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Questions about Weaning a Preschooler

759 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mama24-7
Hello Everyone!

I'm not sure if I am at the correct forum to ask these questions, so let me know if there is a better spot!

I am nursing my 38 month old and I would like to be further along in the process for many reasons. I have 2 medical reasons. My mother had premenopausal breast cancer and currently has osteoporosis. It is difficult to get a good mammogram while nursing and also difficult to accurately see bone strength. I have started perimenopause and my health practitioner is concerned that my bone strength may go down. I know that breast feeding helps with both of these in the long term, but I want to see what is going on. If anyone has any other information on this I'd be very interested in hearing it.

My daughter has cut out naps and has been so crabby which makes her need me more. I try to limit her nursing to the ABC song and sometimes that works, but many times she whines and cries and it's really hard for me to deal with. I try to give her extra attention and sometimes that does help. The problem is that she gave up naps 5 months ago and I keep waiting for this stage to end. Has anyone had experience with this?

Currently she nurses 2-4 times during the day and approximately 2 times at night. I'm thinking of cutting back to 1 time per day (right before bed) and see how that goes. Any thoughts?

Another problem is that my husband is against extended nursing. While this is not my primary motivation, I do have to take this into consideration as we disagree often about the ways we raise our kids!

Thank you so much for your help.

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Originally Posted by kidsandmama
My daughter has cut out naps and has been so crabby which makes her need me more.
My DD always gets extra clingy and needy when I attempt to cut back or limit how much she nurses. It will probably get worse, if you continue the weaning process.

Breastfeeding has been shown to actually protect against osteoporosis (Blaauw, R. et al. Risk factors for development of osteoporosis in a South African population. SAMJ 1994; 84:328-32.)
You can find that study at - probably a good idea to read it for yourself to see what it says.

link The risk of osteoporosis is not increased by extended breastfeeding. On the contrary, long-term breastfeeding may be beneficial to our bones.

A woman has less chances of breast cancer if she was breastfed or she breastfeed her children.

Newcomb, P.A. et al. 1994. "Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer." The New Eng J of Med, 330(2): 81-87

Freudenheim, J. et al. 1994. Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology 5:324-331

McTieman, A., Evidence of Protective Effect of Lactation on Risk of Breast Cancer in Young Women. Am J of Epidemiol, 1986

Layde, P.M., "The Independent Associations of Parity Age at First full Term Pregnancy, and Duration of Breast Feeding with the Risk of Breast Cancer." J of Clin Epidemiol, 1989

Valerie Beral, A collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50.302 women with breast cancer and 96.973 women without the disease. The Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, Lancet 2002; 360: 187-95

Isabelle Romieu et al, Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer. Am J Epidemiol 1996; 143:543-52
again, I'd look up those studies at pubmed, and read them for myself if I were you. Not only is extended breastfeeding protecting *you* against breast cancer, but also your child.
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Thank you everyone for responding to my post. I appreciate the time that you took to write to me.

I do understand that breastfeeding will help breast cancer and osteoporosis in the long run. It's hard to think about weaning when I know that breastfeeding is so beneficial. But I have been pregnant or nursing for 6 years (this posting is regarding my second child), so I haven't had an accurate mammogram in 6 years. What if there is a tumor in there and I am missing it?

Thank you for reminding me that I need to take things slow in weaning for her sake and my own. I should probably cut out the night nursings for now and see how that goes. Later I can cut out some of the daytime nursings.

Thank you again for your input. If anyone else has any other thoughts I'd love to hear them!

Hi there, I just weaned my dd at about 39 months because I am pregnant and couldn't deal with the pain anymore.

she wasn't nursing as much as your dd because I have slowly been reducing the nursings. It started by me saying no nursing when we're out. Only at home. And then made sure we were out every day. She quickly forgot about it during the day. Then it became a night time thing, that was harder. When she did want to nurse during the day I started telling her, ok, but only for 2 minutes, but often I could distract her with attention. I"d say "ok you can have mama", wait a few seconds and say "hey, do you want to paint?" Usually just the attention is what she wanted, or it was that she was hungry.

Once we got to only night time nursing. I started doing the same thing at night, telling her "only for 2 minutes ok? mommy needs to sleep". She was ok with that. And I finally weaned her by telling her that when she stops having mama altogether she'd get that horse that she really wants. (Toy horse, she loves horses).

Then of course once she had the horse she tried a few times to nurse, and cried, but I would say "do you want the horse or the mama?" and she chose the horse each time.

I suppose self weaning mamas might not like the way I weaned her but I was desperate, I couldn't stand the pain.

So like other posters said, i'd do it gradually. Like each week try to eliminate one nursing. give her extra attention, keep her busy, make sure she has snacks, etc...

Within a month or two you should be able to wean her with relatively little stress to her and you.
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I have a question: Exactly what tests do you need to have done?

According to a conversation I was having the other day, if you have a mammogram that shows possible issues the next step is an ultrasound. Could you just skip straight to the ultrasound?

Also, for bone density analysis wouldn't you just undergo a bone scan or ultrasound (neither of which would require weaning)?
Thank you both for writing me back.

I like the idea of limiting nursing to at home and then going out and being busy. I think it will be easier, too now that it is summer and her older brother is home. We can be very busy- go swimming, play outside, etc.

She tends to want to nurse when I am on the phone, or when she is upset and sometimes when she is hungry. So, I will definitely need to give her extra attention.

It is also starting to hurt when she nurses, too. Sometimes there is no milk and so it hurts when she sucks harder. Milk supply can go down with perimenopause (atleast that is my understanding).

That is a nice pace- reduce 1 nursing a week.

As far as what tests I need to get done. I usually get 1 mammogram every year or two. I don't have any lumps at the moment, so there isn't anything special that I am worried about. It's more that I am starting to worry that I haven't had an accurate mammogram (or as accurate as they can be). 10 years ago I went to a doctor who worked for a breast care center (or something like that) and she did ultrasounds. But she stopped practicing and I don't know of anyone that does that in my area. Perhaps I need to check in Sacramento which is my nearest large city.

This is my understanding of bone scans. It's okay to be breast feeding, but breastfeeding itself makes it seem as if the bones are weaker. About 6 months or so after a woman weans the bones will be stronger again (stronger than if she hadn't breastfed). But perimenopause can cause an increase in osteoporosis and I can't get an accurate picture of my bones unless I stop breastfeeding.

Maybe I'll just set a goal of trying to have her weaned by the end of summer. Nice and slow.

Thanks again everyone!

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There was a concern about a mass in my breast when my dd was only a few months old. Because I was breastfeeding, we skipped the mammogram and had an ultrasound. IT was nothing, luckily.

I recently started to work on cutting out some nursing sessions w/ dd, mostly at night. I first began talking to her about how we were going to rock, sing, pat bottoms, etc. at night but we weren't going to have milk. I've found that talking w/ her about what is going on, the better she handles it.

We've also started having her dad go to sleep w/ her, which we started talking about days before we did this.

My point: talk to your daughter about what needs to happen.

Good luck,
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