misc.kids FAQ on Breastfeeding Past the First Year
Last-Modified: Sept 2, 1996
Misc.kids Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
BREASTFEEDING PAST THE FIRST YEAR
Collection maintained by: Kim Smith
Last updated: 09-02-96
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the First Year." Please try to be as concise as possible, as these FAQ files
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For a list of other FAQ topics, check out misc.kids.info or news.answers
Pam Wilson compiled this wonderful compendium of advice on nursing
(and eventually weaning) our toddlers from responses received to a
query Pam posted on misc.kids in late August, 1993, when her son
(Nolan Timothy Wilson Smith) had his first birthday. The responses
were so eloquent that, out of respect for the integrity of their
original context, it was decided not to edit them into a summary.
Rather, they were separated them into a survey questionnaire format. I
really recommend this reading to anyone thinking about long-term
nursing, although it will also be helpful to those of you who are
still in your first year.
The original questions are listed below, followed by responses grouped by
Several people recommended the book, "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by
Norma Jane Bumgarner, and many recommended La Leche League for support and
encouragement. La Leche League can be contacted at 1-800-LA-LECHE.
Also appended are (1) a summary compiled by Laura Dolson
which deals with issues of long-term breastfeeding; (2)
additional questions compiled by Elizabeth Gene on
tandem nursing and code words used in public; (3) a compilation by
Marilyn Walker on pumping past the first year
and "olympic freestyle" nursers; and (4) some on-line resources that
might be of interest.
A. How long did you (or do you plan to) breastfeed your child?
B. After the first year, how frequently did you nurse? Were you on a
regular schedule, or not?
C. After the first year, did you nurse on demand, whenever the child
requested, or only when you wanted to?
D. When did you stop, and why? Was it your initiative, or the child's?
-If the child inititiated cutting back, how did this happen?
-If you initiated weaning, how did you satisfy the child's
E. About breastfeeding moms: When did your period return? How long
were you able to go without feeding (eg on a trip away from
the baby) without problems?
F. In what ways do you feel that you and/or your child have benefitted
from long-term breastfeeding? Why would you encourage someone to
continue past the first year?
G. How has breastfeeding affected you (the mother) physically?
(eg, side effects, weight gain or loss, increased or decreased
appetite, energy level, sex drive, etc.)
H. Anything else I left out?
A. How long did you (or do you plan to) breastfeed your child?
1. (K. Dalley) I fed 2 children for 1 year, and two children for 2 1/2 - 3
2. Heather Madrone : I nursed
Morganne until she was 3.5. I plan on nursing Matisse as long as it
works for both of us (she's 9 months old).
3. Diane Lin : I breastfed Dylan until he was 16.5
4. Child # 1 - 24 months; Child # 2 - 14 months; Child # 3 -18 months.
5. Tini : My daughter is 22 months and she's still
breastfed, so I can't help with the weaning stuff. I'm planning to let
her nurse as long as she wants, although I'd like her to wean soon or
maybe down to one feed a day. I'm thinking of having another baby,
tandem nursing may be too draining, although I'd do it.
6. Karen Plomp : Cees is now 21mo and
still nursing. I plan to continue until he doesn't need it any longer
or until I don't like it anymore, whatever comes first (I try to go
for a child led weaning).
7. Anita Lees : Still breastfeeding Morgan at
nearly 4, and Dylan at 17 mos. I am working on getting Morgan to wean
near her birthday. I am not actively trying to wean Dylan, but would
not be upset if he weans himself at the same time. I had only planned
to breastfeed for the first year before Morgan was born, but she is an
extreme high need child, and has stuck out 3 years of "don't offer,
don't refuse", as well as lots of not-so-subtle pressure from Dad and
9. Paula B.: My son weaned himself at the age of 2 1/4 years. I
restricted breastfeeding to a specific location, but did not refuse
him when he asked. I was surprised (and pleased, and sad) when he
decided on his own that he didn't need it any more, after seeming
positively addicted to the breast until a couple of weeks before.
10. Gail Abbott : We have a 2.5 yr old (3
in Nov) who is still nursing, although we are starting to discuss
termination. Because of some thyroid problems, the milk supply is
dwindling, but we've struggle with lots of "attitude" out there, and I
wanted to share our thoughts and beliefs.
11. Carolyn Olive : I nursed my older son until
he turned 4. I felt he was just too old for it and I was no longer
comfortable with it after about age 3.5. We cut back to 2 a day at
age 3.5, then to once a day. I let him pick the time of day. We
spoke about it for a while before his 4th birthday and he knew he
would stop on his birthday. (actually we were on vacation and he
forgot to ask until we got hoem. I felt bad about cutting him off
like that so we had one last nursing about a month later). From the
time he turned one I did not allow public nursing. He was very verbal
and unederstood explanations so this was not a big problem. ...He was
18 months when my second son was conceived and 28 months when he was
born. The younger one is 2.5 and still nursing several times a day.
I am much looser about public nursings now.
12. Mary J. Cole : My daughter is 17 months old
and still nursing 3-5 times/day (morning, noon, after work, before
bed, 2am). ... I originally planned to stop at 1yr. Now I plan to
stop at some mutually agreeable time in the future.
13. Audrey Ishizaki : My son will be 2 in about a week
(how time flies!). He still likes to breastfeed two or three times a
day: when he wakes up, when he goes to sleep and sometimes before nap
(on weekends) or after daycare (on weekdays).
14. Ellen Copley : I'm in the same situation
you are. Emily just turned 1 on the 14th of August. I'm getting
hints from relatives and friends that this has gone on long enough,
but I don't agree.
15. Marian Nodine : Tim for 2 years 3 months, Anna
for 2 years 1 month.
16. Sue Willis : Leo has been nursing for 3.75
years now! He's down to occasional nighttime nursing (and sometimes in
the morning if he wakes up before I get up).
17. Suzanne Jacobs : My #1 nursed 'til 18.5 months. #2
is now 18 months and still nurses, but just once-a-day (first thing in
the morning). With both kids, I let them decide when and how much to
nurse (or not nurse).
18. Cindy Carpenter : She's 26 months old now and I
don't know when we'll stop entirely. Probably in the next year, but
who knows? When she was born I planned to nurse until she was about
15 months. Since then I've learned not to try to plan too strictly
19. Janice Smith : Kenneth is 14
months and is still nursing. We will probably stop in the next month
since he is rapidly losing interest.
20. Pam Wilson : My plan is to keep up the
breastfeeding as long as he wants, but I have no clue what that means.
I had no idea I would be breastfeeding this long (12 months). I didn't
go into this with strong opinions about what I should or should not
do--I've pretty much played it by ear, and let my child's needs direct
my parenting decisions. Many, many people have indicated that it
would be "appropriate" to wean him now, but that doesn't feel right to
me. When I mention to anyone that I'm still breastfeeding, they
usually react with "Still? Why?" and tell me how their child weaned
herself at an early age, implying that I'm doing something that's not
exactly right. The feedback from other misc.kidders about this has
been a tremendous source of support.
21. Laura Dolson : 27 months.
22. Judith Hochberg : I nursed both my
children for approx. 2 years each (24 mo.), and plan to do the same
with my third, due any day now.
23. Cecilia Barfield : I'm
still nursing Trevor who was 2 1/2 at the end of February 95 and
my younger daughter decided to wean herself at 14 months.
24. Jennifer Coombs : I planned to nurse as long as
possible, as long as he wanted. I really just wanted to get to 3
months old, then 6 months old, then a year... I found that I had to
make an effort to keep my milk supply up after going back to work.
Pumping at work was possible but such a hassle and never seemed to
really do the trick like just being with my baby.
25. Conni Sowin : James, 11 months, Kimberly, 20
months, Nicole, 14 months and still nursing
26. Cordelia Schaffer , Jefferson born 11/18/94:
As long as he wants to, and I enjoy it.
B. After the first year, how frequently did you nurse? Were you on a
regular schedule, or not?
1. We fed as wanted, really. Most of the time, it wasn't a problem.
Sometimes, in the year between 1 and 2, they were pretty needy, but I was
always glad to be nursing. It was a wonderful comforter, and it made the
trials, tantrums, fears etc. much easier to cope with and get over.
2. Morganne was pretty irregular from day to day, but it caused no
problems. She always nursed before bed, first thing in the morning
and at least once at night. She also would nurse 2 - 6 times during
3. He had cut down to about 2-3 nursings by 1 year, and the nursing
sessions were fairly predictable, though I would hesitate to claim we
were on a schedule.
3. Still nursed on demand.
4. With all children, I nursed on demand, frequently. After the first
year, I nursed someone pretty much any time I sat down.
5. She is breastfed twice or 3 times a day; in the morning, in early evening
and just before she sleeps (I work full time on weekdays). On weekends she'd
ask to nurse after lunch and skip the early evening nursing. I make a point
to stop her nursing just before she sleeps so she can fall asleep on her own.
I think it may be easier to wean when they're older because you can explain
to her that adults don't nurse :).
I'm slowly trying to get her down to two feeds. She usually asks to
nurse ("mama" pointing to my chest). Sometimes when she asks, I offer her
water/juice or food before nursing. Sometimes she's content to wait. Other
times she forgets the request. I satisfy her emotional needs by carrying her
and playing with her. Usually, when she's tired or cranky, she'd want me to
carry her for a while before asking to nurse. Nowadays, she doesn't ask to
nurse while we're out. If she did, usually, I'd say wait till we get home.
6. I think we nursed about 5 or 6 times when he was one year old. Not really
regular but at least one night time feeding, then he wanted to nurse when he
awakened in the morning and he nursed when he went down to nap and when he
went to sleep in the evening. When he became older we lost the night time
feeding (at last!), and because I was pregnant I restricted the nursings to
when he awakened and when he went to sleep.
Now his little baby brother is born 8 days ago and we are still
searching for a new routine. Cees would like to nurse all day, but I don't
want to let him nurse so much. So now some days he is nursing 4 or 5 times
instead of the 2 times we were doing before the new arrival. I don't know
yet how things will be going during the coming weeks.
7. Not at all regular. After the introduction of solids, I have only nursed
on demand, combined with offering the breast for comfort until about 1 year.
After that, I do not ever offer. I have gone as long as 8 hours without any
requests from the 17 m.o., and as long as 4 days for the big sister.
9. We were on a pretty regular schedule: getting up, lunchtime, coming home
from work, and bedtime. At twelve months we gave up all lunchtime nursings,
at thirteen all bedtime nursings, leaving us with two feedings a day except
with an additional middle-of-the-night feeding when he was last sick, for a
few nights, and sometimes only one on the weekends since there is no
10. After the first year Kayli nursed once in the morning, once at noon
and/or naptime, once at about 5:00 pm and again at bedtime. The cutting back
happened as nursing mom went back to work full-time and was less available,
plus Kayli was eating well andnot requiring so much. By that time the
nursing became more of a nurturing time than a feeding time. The times
listed above were typical, not scheduled. If there were changes in
schedule or event, we went with the flow, and with her needs. As for her
emotional needs, we practiced the philosophy for the first year that the
baby's wants were the baby's needs. She got held a lot and got lots of
attention, and by the time she passed her first birthday we felt we had a
pretty happy kid. She has never used a pacifier - we couldn't get her
12. I almost always nurse Elizabeth before bed and in the early morning.
Otherwise it depends on what we're doing. We nurse more during the day on
weekends. During the week I'm away during the day so she wakes up at night
13. Interestingly enough, if I pick him up at daycare, he no longer asks to
be breastfed, but if my husband picks him up and brings him home, he does.
If he's ill, or otherwise wakes in the middle of the night, he will sometimes
want to be breastfed, and sometimes, water will be enough (we keep a sipper
cup of water by the bedside). I think at 1 year, I might have nursed him 5
times a day (at least, I remember pumping 2x a day at work + the 3 we still
15. I put them on a regular schedule in a specific location (the location did
vary with the feeding time). This helped to avoid embarrasments like having
the kid demand to nurse in a very public location, and lifting up my shirt
(which does happen).
16. Well, now, it's hard to remember; I went back to work when Leo was 7
weeks old, though, so our schedule has always been pretty regular during
the week. On weekends it was kind of random.
17. I didn't consciously ever change my plan - just kept taking cues from the
18. La Leche League philosophy is "Don't offer; don't refuse." I think
that's a great approach, but I've often offered, because my full-time work
schedule means that there aren't that many opportunities to nurse, and I've
always worried that she could just happen to be uninterested for just a
couple of times and whoops! she'd be weaned without really intending it. I
suspect, however, that my offers to nurse have satisfied *my* needs more
than her needs. :-) I'm sure that there would still be milk if she stopped
for even a couple of days and she could re-establish nursing if she wanted
After the first year, she nursed about 3 times/day - first thing in the
morning (about 5:30 a.m.!), when I returned from work (about 4:30) and before
bed (about 7). On weekends we sometimes nursed in the morning or before her
nap. A little after she started afternoon daycare (at 15 mos.), we gave up
the late afternoon nursing and went to 2X day. In the last month we've
played around with this a bit - sometimes only one nursing, sometimes two or
19. Once we began solids, nursings decreased. We were somewhat on a schedule
since I worked outside the home. When Kenneth turned one, I dropped the
final pumping at work. About six weeks later, we dropped the morning
nursing. Now, we are down to just at bedtime. Kenneth would prefer to drink
from a cup (which he has been doing since 6 months), it lets him drink faster
and then go on about his business. Walking seems to be more important to him
20. Nolan is a voracious nurser--at 12 months, he still nurses 4-5 times a
day (including middle of night nuzzling). It's often a matter of out-of-
sight, out-of-mind; those days when he is around me all day, he wants to
nurse more often. Also, if he's feeling bad, very tired, or sick, my breasts
seem to be very soothing to him.
21. At 12 mo, Emily nursed 4X/day, cutting down to 3X around 15 mo, and twice
by about 18 mo. She stayed at 2X (first thing in the am, last thing at
night) until shortly before she weaned. She cut out the early am one first.
22. After the first year I continued to nurse several times a day, on a
semi-regular schedule (some nursings fixed, others variable). We always
nursed first thing in the morning and first thing when I got back from work.
23. He usually only nurses once in the morning, sometimes just on one
side if he gets interested in something else, and in the evening to
reconnect after our day apart and to drift off to sleep.
24. Now that Tommy (my first) has turned 1year old I nurse him on a very
bizzare "schedule" sometimes going 8-10 hours with out nursing, sometimes
every hour. I really just nurse him at every opportunity when we are
together. I don't nurse him for long periods of time if I am at work, then
come home and he is asleep.
25. I can't easily count how often we nurse. She nurses during the day and
night. Some days she nurses more than others.
26. Jeff nurses frequently, on no particular schedule. He nurses approx. 4
times at night and 5 times during the day when we're together. I work 32
hours a week.
C. After the first year, did you nurse on demand, whenever the child
requested, or only when you wanted to?
1. A combination really....if I wasn't keen, I used to distract, or leave
the room and go where I felt comfortable to nurse. Many of my friends also
nursed toddlers, so it was easy. I belonged to La Leche League, and it was
a wonderful support...lots of like-minded women who felt as I did ...
2. It worked for us to have a few rules about when Morganne could nurse. She
was easily distracted when other people were around and I got tired of being
exposed, so we didn't nurse in public. I'd either take her somewhere private
or ask her to wait until we were in the car, etc. I also would finish
whatever I was doing before nursing. Morganne understood that we would get to
it. I'm already starting to do the same things with Matisse.
It's really helpful to have a code word for nursing. Ours was "snuggle"
which Morganne shortened to "nuggle". "Mama, I want to nuggle."
5. Only on demand and even then, sometimes I manage to postpone it or
distract her. I try to keep it to 2-3 feedings a day. When I want her to
nurse, she usually doesn't want to and tells me!! She is also very
particular about which side she starts nursing....
6. Somewhere in between. When he requested I sometimes gave in and sometimes
not. And now we haven't settled yet into a new satisfying breastfeeding
routine, but I do refuse a lot of nursing demands the last days.
7. After the first year, I would delay if nursing was inconvenient. I made
a rule, no nursing in stores. I encouraged the use of a code word for
both, for situations when postponement is either not reasonable or just not
working. (It also makes discussion of postponement less embarrassing.)
Morgan's codeword is "doof", Dylan's (so far) is "Mommmma". Dylan has a
habit of lifting my shirt also, I am working on that. It helps some to wear
my shirt tucked in when "Mommmmma" is not available. He seems to be
9. It was very important to me to make a rule of no nursing in public, so
if it was necessary, very rarely, I might go into someone's bedroom with
him while visiting, but otherwise only at home. He had lost the knack of
discreet nursing, and I couldn't stand to have him exposing me to strangers
or even friends. It was much harder to nurse in public than when he was
younger, but he had less need for a nursing, and adapted to this rule
The first year was a significant cut-off for me. I think it is
ESSENTIAL to not allow the sort of clothes-tugging you describe, as otherwise
the annoyance and inconvenience are enough to make you want to wean. You have
rights, too, after all, and being embarrassed is not something you should
just ignore, as you may grow resentful. Resentment should not be dismissed
casually, because it is important in your subconscious even if you don't
allow it to come to the surface. Be sure to ask yourself what *you* want.
This may be to nurse until he's three or four--which is fine if that's what
*you* want, but not if you're just being a doormat to him. It is not good for
a child to learn to ignore the feelings of those closest to him, and being a
doormat is a bad thing to do for your child. You may need to teach him to
tell you that he wants to nurse in a less embarrassing way.
I made a rule between four and 10 months of age to never nurse him at
night unless he was sick, because he has started sleeping through the night
at three months on his own, obviously did not need a nighttime nursing, and
was likely to wake up for it just because it's fun. His daddy had to comfort
him during the night in those months, and brought him to me to nurse only if
he really needed it, which was rare. I always had a rule, for the sake of my
nipples, of not nursing him if I'd nursed him less than two hours previously,
which forced us to find other ways to comfort him. This was extremely helpful
in the long run. Often nursing is not really what the baby needs, but since
it's his favorite thing, he'll accept it anyway instead of whatever it is he
needs. Longer periods between nursing meant he tanked up better when he did
nurse, so it was longer to the next feeding, which got us onto a pretty
regular schedule early on, with plenty of exceptions to the schedule when
10. As for nursing on demand, we've come to a place where there are some
restictions on when and where, yes. She may only nurse in bed (like early
morning time) or when mom is sitting on the couch. (Kayli has oftened used
that as a bargaining point if we're somewhere else, saying that "this is a
couch- Let me nurse". During the regular typical day, she nurses only in the
morning and evening time, at bed time. If we're home for naptime (like
weekends, she gets to nurse then, too. There are times when she wants to
that are denied, but she handles it pretty well--tears, of course, but also
12. I nurse on demand, unless it's inconvenient. It actually helped that
Elizabeth learned to say 'boob' (our mistake), luckily she uses
"mumma-mmumma" and gentle tugs at clothing in public. It helped because I
know what she wants. If we're shopping I can usually tell her, "We're
going to buy the groceries and go to the car and then we'll have (I whisper
in her ear) *boob*". Or as happened last night at the home of some friends
when she crawled in my lap and said "boob-boob" I said, would you like a
cup of milk and a cuddle, and I cuddled her and gave her a sipper-cup with
milk and she was fine. When I put her off like this though I try to talk
her through it and then I make sure to be available if she wants to nurse
the *minute* we get home.
13. We nursed on "demand" - sort of. My son developed a fairly regular
schedule. The only demand-time was when my son woke at night - my husband
and I tried ferberizing him (which worked!), but I would nurse him at night
when he was ill. But then (I can't remember exactly when), there was a
stretch when he was sick, then well for a short time, then sick again, so I
nursed him at night for a while, which led to us starting a family bed (you
see, I got so sleepy nursing him in the middle of the night, I would just
leave him in our bed). My husband got tired of picking our son out of his
crib, that he suggested that we just *start* him out there! Ferberizing a
baby sleeping in your *own* bed is impossible (to my mind), so that's when I
started offering him water, first. Now, if he wakes at night, I offer him
water, first, then let him nurse. Sometimes, he'll go back to sleep right
after drinking the water, sometimes, he wants *me* (and no water) and
sometimes a combination. Now that he's turning 2, we're going to get him a
"big boy" bed; we'll see how that goes. During the day (when he's not in
daycare), if he asks, I tell him that he has to wait (until the next
"regular" time). He accepts this, sometimes right away, sometimes after a
15. We adjusted the nursing schedule to the times the child normally wanted
to nurse. This was sort of a cross between demand and scheduling. The
schedule did help things, I think.
16. I nursed him when he asked, with some exceptions (I would put him off
if it was inconvenient, more often as he got older.)
18. Our nursing has had to be fairly scheduled because I work outside the
home full-time - at the same time, because I'm away from home so much, I
haven't worried about nursing becoming overwhelming. I watched a neighbor
and her three y.o. constantly struggle about nursing and I worried that that
would happen if I nursed my toddler, but my work schedule makes that
unlikely. Around when my daughter turned two, I began to think about weaning
completely, and soon after we dropped the bedtime nursing and went to nursing
just once a day, in the early morning. Instead of trying to drop that final
nursing, though, I've begun to offer to nurse in the "witching hour," late in
the day, before dinner, if she seems to really be having a hard time keeping
it together. It's one of those things that makes me wonder who it is who
really wants to keep nursing! At the same time, it does seem to me that she
really appreciates this nursing when she's having a tough day, so I continue
to offer sometimes, and sometimes she asks.
One thing that has really worked for me has been to develop a regular
*place* for nursing - lying down on my bed. I like this for a few reasons -
first, because it means that nursing in public just doesn't come up (and I'd
prefer not to nurse my toddler in public). It's also helped to set up a
pattern where we *decide* to nurse - she asks or I ask, the other agrees, and
then we head to our bedroom. She doesn't start tugging at my shirt when
we're sitting on the couch or wherever, and I really appreciate that. Plus,
I get to lie down when we nurse - always a nice break! It's interesting to
me that the couple of times that I've broken this pattern, she's immediately
associated that place with nursing and has asked to nurse the next time we
were in that place - two examples are in the bathtub and on an airplane. It
wasn't a big deal to turn her down at later times, but it made me realize how
much having *one* nursing place has helped nursing stay nursing and not an
all-purpose activity to start when bored or shy or hurt. Hmmm - I say that,
but immediately realize that she does nurse when she's bored or shy or hurt.
I guess what I mean is that having to go to the bedroom means that she tends
to use nursing as a back-up solution, not as her first choice, and I think
that's appropriate for toddlers.
19. Pretty much we continued with our schedule, but sometimes he will request
nursing by pulling up my shirt and tugging at my bra. If it is convenient
(we are home, not in the store), then I will let him nurse. He usually only
wants to know he can, then he goes on about playing.
20. Now that Nolan's more communicative, he walks up to me, starts this
nervous whine, and pulls at my shirt (sometimes managing to lift it up) to
let me know what he wants, NOW. I can see that in public, this behavior
might be embarrassing, especially for those who aren't fond of being exposed!
Sometimes he justs wants a nip, and then he's on his way; other times, he
goes strong for 10 minutes. He's been eating solid foods since 4 months, and
he pretty much feeds himself by now, eating a wide variety of foods with his
hands. He drinks juice and water, and occasionally a bottle of formula,
in between nursing sessions.
21. Well, I limited nursing in public. I got stared at disapprovingly a
couple of times around the time Emily was a year, and I frankly got
self-conscious. Emily almost always accepted that we would nurse "when we
got home" just fine. After about 16 mo, she rarely asked in public unless
she was really tired. Then, after she went to twice per day, she rarely
asked at other times, unless she was sick. When Emily was sick it always
made me REALLY glad I was still nursing, since it was often the only food
she'd take, and it was very comforting to her.
22. After the first year I nursed on demand if the time was good for me. It
depended on the circumstances.
24. I haven't stopped yet, except for a strange thing that happened.
We slept with him from the day he was born until he was about 10
months old. Suddendly he became very active and would crawl away
from me while I tried to nurse him to sleep. He would literally
climb the walls in our bedroom, fall asleep on his feet and collapse
into bed. It was taking me 2 hours of fighting with him to get him
to sleep. My husband who was home with him during the day was having
to hold him down while he screamed to try and get him to sleep. I
had long since torn down the crib because we loved sleeping with him.
Anyway we resurrected the crib, read a terrible book about "Letting
them cry it out", and threw him in the crib and closed the door. He
fell asleep in 3 seconds. The problem was I inadvertetly almost
weaned him right then at 10 months!! We were used to alot of night
nursing, as I said earlier, I worked during the day, and that was
what kept my milk supply up. Also we were very used to nursing
laying down. Now I nursed him in the rocking chair in his room-- the
chair I hadn't sat in ONCE until that time! He refused to nurse on
my right breast, again I fought him and wrested with him, but he
would have nothing of that side. Finally I gave up and just nursed
him on my left side. Now I am lopsided!
25. We nurse whenever she wants to. I don't have a schedule, nor do I
26. Usually when he requests, but I do delay it if we're in a public
place, by distracting him with food.
D. When did you stop, and why? Was it your initiative, or the child's?
-If the child inititiated cutting back, how did this happen?
-If you initiated weaning, how did you satisfy the child's
1. Well, The first two children weaned themselves at about 1 year...it was
easy...I probably wasn't feeding them as often as my last 2 girls. Sarah
(no 3) weaned, with encouragement when I was 4 months pregnant with Clare.
She didn't like the taste, and she was discouraged...she wanted the comfort,
but I found it very uncomfortable....so we solved it with Dad. He used to
take her to bed, and cuddle her/...if she was with me she wanted to nurse,
and I found it difficult in the evening, as it used to go on a long time. In
the daytime, I used to nurse, or distract her...the feeds were very short, so
that wasn't too bad. Clare weaned around 2.75....she just didn't seem to feel
the effort was worth it...preferred to go to bed with Dad than nurse..I was a
bit sad, but also ready for a change. They were both enjoyable years of
feeding.:-) We met emotional needs with cuddling and closeness...it
certainly wasn't a traumatic experience...they both seemd ready at the time.
2. I weaned Morganne because I was pregnant with Matisse and threatening
miscarriage. Morganne was down to the bedtime and early morning nursings.
I told her why I had chosen to wean her and gave her lots of cuddles. Dad
took on the morning routine. Morganne asked to nurse every night for ten
days. I cheerfully changed the subject when she asked and told her lots of
stories about my childhood and asked her questions about her day.
"Mama, I want to nuggle."
"We're not nuggling anymore, honey. What do you want to do at the
3. Dylan weaned himself, during a bout with chicken pox :-(. The pox were in
his mouth, and so made suckling painful. Since he was down to just
once-a-day nursing at that point, it wasn't a big deal for either of us. As
for weaning, he initiated each dropped nursing. I was most surprised when he
dropped his before-bedtime nursing, since everyone I knew cautioned me that
that would be the very *last* nursing he would drop voluntarily. In fact, he
gave it up in order to get on with reading more stories. Our routine was
always bath, nurse, read stories, and tuck in for the night. At about 14
months, he would suckle for a second or two and then point wildly for his
books. After a few nights, I just stopped offering him my breast, and he
never missed it. He did, however, continue with the morning nursing until
his bout with chicken pox.
4. Child # 1 - I weaned him, because I was 8 months pregnant, very tired, and
nursing was - not exactly painful, but irritating. This child did not suck
thumb, bottle, had no habits to satisfy him emotionally besides nursing, so I
guess he just had to get self-sufficient pretty fast. Child # 2 - was not a
good nurser, partly due the to fact that she was born sucking her thumb, and
partly due to the fact that I didn't pay enough attention to her and/or was
unable to get enough calm alone time with her. She did eat very well, and was
satisfied with her thumb. She weaned herself. Child # 3 - gosh, I can't
remember - I'm pretty sure he weaned himself - he was really anxious to be
one of the big kids. He gets a lot of attention from the other two.
In order to wean my first, (the only one that was any trouble about it)
I did two things - whenever he wanted to nurse, I offered him some water or
juice, and I tried not to sit down. This meant strolling through the mall in
the middle of the winter while massively pregnant, but it did work.
6. We didn't stop, so I can't really answer this one. But I did kind of
'partial weaning' when I wanted to become pregnant again. Cees was about 10mo
at that time. I tried to stretch the time between nursings during the day by
offering him solids. This worked rather well, but then I didn't try to cut
back on the night time nursings. And when I was about 10 weeks pregnant,
nursing became rather painful and I again cut back on the number of nursings
during the day. When he wanted to nurse, I tried to distract him with
other food, or with some favorite game.
7. Haven't stopped yet, but I always offer reading, hugs, juice, whatever.
Often it is accepted.
9. Will clearly 'needs' nursing less as time goes on. A feeding gets annoying
for me because he is less committed to it and plays around a bit, is more
inclined to bite, and just generally doesn't do it 'right', in that
satisfying way that makes the milk flow fast. It's kind of convenient, in
that I am not unilaterally cutting him off, but actually responding to his
actions with my annoyance, when I delete a regular feeding time. We stopped
the lunchtime nursing (at my office) after his first birthday, and he never
seemed to miss it (but I missed him!) We stopped the bedtime nursing more
gradually, as I moved it a little bit earlier in the bedtime ritual at a
time, so that he gradually disassociated it from falling asleep. First I
added a sip of water after the last nursing of the day, then a toothbrushing
and a sip of water, then a drink of milk with sugar added (1/2 teaspoon/4
ounces, to make it more like breastmilk in taste) consumed through a straw,
followed by the above. It was quite painless. The morning nursing is more
important to him, like coffee, but this morning it seemed he had less need of
it, so I suspect it may be next.
12. I think that it will be Elizabeth's initiative. When our lives are
stable she is really only interested in the before bed and early morning
feedings. When I come home for lunch she wants to play and show me what
she's been doing that day. As she gets more verbal, she's more interested
in cuddling and "talking".
When Elizabeth was approaching 1 y.o. I started thinking about weaning
her, mainly because of pressure from our pediatrician (who, while good in
other respects thinks that LLL is a 'bunch of sick feminists', we should
probably switch peds, but he has redeeming qualities and this *is* Texas,
I've learned to ignore his advice on this matter) and my parents and
aquaintances. Elizabeth had started wanting to play rather than nurse at
lunch and I thought I could manage things so that we proceeded as she was
ready. Then Elizabeth got an ear infection that lasted 5 weeks through 4
different kinds of antibiotics. She had diarrhea from the antibiotics (can
you say 17 poops in one day, and 15 the next) she was vomitting everything,
including tylenol including pedialyte, except breastmilk. She lost 3/4lb.
I firmly believe that if I had not been nursing her she would have gotten
severely dehydrated and ended up in the hospital. As it was she was pretty
sick, but always managed to pee frequently enough to calm our fears,
Well, by the time E. was really healthy again we were back to square one
and she was 14 months old and could say "boob". Then our live-in nanny
quit. Then we hired the nanny from hell. Then we fired the nanny from
hell. Then we hired a really good nanny. Then the really good nanny had
personal problems. Then the really good nanny came back. Then my husband
left for Alaska. Then my husband came back. Then my husband left for
Alaska again... At some point during this period I realized that there was
no way I was going to try wean Elizabeth with all of this other stuff going
on. I just think it would be too stressful and unfair for her. When my
husband gets back and our lives are stable I think she'll wean without
trauma. But my Dad and my ped were still giving me a guilt complex so I
talked to a friend who nursed all three of her children (her youngest
nursed until he was four)... She said,"Does Elizabeth still enjoy nursing?",
(Yes), "Do you still enjoy nursing?" (Yes) "Is Elizabeth eating a well
balanced diet and enough food otherwise?" (Yes) "So then what's the problem?"
13. I'm not sure, but I think that all the (recent) cutdowns in feedings
were initiated by me. I wouldn't mind him weaning (at least, I can say
that, now!), so I've been "encouraging" him to miss his feedings. I think
that the post-daycare feeding was eliminated (at least when I go to pick
him up) by a combination of distraction and postponement. I started
telling him, "wait till we get home". By the time we got home (or went
somewhere else on the way home), he would forget about it, since we were
doing other things.
15. With Tim, he was down to nursing twice a day. I had to cut out the
morning feed because I was pregnant with Anna and got morning sickness, and
had a hard time with him lying across my stomach. It also got a bit
draining. We initiated the weaning, but it was a fairly gentle process --
no real conflicts or upset. Anna weaned herself. Anna just stopped
climbing up and asking for milk at the times she normally would nurse.
There weren't really a lot of emotional needs. What we did with Tim
was to tell him that moms make a certain amount of milk for each baby, and
that mom would not have milk for Tim for much longer. We gave him a time
frame (1 week). He really enjoyed his last nursings, but didn't seem to be
disturbed when things were no longer available (we have a very cuddlesome
family anyway, so it wasn't like he was cuddle deprived). He had a few
tastes after Anna was born, but no real interest beyond that.
16. I have been following his lead, except that I haven't nursed him in
public for over a year now (when he asks, I just tell him to wait). I hug and
kiss him a lot if he is hurt; also, we have a family bed, so we have a lot of
17. With both kids, they initiated cutting back by turning their heads away
from the breast and sometimes pushing it away.
18. We haven't stopped, but we have done lots of weaning. All of our
weanings have been partly her interest, partly my interest, partly practical.
The earliest weanings were due to my being at work and not wanting to pump.
We've dropped a late afternoon nursing since then because she wasn't showing
much interest, it was hard to squeeze in with the daycare pick-up, and I
wanted the freedom to leave work a little later sometimes. In the last month
or two, we've dropped the bedtime nursing because she bit me a couple of
times in a row and I saw that as a sign that she was no longer interested!
She asked to nurse at that time once or twice more in the next week or so,
but accepted my answer that "We're not going to nurse at bedtime anymore"
with barely a nod and hasn't asked again.
As for emotional needs, I've tried to always remember the rationale for
toddler nursing - they may look and say they're "big kids," but they still
often feel quite little and need lots of special nurturance. So I've tried
to be willing to provide the nurturing people often associate with babies,
like cuddling, snuggling on a rocking chair, singing lullabies, carrying her
in a sling while I do housework. Most of the time she does act like a "big
kid" and *lots* of people comment on how independent she is (trained herself
to put on her jacket at about 18 months, toilet-trained herself before 2,
insists on dressing and washing herself, gets food out of the refrigerator
herself, sets the table, puts on her seatbelt, etc. etc.) But when she asks
to be picked up, I've tried to say "okay" (and not groan :-)) and not "You're
a big kid, you don't need to be picked up now."
19. Kenneth has been initiating cutting back. First he will not nurse as
long or as contentedly. He dropped his morning nursing because he wanted to
wiggle and get down. I realized that all I was doing was fighting him to
get him to nurse. After that, when he stopped nursing, I put it away.
21. I must say that I set the stage, I think, by mentioning from time to time
that when she was bigger she wouldn't nurse any more. (I did this with the
potty, too) But I never pushed it. I also pointed out babies who were
nursing. But the initiative was really Emily's entirely. She very very
gradually cut down on her remaining 2 nursings over the course of a couple of
months. She cut down on the length of them, then she began skipping the
morning one (this surprised me, I was sure this one would be the last to go)
and then stopped, except for about once/week, then she cut the evening one
the same way. At the same time, she began drinking more cow's milk (she
pretty much hated it until about 20 mo), and started new bedtime practices on
her own, such as reading to her animals after we left her in her crib. This
amazed me. I had always worried that I nursed her to sleep, and she would be
too dependent on it. But she found other means herself.
Emily so avidly loved nursing (She literally would say "I can't wait!"
with a big smile while I was lifting my blouse), that I really wondered if
she ever would wean! The last couple of times she nursed about 1 second/side
(no lie) -- I think she was just testing to make sure she could. After we
had gone on vacation, she asked again after a month. I told her I didn't
think I had any more milk, and would she like some milk in a cup. She
considered, then asked "could we take it from the cup and put it in your
breasts?" She hasn't asked since.
22. I weaned both my children at 25 months. In both cases it was my
initiative: I wanted my body back. My daughter was a thumb-sucker and
hair-feeler, so she was able to satisfy her own emotional needs. She was
fine about weaning -- never complained or asked for 'Mama' (our nursing
word). My son had a harder time of it because he didn't have any comfort
habits. I tried to give him a lot of cuddles, and let him nurse (though I
was dry) when he was sick or very upset about something. I still let him
feel my breast through my shirt (he was an other-nipple-feeler as a nursing
baby) if I think he needs it. At age 3 1/2 he is still interested in
touching my breasts, and sometime I wonder if I made a mistake weaning him as
early as I did my daughter.
23. My daughter rolled away from my one morning and climbed off the
bed to go follow her dad around and then she never showed any further interest
in the breast. But Trevor is still firmly (literally) attached to his "Mommy
milt," as he calls it.
25. James stopped at 11 months. He was drinking whole milk, and stopped asking
to nurse. Kim stopped at 20 months with encouragement from me. I offered
food or drink before I thought she may want to nurse. I also asked her if
she wanted juice instead when she asked to nurse. I would hold her ask she
drank from her cup.
26. We're still nursing.
E. About breastfeeding moms: When did your period return? How long
were you able to go without feeding (eg on a trip away from
the baby) without problems?
1. Mine returned after 9 or 10 months......I didn't leave them while I was
nursing, didn't need or want to.....although now I like to get out quite a
2. I have a short umbilical cord. I would leave Morganne for 6 - 7 hours.
I didn't go away for the weekend or a vacation. My periods returned at 6
and 11 weeks postpartum. Essentially NO lactation amenhorrea for me.
3. I was really bummed here--my period returned at 4 or 5 months, and I was
exclusively breastfeeding then! I had never been away from my son for more
than several hours at a time, so the second part of your question was never a
problem for me.
4. With all children, my period returned between 11 - 13 months. I was able
to leave the children overnight after about 13/14 months, although it was
hard for me to do emotionally. I let my first child really rule the roost -
it took us a while to figure out that a hefty 11 month old doesn't need to
nurse during the night, and so my husband took over getting him back to sleep
without nursing. With the other two, I pretty much stopped nursing them
during the night somewhen around 8 months (I don't remember very well).
5. My period returned when she was 8 months. I've never been away from the
baby (so far I've managed to bring baby along to every trip! It IS expensive,
but travel is much easier with her).
6. My period returned when Cees was 8.5mo. It wasn't regular yet. Second
period came 8 weeks there after, third period 6 weeks after that. I became
pregnant after that, so I don't know when it would have been regular again. I
think the longest time between nursings has been about 24 hours. I didn't
have problems with that (like overfull breasts or so), but then I was
pregnant so I'm not really representative. But I think that you could go a
few days without nursings and then continue the nursing relationship without
any problems. Cees didn't have problems to skip a nursing when I wasn't near,
but when I was available he wanted to have his regular nursings.
9. Mine returned at nine months--about two weeks after I posed that question
to the net. It seemed that asking was a sign, in itself. As far as trips are
concerned, my breasts can take it a lot longer than my emotions can. I
couldn't bear to travel without my baby! Fortunately I don't have to. If I
did, I could go a day or so, now, without a problem upon my return as far as
nursing is concerned, because an average of two feedings a day has allowed
the supply to drop considerably (it went up when he was sick, so my bras got
10. Periods came back a few months after she turned two. Nursing mom goes
out of town for 2-3 days at a time and now does fine with it. The first time
it happened she came home in some discomfort and very happy to see the baby.
WHile she was gone Kayli did fine without it. She would get up the first
morning and ask for momma Sue, cry when she realized she wasn't there and
then life went on.
11. Periods returned 16 mos (1st) and 27 mos (2nd).
12. It hasn't yet - horray! I haven't had a period since June of 1991! I was
really worried about this actually and consulted my OB/GYN who told me to
wait 3 months after completely stopping breastfeeding and if my period had
not returned after 3 months of no breastfeeding -- then I should call. He
also said that he thought there was no problem. My friend who nursed all
three kids had her period back 6-12 weeks after the birth in all cases, so I
guess everyone's different.
I have mild problems after 10 hours without nursing (hard and heavy,
she can clear that up overnight if I bring her to bed with us). I have never
gone longer than 12 hours.
13. My period returned at 11.5 months post birth. I sure didn't miss it!
I faithfully used birth control, however. I took a week long business trip
when my son was 1y2m old. I took a breast pump (the Medela Classic?) with
me and even with the time change, managed to pump a fair amount (and almost
at the "right" times).
15. My period returned in the seventh month postpartum for both. This
varies widely from mom to mom, though. I pumped when I was away from the
baby. When Anna was 18 months old I had surgery with general anesthesioa,
and my family went on vacation right after I got out of the hospital (This
was not planned, and I did not appreciate the attitudes of an airline that
would not let us change the family's flight times because of my surgery).
She went 7 days without nursing, then resumed breastfeeding just fine once
I got down to Florida eventually (UGH for *that* plane flight). I pumped
once a day.
16. My period returned after 4 months (sigh). When he was still nursing
regularly, I had to pump after about a day (although the first time I took
a trip which lasted overnight was when he was about 18 months). Since then
I have traveled more and more; up until he was a little over 2 I always had
to pump, although the interval got longer and longer - finally it was a few
days - but since then my production just seems to turn on & off. I have
been gone for as long as almost 4 weeks (just recently); he has never
decided to wean, and my milk always comes back. I have not felt engorged
for a year and a half now. This is quite surprising to me, by the way, and
I have no idea how typical it is!
17. With #1, my period returned at 11.5 months. With #2, at 12.25 months.
I have never been away from my kids over night.
18. At 3 months :-(! It went away when she had ear infections and was waking
up at night for a few weeks, and then returned almost immediately and has
been here ever since. There really isn't much predictability about this. In
my La Leche League group there are women whose periods returned at 6 weeks,
others whose periods didn't return until they completely stopped nursing,
sometimes for as long as 3 years.
Dare I admit it? I've never been on a trip away from my child! Well,
not overnight at least. I'm getting ready to do it now, but I just wasn't
willing to earlier. We have gone 24 hours without nursing quite often in the
last couple of months, and maybe 36 hours here and there. If I've felt even
slightly full, I expressed a little in the shower, because an early history
of breast infections makes me wary, but I doubt it was really necessary. One
of the nice things about nursing a toddler is how carefree it becomes - no
more anxiety about schedules, dehydration, leaking breasts, etc. I took an
evening class which meant I missed the bedtime nursing once a week and it was
19. My periods returned when Kenneth was 7 months old. We have not gone away
without him yet. I am currently going 24 hours between nursings, and am
not having any trouble. But, we have been cutting out a feeding about every
2 months, so this was a slow progression.
20. No period yet (12 months post-partum). We have travelled a great deal
this year, but have taken Nolan with me on all my trips. Luckily, my husband
was able to join us most of the time, and my mother served as a backup sitter
when I was on business. Nolan thinks hotel rooms are great fun!
21. 5 months. Didn't take trips, though, but went out for the evening
22. (i) My period returned after about 9 months, even though I'd been working
at least half-time since 6 weeks postpartum. With my second baby I had a
mini-period at about 3 months, at a time when he was in a low growth period
(my interpretation) and had cut down on his nursing. When he got back to
normal I had no more periods. (ii) I didn't go without feeding overnight
until the second year, and had no problems then.
24. My period returned 1 year exactly on his 1st birthday! I think it was
the sleeping throught the night that caused it to return.
25. James-weaned at 11 months, period at 12 months
Kim-weaned at 20 months, light periods at 14 months
Nicole-nursing at 14 months, no period yet
I've been away from Nicole (at 14 M) for 7 hours. I didn't have any
problems, but I was ready to nurse her.
26. I haven't had a period yet, and it's been fifteen months. I haven't left
Jeff for longer than 10 hours. But 8 is really as long as I can go without
feeling uncomfortable. I stopped pumping 6 weeks ago,when school started.
F. In what ways do you feel that you and/or your child have benefitted
from long-term breastfeeding? Why would you encourage someone to continue
past the first year?
2. Well, to start with, Morganne gets the usual number of colds, but she's
never had a secondary infection (in her ears, in her eyes, in her sinuses or
in her chest). I'm convinced that nursing for longer than 18 months really
helps prevent chronic ear infections. Also, when Morganne did get sick, she
would often refuse all food and drink other than the breast. If she'd been
weaned, that would have been very worrying for me.
Breastfeeding also made the toddler year easier. When we were both
cross, tired and hungry, we could sit down for a snuggle together. When she
was done, the world would seem like a calmer, friendlier place for both of
us. This is kind of a tough question for me because I can't imagine what
would have happened if I'd weaned her before age 1. I'd always planned on
nursing her for the first two years. I did go through some anxiety around
age 1 where I thought "Maybe I should wean her". I think this is because
people started rolling their eyes and asking "Are you still nursing that
child?" around age 1. Reading _Mothering the Nursing Toddler_ helped me get
through my doubts.
I really enjoyed the 3.5 years of breastfeeding Morganne. It felt
right, in keeping with my parenting style and very in tune with her needs. I
think if I'd weaned her we would have been less close, rather than the bosom
buddies we were. I also think we would have had more clashes; that she'd
have been fussier and I'd have been less patient.
3. Physically, my son benefitted from the antibodies that he still got from
me, though I'm not sure how much I can credit breastfeeding for the
incredibly healthy kid I've got (only minor colds, no ear infections yet).
Emotionally, the benefits have been tremendous: he was used to being held by
me and he still enjoys being cuddled and hugged. We are very close
emotionally and while I am not sure that BF can again be credited with this,
since I believe I would have made every effort to encourage closeness/bonding
even without BF, it certainly contributed to the ease of bonding. Finally, I
think that by BF beyond the first year, there is a greater likelihood that my
son will remember the experience, and thus encourage it in his own circle of
friends later in life. I tend not to proselytize, but if someone asked me if
she *should* continue BF past the first year, I would certainly give her all
the encouragement I could. I guess I would point to the above benefits of
long-term BF in my conversation in order to encourage continued BF.
4. I don't have a real good answer for this. Breastfeeding the children
as long as I did just seemed like the right thing to do. I wasn't
particularly influenced by "society's" opinions - I never felt like people
expected me to give it up. It seemed as though the children continued to need
it - there wasn't an "off" switch that triggered at one year. Based on *my*
experience with *my* children (ie, Your Mileage May Vary), I was always
slightly stunned when told that an 8 or 9 month old child had voluntarily or
happily quit nursing.
5. My daughter does not use bottles or pacifiers. I don't see why 1 yo is
seen as a reasonable cut off point because they still need the sucking
comfort. I feel the bonding whenever I breastfeed. It is a special
relationship that I am in no hurry to sever. Benefits for me: special
relaxing, private time together; mental comfort in knowing that I'm providing
her some good nutrition since she doesn't like cow milk or formula; I also
work full time, so this closeness is a way of assuaging the guilt of not
being with her all the time... Benefits for child: special comfort when all
6. I think it has a lot of emotional benefits. It gives the child a feeling
of security. It's so nice to see your child relaxing on the breast and it
makes it very easy to get him to sleep in the evening. (Now just mentioning
the word 'Bed' will get an immediate reaction of Cees: 'Bed! Breast!') Not
only convenient in the evening, but also when I was pregnant I could easily
get my much needed rest by lying down and nursing. Sometimes we both fell
asleep like this in the middle of the day.
It's very cute when they are more conscious about nursing and they can
'tell' you that they want to nurse (first by pulling your shirt, later they
can even really tell you with words) And now he is more verbal it's so cute
when he talks about nursing. (When we are switching breasts, he is saying:
'Empty breast' (pointing to the one he already drank), 'More breast!'
(pointing to the next one.)) I'm already longing for the time he will be able
to tell why he likes nursing so much. (I don't think he will wean soon :-)
It's good to know they have something to rely on when they become sick.
When Cees is really sick, he sometimes gots back to fulltime nursing and
refuses everything else. It's very convenient to be able to nurse after a
temper tantrum. It helps both of us to get back to normal. When Cees is
having a difficult time, nursing also will help him. I think he feels a
lot better after a nursing session.
I really didn't plan nursing as long as I am doing now. It just
happened. When Cees was born I just tried to work out nursing and this is the
result. I sometimes think I'm still nursing because I'm just too lazy to go
for a parent led weaning :-)
7. It has definitely kept the kids healthier. They seem to get less ill from
colds and flus they catch, and each has only had one ear infection in their
lives! I think it also is good for their jaws, and because I have terribly
crowded teeth, that is an important consideration for me.
The psychological effects are less tangible, but I feel that continued
breastfeeding has helped my kids feel more secure and confident.
11. My sons both seemed like such babies at 1 year that I could not imagine
weaning them then. They were very emotionally dependent on nursing for
comfort and got quite a lot of thier nutrition from it also. Nick, in
particular, ate very little until he was over 2. I guess if I had withheld
the breast he might have started eating and using a cup in desperation, but
that seemed cruel and unneccessary. Now, at 32 months, he eats fairly well,
but nursing is still his favorite source of comfort and a surefire way to
end a tantrum. Which is great when it is convenient, but awful if we are,
for example, driving somewhere in a strange area where it would not be
practical to stop. Allowing Ben to continue to nurse after Nick was born
gave him a way to get his babying needs met without regressing in other areas
like toiletting or development of outside social relationships.
We used the 'don't offer, don't refuse (or at least not very often)'
approach starting at around 18 months for them both, and the continued
nursing was thier choice, indicating to me a real need to cling to babyhood
in this area while they made progress in others.
14. I think that Emily has benefitted by having a constant source of
affection and love from me. She can count on me. I know that if she were to
wean I would still give her love and affection, but this way I am almost
forced to (and I like to).
16. I think that breastfeeding has enabled my son and me to have a very close
and warm relationship, even though I work full time. Especially when he was
younger (but still older than a year), it provided a form of nurturing and
comfort that seems important to him, especially when he was feeling out of
sorts in one way or another. For example, he had some relatively minor
surgery just before his third birthday (for an undescended testicle), and
being able to nurse him after he woke from the anesthesia was a blessing.
Cuddling would not have had quite the same effect.
17. Health benefits are the main thing. (No way can you convince someone
of the emotional benefits, if they haven't felt them by 1 year.) Researchers
are still discovering new health benefits for both mother and baby. It's
18. Well, to paraphrase our pediatrician, I could tell you about all the
scientific reasons why breastfeeding is good (immunities and nutrition for
baby, health benefits to mother, etc.), but the real reason why I breastfeed
is because we were *meant* to breastfeed, this is God's plan for nourishing
babies and their mothers, physically and emotionally. (Seriously, he really
did say this - on our first consult when I asked him what he thought about
breastfeeding!) I think toddlers get many of the same benefits that infants
get from nursing - immunities, nutrition, comfort, closeness with their
mother, security - and I don't think they suddenly lose their needs for all
of this when they reach some magical age of maturity. Long-term
breastfeeding is really long-term weaning--it's simply a way of allowing our
young children to move from dependence to independence at their own pace,
rather than imposing an arbitrary cutoff. I think my 2 y.o. daughter is able
to be very independent and happy in the world at large because she feels very
secure in her bond to me (and her father), and part of that bond comes from
nursing. I decided to keep nursing past the first year when I looked at her
and saw how much she enjoyed it, looked at myself and saw how much I enjoyed
it, and couldn't figure out why on earth we should stop.
You also asked about the benefits to me, and I want to add something
about this. I work full-time outside of the home. Nursing my daughter is
something only I can do, not her father nor her daycare providers, and she
loves it. Nursing her really helps me to *feel* like a "good mother" (please
don't get me wrong - I really don't mean that nursing is an objective measure
of competent motherhood, I'm just talking about how it makes me feel). *I*
love the special closeness we share when we nurse and that closeness helps
*me* to deal with the time away from her. Right up until she was about 18
months old, nursing was the first thing we did when I walked in the door from
work, it was the way I transitioned from my work mode to home mode and it was
the way we reconnected after the day's separation. I'd particularly
encourage working mothers to consider extended nursing from this perspective
and note that, unlike nursing an infant, on a practical basis it's easy to
combine work and nursing a toddler.
20. Nolan has just turned one today, and I've been thinking a lot about
our wonderful year and the very special bond we have because of our
continued nursing. He's a big, strong, healthy child--warm and loving,
affectionate and self-confident. I can't help but credit breastfeeding for
some of that! I think it's part of a very physical and loving relationship my
husband and I have with him. Nursing provides nutrition, health benefits, and
most importantly, emotional comfort and a sense of physical love and warmth
and attachment. As he explores his world and it gets wider and wider, he
knows he always has a safe base to return to.
22. I would hugely encourage anyone to continue past the first year. (i)
Nursing teaches babies that happiness comes from _people_, not objects. I
believe it has helped me to be as close as I am to my kids. (ii) I don't
know how I ever would have survived toddlerhood without nursing -- it was
like having two magic wands for calming my babies down when they got
overexcited or overtired. (iii) As a full-time working-outside-the-house
Mommy, long-term nursing was something I could do that my babysitter
couldn't. I believe this special bond was something very important for my
kids and me -- that 'welcome home' nursing after a long day's work was the
ultimate reward. Most of the other long-term nursing mothers I know also
worked outside the home. (iv) Though this hasn't been scientifically studied
(are you listening, NIH?), long-term breastfeeding is supposed to reduce your
risk for breast cancer. (v) Breastfeeding is so _easy_! I can't imagine
attempting a plane trip with bottles, for crying out loud...
23. We both still like the special quiet, relaxing, tranquil time we
spend together when he is nursing.
24. I have just started my 2nd year of nursing, so I'm not sure of
the benefits yet. I do notice that he tries to lift my shirt up, and
suddendly knows where his meals are coming from! Another thing is
that he absoluetly hates cow's milk and spits it out. So at least I
know he's getting milk from me.
25. I enjoy breastfeeding. It seems so easy to comfort a toddler. It
means so much to the baby, that I couldn't take it away. We are both happy.
26. First of all, I don't worry too much about his picky eating habits, because
I know he's still getting nutrition from me. Emotionally, it's a way for us
to connect. It calms both of us down. It makes me stop when I get home and
spend time with him. I know eventually I have to do other things, but this
is the natural way!! He was recently ill with diarrhea and vomiting, and
breast milk (as long as I wasn't overly full and restricted my dairy intake)
was tolerated by him. In fact, it's really all he would take, except water
and the forced syringe of pedialyte.
I would encourage someone to continue past the first year because in my
experience, Jeff wasn't ready to wean. He's still getting antibodies and
the nurturing. He's got so many other things to frustrate him with
development, this is a stable part of his life.
G. How has breastfeeding affected you (the mother) physically?
(eg, side effects, weight gain or loss, increased or decreased
appetite, energy level, sex drive, etc.)
2. Well, I've worn a G or H cup for the last five and a half years, does that
count? This is definitely not a fringe benefit of nursing for me! I'll be
really glad when I can get back into my tiny D cup again.
Most of the side effects of breastfeeding seemed to diminish around
10 months postpartum. My libido had returned by then, my menstrual cycles
were well-established and I was getting enough sleep to function pretty well.
That's true this time, too. My libido seems to return in a rush around 10
months postpartum; I start getting antsy to be doing more, etc.
With Morganne, I had a hard time losing my extra "baby fat". I'm doing
much better this time. I'm already back in my normal clothes, although I
still have a few pounds to release. I think this had more to do with
postpartum depression following Morganne's birth than it does with
breastfeeding per se. Of course, there are shirts and dresses I haven't been
able to wear for the last 5.5 years because my bust is still too big....
Since we're considering another child, it may be another 5 years before
my bust escapes the effects of lactation.... I've also found that nursing
makes breast self-examination more difficult. Lactating breasts are firmer
and have more lumps and bumps than non-lactating breasts. Mammograms are
also pretty useless on lactating breasts - they're too dense.
3. In the first six months at least, I had increased appetite, and lower
energy levels (partly due to not making time to exercise). I was able to
shed the pregnancy pounds without dieting (in fact, I think I lost the weight
even as I was chowing down more calories). As for long-term breastfeeding,
once my appetite equilibrated, I had no problems maintaining my optimum
weight, but then, I believe I was hard-wired for leanness. My sex drive was
not affected by BF, though it was severely affected by pregnancy and
delivery. I still haven't regained the libido I had pre-pregnancy :-(. But,
I don't know how much of that can be attributed to hormonal differences, and
how much can be chalked up to being a parent :-0.
4. In spite of hoping that everything I read about weight loss and nursing
was true, I don't think I really lost any more weight while breastfeeding. I
experienced a very much lowered sex drive after the birth of my first child,
but I don't know if that can be attributed to nursing specifically. I really
enjoyed nursing -- it seems to be something wonderful you can do for your
child, and you don't have to worry about getting it "right" -- you just nurse
that baby! Some of the sweetest moments with my children were nursing.
5. Some increase in appetite esp. after menstruation. I'm more aware of
the need to eat nutritious meals; periods are shorter in duration (though not
in quantity); no effect on energy level or sex drive (having a child is
itself tiring and leaves you not much private time); some difficulty in
losing the last few pounds (correlated with increase in appetite during
certain times of the month). Not a big problem if I have more time to
6. Side effects: I hate the overfull breasts of the first few weeks and the
leaking that occurs almost constantly. I'm always glad when this is over and
I can go without a bra again. (First at night, later even during daytime).
But this has long been solved when you continue to nurse after 1yo. After
this time you only have the advantages, not the disadvantages. My breasts
even were about the same size again as before pregnancy.
Weight gain/loss: In my case it was weight loss. I was back on my
pre-pregnancy weight in about 3 months after my first pregnancy, but after
that I kept losing weight. By eating a lot more I was able to reverse this at
last, but I couldn't come back at my pre-pregnancy weight, I stayed less than
that. Now with the second I'm only 3 weeks postpartum, so we will have to see
how things will be going. But I already lost 2 kgs in the last 2 weeks and
I'm almost back at my pre-pregnancy weight. So it looks like things are going
the same as the first time.
Increased/decreased appetite: With the first one I didn't really notice
a change, but this time I'm hungry almost all day. I keep eating and still am
losing weight (but then this time I'm tandem nursing, so that takes a lot of
extra calories I suppose).
Energy level: I think nursing takes a lot of energy in the first months,
but it becomes better when solid foods are introduced. After 1 year it's my
experience it takes not so much energy any more, since the child is eating a
lot of other things. It may even boost your energy level when you are able to
get a bit of rest while your overactive toddler is nursing :-)
Sex drive: I didn't really notice changes in that due to nursing. The
real problems were sleep deprivation and getting used to having your life
revolving around a baby. And the baby used to wake up when we were just
considering sex, let alone when we tried to have it :-) (built-in way to
discourage the conception of siblings?)
7. Well, I lost 40 pounds this time around, and am still losing weight.
That's been wonderful. I happen to like the enhanced figure, also. I
haven't had a period in a very long time; that's nice, too. On the down side,
I sometimes feel like I want my own body back. It's been 4 years now that
someone is always after my breasts, and that can get old. On the other hand,
I enjoy nursing enough that I don't get those feelings very often. I haven't
noticed any change in sex drive or energy level beyond what I expect from
just having two preschool kids to take care of.
11. I did not have any trouble losing my pregnancy weight either time (to
within 5 pounds effortlessly after 3 months and the last 5 as a result of
conscious but not too drastic effort at around 1 year), but that could be
due to lucky genes rather than breastfeeding. My appetite is enormous (it is
a little embarrasing when I visit my husband's family because I eat three
helpings to thier one), so I guess the breastfeeding helps control my weight.
I did notice when each boy turned 1 and I stopped pumping that my weight
started to creep up, so I am afraid of what will happen when Nick finally
weans. My breasts are a good bit larger than before. No noticable changes
in other areas.
14. I took a year to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight (but did no
exercise, too lazy!) I have not gotten my period back at 12.5 months, I have
had a slight decrease in my sex drive but I think part of that is due to not
wanting to get pregnant again so soon, and not to the breastfeeding!
16. Well, I gained 60 lbs while pregnant and still have not lost it all, but
I don't think that has anything to do with nursing at this point. As far as
sex goes - when he was nursing a lot (mostly before he was 1) my drive seemed
to be pretty low, I suspect because any need I had for physical contact was
more than being satisfied. Now he only nurses occasionally and it's less of
an issue. We do have a family bed, though, which requires some, shall I say,
logistical adjustment in any case (whether he is nursing or not).
17. For me, once you're past 13 months, it's dramatically easier. I'm
down to 2 nursings/day, and life is somewhat survivable. The only affect I
still had/have from nursing was that the last 3 or 4 lbs. were/are still
hanging around. They don't seem to go away until nursing is completely over.
(I'm nursing #2 these days, so we'll see if my theory really holds true!)
18. Nursing my child in her first year helped me to lose weight, increased
my appetite, was a big drain on my energy level, and didn't seem to have much
effect on my sex drive (but exhaustion did, and nursing was part of that) (on
the other hand, my husband found my 4 size breast increase rather attractive
:-) ). But by the time she was a year old, we were only nursing 2-3
times/day, and all of these effects diminished significantly or went away
entirely. Now my daughter's 2 years and a few months old and I'm still
losing weight, but very s-l-o-w-l-y, my breasts are only one size away from
their pre-pregnancy size, my appetite is back to pre-pregnancy levels, and I
no longer feel so tired (yeah!).
20. My appetite surged after I gave birth, and I was absolutely ravenous for
the first few months. I had to work really hard to make sure I had nutritious
food at arm's reach, since hunger would strike and I would have no energy to
cook at that point. This appetite has eased somewhat by now, but I still feel
that I have to be conscientious not to overeat, especially junk foods that
are easily accessible. I'm back at my pre-pregnancy weight, maybe a couple of
pounds over, but I would like to weigh less since I was overweight to begin
with, and I've been unable to go on a weight reduction diet while
breastfeeding. The problem is finding time and energy in this new parenting
lifestyle for exercise and such! The other side effect I've had which is
related to breastfeeding is called atopic vaginitis, related to low estrogen
levels (like in menopause). It presents an uncomfortably dry and sometimes
irritated vagina. It can be partially helped by applications of Replens-type
gels, but I understand it will not go away completely until after nursing
ceases. Of course, this affects not the libido, but the ability to have
comfortable intercourse :(. It forces you to be creative!
22. I had low estrogen for months during the first year -- lousy sex. I also
found it hard to lose those last ten pounds until I weaned my babies (25 mo.
each). These drawbacks were more than made up for by the closeness, physical
thrill, and convenience of breastfeeding.
24. I feel I was able to get back into shape easier because of all the
calories I burned breastfeeding. Plus, you are busy breastfeeding and don't
have time to eat. Breastfeeding does stimulate your appetite, so you can't go
around eating double portions. I also do alot of running and exercising,
there is absolutely no conflict with breastfeeding. I had someone tell me
that she thought exercise affected her milk supply, but I think it was
because she didn't spend enough time with her baby just nursing.
25. I'm hungry more when I'm breastfeeding, but I don't gain any weight. My
energy level is the same, but my sex drive is lower.
26. I lost my weight over a year. I'm even a few pounds below my pre-pregnancy
weight, in fact I'm lighter than I've been in a while. I do exercise
regularly, take Jeff for walks in the stroller to reduce my stress level.
My appetite is about the same. My energy level waxes and wanes with the
demands of job, family and motherhood. I have to be careful to get enough
rest or I get a plugged duct. My sex drive returned almost immediately, but
sometimes I just don't have the energy.
H. Anything else I left out?
1. I feel it is very worthwhile, it makes the passage from babyhood to
childhood much easier....the children just carried on nursing, and I let
them....I was so glad I did. I feel we had a calmer, more relaxed life
because of it.
2. Norma Jane Bumgarner's book _Mothering Your Nursing Toddler_ is a very
good reference for mothers who want to let their toddlers keep nursing.
3. If you really want to stick with breastfeeding, go for it. Contact La
Leche League if you feel you need support for your decision. My son weaned
himself well over a year ago, and I still sometimes miss breastfeeding him.
But, he's still a major cuddle bunny, so we snuggle a lot and the emotional
bond that we forged while nursing remains as strong as ever.
4. If you're concerned about nursing in public - I impressed upon my little
guys that nursing is something we do at home, and I was lucky in that they
believed me. I have had friends whose children practically tore off their
blouses in the grocery store, but I think you can nip that in the bud if
you make a habit of only nursing an older child at home, and explaining to
her/him that nursing is private. Your child will probably ask loudly about
nursing in front of a bunch of strangers at some point, but of course s/he is
going to ask about sex, poops, and lots of other embarassing things, too, so
go with the flow!
5. I enjoy breastfeeding my daughter. The sessions have gotten shorter;
sometimes she just does it for two minutes then off she plays... Things to
watch out for:
- don't make a habit of nursing her to sleep. Causes wrong sleep
- don't substitute nursing for comforting and personal attention; my
daughter gets hugs and personal attention.
- don't nurse before feeding solids/drinks. Sometimes they ask when
they are thirsty or hungry...
6. It's very satisfying to nurse an older child. I really like the mornings,
when he awakens next to me (we have a family bed), and he tells me with a
sleepy voice that he wants to nurse. It's so cute. And it is very easy when
he is very difficult, I can always plug in a breast and he will be quiet for
some time. It also helps us to manage this kind of difficult times, since he
is always very contented after a nursing session.
7. Does any La Leche League group in your area have toddler meetings? I have
found the support helpful to my sanity.
10. The one thing you didn't ask about that we have run into is other peoples
attitudes about how long you "should" be nursing. World-wide the mean age for
termination of nursing is like 4.5 yrs. That's much longer than what we see
here in the USA, so there's lots of pressure to quit early, but we believe
that Kayli should nurse until it just stops more or less by itself. The
worst people have been our parents, mothers in particular. They thought we
should have stopped as soon as she was eating solids. We've done a lot of
reading and believe that we are doing the right thing, and have slowly
discovered a handfull of people who share our beliefs. You gotta tuff it
12. Elizabeth is my first and really enjoys nursing. And I must say I do
too! It is relaxing and makes her so cuddly and happy and relaxed.
Especially now that she's running everywhere and getting into so much
mischief, and with trying to start disciplining her and doing timeouts I
find that nursing and cuddling lets us both unwind and reestablish the
parent-child bond. And when my husband is in town we make it part of her
bedtime ritual (I know this is a no-no but it's so nice) He reads us a
story while I nurse Elizabeth to sleep and the three of us feel so close.
My friend with the three children nursed the first until she got
pregnant with the second (15 months), then the flavor of her milk changed
(?) and the first weaned himself right away. The second was never much
into nursing and weaned at 9 months. The third weaned at 4 years old.
15. I *loved* nursing and miss it very much.
18. Probably the most commonly mentioned advice from mothers of nursing
toddlers is to develop a family word for nursing. It's a lot easier to
have a discussion in front of disapproving relatives or out in public
about "nunu" or "nummies" than about nursing or breasts. (BTW, if
anyone does give you flack about it, I like to point out that the World
Health Organization recommends that all children be nursed until they're
two years old because the immunities continue to be effective until
19. I find that most of the time I am trying to keep Kenneth nursing past
when he is ready to give up a feeding. The hard part seems to be trying to
wean mom from the baby for us :).
22. My children loved nursing so much that I never believe people's claims
that their babies were 'self-weaning'. Long-term nursing is the best for
moms and kids!
23. I was lucky enough to be informed and confident about my nursing abilities
because of the influence of some relatives (my grandmothers were both helpful,
believe it or not - they both said if they hadn't nursed, their babies would
have starved in rural Georgia in those days). I struggled but stood up for my
rights to continue nursing after I returned to work (when Trevor was 10 weeks
old - sob!). There was a daycare center on site so I was able to nurse at
lunch time and then I pumped once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I
also had to educate the caregivers, who really were the easiest to convince
now that I think about it. They really seemed to have the baby's interest at
heart. They did question me a couple of times about whether the milk was fresh
(even though I dated it) because it would separate when it was thawed. I had
to explain that it wasn't homogenized like the cow's milk we buy at the local
grocery store! After a while, they would actually send other nursing mothers
at the center to consult with me. I got a huge kick out of encouraging other
moms, even though some of them gave up too easily and saddened me. We joked
that we had our own revolving La Leche League chapter and that I was the only
constant! Sometimes I wonder if the good-natured (?) ribbing I got from some
of those weaning moms wasn't inspired by envy and longing... I admit that by
the time I quit pumping, when Trevor was a year old and filled up on lots of
other good food, it was a relief not to have to fill my briefcase every night
with my pump, bottles, towel, etc. I always got a little chuckle thinking
about what some of the other managers might think if they knew what was in
that official looking briefcase!
Well, I really meant to just send you a short note telling you how wonderful
it was to read about so many others who have and continue to share the
experience of nursing a child past babyhood. It affirmed my choices and gave
me some reassurance when I didn't even really know I needed it! I'm glad to
know others share my belief that no one knows when it's the right time to wean
better than my child and me!
One other thing - I was surprised to see how many moms had gotten
grief from their pediatricians! I must say that my pediatrician and my
gynecologist (both men) have been nothing but supportive. However, to
my surprise, my general practitioner, who was a nursing mom herself,
literally chided me at my last checkup, telling me that I needed to
think about "letting go" of my son - as if one ever really lets go of
one's children anyway. She said that nursing at this point really
didn't do either of us any good (how would she know unless she had
done it this long herself?). But don't worry - I did what any
self-respecting committed nursing mom would have done... I IGNORED
26. The most helpful thing for me has been the support of La Leche League. I
go monthly to our meetings and am friends with several members. I really
like their supportive and accepting philosophy.
It has also helped me see mothering in a new light; I've learned attachment
parenting and try to practice it.
It didn't really fit the survey format so here is a contribution from
Abby : I'm a happily breast-feeding mother of a
three year old boy. I thought that I might be able to give a little
encouragement to single mothers out there. I'm a 20 year-old single
mother who is going to college full time, working part time and
managing a household. In all the chaos I still find the time to
nurse my son and I think that it's really important for both of us.
When I get home from work at 8 pm, I'm tired and stressed and I need
help winding down. In addition, Alex is tired, wants attention from
me, and genuinely needs attention from me. Although Alex only nurses
at night before bed (not to go to sleep), I think it's just as
important as it was when he nursed five times a day. It brings the
two of us together and gives us both what we need at the end of a
busy day. Because of my stress, I lost sight of the importance of
his night- time nursing - until I read everyone's responses in
netnews. It reminded me of the special bond that we have and also
that I'm doing something right. Thank you - I needed that.
APPENDIX A: NURSING LOG AND SUMMARY from Laura Dolson
This is a nursing log from birth--2. Skim down if you're only interested in
a certain age.
Well, Emily officially weaned herself 2 months ago, at 27 mo. As there
were many times during her nursing years that I wished I could have
talked to others, particularly after one year, I thought I would post
Emily Dolson - born 3/19/91 Nursing Log
-The first three days - very frustrating for both of us. Emily wasn't
really interested in nursing at all! The nurses at the hospital were
quite concerned, and kept trying to get me to try again, which just
made me more upset. We went home from the hospital in the morning
(Emily was born at 4:45 the pm before), and I really didn't feel like
we knew what we were doing at all. My aerolas (aerioli?) are large,
and Emily kept slipping back to the end of my nipple.
Day 4 - My milk comes in - suddenly Emily says "hey, hey, this is what
I've been waiting for!", and gets avidly interested. Still has trouble
staying latched on properly, and my nipples are getting quite sore. Partly
I think this is made worse by my being fair-skinned - my nipples never did
darken up during pregnancy and are still pink. I call lactation consultants,
friends, read everything I can get my hands on.
Two weeks - Nipples still sore, despite trying everything. Lanolin seems to
help the most. I am practically in tears when Emily first latches on.
The good news: Emily has regained her birthweight plus 3 oz, and is now
6 lbs 14. It seems as though she is nursing all the time - Emily is a
long, slow, frequent nurser.
Six weeks - finally nipples start to get better - until an attack of thrush
hits us. Now they are on fire - a different painful sensation! Emily
nurses every 2 hours during the day, and every 3 (occasionally 4) at night.
2 months - Nipples feel fine now. Emily has started to do "mega-nursing"
in the evening, though - it seems she wants to nurse pretty much non-stop
from 5 pm on. BUT, in compensation, she begins lengthening out the time
she sleeps at night - 5 hours, 6 hours, now 7. At ten weeks, she sleeps
through the night, then gradually decreases her evening nursing. She was
tanking up for the night, apparently!
Weight at 2 mo: 11 pounds! That's over 4 lbs in 6 weeks!
3 months - Growth spurt causes nonstop feeding for a few days, otherwise
still every 2 hours during the day, sleeping 8-9 hours at night. Pumping
is much easier now that she's sleeping through the night. I pump every
morning before she wakes up with my little 2nd hand Gerber pump.
4 months - 15 lb 8 oz The child has gone from 25th percentile for
height and weight to 95th for height and 75th for weight! Still nursing
every 2 hours, but will go a little longer if I'm not around.
5 months - Emily is showing an avid interest in solids, ie swiping
rice from our plates, slurping curry juice off of our plates. The
ped said we could wait till 6 mo, but Emily is insisting! She wolfed
down the rice cereal. Within 24 hours, her bowel movements got
smelly and I must have ovulated!
6 months - Solids progressing well. Emily seems to like everything
so far, except Mountain High brand yogurt. 19 lbs. By now, she
pretty much has substitued 1 solid feeding/day for nursing and
we're working on #2.
8.5 months - Emily refuses to be fed solids - will only self feed.
Still loves to nurse - pulls on my shirt to give cue.
9 months - Nursing 4 times per day, Solids 3X/day.
12 month - Most babies in play group have weaned by now, only 3 of
us still nursing. Emily shows no signs of abating! The MD says
that the typical times for babies to wean themselves are th 8-10
mo range, and when they come out of the separation anxiety phase
at 14-16 mo. He says if she's still nursing at 18 mo, chances are
I will have to wean her myself.
15 mo - Nurse at Emily's appointment is VERY surprised to hear I am
still nursing. MD is supportive. Says his wife nursed until 20 mo.
But says that he thinks women who nurse beyond 2 years have "a
separation problem". Emily is now nursing 3 times/day - first
thing in the morning, at nap, at night. Smiles broadly when I
lift up my shirt! Getting better at accepting that we don't nurse
in public, though - we are starting to get stares, and I'm
16 mo - Emily adds the word "nurse" to her vocabulary. I am shocked -
I never call it that with her, but she has figured out the word -
and she uses it! Occasionally I offer her cow's milk, and her
typical reaction is to take a sip, fix me in a death stare, and,
never breaking eye contact, drop the cup on the floor!
18 mo - MD again says the stuff about separation. But adds that I
might as well wait a few months to wean her so that she can under-
stand "you're a big girl" etc.
21 mo. She is down to twice a day, but NO signs of self-weaning.
I write to misc.kids for support and hear from lots of moms whose
toddlers weaned themselves around 26-32 mo. I am cheered by this,
and decide to keep going, since Emily likes it so much, and I am
basically lazy and enjoy the time. Why would I want to start running
around when I can sit down and nurse Emily for half an hour when we
first get up?
25 mo - Emily is cutting down on the time per nursing, and occasionally
skipping one. Really liking cow's milk now.
26 mo - Rarely asks for a morning nursing. Evening ones shorter.
I offer a cup of milk, which she sometimes takes (she does both).
By 27 mo, Emily has pretty much stopped. She asked for a few token
nursings after that, usually after she hears me telling someone
that she weaned! Her last 2 or 3 nursings were literally less than
1 SECOND per side - obviously, she didn't get anything. Oddly, when
we came back from our vacation, and she hadn't asked in a month, she
asked to nurse. I told her I didn't think I had any milk left, and
would she like a cup of milk. She asked "Can we take the milk from
the cup and put it in your breasts?"
I feel so good that the whole thing was a pleasant experience for
both of us and that Emily was able to go at her own rate.
I don't really miss it at all, and feel "complete" with the experience,
though I did feel a little nostalgic, which prompted me to construct
Mom to Emily, 29 mo, weaned, potty trained, and recently moved into
her "big girl bed". Now I AM feeling sentimental - sniff!
This is a file in response to a question I asked when Emily was 20-21
mo. old. My pediatrician had told me that moms who nurse after 2 yrs
have a "separation problem". I wanted support for continuing, basically,
but also wanted advice on weaning a toddler.
My daughteris soon to be 22 mo old, and I am still nursing her twice/day.
Good for you.
I, too, ran into social pressure to wean Emily. I will discuss the reasons
I didn't in a minute, but the way I coped with social pressure at that time
was to relate what our pediatrician had said. (First of all, he's very
pro-choice about nursing that is working for both baby and mother, up to
the age of 2, at which time he feels that if a baby is still nursing, than
the mother has a problem with separation.)
Sounds like the doctor is bending to social pressure here.
BUT, now I REALLY feel the pressure to wean soon, as Emily is approaching
2. And, as you have gathered, we are still fine with it. The time she
really seems to want to nurse the most is when she first wakes up. She
really doesn't seem to think her day can begin until she's nursed.
Like some adults and their cup of coffee??
She also nurses before she goes to bed, which is nice because it gets her
all sleepy and she goes down really easily after that, although she goes
down pretty well when I'm not there, too (no bottle). I must admit that
part of the reason I keep nursing is pure laziness.
Okay by me!
It's nice to get to relax a few minutes before rushing into the day, and at
night I usually sing to her and read net news when nursing (I have perfected
this art). Also, when Emily is sick (thankfully not often, but we just had a
bout last weekend), she will ask to nurse during the day, and is so
comforted by it. In fact, when she couldn't keep anything else down, she
did OK with breast milk.
You are still producing antibodies, so you're probably helping her get
well faster, too.
Also, she still isn't a big (cow's) milk drinker, although she doesn't throw
it to the floor in disgust as she used to.
So, I have 2 dilemmas: when to wean, and how to wean a toddler. I can't
gather all my breasts up and throw them away, as people have been saying
they do with bottles and pacifiers! Any suggestions? And any thoughts
on how I can tell if I have a "separation problem"?
I don't think you have a "separation problem". The world breastfeeding
average is 4.2 years. Get the book _Mothering Your Nursing Toddler_. It
discusses ways to "gently wean", and how to deal with people who disagree
with you about nursing a toddler.
Well, I'm still nursing my daughter at 2 1/2 and expect we'll do so for a
couple more months yet. Her older sister was an avid long-term nurser also.
I find it amazing that people still believe that nursing can be good for a
child one day and bad the next! There is simply no evidence for your
pediatrician's opinion. I've known children that have never nursed and
children who nursed until they were 4 or 5 and I can tell no difference in
their relationships with their mothers or their mother's mental health (if
anything the long term moms are more self-assured and worry LESS about their
kids!) I firmly believe that the time to wean is when one of you, baby or mom
is ready. I don't believe that a child can be forced to nurse against her
will and and I also don't think there's any benefit to a child in being
nursed by a reluctant mom (which is where we are at right now;-) ) Trust
yourself--you'll know when it's time to quit.
Basically--my vision of nursing sounds a lot like yours and I would encourage
you to trust your intuition rather than your doctor's. I'm not sure why
doctors worry about excessive mother/baby closeness, but unless this seems to
resonate for you, I would simply stop talking about nursing with the doctor
if it bothers her or him)). I've always thought the research suggesting that
the firmer the attachment and the more the child receives what she (or he)
needs in terms of nurturance, the more independent she'll eventually be and
the less she needs to waste her resources in protecting herself and seeking
My 2nd who nursed until 2 1/2 was in full time daycare from 10 months on and
in parttime earlier and was always--as she still is--very obviously well
developed. I did, after about 1 1/2 years, by which time she was only nursing
twice a day, stop nursing her in public or discussing nursing with most
people, since many people prefer that toddlers not be nursed.
It's basically a private matter between the two of you. In my opinion you
should definitely go on nursing as long as both you and your child like it.
I think you will probably hear from a number of people on this--but if you
don't and want more info. you should definitely contact La Leche in your
I weaned my 1st child at about 13/14 months and my 2d at around 2 1/2 years.
I weaned my second later because she liked sucking more. In general nursing
during the day is inconvenient, especially if one works but nursing evening
and especially morning is not. I went down to twice a day even with the 2d ca
10 months or a year and went down to once a day--am only ca 1 1/2 or 2 years.
Once I was down to once or twice a day I found I could be away ovenight or
even for a couple days without much problem--pumping once a day is no big
deal in most situations and we simply resumed nursing when I returned.
My experience suggests that it may be preferable to cut the evening feeding
before the morning--which is the opposite of what I did with my 1st, because
this insures that your child can develop a non milk based bedtime routine a
while before you go cold turkey.
Good luck doing what works for you--a fellow mother.
I don't know about a pediatrician who makes blanket statements of the kind
that yours did. Simply put, I don't believe that there is necessarily a
problem with a toddler still nursing. And, I certainly can't believe that
any mother who continues to nurse her toddler past 24 months has a problem
with separation! Why is 2 years so magical for giving up a host of things?
I see this as a problem with our society, of rushing kids to grow up and in
turn, rushing the parents of those kids to give up their child's childhood.
Perhaps you could ask your pediatrician what motivates him to make such a
blanket statement about nursing past 24 months. Citations would seem to be in
order at the very least. Otherwise, it seems to be purely speculative
opinion on his part.
Finally (as if you couldn't tell), I am in favor of child-led weaning so long
as both mother and child are in sync with nursing. If *you* no longer find it
satisfying, then I would think it's time to wean gradually. Clearly, since
Emily loves her morning nursing session, that would be the last one to be
dropped. Anyway, I'm sure La Leche League would have some helpful hints on
My mother nursed me till I was 3! I don't think my mother (or I) have any
separation anxiety or is any worse for wear. On what basis does your doctor
sets the limit at 2yo anyway? Doctors don't always know best. You know best
what your relationship is with your daughter. In *my opinion, you have a
problem IF nursing is the ONLY way you can comfort her. Twice a day means
she's not really dependent on you for the milk, or the comfort. She may
continue out of habit, although some children need more comforting than
others. does your daughter have any loveys? I think 2yr is a tough age still.
3 is much better for weaning.
When to wean: it is your choice. When you want your breasts back :). I think
its ok to nurse a 4yo if you and the 4yo want to. I don't think the 4yo will
want to, however :). The two feeding sessions you mentioned are the hardest
to wean 'cos there's really no substitute activities...
How to wean: well, several ways. Use delaying technique; when she asks to
nurse, say in 5 minutes (use timer?); but in the meantime, how about a
snuggle and a book. At night, change her bedtime routine. Maybe start her
with reading, then some water, and say she's a "big girl now", etc. Prepare
her beforehand, choose a deadline. Maybe after her second birthday party;
keep a calendar, and mark X's till the "growing ceremony", and keep telling
her that each time you mark the X and/or nurse. After that wear a regular bra
that is not convenient for her to nurse. Give her a substitute. Instead of
nursing, you'll do X with her; X is whatever you think will calm her down at
night or make her day in the morning.
Regarding social pressures to wean, besides your husband, you don't have to
tell others you're still nursing, do you?
My older son nursed until he turned 4. I had cut him back to once a day at
about age 3, but it was still so important to him that I didn't have the
heart to stop him completely. I finally started dropping hints about 'big
boys dont nurse", and told him when he was 4 he wouldn't either. We went on
vacation the week of his birthday and he didn't ask the whole time, but as
soon as he got home he wanted to again. And I said no, you are a big 4 year
old now. I felt kind of bad cutting him off like that, even though he took
it fairly well, so a few weeks later when he asked to nurse I agreed to a
ceremonial last nrsing. which was very nice for all of us. And now he
mentions occasionally that he is a weaned boy, and doesn't nurse like his
baby does. The reason he went on so long was that he has a younger brother,
2years4mo younger. He was almost weaned around the time he turned 2, by
himself, but when the baby came he started up again The baby is just turned 2
and still nursing morning, bedtime and after school. He shows no signs of
wanting to wean.
I guess the point of this is, people do nurse thier babies past age 2. Some
babies seem to need it. An excellent discussion of the topic is "mothering
your nursing toddler" by norma jean bumgardner, available from most La Leche
League groups. It discusses nursing and weaning the older child. If you
want support for continued nursing, I suggest you get in touch with La Leche
League. They have chapters all over the country, and are devoted exclusively
to this purpose.
This may not be what you want to hear either, but my son is still nursing at
age 3! He sounds like his habits are similar to your daughter's - mostly he
nurses in the morning and at night. I'm starting to wonder how I'm going to
wean him, too! (Incidentally, I've been working full time since he was 7
weeks old; I started traveling without him when he was 18 months. I've been
gone for as long as 11 days, when he was 2.5, and he started nursing again
when I got home! I'm leaving on Sunday for 3 weeks - we'll see what happens
then!) Anyway, your's doctor's statement sounds a bit strange to me - what is
it that suddenly happens when the child turns 2 that makes continued nursing
all your "fault"? I've also read that, worldwide, the average age of weaning
is 4.2 years :-( so if your doctor is right there are a lot of mothers out
there with separation problems!
A friend of mine successfully weaned her 18-month old by telling him "All
gone!" when he asked to nurse. As for when to wean, every book I've ever
read suggests that as long as both mom and baby are happy breastfeeding, you
should continue. I suppose you want to wean before your child goes to
I actually ended up weaning my daughter (partly in response to pressure from
others and partially because she was wanting to nurse 3-4 times during the
night) at about 19 months, so I haven't actually had your exact experience,
but in hindsight I would say that nursing a 2 year old who gets as many
benefits as your daughter seems to is a great idea. I intend to let my next
baby nurse as long as she/he wants to. Your doctor's comments about mothers
having a separation problem are a new twist to me. But it seems like it
would be easy to find out if you have such a problem or not. Are there other
adults that are special to her and that she enjoys spending time with? Do
you work or have other activities for yourself outside the home and apart
from her? It sounds like you do, since you mentioned her going to sleep
when you're gone. In my opinion, you both seem to be benefitting from
nursing, and there are no apparent negative factors at this point. I'd say
go for it!
I never intended to nurse my son past one year, but we both enjoyed it. We
nursed until after he turned 2. Then we stopped because I am pregnant again
and sore. He still misses nursing and so do I. I don't think your doctor is
very well-informed when he says that nursing past 2 indicates that you have a
separation problem. In many cultures it is common to nurse to age 4.
Comfort nursing provides such a special bond. I'd say don't give it up just
to avoid some label from some heavy-handed doctor. The decision on when to
stop really should be up to you and your daughter. It is nobody else's
What I did to wean my son (at age 2 years, 3 months) was to tell him that
Mommies made milk for babies, and at some point mommies finished making all
the milk they would make for a baby. After that, mommies weren't available
for nursing. Soon thereafter, my milk "went away", and he didn't nurse any
more. We replaced nursing time with special cuddle time (I don't like to get
up quickly either) and everything went fine.
Now I get to do the same thing with my daughter soon (2 years, 1 month). I
think she is just drifting away from nursing though -- she nurses at most
once a day, and only for a minute or two. So she may be easier.
APPENDIX B: ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS COMPILED BY ELIZABETH GENE (9/93)
I. Do you have any experience with nursing while pregnant or tandem nursing?
Is it really feasible? How did you manage to nurse two (or more!) children at
a time? What kind of schedule was the older child on? Any advice for someone
Heather Madrone :
I nursed my 3.5 year old for the first four months of my pregnancy, but I
weaned her because I was threatening miscarriage. Frankly, I didn't enjoy
nursing when pregnant. I'd get this creepy-crawly sensation and feel antsy
and impatient. If I had a very young child, I would try to nurse through a
pregnancy if it caused no problems.
This seems to be very individual. I know a few people who have tandem nursed
and their older babies have been young (11 - 18 mos). My advice would be
"follow your heart".
Bonita Kale :
When I got pregnant with my third, I made my second (age 2 1/2) stop
nursing, just because I felt so rotten. So I haven't really done it.
Carolyn Olive :
I became pregnant with Nick when Ben was 19 months old and still nursing
many times a day. Ben tapered off gradually, and by his second birthday
he was down to 3 or 4 nursings a week. There was no milk, and he did it
just for comfort, for a minute or two at a time. Milk started returning
about a month before Nick was born, and Ben stepped up to daily nursings.
I never had any pain or difficulty nursing while pregnant.
When Nick was born, and the milk really came in, (and the sibling rivalry
with it) Ben started increasing his nursing demands. By the time Nick was
2 weeks old, Ben (then 28 months old) wanted to nurse every time Nick did,
and sometimes in between. We even went through a brief phase where Nick
slept through the night and Ben woke up to nurse. I finally decided this
was too much and gave Ben bottles of milk at night instead. I never had any
supply problems, but after a few months I started to feel resentful of the
constant demands on me. I gradually cut Ben's nursing back to 3 times a
day, morning, after school and bed time. When Ben was 3.5, I told him he
could nurse once a day, and left the choice of time up to him. When Ben was
4, I told him he was too big to nurse anymore and we stopped.
Throughout this time Nick nursed on demand. Ben usually nursed at the
same time, one on each side. It was incredibly cute to see them both
nursing away and looking into each others faces and stroking each others
heads. (Although sometimes they would be jockeying for the best position
and hitting and we would have to stop). Ben would always get as close as
he could when Nick nursed, even if he wasn't nursing himself. He still
does, as a matter of fact.
I think the tandem nursing helped to create a special bond between them.
They get along quite well. It certainly helped me to meet Ben's emotional
needs once Nick was born, although things might have been easier if Ben
had weaned himself before Nick came. I had thought the problems of
resentment I had when Ben kept nursing past 2.5 and 3 were due to the
tandem nursing, but now that Nick is 32 months old and still nursing 5-6
times a day (and screaming for nonny whenever he gets upset as his main
form of tantrumizing) I have the same feelings that this has gone on long
enough and we need to start cutting back. So I guess the problems I had
were more due to my impatience with the duration of nursing than to the
tandem part. I guess my main advice would be
1: be prepared for the older child to regress to an infant's schedule,
2: be prepared for mixed feeling on your part.
The book "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by Norma Jane Bumgardner has
a chapter on tandem nursing that covers the pros AND cons pretty well.
Karen Plomp :
Cees was 1yo when I became pregnant again. He still was enjoying the nursing
sessions, so I just let him decide whether to wean or not. He didn't wean, so
I nursed him my whole pregnancy. The biggest problem were the sore nipples I
got from about 10 weeks pregnant till the end. That was the reason I tried to
restrict his nursings to one when awakening and one when he went to sleep
(for naps and for nighttime). One of the advantages was that I always could
go to bed with him in the middle of the day and nurse him, and we would both
blissfully fall asleep. So I could get some rest.
I think nursing during pregnancy didn't differ much from nursing when not
pregnant (only the sore nipples :-( The supply was much less, but Cees didn't
mind. I think he enjoys the feeling nursing gives him and the special time
with mommy, whether there is milk coming or not. But he was very happy to
have the real milk back when Tim was born.
Tim is only 4 weeks old, so we are still trying to settle into a new
arrangement. I tried once to put them both at one time to the breast, but
that was not a success. I couldn't get Tim to latch on again when he loosed
the nipple, since I used that arm to hold Cees. But I think it will go better
when Tim is somewhat older.
Cees (22mo) is now nursing when he awakens at about 6:00am (and then goes to
sleep again) and at about 8:00am. Then some time during the day (around
2:00pm) and when he is going to sleep (about 7:00pm). But we are still
working things out, since he would like to nurse more often. Since Tim was
born he also sometimes awakens for a nighttime nursing, but luckily that has
happened not too often.
Most of the time Cees is not having problems seeing Tim nursing, but
sometimes he will come and whine: 'Cees bed. Cees breast. Tim breast not.' I
then tell him he will also be allowed to nurse when we are going to bed, but
he has to wait for that since first we are going to [....] (eat, shop, ...)
And sometimes during the night he will have problems waiting for Tim to
finish. Not always. I hope he will get used to the waiting soon, otherwise it
will be solved when I am able to nurse them both at one time.
When I was pregnant I talked a lot about the new baby to him. I also kept
telling him that the new baby also would get mommy's breast. I think this
helped him accept the situation better. When he first saw his new brother he
already told me that Tim should get the breast. So it wasn't useless to tell
it to him for a thousand times :-)
II. Did you use a code word for nursing? If so, what was it and who started
using it first, you or the child? At what age? If not, did you wish you did?
Michelle Mauldin :
Hi. I can answer your second question about the code word for nursing. I
nursed my now nearly 6 year old for 3 years. I'm now nursing a 14 month old.
(both boys) With the older, we came to call nursing either "nursies" or as #1
called it: "nursie milks". Both of those were fine with me. With #2 I call
it "nursies". He doesn't verbally request. He just smiles and grabs at me.
When he talks, I won't discourage the use of nursies. If we're in public
and he wants to nurse, I just say, as with the older: "Not now ----(insert
name). We'll nurse when we get home."
Mary J. Cole :
Yes, we used 'boob'. As in would you like a boobie? Some boobie would
be pretty good right now! In retrospect we wish we had chosen our codeword
more carefully. Elizabeth started using it at ~11.5 months. I've been glad
that we have a word that was easy for her to pronounce. It made it easy for
her to learn it; her first words were in order dada, mumma, boob, kitty. It
makes it easier that we know what she wants exactly, I just wish we'd thought
about it more carefully and used a more discreet word.
Heather Madrone :
With Morganne, we used the code word "snuggle", which came out "nuggle". She
would also ask for "other side", even for the first side! It was pretty
funny to have her finish up one side and cheerfully say "Nuggle - other
side!". I initiated the code word sometime in the early part of the second
year, since I strongly suspected we might be nursing for quite a while.
Bonita Kale :
Kind of. We called it "milk". Worked very well. When the kid's in
the supermarket asking for milk, and you're telling him/her to wait till you
get home, no one looks twice. I think it was very necessary. I knew a woman
who used "suck" and wished she hadn't. Another kid learned "titty" from his
dad, embarrassing his mom no end in public. One friend had a kid who called
nursing, "drinkaback", which at least is private! I don't know what age they
learned to say "milk"; it came along with Mama and Dada and cheese and cookie
and that kind of thing. All this was many years ago; my youngest is 15 now.
Suzanne Jacobs :
Never used a code word, and never felt the need. But, both my kids weaned/
are weaning (I think) at 18.5 months, so they didn't really talk that much.
Audrey Ishizaki :
My son does use a "codeword" for nursing: "muh". I suspect that it's
derived from "milk", which my husband tried to get Dale to say. I then
encouraged the word "muh" (because, as I told my husband, milk comes from
the carton in the refrigerator!). I'm not sure how old Dale was when he
started using it - my guess is around 16-18 months (his first words were
about 15 months). My son started using "muh" and I picked it up from him.
It's not very embarassing a word - when he's crying, it simply sounds like
he's crying for his "maa". In fact, I have to listen for the difference
between his cry for "muh" and his crying for "Maaama"
Sue Willis :
We call it "mommy milk", basically by accident - we found a need to
distinguish between "mommy milk" and "refrigerator milk", and the name
Carolyn Olive :
We did (and still do) use a code word. It is 'nonny'. My older son Ben
made it up when he was starting to talk, at around 18 months. I had
been calling it 'nursie' or just 'nursing' and I guess that is what it
sounded like to him. When Nick came along we tandem nursed, and 'nonny'
is the word he heard all his life, so that is what he called it too.
Karen Plomp :
No, Cees is now 22mo and I am not having problems with not using
one. When he wants to nurse he comes to me and says: 'Cees breast'.
APPENDIX C: QUESTIONS COMPILED BY MARILYN WALKER 10/93
Date: 04 Oct 93 20:34:52 +0000
From: (Marilyn Walker)
Subject: Nursing an older baby: summary
Hi folks. A while back I posted 2 questions about nursing an "older"
(now 11 months) baby:
(1) Had anyone pumped milk past the first birthday, or have any information
about the benefits of doing so?
(2) How could I deal with my olympic freestyle nurser?
I got (as usual, because this is such a great group of people) lots of
helpful posts and mail. Several of you asked me to summarize, so I am
posting the mail messages that I got. Many many thanks to all of you who
posted or wrote. I am still pumping and have decided to keep it up at least
until some time in the 2nd year, and the gymnastics have slowed down some.
Who knows what will happen next? I have ordered a copy of "Mothering Your
Nursing Toddler" because several of you recommended it. And I was glad to
see, from both the posts and letters, that I was able to give some of you a
good giggle from my description of my talented little gymnast.
I have to agree with the others who said the gymnastics *don't* show he wants
to wean. After all, he's keeping latched on! If he wanted to wean, he'd be on
the other side of the room... :-)
To answer your question about the nursing baby olympics, after
three kids, all of whom did this, I assume it's normal. My personal favorite
is when the child whips his/her head around to look over his/her shoulder
without bothering to let go of Mom first. I always yelled "Ouch" if one
of them did something that hurt, which probably scarred them for life (:-) ),
but they learned to be more careful. I think you're right to give Daniel
negative feedback, either by scolding him a little or stopping nursing, and
I agree with letting him start up again if he's still interested. My
experience is that just stopping for a moment is enough to get the point
Sometimes I tried holding the child very closely in order to prevent
her from standing up in my lap or rolling over while nursing, but that didn't
teach them not to do it.
I found I had to give up on public nursing at about that point,
because in addition to the acrobatics, the kids were starting to ask loudly
to nurse or pull up my shirt or pull away every time something interesting
came by. I limited nursing to non-public areas and gave them bottles
My kids gradually stopped doing the acrobatics as they got older
(after about one year of age). I didn't interpret the acrobatics as a sign
of weaning. I think it's more a sign of a baby that wants to do everything
I don't have any first hand experience with this, although I am hoping to
continue nursing Helene past 1 year. I was reading "Mothering Your Nursing
Toddler" last night, and it had something about this, so I would think it is
very common. They said that it was not necessarily a sign that the child was
ready to wean (but would you have expected them to say anything else? :-)
I continued pumping past 1 year with boh my kids. I work full time, and so
pumped twice-a-day. I would know when to cut back on pumping, when the
babysitter/my husband would tell me that the baby was beginning to refuse
I think all kids begin to twist and turn when they nurse. I think it is
a sign of beginning to wean. I didn't recognize it at first, but it became
more obvious as time wore on.
A friend of mine kept pumping until her baby was 16 months or so because the
child hated cow's milk. She and I were sharing a pump in my office. I was
wishing she'd hurry up and quit because I didn't really need the pump
myself--I saw Will for lunch every day and was really bad about remembering
to pump for morning/afternoon snacks. Eventually Ariel learned to drink
cow's milk, mixed with gradually decreasing proportions of mommy-milk.
I believe that nursing must take place in a boring bedroom after the child
reaches a certain age. Discretion is simply not a comprehensible topic to a
baby. It's as though they're saying "Look, world! This is my absolutely
favorite thing! Aren't you jealous?" On the bright side, this saves you from
having the kid start trying to undress you in public when they get hungry, if
nursing is something you only do at home or in somebody's borrowed bedroom.
I pumped until my son was about 21 months old, at which time he stopped
taking bottles at daycare (he used to drink them right before naptime). I
tried to pump at the times we would otherwise nurse, though towards the end,
I would pump so little at one time, I would pump twice a day to fill the one
bottle. I was really prepared to stop pumping at a year, but my son turned
out to be very allergic to milk. We tried a combination of soy milks/
formulas added to the pumped breastmilk (i had let my supply decline, in
anticipation of stopping pumping). Pumping regularly did bring my supply
back up. From 12 months to 21 months, my son dropped 3-4 daytime feedings
and 1 nighttime feeding (at 2 years, my son now only nurses at bedtime and
waking and whenever I'm home, before naptime). The last nursing we dropped
(was just recently) was on coming home from daycare. I was afraid of
stopping pumping (would I have enough supply on weekends if I stopped on
weekdays?). But it turned out not to be a problem. One of my friends told
me that your body knows to have milk on weekends, even if you don't nurse at
that time on weekdays. WEll, either that's true, or my son is simply nursing
for comfort (and getting a tiny amount of milk, too).
freestyle nursing: my son does this somewhat -- I keep turning him back
the way it's comfortable for me, mindful that he, too, may be in an
uncomfortable position. One behavior that's sort of funny, is that he'll
sometimes bring a book with him to nurse. I think he picked that up from me,
since I tend to read while nursing. I have drawn the line at big books, so
he has started bringing the little books (3"x3") or medium sized books
(6"x6"?) and he'll flip thru the pages.
PS (you know, the really amazing thing is that I *never* realized that I
would be nursing this long - I recall when I was pregnant, that I thought I
would be lucky to make it six months. And to think, here I am at 2 years...)
Lynn was doing this at 15-18 months, so I weaned. (Lynn was into jumping on
the bed and nursing at the same time. Sigh.) But I didn't have to, people
tell me that if you are consistent about taking him off the instant he starts
to play, he will eventually stop doing it.
You might want to ask your doctor about the pumped milk vs whole milk
question. I don't know anything about the vitamin content of the two,, and
suspect that would be a major consideration. I'm amazed that you want to
continue pumping. I HATED pumping. I pumped until Jordan was six months
old, obsessed about how much milk we had in the freezer, freaked out if I was
out on the weekend and dean ahd to defrost milk,etc. I was horrible. I was
so glad to give up pumping--I rationalized it to myself at six months, since
he was starting to eat other foods, etc., it wouldn't hurt him to get formula
three days a week. I'm totally impressed by you!
Marilyn, I can assure you that breastmilk will still be beneficial to Daniel
after age 1. The World Health Organization (WHO) now recommends that babies
receive breastmilk for at least the first two years of life and that
introduction of cow's milk be delayed until age 2. The only reason I can
think of to switch him to cow's milk is if you're tired of pumping. If you
want to, you can wean him while you're working and then nurse him when you're
together. If you're happy to keep pumping, I don't see why you should stop.
I have a breastpump rented to a firefighter with a 17 month old daughter.
She still pumps during her work days (she's on for 72 hours in a row and then
off for several days).
nursing gymnastics: Welcome to toddlerhood. It sounds like you're doing
the right thing. I warn the child that she's hurting me, and tell her that
I'll end the nursing if she continues to hurt me. Morganne was pretty civil
again by about 18 months. Matisse and I are working on pinching right now.
Moms aren't required to be punching bags.
"Be gentle with Mama. I'm the only Mama you've got."
Sometime in the second half of the first year, I stop nursing in public
except for in secluded places. Toddlers are too distractable. Also, toddlers
don't need to be demand fed and can start understanding "when we get to the
car", "in a few minutes" and "when we get home". I started talking to
Morganne about acceptable places for nursing when she was about 9 months and
she and I had pretty much come to an agreement by 18 months. If Daniel has
been a squirmy nurser in public, you can tell him that you only want to nurse
in private, or at home, or in the car, or in the bedroom at Grandma's.
Distraction is usually pretty easy in public.
"Mama, I want to nuggle" (our code word)
"When we get to the car. Do you want to go look at Grandma's fish
Good luck! I found Norma Jane Bumgarner's book _Mothering Your Nursing
Toddler_ to be very helpful when Morganne was around Daniel's age.
I stopped pumping at 1 year, so no help there. However, I did have two
olympic nursers. No, it wasn't really a sign of weaning, for me, but it did
make life interesting.
I'm responding to question 2, since I didn't provide pumped milk past age 1
(although I think it is great that you're going too. I was tired of the
hassle and Liana was okay on regular milk). I don't think your baby wants to
wean -- he's just active. Liana went through this stage too, and I also
wondered whether she was starting to wean. She was so busy during the day
(trying to keep up with big sister) that she didn't have time to nurse.
She'd make up for it night usually :(. She seems to have learned now that
nursing time is for nursing, not playing (although Mom sometimes violates
this rule by tickling).
One of the best benefits of older baby nursing is that it turns a screaming
toddler into a happy toddler in 5 seconds or less.
APPENDIX D: On-line Resources
Lois Patterson ) has started an email list for parents
of nursing toddlers and older babies. To subscribe to parent-l, the
Extend Breastfeeding List, send the following command in the body of
the message to
If you have any questions or difficulties, email Lois Patterson at
Katherine A. Dettwyler ), a nutritional
anthropologist at Texas A&M University, has recently completed a
research project trying to determine what would be a "natural" age at
weaning in modern human populations if humans didn't cloud the issue
with cultural beliefs about how long was appropriate. This research
has been published in very brief form in Breastfeeding Abstracts and
New Beginnings (LLLI publications) and forms the basis of a long
chapter in a new book Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, to be
published November 1995 by Aldine de Gruyter Publishers.
New birth-related web-site... http://www.cris.com/~cmlowe/
[END OF FAQ]
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