DS1 and I had a great nursing relationship--other than a couple brief typical bouts with biting, we nursed happily until he weaned with just a gentle nudge from me when he was 3 1/2 and I was pregnant with my 2nd babe. Now DS2 is 21 months. Nursing has gone well generally with him also, but the last couple weeks in particular, it has become almost intolerable for me. He is SO obnoxious about it. He wants to nurse constantly--we were at the library for an hour today and he nursed 3 times. If I don't give him the breast the millisecond he comes looking for it, he grabs the top of my shirt and pulls (the necks are stretched out on most of my shirts). At that point, even if I intend to let him nurse, I still need him to let go of my shirt. I literally have to pry his fingers off. If I don't want to nurse him that very second, he cries and continues to grab at me relentlessly. When he is nursing, he is grabbing and pinching and doing gymnastics all over me. And the constant side-switching. Don't get me started on that.
So what has changed? I'm pretty sure my supply is no different than before this started. I'm not producing a huge amount at this point anyway, given his age, but I don't think it has dropped from the usual. He has all his teeth except the 2 year molars. That's the only thing I can think of--there is no swelling and I can't feel anything, and he's not drooling, but he's been fussy generally besides this, so I'm wondering if those molars are moving around under the surface and bothering him. He's not chewing stuff, though, and he's been through teething all his other teeth without devouring me like this. Emotionally--I can't think of anything going on that would make him needier or out of sorts. Things are actually pretty even keel for our family right now and life is good. As for his mama, other than this, I've felt better emotionally than I have in several years.
So that's the problem in a nutshell. I really don't want to wean him now--I feel it's too early. But I don't want to go on like this, because at this point I really hate nursing him 80% of the time. So I am sad. Any ideas? Practical tips, attitude adjustments, I'll take anything!
My daughter (now 28 months) was much more aggressive with her demands at that age, which for her seemed to be a time when her perception of the world was really changing--I think it was scary and intoxicating for her all at once. I think she needed reassurance that I was there for her no matter what, but also to discover that if I don't breastfeed her on demand, the world doesn't come to an end. I don't think I did anything specific to help her adjust to her new reality, other than just try to hold a sense of patience and affection in myself. Also, I became really aware of how much I needed to be calm and confident when she was upset if I couldn't give her what she wanted right away.
Edited to add: Anyway, so things are much easier now. She still breastfeeds every couple of hours, with clusters at times. But it's rarely urgent for her. We can go on occasion for up to 5 or 6 hours and it's no big deal. She is still very enthusiastic (and acrobatic!), but that overwhelming urgency has dissipated and she is more often amenable to me removing her hands from an uncomfortable position or telling her no more switching sides. It's much easier now, and I'm glad I stuck it out. More likely than not, what you're going through now will pass on its own, or maybe you'll choose to be more firm in teaching "manners." One thing that helped me is to realize that attachment parenting a 2 year old will be differently applied than parenting a newborn. That will mean different things to different people, but it's something to think about.
I had weaned by then but well before then I had very strict rules. We didn't' nurse outside the house at all. Didn't nurse multiple times in an hour. Didn't nurse at all if they were grabby. No twiddling or switching back and forth (Ever. even when they were tiny).
the 'trick' is being OK with them being upset about the rules. IT'S OK if he has a fit that he can't nurse twice in 10 minutes. He's allowed to be disappointed. It doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong.
The transition from baby to toddler is tough because your job is no longer to prevent all tears!
Does your DS know my DS?
This last week or two have been challenging for us as well. Things are getting better, and looking back I think it is a combo of 1) teething (molars), 2) my hormones, 3) a verbal explosion/new milestone, and 4) that intoxicating/overwhelming world the PP was speaking of!
I am also no-nonsense about nursing. He is 21 months old. We nurse in public, but there is no being rough about it. I can ask him to wait for 5-10 minutes (which is a long time if you REALLY NEED TO NURSE NOW) and he can hold it together nicely that long before a melt down, so I try to make sure I don't make him wait any longer. I like to avoid meltdowns if I can, and I am happy with his attempts to wait. (Did I mention he REALLY NEEDS TO NURSE RIGHT NOW!? ) He knows when I say "5 minutes" that I mean 5 minutes and not 30 minutes.
Shirt pulling gets an immediate plop onto the floor, so he learned not to do that pretty quickly. D_McG makes a good point - sticking to the rules helps, even if there is a tantrum now and again at not getting his own way.
I also try to remember to offer when it works for me, so that he gets that 'treat' of nursing unexpectedly. I am relaxed about it because I staged it, and he is thrilled. On days when I remember to do this I find that he is less needy/demanding.
Good luck, and hopefully this will pass for you like it seems to be for us!