Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

[See end of post to get discount code on weaning keepsake/nursing necklaces and more from Wild Mother Arts as a thanks for sharing your experiences on A Living Family Breastfeeding Survey.]

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My 2.5 year old daughter and I have had some rough spots in our nursing relationship, including weaning during pregnancy and relearning how to nurse postpartum.

The first tandem nurse. Is my toddler really nursing?

I wrote about my commitment to breastfeeding despite woes while pumping and working and while nursing and pregnant. I shared how my body weaned us both due to lack of supply which may have caused my daughter to have a nursing-related nose obsession. I found a respectful way to handle tandem nursing. Alas, our nursing relationship continues to be one riddled with bad timing, unhelpful hormones and hard feelings. Shifts are happening, and I am stuck with this nagging worry…

Is this weaning?

A few things are standing out to me:

  • Second tandem nursing effort. Felt like a bundle of legs and a juggling of mouths. Luckily, everyone’s latch is better now.

    Sometimes my daughter will ask for “milkies” but then continue playing. Sometimes I let her know that if she wants milkies now is the time because I’m going to put baby in a sling soon. She says, “First, I want to play with this for a little bit.” Sometime she asks and runs off to do something else, or I ask before wearing baby and she says no.

  • I figured out having her on during a let down minimized my aversion and helped her get the most milk. I assumed she had relearned how to nurse after six months without, during pregnancy. I have overactive(forceful) letdown. Recently, now that baby boy is nearing five months, I entered the period when milk supply regulates. My letdowns are less out of control now.
  • My daughter has been saying things like “the milkies are stuck” or “there’s no milk coming out” when I just had a letdown. I just realized, since the supply shift makes it more clear, that she is talking about the flow slowing. Now I wonder if she doesn’t not how to create suction…without teeth, which causes horrible aversion for me.

I have come to the realization that I cannot force a nursing relationship to continue.

I can’t even force myself to get past aversion and enjoy the act of nursing. Admittedly, I am only months out postpartum, but I have been having all kinds of emotions. Usually I do however much maneuvering it takes for me to get baby settled elsewhere.

Then it starts up like this inside my head:

The first “real” nurse session post weaning.

I am so happy to have a chance to nurse her and be close. Finally! I am going to give her what she needs. I am going to be there for her. I can do this. I am going to wait till she is all finished. Other mamas grin and bear it. I can do this. [Recall birth experience for inspiration.]

[Latch] My sweet baby girl…

[Right after latch] Oomph.

Grrr….this feels so grating. How’s her latch? [Readjust. Reposition.]

I really, really want to give this comfort and closeness to my little girl.

[Guilt…for having these conflicting feelings, for going back to work, for getting pregnant and losing my milk, for having such strong nursing aversion…]

[Rubbing feet back and forth, gritting teeth, clenching hands.]

Aargh! I want to push her off me! STOP IT!!!

[Mind searching elsewhere for things to think about. Not helping. Can’t stand it.]

“One more minute, my love.”

[15 seconds….]

Has it been a minute yet?! [5 more seconds]

Still not a minute?! [10 more seconds]

“Ok, my love, all finished.”

[My daughter asks for “few more minutes” and I give her one more “minute” just to assuage my guilt.]

This feels like a crossroads. This feels like weaning territory.

If I can’t get it together, I am pretty sure she will stop sooner rather than later. I am not ready to end our relationship. She is not ready to wean.

I want to nurse my child till she is finished with our nursing relationship.

At only 2.5, she’s so small. Before I got pregnant and the aversion started, I loved nursing her. It feels like betrayal, and I don’t want to give up something I want because my body feels hard to deal with.

I don’t want to unintentionally wean my daughter through my negativity.

Sometimes, I get this horrible urge, like I want to squeeze her hard to make the feeling stop. Sometimes, I realize I am holding my arms tight or she says “too tight” and I have to ask her to get off or tell her “one more minute.” Sometimes, I snap at her when she moves around. I get so irritated and agitated and aggravated and all those annoyed words. All at once. The feelings overwhelm me….

Right now, I need to nurture our nursing relationship so it can survive and grow again. 

MY PLAN:

[For dealing with my feelings of aversion, but I’d say these apply to pregnant mamas with sore nipples, too]

  • General Preventative:
    • Stay hydrated…extra extra because more milk = less teeth
    • Eat well — lots of healthy fats, low sugars, no caffeine?
    • Sleep — sleep early, nap when needed
    • Take placenta pills when feeling off
    • Drink milk tea, nettle tea as needed
    • Eat oatmeal a few times a week
  • Before Nursing:
    • Continue our kiss and “fweeze” (squeeze/hug) first
    • Bring up positive feelings and images of my daughter
    • Really take her in — her eyes, her size, her feel
    • Make a commitment to focus on loving her for those short minutes
    • GOOD LATCH
  • While Nursing: 

Of all of these measures, the biggest surprise has been the nursing necklace.

Wild Mother Arts so compassionately supports the natural nursing and weaning relationship (see below for discount opportunity!). She makes beautiful pendants that are made from semiprecious stones using care and wisdom of healing properties of stones such as amethyst, rhodonite and tiger iron. I love stones, had seen these briefly long before all this nursing drama and thought, “How sweet and pretty.”

Now, though, I was more desperately trying something other mothers had said was actually helpful for keeping a good latch while nursing their distracted toddlers. I also read about having her open wide and stick out her tongue, common trick for correcting toddler latch. I ordered the necklaces, and forgot about them, trudging along until they arrived.

I decided to try out the nursing necklace and the latch instruction during our next session.

The first time I nursed my toddler wearing the necklace my daughter instantly settle down. She caressed, stroked, poked, swung, grabbed and stared at the necklace while she nursed. Her latch stayed good. I was able to nurse her for longer than usual and with little to no discomfort.

The second time, I decided to do some of my “before nursing” ideas above. She both played with the necklace and was on and off talking to me. This usually annoys me because her teeth are also on and off. I was surprised I felt able to nurse her rather easily. I felt no discomfort and barely any aversion. I even nursed her on both sides.

Tandem Nurse #3: Trying out the football hold with the 2.5 yo…didn’t like the teeth where they were. Going to try football with baby next time.

If I am being honest, part of the reason I wanted a nursing necklace is to have, as Wild Mother Arts says, a wonderful keepsake of my nursing relationship with my first born child.

I can be sentimental, and this can be something to hold my memories. The reality is that, even though sometimes she wants more milk, my daughter is probably in the earliest stages of weaning. She is closer to 3 than 2. I hear of nursing relationships shifting to once every week or two. I can’t imagine this when she is still at 1-5 times a day (especially with my low supply phobia), but I hope that this is us.

Despite any difficulty I have faced or will face in the future, I would honor and cherish the opportunity to nurse my daughter well past toddlerhood into her childhood.

I’m not sure if this is weaning or not, but for my part I hope this daughter of mine weans me gently.

[Wild Mother Arts has generously agreed to allow me to give a discount code (on items from the whole store!) to any readers who participate in A Living Family Breastfeeding Survey. (There’s also a Survey for Partners of Breastfeeding Mothers.) Click on the link, share your story and save! “Wild Mother Arts creates handmade nursing necklaces, fertility bracelets, fertility goddess necklaces and birth jewelry with natural, healing gemstones.” Please share your nursing and weaning joys, struggles, tips and wisdom for other mothers to draw from. Thank you in advance! ~sheila]

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Resources on Weaning Gently

Information

Stories



Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):

39 responses to this post.

  1. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

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  2. Sheila – you could have written all of that for me. It’s so hard to explain to anyone else – how all of a sudden the feeling of nursing your sweet baby could change into something like revulsion. At any rate, I think that is what weaning is looking like here, too.
    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    Reply

  3. I can relate to many of your feelings, in the end the right choice for us was to wean. I think weaning looks different for every mama and every baby, and it sounds like you are listening to your toddler and your body.

    Reply

  4. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  5. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

    • I don’t think the two have to be related. DS was potty-trained at 18 mos. He’s now 24 mos and still neusrs at least 3 times a day. It probably is just the time spent running to the bathroom. Days with less nursing are outside days because he’s just too busy. This is something newer to her so her attention is just refocused, I think. In a couple of weeks you may catch yourself thinking why did I even put a shirt on today because she’ll be back nursing so much and then you’ll wander what you were worried about. Or at least thats how it seems to go here.

      Reply

  6. Oh, Sheila, and other mommas… I experienced this with my first born also. I’m pregnant with number five now. I have written a couple of pieces that I hope will be helpful. One is an exercise to use during aversion, likely similar to what you describe, the next is about making choices when experiencing aversion, and the last is about love changing form as our children wean and we grow.

    http://codenamemama.com/2011/10/20/bfing-aversion-exercise/
    http://codenamemama.com/2011/10/24/bfing-aversion-making-choices/
    http://dulcefamily.blogspot.com/2012/05/carnival-of-weaning-love-changes-form.html

    You obviously have done so much work to continue the connection you feel breastfeeding provides. It is lovely to read about your inner process.

    I encourage you and any others reading to consider that weaning can really be a mutual experience of growth and transformation – more than a “child-led”, guilt-laced experience where mom searches deeply to find and honor herself. Or maybe it’s all of that! Breastfeeding is certainly a relationship between two people.

    I say this as a momma who nurses her young till *we* are done (most around age 3-4 in our experience thus far, but each relationship is unique). At the same time, honoring ourselves as mothers and realizing that we are *not* ending a relationship, we are blossoming into a ripening, a new stage or phase if one wants to call it that. Really, though, our love is not reducing – it is just changing form. As we embrace this we can release the guilt and simply love our littles. Hugs.

    Reply

  7. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  8. Thanks for sharing your success with the nursing necklace. It does sound like weaning….and that’s ok. We can’t make decisions only rationally, our bodies have great wisdom. As does your little girl, who sometimes would rather keep playing…..Sounds to me like a child who’s totally secure in being well-loved.

    Reply

    • This isn’t what I’ve experienced, But, I had B in uneewrdar before she was 2. Please, don’t read that she hasn’t ever had accidents. Because she does. 2 reasons. 1. She is mad at me (after an accident, she’ll ask, Mommy are you mad? Are you frustrated? 2. Because she is an extremely focused child who doesn’t like to stop what she is doing. Just like her Dad. Anyway, her nursing never slowed down. In fact, it has been weeks since my milk dried up, and most every day she asks if she can have milky. I feel bad, because I was not planning on weaning her. So, boy I am tangent-y today..-= georgine s last blog .. =-.

      Reply

  9. What a great plan to help you through this stage, whatever the outcome ends up being.

    Reply

  10. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

    • I wish I could help but I’ve never nursed for that long. I can say that my 3yo is still in direpas, though. Ugh. Ooh! I know! All of my kids were different when it came to potty training my oldest was using the potty by the time she was 2bd but I’d forced the issue. My 2nd trained himself (completely) by 2bd, I had nothing to do with that. But my 3yo wants nothing to do with it unless he’s naked. I’m not entirely sure what to do with him.(That is completely not helpful, but I felt the need to leave my 2a2, it’s that kind of day ).-= psumommy s last blog .. =-.

      Reply

  11. Posted by cd on May 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I totally know how you feel! We’re weaned now, but what an up-and-down ride it was – from the really down parts in the early days, to hitting our grove, to the point at which I felt a boiling frustration rise during some of our nursing sessions towards the end of our run. It’s good to give your body credit and validate those emotions because they are very real! You’re amazing for being open to two littles.

    Reply

  12. It is good to see how you plan on dealing and combating your aversions. I like the idea of the necklace being a calming influence on both of you.

    Reply

  13. ((((Hugs))) I could relate to so much of this post! With my oldest daughter, we went through nursing aversion while I was pregnant with her little brother and then for several months after that. Part of the reason that I stuck it out was because I hated the thought of ending on that note. Thankfully, for us it got better. The last year and a half that I nursed her, I enjoyed it and so did she. These were my posts on nursing aversion
    and what helped me
    .

    Reply

  14. Posted by gentlemamamoon on May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    This all sounds so familiar and we haven’t even got to the possibility of post-birth-of-sibling ‘un-weaning’ yet!
    I love what you wrote at the end -,”for my part I hope this daughter of mine weans me gently”… it’s exactly why I entitled my own carnival post ‘Weaning Aversion’ for as much as the the feeling of ‘feeding/nursing aversion’ was unbearable, so too has the feeling of not wanting our nursing relationship to end – and certainly not to end with these feeling of angst surrounding them!
    I have found great comfort in the extra cuddles and physical affection that have come with our end (or possibly pause) of nursing.
    One thing I have considered and that I would like to share with you, is that whether or not my toddler decides to un-wean when our new babe arrives, ‘if’ I still feel too much aversion to nursing him – then I plan to express the milk into a cup for him so at least he will still get the nutritional and immune benefits of breast milk into his early childhood.
    I’m totally in awe of your commitment and I will be thinking of you often (and looking out for new updates!) hoping that whatever the future holds will not feel forced upon you.

    Reply

  15. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

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  16. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  17. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  18. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  19. I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for writing this. As I was reading it, I felt this massive surge of relief. I have felt like this about breastfeeding right from the beginning! I know our situations are completely different (it began for you with your second pregnancy), but it was just so validating to have my feelings written out by somebody else. I’ve now researched breastfeeding aversion, and while there is limited info out there, it’s SO reassuring to feel that I’m not just a bad mother for hating breastfeeding so darn much! I managed 6 months of it and I’m proud of myself for making it that long! Thank you so much again for sharing this.

    Reply

  20. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  21. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  22. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

    • My first child toilet traneid at 2 1/2, and then weaned completely a few months later. So, in her case, she was dry before she was weaned. HOWEVER, there was definitely a time when we were pursuing both actively. And I actually worried that it was maybe too much all at once. But I found that, no, it was actually OK.I think that toilet learning and weaning are sort of complementary skills. In both cases they’re about a child moving from a parent-centered way of meeting their needs to a more independent way. And I think that often they seem to happen at around the same time if we follow our child’s cues. Which isn’t to say that weaning a child will necessarily impact toilet training, so much as when toddler nursing is the norm they often happen concurrently..-= Amber s last blog .. =-.

      Reply

  23. First – I loooove my Wild Mother Arts necklaces! They’re a great momento after nursing is done, too. I’ll treasure mine forever.

    Now, your post. It is SO nice to hear another mother elaborate on the feelings of aversion. It’s such a weird conflict – you’re committed to nursing, but you want to just STOP, but don’t feel you have the right to complain, but it just makes your TOES curl sometimes! It’s so helpful to put those feelings out there so other moms know it’s OK, and that breastfeeding isn’t all rainbows and butterflies all the time. Twiddling, tugging, demanding – UGH! I’ve had to set some limits…but the guilt is hard to deal with – I spent most of last night with my 2 1/2 year old crying, “I neeeeed it!” and got very little sleep. I just don’t know what the right thing is, but I do know that sharing our experiences makes them seem so much more tolerable. Thanks for sharing yours!

    Reply

  24. I have to add that I LOVE that photo of your toddler with her hand petting the top of her infant sister’s head while tandem nursing. So sweet.

    Reply

  25. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  26. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

  27. Since we didn’t use formula we went diecrtly from breast milk to whole cow’s milk. It just ended up being a part of his weaning process. I gradually substituted cow’s milk for breast milk one meal at a time over 2 weeks until he was only eating pureed baby food for meals, and milk before each nap. He also gets water in sippy cups between meals. Also, keep in mind that since we didn’t use formula he was eating pureed baby foods for his meals from 8 months or so on.Preshus Me recently posted..

    Reply

  28. […] know now that I’m facing weaning. She’s 2.5 years old. She’s moving away from me. I feel grateful to have found a […]

    Reply

  29. […] breastfeeding, breastfeeding aversion, breastfeeding problems, motherhood Yesterday I came across this post about breastfeeding on the alivingfamily blog.  In it, the author describes her feelings of breastfeeding aversion […]

    Reply

  30. […] I came across this post about breastfeeding on the alivingfamily blog.  In it, the author describes her feelings of breastfeeding aversion […]

    Reply

  31. […] Body Awareness exercise (from Amy Phoenix of Peace 4 Parents) to help alleviate the struggles of nursing aversion. Breathing, I learned, is my biggest tool for mindful parenting. Notice how your body feels. If you […]

    Reply

  32. […] — Jess at miniMum shares how and why she let her first child stop when he was good and ready.Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like […]

    Reply

  33. […] Body Awareness exercise (from Amy Phoenix of Peace 4 Parents) to help alleviate the struggles of nursing aversion. Breathing, I learned, is my biggest tool for mindful […]

    Reply

  34. Posted by Stephanie on July 25, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Oh my goodness! I have been struggling with feeding my toothy toddler for 5 months, now, and though I have had plenty of sympathy, no one i know has been able to help me or has has this same experience. Not my mothers group, AP group or breastfeeding groups. I am so glad to have found this! And I haven’t even read the whole thing! I am book marking you now and am following with keen interest! Thank you!!!

    Reply

  35. […] Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship. […]

    Reply

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