't think there is a solid line between "CLW" limits and "non-CLW" limits, but more of a wavy or dotted line. I think true CLW includes an understanding of the natural timeline of weaning, of what kinds of limits and expectations are age-appropriate, of how to meet the child's needs in a way that will work for the mother (and the rest of the family). It takes into account the unique needs and personality of your individual child; it is gentle & compromising; it is open and accepting. CLW is a willingness to put your child's need to nurse at top priority -- but it doesn't have to be the only priority. I think if your goal is to let your child nurse as long as they want/need to, if you avoid putting excessive limits on nursing & keep your expectations age-appropriate and specific to your child, if you understand the natural weaning process (so you know that your 9-mo-old's nursing strike is not self-weaning), that if you ask your child to respect your needs but also make sure their needs are met as fully as possible, then very likely you are doing CLW.

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#18 of 23 Old 05-18-2012, 10:57 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by cyclamen View Post

 

I've been following this thread with a lot of interest.  One thing that is difficult for me to figure out is this... what do others find useful about the strict CLW ideal?  TiredX2, you seem to have a pretty graceful perspective.  I think, for me, I have trouble with ideals, because I struggle with perfectionism.  For me, having a strict definition of an ideal tends to hinder me more than it helps.  I realize that many people are not like this and are able to hold ideals and still have healthy ways of striving to meet them.  For us, if I had held strictly to the idea that I shouldn't impose outside restrictions on my daughter's nursing, we would have to have been done long ago.  But by letting go of the "ideal" - because I do need to reject a lot of the measuring sticks I'd love to pick up - I've come closer to letting her have more total choice about when she weans.

 

The CLW tag, I think, is most important to me as a tool to connect  with other moms who are on a similar path.

 

Maybe I'm just wondering how useful idealism is in parenting, you know?  I'm not trying to be contentious at all, but genuinely wondering.  What do other moms find useful about having a strict definition of what constitutes CLW? (How does one strive healthily toward an ideal?)

 

 

I try to keep ideals in mind to give myself perspective.  For me, in much of parenting there actually are things that I would consider "better" and "worse."  But this is the thing--- I KNOWINGLY don't always pick the better things.  Or, sometimes you have to give up a "better" thing on one scale to maintain a "better" thing on another scale.  But acknowledging that I'm not doing the "best" is, for me, just realism.  For example, when my kids were small, I really strived to have a mostly organic diet (for them at least, lol).  At some point, though, I realized that because of how much they loved fruit it was causing me a lot of stress when they would eat it (we're not rich and to see them scarf down $10 of berries *which they loved* was not really working).  So I made the conscious decision I was going to buy more conventional fruit.  Now, was I still tryingt to have them eat healthy?  Yes.  But was I still striving for the "healthy" ideal?  No, I *knew* (and know) that it would have been healthier to continue buying organic, but I made a trade off.

 

For me, having a strict definition of CLW in *mind* helps me keep in mind what the actual goal is.  For myself, if I don't have a fairly concrete defintion/goal of something I don't get a lot done.  So, if I say, "I'm going to tidy the house today" I will get WAY less done than if I say "I am going to do all the non-white's laundry, vacumn the house and clean the kitchen."

 

A common thing to do with people who are just starting to nurse is to encourage them to set a goal.  Like 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months or whatever.  For a lot of people, if they have that goal in mind they can just stick it through, kwim.  If, instead, they just decide to "see how it goes" or "breastfeed for a while" then *at any time* it is easy to say, "Well, I tried it for "a while"" and give up.

 

I think part of my having a strict definitnion goes hand in hand with my pragmatic side.  While I have issues with anxiety, it is also very easy for me to see that "thing" just aren't goingt to be ideal.  Because of that, I have no issue with (others, especially) not reaching that mythical ideal.  Like the saying goes, "Shoot for the moon: if you miss, you'll land among the stars." (of course, I also cringe when I hear that phrase because NO, you would not land among the stars if you missed the moon!). 

 

I guess it comes down to something like this.  Let's say someone was wearing a beautiful shirt.  And it was clearly purple.  They, meanwhile, insisted that it was red.  Is saying that the shirt purple an indictment of them?  Of course not--- it's a factual statement.  Purple is one thing.  Red is another. The shirt can be beautiful either way.  Now (and lets take this to an "extreme").  Let's say a mother introduces bottles early, and then starts pushing food around 6 months.  At 9 months she night weans but continues nursing during the day.  She takes several weekend long vacations (without the nursling) in the following months, stops NIPing around 18 months and her child weans right before two years.  Was that CLWing?   Take it further, though--- what if Mom nurses on demand until the child is almost two and then becomes pregnant. She's so very tired and partially night weans.  Milk supply goes down.  With less milk there is less day nursing.  She doesn't *try* to wean, but the child weans.  Or doesn't--- but ends up nursing far less than they were.  Is that natural?  Sure.  Would it have happened *if not for influences outside of the child's biological imperitive to nurse*?  To me, doubtful.  Does that make the nursing relationship less?  No.  Different?  Definately.

 

CLW is helpful as a definition of an ideal.  If gives information about yourself, your philosophy, etc...  Then, of course, there is the concept of how many groups are you going to break people into. For example you could devide into:

- FF

- BF

Or you could divide into:

- FF

- BF under one

- BF beyone one

Or you could divide into:

- FF

- Combination under 4 months

- Combination under one year

- BF under 6 months

- BF under 1 year

- BF under 18 months

- BF under 2 years

- BF under 3

...

Or:

- FF by choice

- FF through coercion (sometimes a choice is not truly free)

- Bfeeding for health benefits

- ...

 

I'm probably making no sense at this point, but the point of *that* was that for most practical purposes--- if you are basically willing to continue nursing until your child is done, even with fairly significant limits or negotiations past the age of say, 2.5, that is such a small population already it is most sensical to group that group of people *together.*  Now, within that group there will be some very different limits but when you look at the population as a whole--- it is suddenly a very homogeonous group.  The difference between parent night-weaning at 2 and having the child night-wean themselves at 4.5 is HUGE.  But when you consider *on average* that most children (in the U.S.) are not even nursing at 24 months, 12 months, or even six months those differences are infinitesimal.  I guess, in context of my earlier example, it would be like if you had 100 people show up at an event where you are going to wear a shirt to show your support for X, Y, or Z.  You are wearing a royal blue shirt and someone comes and stands next to you that is wearing a shirt you would identify as sky blue.  Meanwhile, the other 98 people are all wearing white.  Yes, those differences may be big, but there is definately something binding those two together that is NOT there for the other 98.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

Cyclamen, I'm with you in that a very strict definition of CLW does more harm than good for me... and probably others too, I'm sure we're not the only perfectionists out there! innocent.gif
I do agree that imposing lots of limits doesn't necessarily meet the definition of CLW, but I don't think this is something other people can decide for you. I think there are some things that might be clearly not CLW -- like the obvious, weaning a 6-month old, using bribes/punishment, having a goal to wean by age X, etc. But I think there is a whole range of limits that fall into a grey area and may or may not be CLW depending on the child and on how they are implemented.
Even in the strictest sense of CLW, there must be some limits in place. I don't know that it would be humanly possible to nurse without limits -- perhaps no nipple-twiddling, or asking kiddo to wait 2 minutes while you finish going to the bathroom. How far you take those limits is up to you, but I don't think there is a solid line between "CLW" limits and "non-CLW" limits, but more of a wavy or dotted line. I think true CLW includes an understanding of the natural timeline of weaning, of what kinds of limits and expectations are age-appropriate, of how to meet the child's needs in a way that will work for the mother (and the rest of the family). It takes into account the unique needs and personality of your individual child; it is gentle & compromising; it is open and accepting. CLW is a willingness to put your child's need to nurse at top priority -- but it doesn't have to be the only priority. I think if your goal is to let your child nurse as long as they want/need to, if you avoid putting excessive limits on nursing & keep your expectations age-appropriate and specific to your child, if you understand the natural weaning process (so you know that your 9-mo-old's nursing strike is not self-weaning), that if you ask your child to respect your needs but also make sure their needs are met as fully as possible, then very likely you are doing CLW.

 

I think your defintion is excellent--- but I would probably call it child respectful weaning. In some ways, once you are talking about an older child, I think child *respectful* weaning might, in fact, be healthier. I would never say I thought it was *unhealthy* for a parent to continue nursing their children in some situations, but I can imagine situations where *I* would feel it was better for the people involved to set some respecftful boundries at the very least.  I think there are parents who truly CLW.  You know what I call those parents?  Lucky ;)  Seriously, though, I have met people who nurse infants in the same way that I do (as in, crying is a late indication of hunger, co-sleep, "baby led" solids, no bottles, whatever) and have children who are sleeping through the night before a year. Who have kids who naturally only want to nurse every 3-4 hours by the time they are 18 months.  And who wean with no angst or tears well before 3.  Not every child wants to nipple twiddle, not every child follows their parent into the bathroom, lol.  I think the older the nursling gets, the more likely you are to have set limits.  And I think there are not one, but two main reasons for that:

1) because as the child ages, and nursing becomes less of an immediate need, it is only logical (and fair) to ask that that need sometimes be supplanted by another need

2) the children still nursing at ages 4, 5, 6 and beyond are probably the *most* dedicated nursers and, as such, likely to have been some of the most demanding nursers at *younger* ages.  I have no research on this, but I am guessing that the children who are still nursing as they head off to elementary school are more likely to be the children who would have at least wanted to nurse during the night well past the societally expected time, to be the ones most likely to follow their mothers into the bathroom, etc...  For children who naturally spaced out their nursings to 6-8 or less by the time they were a year, I would *guess* those are not the same children still likely nursing 3-5 years later.  So, you're basically looking at a very small subset of the population of children: one that will naturally contain the most avid nursers!

 

Now, we if wanted to get truly scientific about it, we could basically set up a defintion for CLW much like a clinical diagnosis in the DSM.  We could have multiple components and say something like "you must have at least 3 of list A, 4 of list B, a weaning age greater than 2 years and blah blah blah" and see if you actually fit within the criteria.  You could even have a function that said something like, "If child was night weaned before ___ months but continued nursing for at least ___ additional months it can be considered child led weaning" or "if child left for 7-10 days without nursing but continued nursing ___ months after seperation it can be considered CLW."  But... we don't have that (though, I have to admind, I kinda want to create it now).  So, I just have to set a criteria for each aspect of nursing that I consider to meet the "ideal."  It's up to each parent to decide how many of those ideals they need to meet to consider themselves CLW.   In the past, I would have said that you needed to meet them all (or, rather, that *I* needed to meet them all) but, honestly, this conversation has made me questions that.  No, not really.  It *has*, though, made me question, though, the "ideal" of CLW for an older child.

 

 

 

 

 

Footnote:  I don't know if my past CLW rants are searchable/available anymore, but it might be helpful to understand where I am coming from.  I have two kids.  I very much believe/believed in the CLW idea.  We got pregnant with DS when DD was 23 months.  I was just coming off a bout of mono and she was still nursing every 60-90 minutes through the night.  By the time she was 25 months we had partially night weaned her (one 4-5 hour segment nightly).  I was just. so. tired.  I never felt good about that or the limits I put on her during the pregnancy.  Her weaning was not exactly traumatic, but it was not a positive experience.  When she was 4 years, 2 months, she suddenly could not nurse any more.  She wanted to nurse.  Just couldn't get anything.  Since I was still nursing her 18 month old brother I *knew* there was plenty of milk.  We talked and decided that it probably meant that she was ready to wean.  We went to Build a Bear (matching pigs) and... she sitll wanted to nurse.  I let her try, but she generally ended up frustrated.  That went along (her trying ever once in a while, getting frustrated) for about 14 more months.  I consider her to have weaned at 4 years, 2 months, but other posters on here have commented (and sometimes convinced me) that she was actually closer to 5.5 when she weaned.  Anyway... I truly feel that the limits I put on her once I became pregnant changed her natural weaning trajectory.  With DS, meanwhile, I didn't have the illness or pregnancy to deal with.  At one point I got *really* tired and ended up partially night weaning him for about a week.  It was MUCH easier than with DD (but he was also over 2.75), but also gave me enough sleep that I went right back to night nursing him.  His weaning was textbook perfect.  He gradually decreased and then, just stopped.  We talked about it, "Hey, I noticed you haven't nursed for a little while" and he was delighted with himself, "Yup, I weaned!"   Now, for most people, if they heard the description of my DD's weaning (bfed basically on demand close to two years, partially night weaned, nursed through pregnancy, nursed 18 months beyond, said "I can't nurse and more" but was allowed to try when requested over a year more) they would *probably* say, "Ding, ding, ding CLW!"  But because I was there, I know that her weaning timeline was seriously impacted by my pregnancy *and* the arrival of her sibling.  Now, overall, do I consider the tradeoff worth it.  Since DS is *here* and I love him--- of course!  But it certainly doesn't meet *my* defintion of the CLW ideal.  Of course, this may say more about my perfectionist tendancies, my ability for "forgive" others more than myself and so on than it says about a logical defintion of CLW.  Psychoanalyze away.


 

 

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#19 of 23 Old 05-18-2012, 11:04 AM
 
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Oh, and I need to add this:

 

My youngest weaned right about 5 years ago.  It is easy for me to say, "Oh, it doesnt *really* matter if you call it CLW or not, it doesn't matter if you *really* meet a specific definition, just call it good enough and be done with it" but I really doubt I could have had that distance 7-10 years ago. 

 

I'm also fairly blunt (honestly, I think if I was 30 years younger there is a good chance that many of my behaviors would be diagnosed as Autism spectrum) and I don't consider many *facts* to be personal indictments.  For example, a very good friend of mine has a son who has a very large head.  I really don't consider it to be insulting to mention that he has a very large head (for example, I took him to get fitted for a bike helmet a few years ago, when he was probably 6 but could have been seven).  They asked his age and then got a small helmet.  I said, "That's not going to work, he has a really big head."  The people and his sister seemed to think that was rather rude of me.  To me, that was just being direct.  I knew his head was big--- so what?  He ended up getting the same size helmet as I did.  His two older sisters as well as both of my children (older than he) got smaller sized ones.  In  my mind there is nothing wrong with his big head.  It just is.  Just like there is nothing wrong with mother led weaning or mother respectful weaning.  To mean, saying "I'm not sure that was CLW" isn't an insult or a condemnation, it's simply saying, "He has a big head."


 

 

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#20 of 23 Old 05-18-2012, 08:03 PM
 
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TiredX2, I totally get where you're coming from, and I think I shared your definition/ideal just a year or two ago. The problem is, I believed so strongly in that "perfect" CLW ideal that I totally lost sight of myself, of the fact that there were 2 of us in the nursing relationship, of the fact that I could let him lead the way but still ask him to respect my body & my boundaries. So many times I've seen moms on here ask if it's OK to set limits while CLW'ing... and feeling frustrated, triggered, tapped out because of their lack of boundaries. So many times I've seen & experienced myself the sense of guilt of not conforming to a 'perfect' standard. I also have yet to meet a single person that did CLW'ing without any limits. So I've adjusted my personal definition to be more realistic, I guess. I'm sure you're right that some moms may luck out with incredibly easy, manageable nursers, and COULD get away without setting limits, but I have yet to see it myself!

I consider what DS did (is doing... he's not totally weaned yet but nearing it, I think) to be mostly CLW'ing. We never used a bottle or a pacifier, and we did baby-led solids (and he hardly ate a thing until he turned 2!) I have always intended to nurse him for however many years he wants, even though to be honest I'm not a fan of nursing (OK I kind of hate it!!)

I only set limits that he showed me he was capable of following. It was child-led in the sense that no, I didn't force him to night-wean at 9mos or 18mos or whatever (even though he woke 2-3 times an hour all night long... oh man I don't miss those days one bit!!) but that when he showed me he could go longer stretches at night around age 2, I encouraged that 3-5 hour stretch.

I didn't stop him from nursing 20-30+ times a day, but when he started nursing less, I didn't continue offering every 20 minutes. I know "don't ask, don't refuse" is technically a weaning technique, but I don't know anyone who asks their 2.5 year old if they want to nurse several times an hour and that seems a bit crazy to me.

When he turned 3, he drastically reduced his nursing sessions to practically nothing. And I continued to offer for a bit until I realized that I was just annoying him. So I've stopped offering & he still nurses whenever he wants to, but really it's just a few seconds here & there, he's gone a week straight without nursing and then will ask every day or even twice a day for a bit. But because I am not offering, by many definitions this would be considered mother-led weaning. I consider it child-led because he is the one that led me to stop offering, just like he was the one that led me to encourage that 3-5 hour stretch of sleep at age 2 etc. Maybe if I hadn't put a single limit in place, he'd still be nursing 10 or more times a day??? I don't know, but I sense that he wouldn't be, I feel like this is his path & this is the way he would have nursed no matter what I did. (And, by the way, I am shocked that he appears to be weaning at only 3 years old, based on his first 2 years I would have predicted he'd nurse 'til at least 5 or 6!)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to type up your thoughts!  Partly, I just saw that Time magazine cover recently, had an awkward conversation about nursing really old kids (like the one on the cover...who is nearly 2 years YOUNGER than my dd who still nurses), and then came home and started hinting and asking about weaning.  Which felt fine.  But then didn't after reading your first comments.  I don't want to start pushing my dd to wean because of a damned magazine cover.  But it helped to type in my thoughts and to read all of yours too.  I guess I am okay with starting to put the idea of weaning out there a bit more often, but I do want her to stop when she's ready, and she still seems to enjoy it a lot, so I don't feel like I need to push a lot (and yes, she was one of those intense nursers as a baby!  Has always been a really intense nurser.  So different from my younger dd!  Sometimes I question who will wean first...).  Honestly the most shocking thing you wrote was this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TiredX2 View PostNot every child wants to nipple twiddle, not every child follows their parent into the bathroom, lol.

 

Really!?  :)  I just finally convinced my older dd to stop trying to twiddle (I've never let her as it drives me batty) a couple of years ago.  And I still fight my younger daughter about not twiddling my ill-placed mole.  :)


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I didn't stop him from nursing 20-30+ times a day, but when he started nursing less, I didn't continue offering every 20 minutes. I know "don't ask, don't refuse" is technically a weaning technique, but I don't know anyone who asks their 2.5 year old if they want to nurse several times an hour and that seems a bit crazy to me.
 

I don't know anyone suggesting that you offer a 2.5 year old to nurse several times an hour!  I would say (depending on the child) to give you the best chance at CLW you should be offering every 2-3 hours until the child is 2-2.5.  That age will be earlier for some kids and I can imagine it being later for some kids, but not by much (assuming they are neurotypical).  By that time most kids have good enough communication skills and memory to not "accidentally" wean.

 

Quote:
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 I don't want to start pushing my dd to wean because of a damned magazine cover.  But it helped to type in my thoughts and to read all of yours too.  I guess I am okay with starting to put the idea of weaning out there a bit more often, but I do want her to stop when she's ready, and she still seems to enjoy it a lot, so I don't feel like I need to push a lot (and yes, she was one of those intense nursers as a baby!  Has always been a really intense nurser.  So different from my younger dd!  Sometimes I question who will wean first...).  Honestly the most shocking thing you wrote was this:

 

Really!?  :)  I just finally convinced my older dd to stop trying to twiddle (I've never let her as it drives me batty) a couple of years ago.  And I still fight my younger daughter about not twiddling my ill-placed mole.  :)

 

See, once my kids were a little bit older I felt no issue with bringing up the idea of weaning at some point.  Just like I brought up that "someday" they would want:

1) swimming lessons

2) to play on a team

3) to go to college

4) to go to overnight camp

and so on.

 

There is no pressure to do it *now*, but for my kids they do good with more processing time than less (for example, if we're going on a major vacation we talk about it for months in advance and plan exactly what we're going to do.  I have friends who's kids would DRIVE THEM UP THE WALL if they told them they were going to Disneyland in 6 months. Either can be good).

 

Just to be clear--- I have no personal experience with kids who don't want to twiddle and/or be your personal shaddow ;)  I've heard rumors, though.


 

 

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I enjoyed reading the comments on this thread. I know it is an old thread but there are a lot of interesting ideas here.

 

I don't come onto the the forums too often but I decided to come on today b/c I am nursing my 5-yo DD and thought it might make me happy to see some comments and posts from other extended-length nursers (which it has!!) I'm going to look around for either a forum-specific or thread-specific area for people nursing at ages 4 or 5 and above. My DD has informed me she's nursing until she is 6, which is fine with me.

 

FWIW, I night-weaned DD completely at 8 months of age. I'm an extremely light sleeper, and she was doing the typical nurse before she went to sleep (around 7-8 pm), nurse before I fell asleep around 10 pm, wake to nurse at midnight, 2 am, then between 4/5 pm and up around 6:30/7. How I do not miss those days! I couldn't function anymore (she would never take a bottle -- from me, or anyone, no matter how far away from the house I'd drive) so I had to set that limit.

 

She cried for 20 mins the first night I decided... at midnight and it was one of the worst nights of my life. I went in at her first cries and rubbed her back, then left and sat at the kitchen table watching every second on the clock. Even now I feel like it was "wrong" in many ways. But I was so desperate. After she fell asleep, she did not wake for the 2 a.m. or the 4/5 am feeding. She woke up at her regular time! The next night I *think* (it was years ago) she woke around 4/5 and I rubbed her back, she may have cried a little... and that was it. I have never had to get up since then. I am SO fortunate as I realize this probably isn't the norm!

 

My milk supply was unaffected; she continued to nurse on approximately the same day schedule as before and began to nurse slightly less with each passing year until now, which is usually just once day.

 

So.... about setting limits. I totally believe in limits, in the give-and-take of the nursing relationship and each limit one sets will be as individual and unique as the mother and child involved is. My DD was an "easy" nurser (although probably more one of those "intense" nursers -- I remember during growth spurts nursing her up to 4-5x an hour!) but she never hurt me, or twiddled, etc. The worst part now is trying to fit her onto my lap so I prefer a sofa. Occasionally her lazy latch will bother me and I have to remind her to open wider. And sometimes at night she will stop and start and make a lot of conversation and I'll tell her "You can nurse, or talk, but not both!" It's like she's sitting at the ice cream shop enjoying a milkshake and conversation, and I want her to get to bed!

 

I did set a limit at one point around the age of 4 or so when she angrily demanded to nurse when I was trying to discipline her, ha ha. She got the point!


Loving wife and SAHM to our nursing 5 YO ~ We''ve started our home school adventure!

 

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