not sure if BF at night is helping my 3 yo or me - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 11-29-2006, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds just turned 3 and I cosleep with him and 6 mo dd. Dh has sleep issues and sleeps separately from us. The pattern around here is that ds tends to wake up wanting to nurse frequently after 3 AM (sometimes wakes once before then). Then he will often nurse about 4 times after 3 AM and would probably nurse more frequently and longer if I let him. I am not nursing my ds on demand anymore and tend to limit the duration of nighttime nursings and sometimes when I am super exhausted I say no. There is lots of whining and screaming that goes on and on when that happens. Keep in mind that my 6 mo dd also wakes and nurses regularly at night, and that they sometimes wake each other up and want to be nursed to sleep. Between the two of them I am nursing at least every hour all night.

When I was PG ds nightweaned quite easily, rarely woke at night, and often didn't even pee. But after my milk came in he went back to being really into nursing day and night. It's a vicious cycle because ds pees a lot at night because of the nursing and that probably wakes him up as well (at this point I have him in a disposable because I can't handle the massive pees with any system on hand - he's been daytime "trained" - we ECed - for over a year). I think he's waking because of being hungry and thirsty, but since he prefers nursing to solids, it's hard to be proactive about feeding him before bed. And he tends to stop eating when he's tired.

I tend to be pretty stoic about tandem cosleeping and nursing but I must say that I am recognizing that I am seriously brain-dead a lot of the time these days and really have trouble feeling rested even after a long night. I am feeling unsupported in extended breastfeeding (except for the awesome local MDC mamas ) and I'm wondering if I'm insane to be still nursing ds at night. Is he getting any benefit from it or is it a habit that is holding him back from developing age-appropriate solid-eating habits and having a good night's sleep? He rarely naps during the day now since dd was born and often seems quite tired and has behavioural issues frequently when he is not well rested. He tends to get about 10-11 hours of sleep a day.

Mamas, I need your wisdom. Although I like the idea of CLW, I have to admit that I am finding it discouraging to not see any tapering off of nighttime nursing at this point. I don't like feeling resentful when I wake up first thing in the morning.

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#2 of 17 Old 11-29-2006, 10:04 PM
 
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Hey Ksenia,
do you think he would nightwean again? How did you do it the first time, and would that work again?

I knew with Lucy that nightweaning would be an insane battle that I didn't want to get into with her new little bro on board, so I endured sleepless nights until my resentment of nursing her 5 or 6 times at night at over age 4 was affecting my relationship with her, and I weaned her using the lemon juice method, as you already know. I guess I was able to stick it out for over 2 years because dexter was a great sleeper and only woke a couple of times most nights, and she just really seemed to need to continue nursing, and since nightweaning would NEVER have worked with her once he was born, I waited until I felt she would be ok with total weaning. It wasn't her choice, but swearing at your 4 year old as you go to nurse them for the umpteenth time in one night is also not so good. She was also easily awakened by needing to pee, and I wonder if I had just started getting her up to pee and trying to get her to go back to sleep without nursing, if that would have worked...but I know it wouldn't have -- dex, yes, lucy, no.

so I don't have any real advice for you, other than, do whatever is best for your family. I don't think nursing holds them back from anything, but if you are seriously resentful of habitual wakings in the night, it's not good for anyone. We got Lucy a bunk bed and put it next to our queen, so the kids had more space to sleep, and I think it helped a little, but then I had to crawl up to her bunk to nurse several times each night.

I was so worried about weaning Lucy before she was ready, but we talked about it a lot beforehand, and celebrated it when "boobie got yukky" and cried about it a little, and then she was fine -- at almost 4.5, I think she was ready. She started sleeping through the night (except to get up to pee once) about a week after weaning, which, of course, doesn't work with younger babies, but it was very clear to me that she was habitually "needing" to nurse every time she stirred in her sleep.

ok, enough about me!

hope you find a peaceful solution soon...

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#3 of 17 Old 11-29-2006, 11:23 PM
 
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I absolutely need my sleep. It is my big achilles heal. I can go without food. I can go without coffee. I can go without sunshine. But if I go more than a day or 2 without getting a full night sleep I am NOT a good person to be around. That's probably why my children were born fairly good sleepers to begin with

But I found as my boys were reaching 2, I was reaching the end of my ability to night nurse in a caring and nurturing way. I resented the wakings and the pawing in the middle of the night. So I night weaned. Neither boy was particularly happy about being night weaned. We had crying and yelling in bed. We had a few nights of really bad, bad sleep. But the rough patch was very short lived, and they both were sleeping restfully through the night pretty quick after night weaning. And I found that it had no ill affect on our relationship.

I think that you need to take you feelings into account too when deciding to night wean. I love the idea of CLW, but I don't think that it should happen at the expense of the mom.
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#4 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 01:17 AM
 
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I agree with Tiffani that I don't think extended BFing or nighttime BFing is holding him back from anything. But I also agree with her and mirthfulmum that you should not continue nursing at the expense of your sanity or your relationship with him. If this was a recent issue that has just cropped up there would be many possible explanations, but it seems like it's been going on for some time now.

I think preparing them ahead of time helps alot. Start talking about how soon your "milkies" are going to go away at night for him, or whatever story you want to make up. Give him a few days, talk about it each night counting down and then stick to a "you can nurse when the sun comes up" policy. He probably will throw a fit the first couple times but he will likely soon settle into it. I also found when I was nightweaning DD that having a sippy cup by the bed was a good strategy. Hang in there, mama.

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#5 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 01:36 AM
 
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Ksenia,
I'm nowhere near there yet, so not a lot of wisdom here. I just wanted to send you a .

Kazia, my MIL is like you, and she also had 2 sleepers. I am such a light sleeper, I wake at the slightest rustle. Sigh.

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#6 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 01:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tiffani View Post
do you think he would nightwean again? How did you do it the first time, and would that work again?
I think it was a combination of limiting the length of nursings, sometimes saying "no" when I was overwhelmed (nipple pain due to PG) and, most of all, my milk drying up. I think his nursing was and is largely nutritional but that has worked against him because he developed iron deficiency due to not eating enough...
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I knew with Lucy that nightweaning would be an insane battle that I didn't want to get into with her new little bro on board
That's what I've figured as well.
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She was also easily awakened by needing to pee, and I wonder if I had just started getting her up to pee and trying to get her to go back to sleep without nursing, if that would have worked...but I know it wouldn't have -- dex, yes, lucy, no.
I have tried and tried to potty ds at night since birth (we ECed) and it has never worked at any stage (he always cries and screams and wants to nurse even more for comfort).
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She started sleeping through the night (except to get up to pee once) about a week after weaning, which, of course, doesn't work with younger babies, but it was very clear to me that she was habitually "needing" to nurse every time she stirred in her sleep.
Yeah...

Anyway, thanks for piping up tiffani - I didn't actually know that you were nightnursing until that age - it seems like many of the local mamas are nightweaning much earlier?

Ultimately, I wish I knew whether nightnursing truly fills important needs for ds or whether it's "just a bad habit"...

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#7 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 02:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies too mirthfulmum, piglet68, and widemouthedfrog...I have mixed feelings about nightweaning. Obviously I would prefer to get a good night's sleep but until recently I haven't felt it was a big issue. My mindset was sort of "well I can't expect to get a good night's sleep with a baby and toddler in my bed anyway, so there's no reason not to nurse ds". But I guess that the nighttime demands have increased (between the two of them) and it's really cutting into my sleep and child-free sanity time (which is pretty scarce since dd was born). I am pretty sure that nightweaning would be a process that would take at least a month in which I'd get even less sleep, but I could be wrong...

I guess in my ideal world there would be a way to just nudge things in the direction of less frequent nightnursing without any screaming being involved .

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#8 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 03:16 AM
 
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Is the sleep deprivation cd ad still at the bottom of the page?

See Ksenia! All you need is a CD for a better night's sleep!

Honestly, nightweaning wasn't as popular when Lucy was a toddler as it is now. I *might* have given it a shot before dex was born if I had known how many people have success with it, but Lucy has never taken 'no' very well, especially when it came to nursing. Her nursing also tapered off quite a bit when I was pregnant, and I didn't think it would be that big a deal...oh how wrong I was!

I remember Mark staying home from school one time when dex was a few weeks old because I felt like I literally had not slept at all, all night long and was a sobbing, starving mess when he woke up. So I feel for you

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#9 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 03:54 AM
 
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Like someone mentioned above I'm nowhere near there yet, so not a lot of wisdom here. I always joke that Erin will be nursing until she get's her drivers licence...I hope not. Even with a mother that is a Lacation Consultant and growing up in a VERY pro brestfeeding household I really did not think I had epectations of where our nursing relationship would take us. I guess I do and I guess I just assumed she would wean early. I never expected to be nursing a toddler, but I enjoy it and have NEVER gotten a full nights sleep since she has been born. I'm struggling with weaning from nursing in public as I am getting more and more uncomfortable with it and it's just pain cold outside! I just wanted to send you a HUGE .

I don't have any real advice for you, other than, do whatever is best for you and your family and the old adage this too will pass.
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#10 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 04:01 AM
 
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Hi Ksenia,

My dd nightweaned herself when I was pregnant with ds. She, like your ds, began waking up at night to nurse after my ds was born because there was milk again. This was more than I could handle, so we started sleeping with dd next to dh only (left to right, me, ds, dh, and dd). If she woke up, dh ran interference for me. Do you think that might work for your ds?

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#11 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 12:03 PM
 
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First off to you mama! Godo for you for nursing your two bubs!

My son is 4 and I know how hard it can be.
My son still night nurses about 2-4 times a night.
I have to say its not "easy" in the least some nights. My back hurts from laying in funny positions and my head hurts from just wanting to sleep all night!
But, I cant imagine it any other way. Being a mama is not easy as you know.
In my heart I know what I am doing for my son is right, and thats all there is to it. Even on the nights its really bad I tell myself that. And, its not forever.. soon enough he will be in his own bed and I will miss these times.. right!?
Really I will, even though they are ruff sometimes.

I would try to see if you guys can all take a quite time or nap during the day in your bed. Maybe bring some books and if you have a TV put on a movie and you can all just rest. Thats what I do with my son, but I only have one. Thats why I still only have one, I cant imagine 2 of my son!

Stay here on the forum, all the mamas are great and it sounds like you need some support!
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#12 of 17 Old 11-30-2006, 03:24 PM
 
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ahh Ksenia I am night nursing two kids as well... I never considered night weaning... so you are certainly not alone... I am lucky though that Malcolm is a good sleeper and only needs it maybe once a night and only for a few seconds... What has worked for me to limit night feedings... First, I wear a shirt to bed! if Malcolm is stirring and feels or sees my breats he must have them! Definitely talking about boobies needing a rest or I say boobies are sleeping... and we talk about this in the day too... how my boobies need sleep so they can make more milk for him and his brother.... AND I must say that I whole heartedly agree with all the wise comments that take your feeling into account... bf is a very important first relationship for your child and IMO I do not want to model that I am willing to sacrafice all my wants/needs (for sleep, personal space, private time etc.) to do what he wants/needs... this is not the type of one sided relationship I want my chidlren to expect or have... while I understand that your ds IS meeting his nutritional needs through bf he does not HAVE to and if it is making you then I don't think it is worth it! IMO it is about seeing the whole child and the whole family unti and bf is just one aspect of this... it is not worth giving up the integrity of the big picture to bf a 3yo at night! I know it is complicated but explaining to your beautiful ds that you are important too, is an essential first type of discipline that shows in any relationship the needs of all parties must be respected. You could talk to him about how you think you will be a better mama if you get more sleep etc. how all people need their sleep.... I am not saying it will be easy but it is not easy now as you say! While I totally *intend* to CLW I have also set boundaries around nursing for Malcolm that allow me to keep my sanity because at the end of the day I want him to have positive memories of nursing with me smiling and wnjoying it too

Jen Wife to Jason and Mom to Cassidy 10y Malcolm8y & Lucas 5y
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#13 of 17 Old 12-01-2006, 02:28 AM
 
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My DD started nursing less at night when I transitioned her to her own bed. She'll still wake up and come join me in the wee hours some nights, but often once I nurse her to sleep she's down until morning.

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#14 of 17 Old 12-15-2006, 02:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies, I've been thinking about them a lot.

It's funny, after posting here ds actually slept through the night for 2 nights in a row! So I know he can do it. But last night was more typical. We were stayed overnight at friends' and I thought I nursed ds 3-4 times but dh said that ds nursed at least 6 times (dh slept with us but doesn't usually).

What I didn't mention in my first post is that dh, who is depressed, is getting quite fixated on wanting me to nightwean ds and that's what got me questioning why I am doing this in the first place. I am finding it hard because I don't consider dh part of our breastfeeding relationship, even though it does affect him. Dh is complaining that I'm too sleep-deprived and that ds is too hard to take care of because he won't eat because he's too dependent on nursing. I feel like dh is just another small child with his needs and demands even though I guess he is trying to grope towards feeling better somehow. I'm also getting lots of "helpful advice" from people who think I'm insane to be still nursing a 3 year old.
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This was more than I could handle, so we started sleeping with dd next to dh only (left to right, me, ds, dh, and dd). If she woke up, dh ran interference for me. Do you think that might work for your ds?
That wouldn't work for us because dh doesn't sleep with us and isn't willing to help with nightweaning while he is on his normal work schedule.
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I would try to see if you guys can all take a quite time or nap during the day in your bed. Maybe bring some books and if you have a TV put on a movie and you can all just rest.
Yeah, quiet time doesn't really work with dd who goes nuts crawling all around. We do read books but ds won't nap and even if he did I would still have to deal with dd.
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IMO it is about seeing the whole child and the whole family unti and bf is just one aspect of this... it is not worth giving up the integrity of the big picture to bf a 3yo at night!
Yeah, I just don't know how to meet everyone's needs here. I guess my preference would be to take the path of least resistance, which in this case means continuing to nightnurse, unless I am convinced that it's not best for ds. But what does that mean for the "family unit"?
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My DD started nursing less at night when I transitioned her to her own bed. She'll still wake up and come join me in the wee hours some nights, but often once I nurse her to sleep she's down until morning.
If I end up staying late to do paid work, ds still wakes up and calls until I go in to help him settle, so it's not just proximity to me that is waking him up.

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#15 of 17 Old 12-17-2006, 01:34 AM
 
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I know this isn't the most popular position to take here, but I honestly believe that nightweaning helped to preserve my nursing relationship with my kids. Especially when I was tandem nursing a toddler and an infant, I would've lost my sanity if I had attempted to nurse both of them through the night.

With my youngest nurslings, I had nightweaned the toddler before the baby arrived. After the baby was born and my milk returned, the toddler started nursing at night again. I realized pretty quickly that it was not in my best interest to nurse both children through the night. I had other children to care for, and honestly, when I was sleep deprived, I was NOT a good mama to my children during the day. They deserved more from me. So I did nightwean the toddler again. Although she did continue to wake in the middle of the night, it wasn't too long before she was soothed by a simple, "mama's here, you can have milk when the sun comes up."

And I think that nightweaning helped me to continue to nurse my toddler. Because I wasn't up all night, I had the energy to continue to nurse her during the day. I didn't feel like a martyr, I didn't feel touched out, I felt better about nursing her because I had placed limits on her. BTW, that toddler is now almost 5 and is still nursing occasionally. Nightweaning can be done in a respectful way, and it doesn't have to be the end of the nursing relationship.

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#16 of 17 Old 12-17-2006, 01:46 AM
 
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Just a question--isn't so much nursing at night bad for his teeth?
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#17 of 17 Old 12-17-2006, 01:35 PM
 
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first to answer the PP - i don't believe it's bad for their teeth if they've had their teeth brushed just before bedtime. breastmilk is great for teeth - can actually help recalcify... *but* if there is food stuck on the teeth then the sweet breastmilk can get trapped against the tooth for extended periods and become a site for decay.

and now for ksenia - i used to post a lot on the yahoo group, and i'm sure i will again once baby #2 arrives... but for now it's nice to run into you here - i just couldn't keep up on the list!

i don't have any great solutions for you - just that nightweaning has gone pretty well with james since i've been pregnant, but it sounds like that wasn't too hard for you then either. that should at least give you the security that wolfgang can handle whatever you choose - to continue to nurse at night or to stop. i'm sorry your DH is not doing well, that does put a lot of extra burden on you... i wouldn't have had nearly as easy a time with nightweaning without DH taking on more of the nighttime parenting.

i think it would be entirely appropriate to set limits, even short of total night-weaning... i started doing that with james as i started needing more sleep and feeling more discomfort while nursing. i would let him nurse, but i would tell him let's just nurse for a minute, and then i would say "almost time to be done" after about a minute, and then "ok, let's be done" after about 10 more seconds and most of the time he would unlatch himself at that point and go to sleep (huge miracle!!). as he started nursing less and less total time at night, i started getting a timeframe in my mind... that i would nurse him only if it had been at least 3 hours... then only if it had been 5-6... then only after 4am... if he asked before then i would say we could nurse *later* and that right now i just wanted to go back to sleep. this is where DH had to step in a lot if DS wasn't happy with the refusal.

at this point i can pretty much always calmly put off a request to nurse in the middle of the night... and if it ends up not being calm, i will nurse him briefly to give him the reassurance... so i don't have a clear-cut no night nursing rule... just a strong mama-preference not sure what approach would work better for wolfgang -whether it would be easier to understand never at night, or not right now.

and thank you for the heads up about night-nursing once you have two! i will definitely pay attention to that... night-nursing was i'd say the absolute hardest part of parenting for me in the first year, and i don't know what i'd do if i get another baby who wakes so frequently in the night and then have a night-nursing toddler added to that mix. :

good luck, take care, and

Rosemary & Gary :
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