Just need to vent a bit and here others thoughts/expereinces. My DS just turned 2. He still nurses alot - I don't count but it probably is a minimum of 12 times in 24 hours and often quite a bit more, like maybe 20 times. Many of his nursing sessions are quite short - 2 minutes or less. The longer ones are before bed and first thing in the morning and after nap. His latch has also become not so great and I have teeth marks in my nipples after every time he nurses and it has become very uncomfortable to nurse him and just in general my nipples have become what I would call overly sensitive - not quite painful but just an almost unbareable sensation when he nurses. I saw the post about evening primrose oil and I am going to try that. However I still feel that I would like to continue nursing but want to cut back quite a bit. When we eat a meal I will only nurse after I have finished eating and he has at least eaten something but thats the only rule so far. Anyone else cut back without weaning? How did you do it? When is appropriate to start setting "rules"? Right now nursing is quite honestly driving me crazy but I would prefer to not wean. I think if it was both more comfortable and less frequent that I would feel much better about it, he would still be getting the benefits and I would be in a better mood. I do sometimes try to substitue food, drink, cuddling/affection or playing when he will accept it. I think that the most important feedings to him are before bed and after waking up and I could see keeping those for a long time. I have a tough time listening to crying so if he gets to that point I have always gone ahead and nursed and have almost never turned him down but wondering what others think about if there is a point where it is ok to just say no and let him cry (while trying to comfort other ways). I would never leave him crying alone or let it go on too long. Thanks for any input.
Sounds like my son nursed like yours. He did it till he was 2 1/2, when his first molars came in. Nights were tough...every 3 hours was a "good" night. We were so sleep deprived. I was often a bit, ah, grumpy when awakened. Then I got tendonitis in my shoulder from all that side lying. Suddenly, my boundary was clear. I had not been willing to set boundaries when it was "just" sleep but when I was clearly injuring my body I was. I found myself able to calmly say, "Mommy's body needs to rest until morning. We can nurse in the morning." Which he more or less accepted easily.
Now, it's not quite that simple. The tendonitis came just as he got his molars. I felt like he needed to nurse his way through the teething. If the tendonitis had come a month earlier, not sure how clear it would have been to me. Though in hindsight, needing sleep seems like it could (should?!) have been a good occasion for a boundary.
After the molars came in, he dropped from ALL THE TIME to just nursing to sleep and upon waking up in the morning. Now he's 4 1/2 and he still nurses to sleep, unless I have a commitment in the evening and am not there (which I'm trying to do once a week--so he knows he has other falling-to-sleep tools at his disposal).
Hope that helps somehow.
I think it's always okay to set limits if you're not enjoying nursing. Your nursing relationship may end up being nicer and longer for it. I started setting some limits somewhere after 2 1/2. My first limit was no nursing outside the house, which was pretty easy because he doesn't tend to nurse when he's busy. He did ask a bunch of times but it usually wasn't too hard to redirect him. Now, at 3 and 3 mos. I'm moving toward nursing only in bed, so if we're home he can nurse any time he wants but he has to be willing to lie down in bed to do it. I'm on the fence about it now though because I had been thinking about it because I thought I wouldn't be able to move him and our 8 year old out of our bed until he stopped nursing, but they have just almost spontaneously moved into their own room this week. So, it looks like my motivation for doing it is gone. I may still do it, but I will at least wait for the dust to settle regarding the bedtime arrangements. Now I'm missing them, especially my little one, in our bed!
eta: Also wanted to mention that I had those teeth dents on my nipples after nursing for a while around the same age your son is now, but he doesn't do it anymore, so it may not last forever.
Jayne, sewing up a storm mama to ds1 9/03, ds2 2/09, and 2 sweet furbabies.
I think most people who nurse past early toddlerhood are going to end up setting at least *some* limits.
First, I encourage you to make a list of EVERYTHING that is bothering you about your current nursing situation. Then, rank them from what is bothering you most to what is bothering you least. Then start fixing things. It sounds simple, but it really works for a lot of people. Sometimes, you let things go so long and you have such an underlying level of frustration built up that *anything* starts to set you on edge. If you can fix some of the things that are reallly bothering you, though, the other nuisances start to feel a lot less overwhelming.
Because you mentioned discomfort while nursing, I'm going to address that first. I found with older toddlers, that sometimes their very competence was working against them. What I mean is, that I got so used to nursing *however* that I wasn't being very careful. So, with a newborn, you check each time to make sure they're positioned *just right* and their latch is *just right.* When they're older it's easy to say, "good enough" but it can really wear on your body. So maybe take a little bit of time to really get into a comfortable position for you. Pull your DS in a little tighter than you've been doing (this discourages pulling on the nipple *and* means that you're not contorting your body towards him). If he doesn't latch on right--- ask him to try again. Mimic opening your mouth really wide with your tounge on top of your lower teeth. He doesn't want to hurt your and you will BOTH be happier if you are comfortable while he is nursing.
Another thing I often overlooked was how much water I was drinking. When DS was older and came to bed to nurse he would actually go get me a glass of water so I could "make more milk." I didn't notice as much as he did that I wasn't drinking enough, but he *knew* that his nursing would be more pleasant if I had plenty of water.
Right after DD turned 2 we partially night weaned. For us, that meant working up to one 4-5 hour stretch at night where she didn't nurse. Would I have liked it to be longer? Sure! But at the time I felt that was a fair compromise between our needs--- it seemed like I needed to sleep at least 4 hours more than she needed to nurse hourly during the night, but it didn't seem like I needed 8 hours straight more than she needed to nurse at night. You'll have to find your own compromise.
Lastly, whatever you decide to do be confident in your decision. I think hfitzheather alluded to this above. When she *knew* what her boundry was, night weaning became much easier. I got to a point (between mono and pregnancy) that I just NEEDED some sleep. Now, DD was older than when we had tried before (which makes a huge difference, a lot of kids naturally start going longer just after 2 years of age. DD had not gotten her two year molars at that point, though, which I think does make a big difference for many kids) but I was also SURE that time that what was going on simply couldn't continue. If you have reservations, your DS will probably pick up on that.
Good luck. You should like you're doing a great job!
2 is a tough age, as far as nursing is concerned. You can start setting limits anytime you want, but not too many or too often, unless you want to wean him.
What worked with both my kids was being on the move. Each time I would sit down, they would want to nurse around that age. So I just took them outside, or kept busy in the kitchen, or cleaning etc.
Offering water also works sometimes.
You can also set a specific number of feedings per day, but you said he nurses 12+ times a day, so he's probably not ready for that. I did that when ds was closer to 4.