Cross posting because I really need advice, and don’t know where to turn....
DS will be 20mths this week. I have always BF on demand. And believe me there has been a lot of demand. He has always been a high frequency nurser. We co-sleep and he nurses all night long. On an amazing night he will go for two three/four hour stretches in a row without nursing. Usually he nurses a lot after 3am. I have been waiting for 20 months for it to improve on it’s own. Telling myself that “once these teeth come in it will improve” and when it doesn’t I say “cognitive leap? tummy ache? obviously he needs it since he is still nursing so much....” It looked like it was getting better, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to nurse him to sleep in our bed, scoop him into the crib, come to bed when I was ready (sometimes before he woke to nurse!) and nurse him a few times as we slept. Well. It got worse. This past week it has been brutal nursing him to sleep. And he’s having a hard time staying asleep. Lots of pinching and flailing around. Is he teething? Perhaps. I mean, it’s always a possibility. Even though his final canine came through, he is cranky and drooly during day....he could be getting his 2 yr molars? Cognitive leap? He’s getting a bunch of words right now...but come on! After almost a week of this I am at my wits end. I am used to being exhausted. I am used to sometimes going to bed so so so early so I can function. I have not slept more than four consecutive hours in 20 months. Because I have always thought it would improve when he hit 18 months. Then I was like “maybe 19?” And here we are. Last night I was crying a little as he suckled in the dark. We want to try to get PG this summer, and I really don’t see how I can handle it. I want to help him sleep better, heck that’s why I have BF on demand like this--cuz I thought I was helping him!
I am thinking about night weaning, but when I think of him crying for nursing I can’t handle it, I have always pictured us communicating about it when he was ready, or it happening more naturally. Does it have to be all or nothing? Is there a way to help him decrease his need for night nursing without cutting him off? My DH is more than willing to help, but I don’t know how to begin. I have read every book and website. NCSS, Jay Gordon etc. But nothing I have read seems to seem possible for me. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Can anyone give me a gentle plan for more rest? Sorry for the long post. I am feeling defeated and overwhelmed--esp when I think about getting PG if it’s still like this.
My DD is now 28 months. She was a fairly heavy nurser up till about 18 months and would often nurse 2 times a night with some nights being all night sleep nursing. She now has all of her teeth including her second set of molars--it is possible that your son is still teething, which might be why he wants to nurse so much.
Some things that we did that reduced DDs night nursing (some intentional and some not) are: When DD was about 1 year old we purchased a twin sized mattress and put it on the floor in her room (she co-slept with us until this point) and we slowly transitioned her to sleeping in her bed by starting with naps and then putting her to bed at night in it. For a long time she would wake up some time in the night and I would go get her and bring her into our bed (I still do this sometimes). As she got used to it she would sleep for longer stretches. This was probably the biggest help. However, I am now 8 months pregnant with number two and DDs nursing decreased drastically when my milk dried up (she was nursing 6-8 times a day) now she really only wants to nurse before naps or bedtime. So, this is something that may happen for you if you get pregnant. DD basically weaned off of frequent nursing because she wasn't getting much, but she still likes the comfort of nursing. She went through a phase of wanting very short nursings--she would ask to nurse and then take like 2-3 sucks and be done. I also, although not frequently, have told her at night when she has wanted to nurse a lot (and being that it was pretty much dry nursing and didn't feel particularly good) that the mama milks are sleeping and would instead offer her a sippy cup of water. This for the most part worked okay, but sometime she would get very upset so I would let her nurse a little then take her off.
Does your son drink other beverages during the day? Maybe part of his nursing is just that he is thirsty--we give DD water in a sippy at night a lot and that works great. Maybe you could start offering him an alternative to drink at night to decrease the actual nursing (I like water).
Partner (10 years) Mother to Lily (4 years), Jonas (1.5 years), 1 dog , and 1 cat
I hear you! It is really tough. DS nursed very frequently throughout the night until he was about 33 months. Now, half a year later, he quite suddenly does not nurse at night anymore. I too got really frustrated at times, sometimes desperate. When he got a bit older, I would tell him that I would go to the washroom, hoping that he would fall asleep while I was gone. This eventually worked. Perhaps giving some water during the night helps too.