I’m officially there. I’m weaning.
Well, more like I’m nudging her towards officially quitting breastfeeding. Technically, you start weaning the day you introduce something besides the breast. Even for exclusively breastfed babies, this starts early. It can be when you introduce a pacifier (which has been shown to decrease the overall breastfeeding relationship) or when you give them their first foods. For us, this started over 2.5 years ago when she had that first meal of apricots and bacon. Then, for us, it moved onto what they call “Don’t ask, don’t refuse” when she was over a year old. As she got older, it moved into refusing when I was busy. Then I started refusing more when we were out and about, which is pretty much the same idea. Just too busy and moving around to stop and nurse. Plus it was more difficult to nurse her in a carrier as we used to do.
We stayed there for a long time. She rarely asked outside of nap time, bedtime, and morning. During my pregnancy there was sensitivity, but nothing unbearable. I expected the uncomfortable nursing to get better when Twig was born, but it didn’t. It’s getting better now, but I think the contrast from a baby nursing to a toddler nursing that I experience every day will make Peanut’s nursing never truly comfortable for me again.
Then, of course, since Twig was born, Peanut has been asking to nurse much more frequently. In the beginning it was more often than Twig wanted to nurse. Now she’s to the point of asking a few times a day. All in all, things are getting better. The problem is, for me, that it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.
I feel frustrated every time Peanut nurses. I feel frustrated every time she asks and I tell her no (though generally in nicer terms and attempts to avoid actually saying no). I get even more frustrated when she asks Over. And Over. And Over. even when I have a valid reason why we can’t nurse (e.g. we’re driving in the car). I feel like nursing is putting a strain on our relationship.
So we’re working on weaning. I never thought I’d say that. I’ve always been a firm believer in child-led weaning, but I need to take my own advice and realize that this is a relationship and both sides need to be happy for it to continue. Someone in La Leche League the other day told me that breastfeeding is the first place where your child learns limits and boundaries. It is important that she learns that, right? My feelings count too, right? I have to keep telling myself these things. Eventually they’ll stick.
Obviously, I feel a bit of guilt.
I know that Peanut probably isn’t ready to wean. I don’t think she’s young enough that it’s going to be traumatizing for her, but I do know her well enough to know that it will need to be really gentle. I’ve kept this in mind while looking at ways to help along weaning. For instance, some moms do a “weaning day” where it’s the last day that the child nurses, but I don’t think would work for her because it would be too sudden. If I left her for a weekend and expected her to wean during that period, I honestly think it would be traumatizing for her.
I think Peanut’s weaning process will need a lot of yeses. So right now, what we’re doing is counting to ten while she nurses. I’ve heard of moms doing this during pregnancy because of the pain. I can count as fast or slow as I’d like, so that determines how long she gets to nurse. She’s already asking me not to count, but I tell her that she’s a big girl and big girls get to count while they’re nursing. I’m trying to act like it’s something fun. I’m also saying yes whenever I can, even if it’s not a super convenient time to nurse. We’re also trying to eliminate her nap time (there will be a post about that in the near future) and that’s a big time that she used to nurse. It was the only way she’d get to sleep for nap. Bedtime and morning time aren’t nearly so vital.
This is what we’re trying for now. Just like everything in parenting, we may change things if they stop working. New ideas are very welcome too.
Did you wean your older nursling? Are you happy you did? How did you do it to make it gentle? Has anyone weaned an older nursling while tandem nursing?