Thursday, January 6, 2011

Woman to Woman: Breastfeeding, Pt. 2

(Part 1) 

Touchy Topics

  1. Did sleeping with your nursing newborn make it harder for you later?  How did you get your babies to wean during the nighttime hours?

    We've all heard stories about the 10-year-old who sleeps in his parents' bed and can't sleep on his own and the parents who wish they had never started sleeping with him as a baby because now they don't know what to do.  I will admit I worried about that when we pulled Gavin into our bed in our  sleep-deprived first weeks of parenting, but adequate rest was worth the risk to me.  Having nursed and weaned four children and successfully (and gently) moved them out of my bed, I'm here to tell you it can be done...and before age ten, too!  I chose to enjoy the newborn night snuggles and save the night training for later.

    Night weaning is  a struggle for me only because I love my sleep and it takes a little bit of work to move a baby out of my bed.    I have to be really ready to tackle the issue to be willing to lose sleep, but when they become toddlers and wiggly disruptive sleepers, I get down to business.  (Either that or my husband says, "I'm tired of feet in my back.  Please teach him to sleep!")

    We typically wait until our kids are about 18 months because they seem to be able to understand a little better when we say, "No," or, "Wait until morning."  I'm sure you could attempt it at a younger age, but 18 months worked for me.  Gavin was our toughest because I tried to night-wean him  and train him to sleep through the night, but still keep him in our bed.  When I night-weaned Maddie, Owen, and Benjamin, I moved them to a crib mattress on the floor by my bed at the  same time.  (We don't even own a crib anymore!) 

    We kept the same going-to-sleep routine, but when the baby woke in the middle of the night, I would say, "No, we are going to wait until morning."  Not being used to the lack of  night snacking, the baby cried, so I would lay down with him on the mattress so he didn't feel alone or rejected.  (I'm a softy.)  Sometimes, if he just couldn't settle down, I would nurse once, but it would be on the baby's new mattress bed.  The first 3-4 nights were frustrating and long...and then the baby suddenly began sleeping through the night without waking and without eating.  It was just a matter of breaking the habit.  Once the baby knew he couldn't nurse, it wasn't worth waking.  We wait until closer to 2 to actually move an all-night-sleeper to their own (or siblings') room.  Benjamin was our only exception.  He was younger, but ready.  

  2. Have you ever used bottles or pacifiers?

    Neither of my kids has ever used a bottle, but a few of them have had a pacifier.  I've gone back and forth on how I feel about them (pacifiers, not my children!). Gavin was extremely fussy and agitated in the car so I waited until nursing was well-established and introduced a pacifier at around a month of age.  We limited it to the car and sometimes offered it at bedtime, too. Around a year of age, we lost the only pacifier we had left and he gladly gave it up without a fuss.   Maddie had a similar story, but she began to refuse the paci by 11 months.  

    For various reasons, when Owen and Benjamin were babies, I decided not to offer a pacifier at all, but I had another change of heart when I was pregnant with Alaine.  With four other little ones in the house, I decided I needed something to offer when she was fussy and I wasn't able to nurse her right away.  We did not wait the recommended 3 weeks, but introduced it to her at 2 days old.  I felt confident enough in my nursing abilities to correct her latch if she had trouble transitioning between breast and pacifier.   In fact, I did hold back the pacifier for a day or two in the first weeks when she tended to fall asleep with it and not want to wake to eat.  At four months, though, breastfeeding is firmly established and the pacifier is our welcome tool for the  between-times. 

  3. My baby is 11 months old and my cycles haven't returned.  Did you experience this? Is this normal? 

    "Normal" is so different for each mama.  The return of a regular cycle depends on how often you nurse, how often (or if) you nurse at night, your own hormone balance and metabolism.  My own "normal" has been anywhere from 8-16 months, but I've known women who see a return to menstruation at 4 months and others who don't see it for over 2 years!


  1. Loved reading about your experiences. We're transitioning Eliya to sleep more soundly through the night although I'm still okay with nursing her once or twice during the night. I find that I don't sleep nearly as well when she has the opportunity to nurse whenever she wants and she had gotten into a cycle of wanting to nurse every hour! So, I'd much rather have a few very fussing nights then wake up this often for the next several months. Mama needs some sleep!

    Also, I'm one of the "Lucky" women whose cycle returns at 4 months. In fact, my past two pregnancies began 8 months after the last baby was born.

  2. You should write a book. Really.

    ***Judah is 15 months: NO cycle yet, still night nursing, still in our bed or crib (in our room), eats table food fine, uses a (sippy) cup fine, very healthy.

    **He's been the 1st (of 7) to not use a pacifier, or take a bottle.

    I owe a lot of our success to your help and friendship. Thank you!


  3. Great topic and blog post! Each woman is SO different but its so nice to hear others experience. Makes going into the whole experience feeling more prepared. Sure wish I had blog posts like this when I became a Mama!

  4. I always enjoy reading your thoughts. Great post mama.

  5. I love your honesty and insight!!! Such fantastic answers... I cant believe how similar we are in terms of choices and ages ranges in those choices! I need to associate with like minded folks more... its so hard defending myself against naysayers!

    Be blessed-


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