Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: To night wean or not to night wean?

Last time I posted for the Breastfeeding Diaries I was really struggling. The whole experience of breastfeeding a toddler was becoming really irritating, and part of me really felt like stopping.

Then, all of a sudden, it got easier.

I can't even tell you what about it changed. She's still messing about quite a bit, although perhaps less than before. She still has days where she seems to want mummy milk every time I sit down. She still wants feeding in the night.

I think it must just be that my attitude has changed. Writing my last post, and reading the responses, seemed to prove to me that I do want to carry on until Eleanor is ready to stop. And, in hindsight, things were generally quite stressful at the time of the last post - my husband is a teacher and so had just gone back to work after the summer holidays, so we were both getting used to our previous routine and not having Daddy around as much. Once we'd got back into the swing of things, everything, breastfeeding included, felt easier.

Something interesting has happened this week, though. We've been talking for a long time about attempting night weaning, but it has never felt like the right time - nights would probably get worse for a while before getting better and there's always something we need to conserve our energy for! However, in the past couple of weeks Eleanor has started to be dry at night. (She's not dry in the day, far from it - trust my daughter to do things the wrong way round!) This has thrown up problems as she has woken in the night asking for the potty a few times, then it's really hard to get her back to sleep, so we have revisited the idea of night weaning as a way of reducing these night-time potty visits. This is something my husband and I had only discussed, and not in front of Eleanor, but suddenly she started talking about sleeping all through the night without mummy milk! Hurrah! Could this mean that she might night wean of her own accord?

We're not getting our hopes up yet, because it still hasn't happened! Although at most bedtimes recently she has said that she'll just have a cuddle in the night and go back to sleep without mummy milk, when she has actually woken up and I've offered a cuddle she has been distraught. It's interesting. Last night, for instance, I went through, sat by her bed and offered to cuddle her and she started to cry. At first in amidst her sobs were phrases like, "want to go to sleep without mummy milk," and, "want to have a cuddle," but if I put my arm round her she'd push me away. She got more and more worked up, then started saying, "want mummy thing! want mummy thing!" then she pointed at my chest and cried, "want THOSE!" (Nice, kid.) So I picked her up and took her to the chair for a feed.

I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it Eleanor wanting to night wean but struggling with it? Or has she picked up that we want her to night wean and is trying to do it but doesn't really want to? The fact that she felt she couldn't ask directly suggests maybe it's the latter, but then we've talked to her about night weaning before and she hasn't even tried. Maybe she's caught between still wanting the comfort of breastfeeding in the night but also feeling uncomfortable from a full bladder and starting to understand the link between drinking and needing a wee. I really don't know.

So, at 33 months, breastfeeding is feeling a lot easier generally but is throwing up some tricky questions! Still, it does seem that we may be a step closer to night weaning, even if there are many steps to go, so that's a bonus!

4 comments:

  1. Awww bless her, I have yet to deal with this as Boo is only 9 months old. I hope things get easier soon for both you and your little girl.

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  2. I found this really interesting - so many things I identify with! My son is only 21 months, but we've recently gone through a very intense, 'high maintenance' phase where he's wanted to feed all day and night and has been irritable and unsettled with it. I really want him to be able to self-wean, so it was just upsetting to suddenly feel so unsure about the whole breastfeeding thing! But then he just fell back into an easier rhythm, and whilst he's still feeding day and night I'm not finding it so hard to deal with. We're still considering night weaning, but actually I feel like with things a bit more under control I might not need to... So many joys and challenges in the world of extended breastfeeding - it's lovely to hear someone else's story too :)

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    1. It's funny how it goes in phases, isn't it? Today I've found it quite frustrating again even though she's not doing anything different particularly, so I'm thinking it could be that my perception is different depending on how tired/stressed/hormonal I am!! We've been talking about night weaning for about two years now but dread the alternative - she doesn't feed to sleep at bedtime now and it takes ages to get her to sleep, I don't know if I've got the energy for that palaver at 3am!

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  3. I'm so glad things seem to have got easier and that the comments from last week have helped you. It reads to me like things are going to work themselves out and as with everything it's a process. It takes me a while to work through somethings, so I thing your LO is doing a great job. I'm sure the pieces of the jigsaw are fitting together with your gentle and consistent approach. Well done Mama! Thanks for linking up with #BFingDiaries

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