February 16, 2010,
J.L. asks from Beaverton, OR on February 12, 2010
Weening My 17 Month Old Daughter from Co-sleeping and Breast Feeding.
I have a beautiful 17 month old little girl that is the sparkle of my eye. I love her very much and I am so glad that I decided to breast feed her. It has been an amazing experience, but I am ready to begin weening. She has NEVER slept through the night. She nurses 4 times a night still, however she nurses for 2 or 3 minutes and then falls back to sleep. She has co slept with me since birth and I am ready to have her sleep in her own bed. I made a HUGE mistake with my daughter... I have nursed her to sleep since birth. As a result, she will not go to sleep unless she nurses. I am not a big fan of letting her cry it out, but I am starting to feel that this is the only option. Also, I think I am pregnant and I am waiting a few more days until I do a pregnancy test (my period isn't due until Feb 21). If I am pregnant, is it okay to nurse my 17 month old still?... or can it harm the pregnancy?? I am desperate for advice. I am exhausted from the lack of sleep over the past 17 months. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
W.C. answers from Seattle on February 13, 2010
I would suggest tackling one thing at time. And I think the nursing at night is logically (I cringe when I use that word with nursing) the first. Get a "binky" and pop it in when she wakes and wants to nurse for those two or three minutes.You need your sleep!
Then decide what comes next.
Try nursing after you feed her, include whole milk in the meal. She will be less hungry and take less from you.
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M.L. answers from Seattle on February 13, 2010
Congrats on breastfeeding so far!
Yes, you can breastfeed while pregnant. I breastfed throughout my pregnancy and am now nursing my girls who are a little over 2 years apart. It's perfectly safe for most growing babies if their mom breastfeeds while pregnant. Make sure you talk with your provider about it if you are indeed pregnant though. There are some times when it's better to wean (high risk pregnancy, multiples, etc.) but it is generally considered safe. I am so glad that I nursed my toddler through my pregnancy. It's been such a blessing for us and has given me many sweet moments of my girls holding hands while nursing or simply gazing at each other.
I just read a great book called "How Weaning Happens" that I would recommend strongly. It talks about a lot of options on weaning and has a lot of quotes from other moms who've been there. It generally suggests gentle weaning instead of any sort of cry it out method which sounds like it might be a good fit for you.
There are a lot of reasons for toddlers to nurse and they don't necessarily have anything to do with calories. What are your daughter's needs?
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K.C. answers from Seattle on February 14, 2010
You've received some great advice so far. I just wanted to add a little piece of my story. By about 15 months, my daughter only wanted to nurse to sleep and during the night. I, too, was exhausted and couldn't handle the night feedings anymore. We tried some of the soothing methods others have mentioned (daddy cuddling her, me holding her without nursing) but those just made her angry. For us it became an issue of "I WANT" rather than "I NEED," From the way she responded. She was already spending most of the night in her own crib, so we did let her cry it out. We would go to her, reassure her, and put her back to bed. The resulting temper tantrum lasted up to an hour, maybe more the first night. After the first trip, going back into her room only made her mad. It took about 2 or 3 really rough nights, and she figured out how to go back to sleep without nursing. It felt mean, but she's slept much better since. We still nursed to sleep before naps and bed until she lost interest, around 20 months.
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J.V. answers from Phoenix on February 12, 2010
You did nothing wrong at all! My son and daughter were both like that, and it's ok! With my son, I started gradually night weaning when I was pregant. I then cut him down during the day. I tandem nursed for a while, then just weaned him at 3. I highly, highly recommend The No Cry Sleep Solution By Elizabeth Pantly. It was NOT a crying, traumatic experience for either of us, and it's because I used her gentle methods. Good luck!
L.R. answers from Portland on February 13, 2010
Let me tell you what. Nobody likes to hear a baby cry. But I have learned that severe sleep deprivation can do bad things to me and make me not able to function, so at some point I always do it. It works. With both my son and my daughter it took about 2 or 3 nights of misery, and then they would sleep through. Considering that she only nurses for a couple of minutes, she's not doing it for food; it's a habit. It will be less painful in the long run to let her CIO. Trying to comfort her in any way will just prolong the process and misery for everyone involved.
Nursing won't harm you in pregnancy at all. But it could soon get uncomfortable. I weaned my daughter at 20 months; I was about 3 mo pregnant by then, and it hurt for her to nurse. She was only nursing once a day by then, so it wasn't hard.
So what I would do in your case is first cut out the night feedings, asap. Start on a weekend so that if hubby can't sleep at least he won't have to go to work the next day. If you start Friday night, by Monday she should be sleeping through with nary a peep. You need your sleep to cook the new baby properly. If you still want to nurse during the day, that will be fine. But you might want to start gradually (every week or 2) cutting out a feeding if you start to get sore. There's no need to make you more uncomfortable than you need to be. Though some moms I know nurse all the way through (though some simply can't and dry up) and then nurse in tandem.
That's what I would do. Hope it helps.
D.A. answers from Portland on February 13, 2010
Definitely do one thing at a time. It would be easy to soothe her back to sleep the first time she wakes, then start with the second time, if she is still waking, etc.
Also, my daughter had reflux very badly and the meds only partly took care of the problem. So, she would wake frequently and only nurse for a few minutes. She learned to take in only 2-3 ounces at a time to alleviate or lessen the effects of the reflux, even though she was on meds.
I weaned my daughter at 23 months. We just started slowly and I made sure she had a bedtime snack and full enough belly. We co-slept, as well. I just gave her some water when she woke and quietly told her to go back to sleep. We had about 3-4 night wakings and just slowly worked on each.
She sleeps wonderfully now. Shortly after weaning, we moved her into a big girl bed and shortly after that, her brother was born. I was 4, almost 5 months pregnant when I weaned my daughter. It just hurt way too much and I wanted a little me time before starting all over.
My son is 2 1/2 and sleeps through the night, but still nurses 2-3 times per day. We are slowly taking out the daytime feedings and he is doing great.
It is all about how many calories you can get in them during the day and the bed time snack helped a bunch.
Good luck to you and possibly congrats,
J.M. answers from Seattle on February 13, 2010
Our daughter was cosleeping and breast feeding until she was over 18 months. We finally night weaned her, and I wish I had known more about this and would have night weaned her earlier. My husband had to get up with her when she woke up for about a week and then she stopped waking up almost entirely. She was doing the same thing you describe -just waking up a little bit to nurse and then going back right to sleep -but I was turning into a wreck from sleep deprivation.
I wasn't quite ready to entirely wean her yet. We started weaning in July and then finally weaned her completely in December (when she was 2 and 1/2). -Would have probably happened sooner but was complicated by me going back to work in the fall.
Some people nurse when pregnant, others advise against it. It may depend on your body. I know I was unable to get pregnant at all when breastfeeding -although may also be pregnant now.
Good luck. If you have a partner who can get up with your daughter to night wean her it's a lot easier -she'll know she's not going to get milk and will eventually go back to sleep. I wish we had night weaned earlier. I was surprised how quickly she started sleeping through the night.
B.W. answers from Salt Lake City on February 12, 2010
I agree, it will be tough to break her of her night-time nursing habit, but after a few rough nights, it will be over, and you will be so glad you just bit the bullet. I started letting my babies cry it out around 4-5 months, and in less than a week, both of them were sleeping through the night and have been awesome sleepers since. Both my babies nursed past a year. For weaning, I started heating up milk in the microwave and snuggling while they drank that. With both of them, after a few weeks, they started preferring the cow's milk.
Good luck! I think I'm pregnant too....get to take a test next week!! Can't wait! Be sure to let us know the results!!