This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. As August is Breastfeeding awareness month, our participants are writing about this exact subject! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
In an earlier post I spoke about beginning the journey towards Gently Weaning My Son by setting down some necessary boundaries in our nursing relationship. Those regulations around breastfeeding helped me considerably with allowing my son to slowly transition off the breast in his own time, and slowly but surely, our sessions grew fewer and longer in between. However they did not cease altogether and with the onset of pregnancy-caused sensitivity, it became more and more distressing for me to nurse him at all.
Any kind of refusal of nursing him, no matter how empathic to his needs I was trying to be, was met with a strong negative reaction that frustrated me. I felt that he was being inconsiderate of my also valid needs and that he wasn’t being appreciative of the times I was allowing him to still nurse despite the discomfort. I knew on a rational level that he was emotionally incapable of grasping the scope of my discomfort or delaying his needs like an adult could, but the negative feelings towards my son kept increasing as he would insist on nursing when I was just not capable of dealing with it anymore. After a few failed attempts at gently weaning him by replacing his need for comfort via the breast with other tools that had helped us in the past like using cuddles, massage, and distraction, I finally decided that I needed to be both honest with myself and with him and to end our nursing journey directly.
I reflected long about how I would approach this, as I knew that it would be a big change in our lives that would require patience but also determination, and settled on just going with the truth and trusting that my son was capable of understanding me. I chose to aim for a two week sudden transition time, with the first week preparing him for the upcoming change, and then another week of probably hell as he adjusted and realised that it was happening for real. The approach that I took was after deciding that I would be open to tandem nursing once this babe was finally born and that I even had milk to give him (as the discomfort was mostly coming from having to dry nurse him now) and began cutting our random nursing sessions very short from only a few minutes to only a few seconds, enough for a couple fruitless sucks. As he would unlatch I would quietly tell him that the milk is gone for now but more will come once the baby is born and so now we just have to wait. After about a week of this, my son stopped fussing when I took him off, repeating back to me what I had been telling him and not making a big deal of it. He was still upset if I denied him outright to nurse though, but was easier to soothe after reminding him why it was uncomfortable for me and that he was a big boy and could wait till the baby was born.
The following week I stopped nursing him at all, denying him outright and being firm with him, even when he became upset and just allowed him to express that anger/frustration/sadness with me. It was stressful for the both of us, but it was also relieving to know that we were making progress, because the lengths of his outbursts were decreasing steadily.
Now I am happy to say, that at 26 months, my son is (although probably temporarily) weaned and has not developed any compensating habits like using his thumb to suck on, attaching emotionally to objects, or other questionable behaviours that could indicate that he was still unready for the transition. If anything he has developed a strong affection for me and my growing belly, often talking to and stroking both my belly and my boobs from time to time, saying how much he loves my milk and the little baby inside of me. He has also made a jump in independence, stating that he is a big boy now like Daddy and that big boys can wait till the baby is born to have mommy milk again. Meanwhile he is okay with having cow’s milk once in a while instead (now that he doesn’t react to it anymore, hurray!). He has also begun nursing his toys on himself, telling them that the milk will come in later for them, once his baby is born of course!
Funnily he sneak attacked me one day while I got out of the shower and quickly latched on while I was towelling off, and couldn’t seem to do it properly and just laughed it off and ran away. It does make me wonder if he will even be able to tandem nurse when the time comes.....but we’ll deal with that when we get there!!
Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Parenting Myth Busted: They Never Stop Breastfeeding - Laura at Authentic Parenting shares how her 4 year old effectively weans herself.
- 7 Tips for Breastfeeding In Public Stress Free - From baby wearing to using a scarf, Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection is sharing many helpful tips on how to breastfeed in public stress free.
- Breastfeeding has been Downhill - Jorje of Momma Jorje compares her nursing experiences and finds... it hasn't gotten easier with time and experience.
- A Heartfelt Tip for the Nursing Mamas - Margaux from Young Nesters gives her biggest piece of advice for all present and future breastfeeding Mamas.
- Breastfeeding Carnival - Billy at Single Mother By Choice writes about the past, present and future of nursing her daughter.
- Amy W. at Me, Mothering and Making it All Work describes why she loves to advocate for and help nurture breastfeeding relationships.
- To My Nursling - Stone Age Parent dedicates a breastfeeding poem to her child.
- My 3 ½ Year Old Breastfeeds As Much As A Newborn – And That Is Fine By Me - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama
- Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival of Breastfeeding: Our Sorta Sudden Gentle Weaning - Wolfmother Chronicles
- How to breastfeed while babywearing in a men tai - Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a video tutorial for easy, hands-free nursing on the go in a mei tai (Asian-style) baby carrier.
- Rhianna from The Other Baby Book shares a post crediting breastfeeding with nurturing a connection not only with her son, but also with her breasts and her body's empowering ability to do its thing.