Desperately NEED HELP:: - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 01-12-2011, 02:50 AM - Thread Starter
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 Daughter is 2 (in Feb), has BF'd - exclusively until 8 months and then a LOT since then. - She was nursing 5-8 times a night up until she was 18 months old. When she was 10 months old she started eating some foods, and around a year was probably 60/40 BF/food. I got pregnant and she seemed to start self-weaning, but still was nursing a lot in other people's opinion, but we were fine. When my colostrum came in, she took it up a lot again, but still continued to eat pretty well. Some days she was gobbling the food down.
When my son was born (4 months ago) and my milk came in, her appetite COMPLETELY left. After a few weeks I started asking other extended BFing moms/LLL/etc what they thought and I got a lot of 'don't worry, you have lots of changes, she'll settle out'.... It's been FOUR MONTHS and she has not. She started eating again more a month ago, but about 1 1/2 weeks ago she stopped eating completely. Again everyone said 'don't worry, she'll eat'... and I'm encouraged by my BFing/LLL friends etc to continue nursing her, as she still gets nutrition and lots of comfort from it. 
I will say first off that there have been lots of external stresses in the past while. We moved 7 months ago, my son was born 3 months ago, and things have been REALLY financially tight (we've had to have others cover our rent 3 months in a row now), which doesn't effect her except that my husband and I are fairly stressed and that translates onto the kids. I had to go back to work (very parttime, waiting tables) this past week, and I know it's effecting the kids for sure.
All that said, she will not eat. Occasionally in the past 2 weeks we can get her to eat a bite or TWO, but no more. She's almost constantly asking to nurse, and goes into what someone would probably call a fit when I tell her no. When she does nurse, she drains me quickly, which has upped my milk supply so that I think I'm putting out about 3-4 pints a day right now. I'm eating between 3500-4000 calories a day, and most days could eat more. And I'm losing weight (not fast or anything, but on 4000 a day a 5'7" girl should be putting on some pounds). I'm needing to watch it so that my 4mo actually has enough TO eat.
Although I'm a supporter (obviously, I think) of extended BFing, tandem nursing, nursing on demand, and we're a bedsharing family, I literally CANNOT sustain a toddler, let alone a toddler and a newborn. There is no way physically I can keep this up anymore. Which is a major reason why I've told her no so much lately. I'm so drained. My body cannot keep up. 
I have a hard time wanting to discipline her for crying/having "fits" when I say no, because although I totally am done with her crying/screaming/etc at me all the time (SO tired of it), I know that she seriously is HUNGRY. Her little tummy probably hurts. She's probably tired a lot because of it. She's not sleeping well. Right now I'm up because she woke up (probably hungry), asked to nurse, I said no let's sleep, and she cried at me for 45 minutes. I tried offering water, we were snuggling, she asked to hold me (which to her means completely smothering me, which is hard for me to sleep with, but I figured ok let's try to get her to sleep...5 minutes later she'd start crying again)... I KNOW she's hruting and hungry, but she will not eat anything we offer her. She asks to nurse or for chocolate (which we do not give her)...... Husband is upstairs right now snuggling her to sleep, but even then she cried for 20 minutes with him.
WHAT DO I DO?! She needs to eat. She's obviously hurting. I'm feeling horrible, like I should just nurse her for this 'phase'...but I cannot. It's not that I'm against nursing a 2 year old, but I cannot completely sustain her, especially while having a newborn who DOES need me for 100% food and while having to work a night or two a week. 
She's a definite toucher, and I feel like I try to hold her often. What is hard is that every time (I'm not exagerating. without exception) she's start pulling hard at my shirt and asking to nurse. Because she's hungry. If I offer milk, water, foods (chicken, ham, turkey, cheese, crackers, avacado, banana, graham crackers, soup, sandwiches....lots of choices literally...) she says 'no no no' and then asks to nurse again. 
I know that she can't work through it in her 2 year old mind and that she really truly feels that she needs to nurse, but this can't go on. She's not eating. I'm at a loss. I have to teach her that food is ok and I'll still love on her and hold her, that she doesn't only need to nurse to have contact with me. The whole 'she'll eat when she's hungry, nurse her just a few times a day' deal isn't working, it's just making a really hungry babygirl and a really wiped out mommy and daddy.
(ps. Not looking for 'stop nursing cold turkey' suggestions, as I don't think that would be beneficial at all. I'm looking for ways to improve our situation, even if the solution is weaning, I'm looking for gradual (even if gradual means a couple weeks, that's fine. I just won't stop in a day)....
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#2 of 3 Old 01-12-2011, 01:12 PM
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I haven't gotten there yet, but I am nursing my 19 month old through pregnancy. it sounds like before limiting nursing, trying to work more solids in would be a good idea. don't offer solids when she's asking to nurse (that will make her feel like she has to choose between eating and nursing), but offer her bites of everything you're eating and try giving her a small snack every time you nurse the baby, and any other time it's convenient. even if it's just one or two bites it's better than nothing. 

I've found that DD will ask to nurse any time I'm holding her unless she has her Binky (introduced when I needed to limit nursing due to pregnancy) or we're reading a book. and I make sure when she's done nursing that we have some extra cuddles then.

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#3 of 3 Old 01-12-2011, 01:58 PM
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Some ideas to try out if you feel comfortable doing so:


If she refuses to eat at mealtime/snacktime, agree to/offer her nursing only after she eats a few bites (number up to you).


Have her wait to nurse until after baby brother has nursed and offer the same side only - I'm thinking in terms of block-feeding.


Limit night nursing to a few minutes at a time but agree to a small snack after if she wants.


Make sure all food offered is nutrient dense and filling. Try smoothies if she'll drink rather than eat solids right now.


It is hard to limit when you know your child is practically starving themselves. But breastmilk alone is really inadequate at her age and activity level. I don't think you need to wean her completely but I do think you would all be better served by limiting her in a gentle manner. Yes, she may throw a tantrum when you tell her 'no.' But at her age, most likely, she will eventually eat food rather than starve herself, even if she doesn't logically/mentally 'get' the connection between food and her physical pains.


Best of luck resolving this issue!

A + B = G 6/07 & E 2/09 & brokenheart.gif 11/28/10 & F 1/12 & due 8/14
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