CLW...but how can I lead a ML slow-down? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 10-30-2007, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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(X-post from intro thread)

I'm Rebekah, WOHM to Milo (3.99) and Zel (8 months). We're tandem nursing, which has been and continues to be a real challenge. I've been lurking in this forum to find some help.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, my son (then 2.5 years) was nursing 2-3x/day. He slept through the night but nursed first thing in the morning and once or twice before bed. It seemed healthy and positive for both of us to continue, particularly as I work full time and wanted that extra bond with him. Up until my daughter was born, he was still nursing a little, and I thought he'd be gradually weaning over the next few months, since by then he was a little over 3 and seemed to nurse for comfort more than anything.

When my daughter was born, my son went through a regression where he wanted to nurse 10-15x/day. He stopped eating most solids when at home and began waking in the night more frequently than the new baby.

Now, 9 months after she was born, I'm still nursing my son more than my daughter. Whenever I nurse her, he wants to nurse, plus many extra times on his own (although down from the 15/day high). My body feels exhausted and drained and I am REALLY tired of nursing so frequently. When I get home from work, I might nurse them for about 6 hours of my at-home time, taking into account the amount of nursing they do at night in the co-sleep bed.

In theory, I think extended tandem breastfeeding maintains a bond with my son that would have been shocking to both of us to break when the new baby was here, plus the baby gets to watch her brother nurse and share time with both of us in a cuddling, loving way. And I really believe in CLW...

In my case, however, I now have an almost-4-year-old who has a really strong attachment to nursing that is often troubling. I've seen other mamas post about this, so I know it's not unusual, but he's at a difficult age and has many tantrums if I refuse to nurse on demand, which just isn't always feasible. I try to make any refusal to nurse quick and explained well, and set good expectations about when he can expect to nurse, but any postponement almost always results in tears if not hitting or other acting out.

I feel like I've created an emotional mountain for us and that if I'd helped him wean earlier, he would have been easier to deal with than now, when his sibling jealousy has been transfered into a lot of tension over who gets the most milk (aka mom's attention). This may just be his conduit for acting out, but I'm finding it really rough to cope with.

I'd love some advice from mamas who have been here about how to help my older child return to his previous state of shorter/infrequent nursing.

I don't want to force him to wean, but nursing him 4-5 times a night, AND nursing the baby 3-4 times a night, plus daytime nursing/pumping feels destructive to my health. (whine whine - I know many mamas do LOTS more for their kids, but this is where ~I~ am right now...) I'm so tired all the time I feel completely wiped out. I haven't slept very well for the past 4 years and, since I have to work a full day (no naptime or other downtime), I am beyond taxed. So much so that I can't cope effectively when I've got 2 kids screaming to nurse the minute we get home and I just give in - I find creating and maintaining boundaries about breastfeeding very difficult anyway, but even more so while my body is in such a fragile state.

I'd love help from mamas with answers.

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#2 of 17 Old 10-30-2007, 09:24 PM
 
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I had decided to CLW with my daughter - until undergoing over 6 months of teeth marks on my breasts from a nursing toddler who was having latch on difficulties - not biting, just putting a lot of pressure with her teeth. We spoke with 3 LC's as well as LLL. For my sanity, I had to set some limits.

In our house dd (who is 27 mos) does not get *anything* when whining, hitting or otherwise acting up. (unless of course it's because she is hurt or something). She is very verbal and has to ask nicely. I think that would be the first limit I would give your son. He's def old enough to learn to use his "gentle voice" and to realize that temper tantrums wont' get him anywhere. I think it will be rough for a day or so, but I'd stick with it firmly and he will start to respect that it is your body and he has to ask nicely. He will start to realize that if asked to wait that is ok. We have taught dd to be "patient - wait with a gentle voice" for things. Not that she is always perfect by any means; nor would we expect that. I simply tell her "I can't help you when you talk like that. I need your gentle voice to help you." That's enough now for dd, but in the beginning, we would say "Do you want...." and she'd say yes and we'd say "Say, please up" or whatever.

CLW is a wonderful thing and I think it can work for some if the relationship is all "hunky dory". But really, a nursing relationship is 2-way and there has to be respect going 2 ways IMO. Of course for a little baby a mom needs to sacrifice everything to nurse, but for a child that is older and can eat solids, it is not wrong to teach that child that he/she can wait sometimes. I guess that falls out of the strictest definition of CLW, but I think one can still let their child wean on their own while setting some nursing guidelines.

Just my thoughts and opinions... Hope some of them are helpful. good luck!
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#3 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 12:57 PM
 
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I could not survive tandem nursing without some definite limits. At first with ds1, he would have to wait until ds2 was done nursing (like at night) before he could nurse. If ds1 could not be quiet and wait patiently, then dh took him into his own room and lay down with him. Dh really had to take a more active role. Ds1 screamed, etc. but eventually accepted dad. Eventually that switched to ds1 coming into our room and just falling back to sleep.

But I still got to the point where the daytime nursing demands were too much and too filled with controversy. So, I limited him to only before bed and first thing in the morning. There was some major crying and tantrums. I just had to be firm and offer him empathy, but keep the limit. I offered other snuggling, reading books, or even babywearing to help give him that secure "baby" feeling without nursing. The hardest part was figuring out what to do when he got hurt. Finding another way to comfort him was really hard, but in the end was generally necessary. But having proscribed nursing times seemed to be better than him not knowing whether or not a request would be denied or delayed. You could set up 3-5 specific nursing times a day, or only 2, or whatever you are comfortable with, but it might help.

Ds1 will still occasionally ask to nurse more, but when reminded of when our nursing times are, he usually accepts it. He is now chewing and sucking on everything in sight, so this is not ideal, and maybe he did need more unrestricted access, but frankly I can only do so much and there has to be some balance for my sanity as well.

This didn't all happen at once, it was gradual. Also, long before I got to denying feedings, I would initiate ending them. I would give one or two minute warnings, and then we would count to ten and the nursing session would be over. Or, I would tell him initially he could have "just two minutes." I am sure this is how ds1 learned to count to ten. It also carried over to ds2. I don't use it often with him, because he's only 20 months old, but once I had to get something done and ds2 was just hanging out and playing, so I counted to 10, and he delatched on the first time happily... he had learned the routine by watching his older brother.

Setting limits is the only way I have been able to continue extended nursing a nearly 4-year-old. Also, as far as the philosophy of CLW goes, just having another pg disrupts the "natural" course of a bf relationship. Sometimes it cuts it shorter (some would say prematurely) and sometimes I think it unnaturally lengthens the desire of the older sibling to nurse.

Good luck, and lots of . Tandem nursing has been one of the most challenging things I have done, and we're constantly renegotiating how it works and what it looks like at our house.

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#4 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 04:46 PM
 
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Man Rebekah, I will be reading this thread daily because I know that in a few months I will be where you are. All I can offer is some empathy
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#5 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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nak



You are such a strong mama, and how lucky milo and zel are to have you. Im in the same boat as you and I wish that I could give you the magic paddle but atlas I dont have it: Setting limits is so hard. I wholeheartedly think that the relationship has to be beneficial to both of you. I cant even imagine getting up and having to face a boss in the morning after all you do lady, my f to you.
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#6 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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i dont remember if she wanted to or not but older dd never nursed more than nap and bed after dd2 was born but started nursing at night again and started cosleeping - never had, b/c dd2 was.

we tandemed for 9 months and then i night weaned dd1 at 3 yr 3 months and then the "after noon nurse" since napping had ceased became more a belabored ritual than a need. one day when i was very sick with mastitus she asked if s she could nurse now. I said yes, and tomorow also but that will be the last time. she said ok. and then she weaned, that was it. once when she was sick i started nursing her again. and then there have been times where she wants some nurse and gotten it. but she has been a weaned child, having something unusual not a nursing child.

and she has been so much happier. when i was nursing her she had like an anxiety of the nurse is there but i am not having it right now. what do i do? kwim? but when she stopped night nursing she knew she didnt "need" it any more. it changed entirely. she was more self confident and happier. she still holds my breast to go to sleep most nights. and co sleeps.

i am not sayign what you should do and not (on this forum advising weaning. just sharing my experience. I think i did child led wean, b/c i was following her lead. nursing so much was not good for my dd so we cut back. the rest just happened.

we weaned by her holdingthe nurse to fall asleep. it was she would nurse then stop nursing and hold it to fall asleep. the get gum in the moring. then if she woke up and did not nurse to sleep, she would get 2 peices of gum. every time she didnt nurse she would get an additional peicec of gum. then not nursing at night at all eventually. at one point it was alot of gum. but we said if she does a big girl thing with her mouth, she gets a big girl thing for her mouth.

you sound like an amazing mama who is so committed to her kids i am sure however you chose to go it will be the best choice for your family.

just to add, for a while i really missed nursing my dd1, physical sensation, but i would remind myself how much more relaxed and happy she was now. and i'd deal.
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#7 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the support, mamas! I know everyone walks their own path with this issue, and I can only hope for magical changes unless I'm willing to really change my behavior and beliefs that this will all work itself out.

It's funny, though, I do feel positive just posting this...like putting energy into changing the situation is a part of the battle, invisible though it is. THANKS, mamas!

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#8 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 06:41 PM
 
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Hi Rebekah! I'm just curious whether you have talked with him about it at times when he's not trying to nurse. Maybe you could try to have a talk about it, or a couple of talks, to discuss some new boundaries and limits. Maybe it will lessen the tantrums if he knows what to expect. When he's trying to nurse, it is probably a bad time to discuss limits. I'd throw a tantrum too.
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#9 of 17 Old 10-31-2007, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We do. I mean...I'm a talker and we TALK and TALK about this and...everything...Definitely not right at the time of nursing (although sometimes then too). The problem is that it's always immediate, you know? We don't nurse on a schedule enough, although I usually have an "after I've started making dinner/breakfast/meal (or started laundry or whatever task I'm in the middle of) I'll sit and nurse with you" rule. And if he wants to change that, he knows he needs to ask about it, not just expect to have endless access at his own convenience.

And sometimes I'll say "not right now" if he asks when I can't just sit down immediately, and it's fine. And sometimes I'll say "not right now" and it's...the end of the world.

I guess what's upsetting is that it's SO frequent. Like...I might have JUST gotten up from nursing him and he'll want to again...for another 5-20 minutes. This happens a lot at night, too, if he wakes and nurses and then the baby wakes, he'll want to keep sucking on an empty breast, or will battle me to take the baby's breast since "his" is empty. And sometimes I just CAN'T...CAN'T NURSE and CAN'T TAKE HIS ENDLESS NEED TO NURSE MORE!

Sigh...anyway, what I REALLY want to do is address his need for FREQUENT nursing, not nursing as a whole.

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#10 of 17 Old 11-01-2007, 01:40 PM
 
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I came on here to post something similar, as I feel a lot of parallels to your situation. My ds1 is 2.5 (also Milo!) and he nurses so frequently too it is driving me insane--way more than baby brother Kieran who is only 4 months old. He asks every 10 minutes at times and gets very upset if I try to distract him. We did night wean and he started sleeping all night while I was pregnant, but it starts at 5 in the morning. Just seeing I'm not the only one is comforting! I hope it gets better for both of us...
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#11 of 17 Old 11-01-2007, 02:01 PM
 
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I guess what's upsetting is that it's SO frequent. Like...I might have JUST gotten up from nursing him and he'll want to again...for another 5-20 minutes. This happens a lot at night, too, if he wakes and nurses and then the baby wakes, he'll want to keep sucking on an empty breast, or will battle me to take the baby's breast since "his" is empty. And sometimes I just CAN'T...CAN'T NURSE and CAN'T TAKE HIS ENDLESS NEED TO NURSE MORE!

I've been there before. It is frustrating, but this too shall pass.
With DD I've found that when we get to this point, I'm probably not feeding her enough. She gets in a habit of having "nummy" as food (and she'll definetly let you know its her favorite food). There are times when she's actually said "I don't want to eat, I like nummy better". All fine and dandy for her, but sometimes a problem for me. I went though a stretch of time when I just wasn't paying attention to how little she was eating for several months, when I did finally realize the issue, it was a struggle to get her to eat. I ended up using bribes, I figured at least the candy was getting more calories into her that weren't from breastmilk :
Eventually we switched from candy, to baked goods that were a step healthier, then baked goods which were really healthy, and now we actually are back to eating more than nursing, but it was a process.
This might not be at all related to your issues, but it never hurts to have more ideas

Mama to three - DD : 1/03, DS 2/06, and DS 6/09.
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#12 of 17 Old 11-01-2007, 02:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hmmmm...that's got me thinking. For a while I was cooking his food in coconut oil, "hiding" healthier fats in the food he likes, trying several things to calorie load him so that he wasn't so intent on breastmilk. It didn't work very well...(And in the course of 7 months he put on 7 lbs - fine for him since he's a skinny active little kid, but .)

Last night, post T&T chocolate coma, he slept almost through the night.

Hmmmm...maybe it's time to increase his healthy fats again. He eats a lot, but "a lot" for him isn't a lot for me. (insert crafty, devious smilie here)

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#13 of 17 Old 11-03-2007, 12:23 AM
 
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Hmmmm...maybe it's time to increase his healthy fats again. He eats a lot, but "a lot" for him isn't a lot for me. (insert crafty, devious smilie here)
Good luck, I hope it works for you

Mama to three - DD : 1/03, DS 2/06, and DS 6/09.
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#14 of 17 Old 11-03-2007, 04:22 AM
 
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But having proscribed nursing times seemed to be better than him not knowing whether or not a request would be denied or delayed. You could set up 3-5 specific nursing times a day, or only 2, or whatever you are comfortable with, but it might help.
What an excellent point!

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#15 of 17 Old 11-03-2007, 02:12 PM
 
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With DD I've found that when we get to this point, I'm probably not feeding her enough. She gets in a habit of having "nummy" as food (and she'll definetly let you know its her favorite food). There are times when she's actually said "I don't want to eat, I like nummy better". All fine and dandy for her, but sometimes a problem for me. I went though a stretch of time when I just wasn't paying attention to how little she was eating for several months, when I did finally realize the issue, it was a struggle to get her to eat. I ended up using bribes, I figured at least the candy was getting more calories into her that weren't from breastmilk :
Eventually we switched from candy, to baked goods that were a step healthier, then baked goods which were really healthy, and now we actually are back to eating more than nursing, but it was a process.
This might not be at all related to your issues, but it never hurts to have more ideas
I think reading this was a turning point for us. I have started being more on top of offering him food and it is helping. I guess because he is such a talker I've been assuming he would ask for food when he was hungry. Duh, I didn't think about how breastmilk is his favorite food. I just thought he was asking to nurse for comfort, because the baby was, etc. Off to the grocery store to stock up on favorite foods and "treats" (in quotes because many are fairly healthy...)
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#16 of 17 Old 11-03-2007, 11:14 PM
 
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When my dd was 4 1/2, she still nursed several times a night in addition to upon waking for the day and nursing to sleep at bedtime. I am trying to remember whether she still nursed during the day. I think maybe once or twice in the afternoon. Anyway...although I did not like to admit it, I was starting to feel like maybe I was ready for her to nurse less during the night...my dh had been wanting me to wean her completely since she turned 2 and was not pleased with the night nursing, and I also wanted to conceive another child and wasn't having much luck and thought cutting back on the night nursing might help. Anyway...back then, I used to read/post on the parentsplace.com Extended Nursing board, and at the time I read a post from a mom who had decided to use a point/reward system with her ds (I think he was about 5 or 5 1/2 y.o. at the time?) to night-wean. From her post, I realized that night-weaning an older child could be done with love and respect - that the mother and child - partners in nursing - could also work together as partners in setting guidelines for the nursing. As I remember it, she gave him choices about whether to nurse or to get a point ("points" could be earned, accumulated and then "spent" on a token reward), and he sometimes chose to nurse, sometimes chose the point, and gradually, over time, he night-weaned.

I don't remember the exact details of what that mom did (I think her ds may have used his points to get stickers?), but I decided to talk to my dd about trying something similar. She was actually (to my surprise!) open to this idea right from the very first time I mentioned it (I think that if she hadn't been open to the idea, I would have dropped it for a at least a month or two before even bringing it up to her again...to me it was really important that my dd be a willing partner in this with no pressure).

What we did was this: Any time my dd went all night without nursing between her bedtime-nursing and her wake-up-for-the-morning nursing, she woud earn a "point." We decided that upon earning 7 points, she could "spend" these points to pick out a bead at the bead store. (My idea (perhaps a bit overly-romantic) was that she could use the beads she earned to make a necklace that would be a special, concrete reminder of our nursing relationship - something that she could keep and treasure forever.) Anytime my dd woke up in the middle of the night asking to nurse, I would gently remind her that she had a choice...she could nurse and not earn a point for that night, or she could go back to sleep without nursing and still have a chance of earning a point for that night. (I should add that at that age, she slept on her own futon mattress at the foot of the futon mattress on which dh and I slept, so there was some space separating us during times when I was not snuggling with her in her futon.) At the start, she continued to wake several times a night asking to nurse. Each time, I came to her and offered her the choice. Sometimes she chose to nurse, sometimes she chose not to. I could see that her waking was a habit and that asking to nurse when she woke was more of a habit than a physical need to nurse. I never pressured her to choose a point over nursing, yet she often chose to roll over and go back to sleep rather than to nurse. Over the next 2 1/2 of months or so, she gradually night-weaned. Her choices were sporadic...some weeks she earned several points, some weeks she earned few or none. We were both O.K with this. Over time she stopped asking to nurse during the night but would on her own just roll over and go back to sleep. I was also surprised that dd was not fixated on getting points/beads. She forgot about earning more points when she stopped asking to nurse during the night.

Dd enjoyed going to the store and picking out beads, and I enjoyed letting her pick out beads. I think we bought them in one or two big batches rather than going to the store each time she accumulated 7 points. (Dd was good with numbers, so was fine with this/understood that getting 2 beads for 14 points was the same as getting 1 bead for 7 points.) When she had night-weaned, I had her string the beads to make a necklace, but although she liked the beads, the necklace did not have the sentimental value to her that I had imagined it would, and a year or two later when she found the tangled string of beads at the bottom of her jewelry box, she didn't seem to remember that she had earned them, and she decided she did not even want the beads anymore.

Another thing I should mention is that dd's night-weaning led to changes in my milk. The decrease in frequency of nursing led to a decrease in supply, and my milk became colostrum-like - salty and yellow. Over the next year our nursing sessions became shorter and gradually she decreased to nursing just briefly before bed and briefly in the morning (both with lots of snuggling but little time actually suckling) (sigh...those brief bouts of nursing my 5 y.o. dd while snuggling are some of my favorite memories of nursing) and then to just briefly before bed, and then to not every night, and then to only once or twice a month, and then she was done (at about 5 3/4 y.o.).

Anyway...I did not have another nursling, so I did not have some of the same issues you have to deal with in terms of your ds wanting to nurse because his sister just nursed, etc. But I wanted to share in case our story might give you some ideas.

Joanne (mom to dd, who is now 12 y.o. (yikes!))
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#17 of 17 Old 11-04-2007, 12:13 AM
 
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You are part of this relationship too. Your needs are important. That's all I wanted to say.
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